Nature

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A mesmerizing new video shows a “once-in-a-lifetime encounter” with a bizarre, bright red octopus swimming above the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia.  The encounter, first reported by local Australian news website Bundaberg Now, was a rare sighting of a blanket octopus, named after the blanket-like fleshy cape between its arms. Jacinta Shackleton, a marine biologist and reef guide, filmed and photographed
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Scientists in China say they have found the oldest flower bud in the fossil record, finally aligning the fossil evidence with the genetic data suggesting flowering plants, or angiosperms, evolved tens of millions of years earlier than we initially thought. The team hopes their discovery will help “ease the pain” around a nagging, centuries-old mystery that Charles
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Wherever there is sand and an atmosphere, prevailing winds may whip the grains into undulating shapes, pleasing to the eye with their calming repetition. Certain sand waves, with wavelengths between 30 centimeters (almost 12 inches) and several meters (around 30 feet), are known as megaripples: they’re between ordinary beach ripples and full dunes in size,
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The leader of Turkmenistan would like to finally close the “Gates of Hell” that have burned continuously in the nation’s Karakum desert for five decades, according to recent televised remarks. In a January 8 appearance on Turkmenistan’s state TV channel, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov urged officials to “find a solution to extinguish the fire”, citing concerns
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For most of life on Earth, oxygen is essential, and sunlight is usually needed to produce that oxygen. But in an exciting twist, researchers have caught a common, ocean-dwelling microbe breaking all the rules. Scientists have found that a microbe called Nitrosopumilus maritimus and several of its cousins, called ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA), are able to survive
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The air around us carries detectable traces of animals living in our midst, scientists have found, and the discovery stands to revolutionize the way researchers monitor and track populations of vulnerable or endangered species. In two new studies conducted by separate teams of scientists, researchers discovered that environmental DNA (eDNA) shed by living creatures can
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Bacterial colonies can organize themselves into complex ring-like patterns which have an “intriguing similarity” to developing embryos and were thought to be unique to plants and animals, new research suggests. Bacterial cells band together in clumps to form tightly packed colonies called biofilms that have a growing reputation for acting strangely like multicellular organisms. These
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An evolutionary battle between fungi and bacteria on hedgehogs’ skin gave rise to a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria long before humans started using the antibiotics that were thought to lead to such superbugs, a new study reveals. Researchers traced some lineages of the superbug MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, to a parasitic fungus found on
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Our planet’s convoluted history of evolving life has spawned countless weird and wonderful creatures, but none excite evolutionary biologists – or divide taxonomists – quite like crabs. When researchers attempted to reconcile the evolutionary history of crabs in all their raucous glory just earlier this year, they arrived at the conclusion that the defining features
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We sort of take for granted the depictions of prehistoric beasties illustrated in the books of our childhood. But piecing together Earth’s murky past is a lot harder than it sounds. Scientists have to rely on fragmentary bones, weathered footprints, impressions in rock – these don’t always capture the fine details of the complex, living,
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It’s a question that has puzzled observers for centuries: do the fantastic green and crimson light displays of the aurora borealis produce any discernible sound? Conjured by the interaction of solar particles with gas molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, the aurora generally occurs near Earth’s poles, where the magnetic field is strongest. Reports of the aurora
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Every geography schoolbook has them: maps that look like today’s Earth, but not quite, since all continents are merged into a single supercontinent. Those maps were used to explain why dinosaurs in South America and Africa, or North America and Europe looked so alike. Paleogeographic reconstructions like these provide context to study the processes that
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A new type of weather condition has been observed, existing primarily in one particular part of the world: compact, slow-moving, moisture-rich pools. Researchers are calling these ‘atmospheric lakes’. This unique type of storm occurs over the western Indian Ocean and moves towards Africa. Unlike most storms – created by a vortex – the lakes are
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A sea monster that lived during the early dinosaur age is so unexpectedly colossal, it reveals that its kind grew to gigantic sizes extremely quickly, evolutionarily speaking at least.  The discovery suggests that such ichthyosaurs – a group of fish-shaped marine reptiles that inhabited the dinosaur-era seas – grew to enormous sizes in a span of only 2.5 million