Why Humans Lost Their Hair and Became Naked and Sweaty – The Crux

Actor John Lithgow with Kevin Peter Hall as Harry in the 1987 movie Harry and the Hendersons. (Credit: Everett Collection) What makes humans stand out among primates? We’re naked and unusually sweaty. Yes, we’re also distinguished by upright walking, big brains and advanced culture. But here I want to focus on our sweaty bare bods. […]

Thousands Of New Microbiome Species Found Living on the Human Body – D-brief

Microbes live in nearly every part of the human body. Now, scientists have drastically expanded the list of known species. (Credit: Darryl Leja/NHGRI) In the largest study of its kind, scientists have uncovered thousands of new species inhabiting the human microbiome – -the extensive collection of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms that reside all over our bodies, […]

These Bacteria Might Make A Better Mosquito Repellent – D-brief

A bacterial compound might make for a better natural mosquito repellent. (Credit: MNStudio/Shutterstock) In the search for new compounds to fight off mosquitos, researchers have struck pay dirt in an increasingly common location: Soil bacteria. A pair of molecules produced by a species of insect-infecting bacteria appear to convince mosquitos not to feed on human […]

Cassini Reveals the Surprisingly Young Age of Saturn’s Rings – D-brief

Using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, researchers have found that Saturn’s rings are actually much younger than the planet itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI) Exploring Saturn’s Rings During NASA’s Cassini spacecraft’s Grand Finale, the craft dove between the planet and its rings. In doing so, it collected new insights into the ringed planet, including the surprising age […]

Whale Sharks, Earth’s Largest Fish, Also Commonly Eat Plants – D-brief

(Credit: Lindsey Lu/Shutterstock) Whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, eat significant amounts of plants and algae, scientists reveal in a surprising new study out today in the journal Ecological Monographs. The sharks aren’t necessarily vegetarians, but they can sometimes go for weeks or month without eating, say researchers from Japan. The vegetative fare may be how the […]

This Robot Dog Teaches Itself New Tricks – D-brief

ANYmal walks like a dog and looks like a dog thanks to its extensive, computerized dog-training courses. (Credit: Hwangbo et al., Sci. Robot. 4, eaau5872 (2019)) Now that’s a headline, right? It’s got a robot dog, plays off a well-known phrase and piques curiosity. Best of all: It’s also accurate! Sort of. According to a […]

Physicists Discover Artwork Hidden Under Picasso’s Paintings

In some cases, researchers hoping to discover something new must borrow technology from a seemingly unrelated field. John Delaney, a physicist working at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., knows this as well as anyone. Working with other physicists, as well as chemists and conservators, the senior imaging scientist has been using spectroscopy […]

How Insects’ Ancestors Learned to Fly – D-brief

(Credit: MakroBetz/Shutterstock) Before they flew, winged insects had to learn to glide. Scientists say they’ve puzzled out the evolutionary path that gave insects wings, settling what had been a longstanding debate in the field. Using genetic techniques to peer back in time, researchers found that the winged insects of today once had stiff, fixed forewings […]