A reconstruction of the skull of Australopithecus afarensis. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
1.2 to 4.4 million years ago was a happening time in human evolution. It’s when our evolutionary branch — the hominins — diversified into about a dozen species, collectively known as Australopiths.
The most famous of these creatures is Lucy, the partial skeleton of a roughly 3-foot-6-inch female discovered in the 1970s. But Lucy is just one of many Australopiths known to science. Ove ...read more
Stegosaur expert Susie Maidment of London’s Natural History Museum is studying rock strata in order to pin down the precise dates of dinosaur fossils from the Late Jurassic — the better to understand the biology and evolution of these ancient beasts. (Credit: Emily Osterloff/Natural History Museum)
At the base of a pale hill in the badlands of northeastern Wyoming, Susie Maidment hits her hammer against stone. She breaks off a fist-sized chunk, grabs a loose piece between her fing ...read more
By Molly Schools
This post is part of a collaboration between SciStarter and Career in STEM, in which writers spotlight different citizen science projects, interview project leaders about their careers, and create educational content for teachers and students. This series is available on the Science Connected, Career in STEM, SciStarter, and Discover Magazine blog platforms.
As the sun sinks low below the horizon and the crisp night air begins to descend, a miraculous sight can be seen i ...read more
It may sound like something out of science fiction, but scientists grew mini-brains in a lab with functional neural networks that can produce brain waves. (Credit: Shutterstock)
These pea-sized lumps of
cells don’t look like much, but they are mini-brains, also called brain
organoids, that were grown in a lab using human stem cells.
And for the first time,
scientists have created mini-brains with humanlike neural networking capable of
producing brain waves similar to those observed ...read more
The Milky Way Galaxy, seen edge-on. (Credit: NASA)
Although it’s relatively nearby, the far side of the Milky
Way is one of the hardest parts of the observable universe to see. That means there
are still outstanding questions in astronomy as to what our galactic home
really looks like.
But a new study charting over 1,100 new stars on the Milky
Way’s distant side provides astronomers fresh insight into its architecture, allowing
us to better understand the shape of the galaxy we ...read more
A sampling of some of the scores of artifacts produced by First Americans at the Cooper's Ferry site in western Idaho. Dotted lines along some of the tools indicate patterns of wear. (Credit: Davis et al 2019)
Stone tools, charcoal and other artifacts from Cooper's Ferry, Idaho, are the latest evidence that the First Americans arrived more than 16,000 years ago — well before an overland route existed. It's looking more and more likely the first people arrived via a Pacific Coast route. ...read more
A new study into the genetics of same-sex attraction reveals how complex it is. (Credit: EpicStockMedia/Shutterstock)
In the largest study of its kind yet, researchers find no single gene influences whether a person engages in same-sex sexual behavior. Instead, like height, variations in many genes throughout the human genome contribute to sexual preference, researchers report Thursday in the journal Science. The work reiterates that there is a biological component to having a same- ...read more
An artist's illustration shows Earth from orbit. (Credit: Dima Zel/Shutterstock)
Our planet is getting warmer today, that's a fact. But, this isn't the hottest time in our planet's history — far from it, in fact. At various points, millions or billions of years ago, Earth was much more toasty than it is now.
One of the most notable hot flashes came 56 million years ago, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. It was a relatively brief period of rapid, abnormal warming. ...read more
This composite image of the cloud-covered planet Venus uses data from the Japanese probe Akatsuki. (Credit: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
swirls amidst the clouds of Venus.
The planet’s hot, harsh
atmosphere is thick with carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. Atmospheric gases
circulate amid cloud layers according to patterns that scientists don’t fully
understand. And Venusian clouds also contain strange, dark ...read more
The robot snake in a model of human veins. (Credit: Kim et al., Sci. Robot. 4, eaax7329 (2019))
You probably didn’t picture the robots of the future to be slimy, magnetized snakes. But a hyper-flexible robot modeled after the legless reptiles and designed by researchers at MIT could make it easier to diagnose and treat blood clots, aneurysms and perform other small-scale procedures in the brain.
The device, less than a millimeter thick, was designed to crawl through the narrow, twis ...read more
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