Capybaras may be poised to be Florida’s next invasive rodent

Capybaras, giant rodents native to South America, could become Florida’s next big invasive species, a biologist warned August 3 in Columbia, Mo., at the 53rd Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society. “Capybaras have been introduced to northern Florida,” said Elizabeth Congdon of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. And there are enough similarities to ... Read more

How to get Ötzi’s look

Ötzi had Copper Age style. The 5,300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman, whose body was found poking out of a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991, incorporated hides from at least five domesticated and wild animal species into his apparel, a new genetic study finds. Comparing mitochondrial DNA extracted from nine ancient leather fragments with DNA of ... Read more

CRISPR inspires new tricks to edit genes

Scientists usually shy away from using the word miracle — unless they’re talking about the gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. “You can do anything with CRISPR,” some say. Others just call it amazing. CRISPR can quickly and efficiently manipulate virtually any gene in any plant or animal. In the four years since CRISPR has been around, ... Read more

For snowy owls, wintering on the prairie might be normal

White, fierce and fluffy, snowy owls are icons of Arctic life. But some of these owls are not cool with polar winters. Every year, part of the population flies south to North American prairies. Ornithologists thought those birds fled the Arctic in desperation, haggard and hungry. But the prairie owls are doing just fine, researchers ... Read more

Philae lander spotted on comet 67P

Philae has been found, nestled in a shadowy crevice on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet lander, lost since its tumultuous touchdown on the comet on November 12, 2014, turned up in images taken by the Rosetta orbiter on September 2. Philae is on its side with one leg sticking out into sunlight. Its cockeyed posture probably ... Read more

Pterosaurs weren’t all super-sized in the Late Cretaceous

Pterosaurs didn’t have to be gargantuan to survive in the Late Cretaceous. Fragmentary fossils of a roughly 77-million-year-old pterosaur found in British Columbia suggest it had a wingspan of just 1.5 meters, close to that of a bald eagle. The ancient flier is the smallest pterosaur discovered during this time period — by a lot, ... Read more

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second-lowest low on record

Sea ice around the North Pole has reached its second-lowest low on record, tying with 2007, scientists at NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced September 15. Arctic sea ice reached its expected low point for the year on September 10, bottoming out at an area of 4.14 million square kilometers. That’s ... Read more

Qian Chen makes matter come alive

Qian Chen, 30Materials scientistUniversity of Illinois The SN 10In a darkened room, bathed in the glow of green light, materials scientist Qian Chen watches gold nanorods dance. They wiggle across a computer screen displaying real-time video from a gigantic microscope — a tall, beige tube about as wide as a telephone pole. Chen has observed ... Read more

First ‘three-parent baby’ born from nuclear transfer

A baby boy born on April 6 is the first person to be born from a technique used to cure mitochondrial diseases, New Scientist reports. The child’s mother carries Leigh syndrome, a fatal disease caused by faulty mitochondria. Mitochondria generate most of a cell’s energy and perform other functions that keep cells healthy. Each mitochondria ... Read more

Big Viking families nurtured murder

Murder was a calculated family affair among Iceland’s early Viking settlers. And the bigger the family, the more bloodthirsty. Data from three family histories spanning six generations support the idea that disparities in family size have long influenced who killed whom in small-scale societies. These epic written stories, or sagas, record everything from births and ... Read more