Half-Size, Ruffle-Headed Relative of Triceratops Discovered
Dec 14, 2018

By Laura Geggel If head frills were a fashion statement, a newly identified 73-million-year-old triceratops relative was certainly at the top of its game. The newfound dinosaur named Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii sported a fancy frill on the top of its head, a new study finds. In fact, it’s the youngest-known dinosaur of its clade (the nasutoceratopsins), as well …

How Neanderthal DNA might have shaped some human brains
Dec 14, 2018

By Ewen Callaway No human has the brain of a Neanderthal — but some have hints of its shape. The brain shape of some people with European ancestry is influenced by Neanderthal DNA acquired through interbreeding tens of thousands of years ago, researchers report on 13 December in Current Biology1. These DNA variants seem to affect the expression …

How the brain’s face code might unlock the mysteries of perception
Dec 13, 2018 · 11 

By Alison Abbott Doris Tsao launched her career deciphering faces — but for a few weeks in September, she struggled to control the expression on her own. Tsao had just won a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ award, an honour that comes with more than half a million dollars to use however the recipient wants. But she was …

Tennessee U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Green alleges vaccines may cause autism, questions CDC data
Dec 13, 2018

By Natalie Allison A soon-to-be congressman from Tennessee told constituents Tuesday he believed vaccines may be causing autism, questioning data from the Centers for Disease Control and other institutions disproving such a theory. Not only did Republican Mark Green, a Congressman-elect from Clarksville who is also a medical doctor, express hesitation about the CDC’s stance on vaccines, …

East Antarctica is losing ice faster than anyone thought
Dec 12, 2018

By Alexandra Witze East Antarctica was supposed to be the stable side of the icy continent, whose western flank is losing ice fast1. But glaciologists are finding that the closer they look at East Antarctica, the more change they see. Four small glaciers in a region known as Vincennes Bay are thinning at surprisingly fast rates, researchers …

‘Miracle’ Excavation of ‘Little Foot’ Skeleton Reveals Mysterious Human Relative
Dec 11, 2018

By Laura Geggel Following an epic 20-year-long excavation in South Africa, researchers have finally recovered and cleaned the nearly-complete skeleton of an ancient human relative: an approximately 3.67-million-year-old hominin nicknamed Little Foot. Little Foot is likely a previously unknown species, the researchers said. In four newly posted studies — all available on bioRxiv, meaning they …

Florida GOP Gov.-Elect Appoints Anti-Science Members to Education Committee
Dec 11, 2018

By Hemant Mehta With Florida’s next governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, ready to take the helm, you can bet science education isn’t on the list of priorities. We saw the first sign of that recently when DeSantis “announced his 41-person team to develop a plan aimed at implementing his education goals.” On that list? Two people who are connected …

What does Martian wind sound like? Now we know
Dec 10, 2018 · 2 

By Soo Youn and David Kerley For the first time, humans can hear wind from Mars. InSight, or NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport lander, provided the first “sounds” of Martian winds to human ears on Friday. The spacecraft’s sensors captured a “haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind,” a …

China Preps for Launch of Historic Mission to Moon’s Far Side on Friday
Dec 6, 2018 · 1 

By Leonard David China is getting set to launch the first-ever surface mission to the moon’s far side. The robotic Chang’e 4 mission is scheduled to launch atop a Long March 3B rocket on Friday (Dec. 7) at around 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT; 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 local China time). If all goes according to …

These dusty young stars are changing the rules of planet-building
Dec 5, 2018

By Rebecca Boyle Some 100,000 years ago, when Neanderthals still occupied the caves of southern Europe, a star was born. It appeared when a ball of gas collapsed and ignited within a stellar factory known as the Taurus Molecular Cloud. Then, leftover material began to cool and coalesce around it, forming dust grains and a hazy …

A hectic week of orbital flights continues with a SpaceX launch Wednesday
Dec 5, 2018

By Eric Berger This is an extraordinary week for orbital launches. On Monday, alone, a Soyuz rocket carried three humans into space, en route to the International Space Station. Then, a Falcon 9 rocket launched 64 smallsats into orbit about 500km above the planet. On Tuesday, the flurry of activity continued when an Ariane 5 rocket lofted two …

What’s New, and What’s Not, in the Reported Birth of the CRISPR Babies
Dec 4, 2018

By Lila Thulin The announcement from Chinese researcher He Jiankui claiming to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies—twins whose genomes were altered, as embryos, using CRISPR technology—shook the scientific world and prompted a maelstrom of ethical controversy. The experiment, if its outcome is verified by peer review, would certainly take CRISPR use in humans further than it’s gone …