The Denisovans: New Finds are Illuminating the Mysterious Ancient Humans

The entrance to Denisova cave, where the ancient humans were first discovered. (Credit: Igor Boshin/Shutterstock) Nestled in foothills of Russia’s Altai Mountains, Denisova Cave has been a research mecca since 2010, when fossil DNA from the site revealed a previously unknown human lineage, now called the Denisovans. Scientists have been working hard to reconstruct the […]

This Rocky Super-Earth Had Its Atmosphere Vaporized

Astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered that exoplanet LHS 3844b probably lacks any atmosphere at all. (Credit: ESO/NASA) Rocky planets just a little larger than Earth are some of the best targets for finding life in our local cosmic neighborhood. They’re abundant. But it’s not just the size that has to match Earth. Our […]

Neuroimaging’s Bias Against Left-handers

Left-handed people are under-represented as volunteers in human neuroimaging studies, according to a new paper from Lyam M. Bailey, Laura E. McMillan, and Aaron J. Newman of Dalhousie University. Bailey et al. analyzed a sample of 1,031 papers published in 2017, finding that just 3.2% of participants were non-right-handed, even though this group makes up […]

A Massive Star Completely Destroyed by a Supernova is Puzzling Scientists

Supernova 2016iet is an example of one of the most extreme types of stellar explosions, though it has some odd features. (Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA/ illustration by Joy Pollard) In November of 2016, the sharp-eyed Gaia spacecraft spied a supernova that exploded some billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers followed up with more telescopes, and quickly realized […]

Microplastics Are Falling Along With Snow in the Arctic

Frigid terrain on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, where researchers recently documented microplastic pollution in falling snow. (Credit: Sejsejlija/Shutterstock) When it snows in the Arctic, there’s another kind of flake drifting down alongside the ice crystals. Tiny bits of degraded plastic, commonly called microplastics, have been found swirling among the snow in otherwise pristine Arctic […]

Why Do We Still Believe in ‘Lunacy’ During a Full Moon?

The full moon has been associated with aberrant behavior for centuries. (Credit: Aron Visuals/Unsplash) It’s sometimes called the “Transylvania effect.” In the dark sky, the clouds shift, revealing the full moon’s eerie silver gleam, and the people on Earth below go mad. It’s a story that gets repeated by doctors, teachers and police officers. The […]

Unusual Parasites Plagued Bronze Age Fen Folk And Their Dogs

Parasites aplenty riddled humans and their dogs at a swampy site in Bronze Age England. From left: Microscopic eggs of a fish tapeworm, giant kidney worm and Echinostoma worm found in ancient feces from the Must Farm site. (Black scale bar represents 20 micrometers.) (Credit: M. Ledger, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University) Around 3,000 years […]

These Robotic Shorts Make Everyday Strolls Feel Like a Moving Airport Walkway

(Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University) If you have two functioning legs and a reliable nervous system, walking and running are generally thoughtless tasks. But if you’re a soldier hauling massive amounts of gear on your back for an extended period of time, putting one foot in front of the other can get exhausting. That’s […]

Jupiter May Have Been Hit by a Massive Proto-Planet Long Ago

A massive planet slamming into Jupiter in its infancy could create the fuzzy core that astronomers observe in the gas giant today. (Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan) In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner […]