Nature

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The highest point on Earth got a bit higher Tuesday as China and Nepal finally agreed on a precise elevation for Mount Everest after years of debate. The agreed height of 8,848.86 metres (29,031 feet) – unveiled at a news conference in Kathmandu – was 86 centimetres (2.8 feet) higher than the measurement previously recognised
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For the first time, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have formally identified a new species of undersea creature based solely on high-definition video footage captured at the bottom of the ocean. And what an undersea creature it is. Meet Duobrachium sparksae – a strange, gelatinous species of ctenophore, encountered by the remotely
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Ants are pretty organised little creatures. Highly social insects, they know how to forage, build complicated nests, steal your pantry snacks, and generally look after the queens and the colony, all by working together. Leaf-cutter ants turn that cooperation up several notches. Leaf-cutter ant colonies like Acromyrmex echinatior can contain millions of ants, split into
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The origins of life, a few billion years ago, were humble. Single-celled organisms squirming in the ooze, over millions and billions of years developing into multi-celled plants and, eventually, animals. But when and how these evolutionary spurts occurred has been difficult to puzzle out. Organic material doesn’t necessarily preserve well, and when it does, we
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Every now and then, Earth reminds us it’s capable of releasing some furious energy.  Case in point: scientists have just detected a new extreme in hotspots of lightning activity called ‘superbolts’: intense lightning strikes that shine up to 1,000 times brighter than typical lightning strikes.  The observations come from researchers at the US Los Alamos
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If you’ve ever studied any chemistry or biology, there’s a very good chance you’ve come across the common pictorial representation of what a chromosome is supposed to look like. As millions of high-schoolers and undergraduates will attest, it’s a tall, narrow X-shape - visualising what two joined chromatids look like after DNA replication takes place, but before
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Volcanoes rank among the most destructive and awe-inspiring phenomena on the planet. But these fiery fissures do much more than just destroy. They also create. In a new study, researchers in Russia report the discovery of one such creation – an unusual mineral never before documented by scientists: an alluring, vibrantly blue-and-green crystallised substance the
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Climate change is testing the resilience of our planet’s birds. While tropical avian species appear especially vulnerable to habitat loss, drought, natural disasters, and declining prey, new research suggests they can withstand heat waves quite well. Using the largest dataset of its kind, the research calls into question a commonly-held conclusion that tropical birds, living
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Scientists in Australia have made a remarkable discovery, with DNA evidence revealing that one of the country’s adorable airborne marsupials is in fact three separate species. The furry-bodied greater glider subsists on eucalyptus leaves much like its marsupial mate, the koala. But unlike the distinctly tree-bound koala, the greater glider can take to the air,
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Fitness, the way the naturalist Charles Darwin conceptualised it, refers to the ability of organisms to survive and reproduce successfully. Reproductive success lies in species’ ability to have offspring that are also capable of surviving and reproducing, as are their offspring and so on down the line of descent. Species optimise their Darwinian fitness –