Press Release Category: Science

The oldest known pollen-carrying insects lived about 280 million years ago

The oldest known fossils of pollen-laden insects are of earwig-like ground-dwellers that lived in what is now Russia about 280 million years ago, researchers report. Their finding pushes back the fossil record of insects transporting pollen from one plant to another, a key aspect of modern-day pollination, by about 120 million years. The insects —

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Prairie voles can find partners just fine without the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin

Prairie voles have long been heralded as models of monogamy. Now, a study suggests that the “love hormone” once thought essential for their bonding — oxytocin — might not be so necessary after all. Interest in the romantic lives of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) was first sparked more than 40 years ago, says Devanand Manoli

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Sleeping glass frogs hide by storing most of their blood in their liver

As tiny glass frogs fall asleep for the day, they take almost 90 percent of their red blood cells out of circulation. The colorful cells cram into hideaway pockets inside the frog liver, which disguises the cells behind a mirrorlike surface, a new study finds. Biologists have known that glass frogs have translucent skin, but

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Mammoths may have gone extinct much earlier than DNA suggests

Some ancient DNA may be leading paleontologists astray in attempts to date when woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos went extinct. In 2021, an analysis of plant and animal DNA from sediment samples from the Arctic, spanning about the last 50,000 years, suggested that mammoths survived in north-central Siberia as late as about 3,900 years ago

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Insect swarms might generate as much electric charge as storm clouds

You might feel a spark when you talk to your crush, but living things don’t require romance to make electricity. A study published October 24 in iScience suggests that the electricity naturally produced by swarming insects like honeybees and locusts is an unappreciated contributor to the overall electric charge of the atmosphere. “Particles in the

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50 years ago, scientists dug into Pangaea’s past lives

Before Pangaea — What? — Science News, September 30, 1972 The continents as we know them resulted when the proto­continent Pangaea broke apart and its fragments made the long slow journey to their present positions. The process took about 200 m­illion years. But the Earth’s crust is an estimated 4.5 billion years old.… [Scientists are exploring]

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A clever molecular trick extends the lives of these ant queens

For some ant queens, the secret to long life might be a self-produced insulin blocker. Ant queens are famously long-lived, even though they shouldn’t be. Generally, animals that put lots of energy into reproduction sacrifice some time off their life. But ant queens produce millions of eggs and live an extraordinarily long time compared with

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How slow and steady lionfish win the race against fast prey

Lionfish certainly aren’t the fastest predators on the reef, but new research suggests that they can catch swift prey through pure tenacity, gliding slowly in pursuit until the perfect moment to strike. The finding may help explain part of the lionfish’s impact as an invasive species, and reveal a key hunting strategy that other relatively

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Feathers may have helped dinosaurs survive the Triassic mass extinction

Widespread volcanic eruptions around 202 million years ago had a profound effect on Earth’s climate, triggering a mass extinction event that killed off three-fourths of the planet’s species, including many large reptiles. Yet dinosaurs, somehow, survived and went on to thrive. Dinosaurs are often thought of as heat-loving, well suited to the steamy greenhouse environment

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This soft, electronic ‘nerve cooler’ could be a new way to relieve pain

A flexible electronic implant could one day make pain management a lot more chill. Created from materials that dissolve in the body, the device encircles nerves with an evaporative cooler. Implanted in rats, the cooler blocked pain signals from zipping up to the brain, bioengineer John Rogers and colleagues report in the July 1 Science.

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Britons’ tools from 560,000 years ago have emerged from gravel pits

In the 1920s, laborers and amateur archaeologists at gravel quarry pits in southeastern England uncovered more than 300 ancient, sharp-edged oval tools. Researchers have long suspected that these hand axes were made 500,000 to 700,000 years ago. A new study confirms that suspicion in the first systematic excavation of the site, known as Fordwich. Dating

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5 misunderstandings of pregnancy biology that cloud the abortion debate

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. By undoing the landmark 1973 decision that protected a person’s right to an abortion, the highest court in the country has shifted decisions about this medical care to individual state and local governments. Some states have already passed laws that curtail abortion access. Now

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