The "artists" behind bizarre, barren, grassless rings dotting the desert of Southwest Africa have been found lurking right at scientists' feet: termites.
Known as fairy circles, these patches crop up in regular patterns along a narrow strip of the Namib Desert between mid-Angola and northwestern South Africa, and can persist for decades. The cause of these desert pockmarks has been widely debated, but a species of sand termite, Psammotermes allocerus, could be behind the mysterious dirt rings, suggests a study published today (March 28) in the journal Science.
Credit: Journal of Fish Biology / C. M. Wagner et al
When a fisherman caught a bull shark recently off the Florida Keys, he came across an unlikely surprise: One of the shark's live fetuses had two heads.
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The fisherman kept the odd specimen, and shared it with scientists, who described it in a study published online today (March 25) in the Journal of Fish Biology. It's one of the very few examples of a two-headed shark ever recorded — there about six instances in published reports — and the first time this has been seen in a bull shark, said Michael Wagner, a study co-author and researcher at Michigan State University.
A NASA spacecraft that constantly watches the sun has captured an amazing view of a solar eruption that exploded from the surface of the star this month.
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The new image, which NASA featured as its image of the day today (March 28), shows the solar prominence —a delicate combination of super-hot plasma and magnetic fields —just after it snapped, sending plumes of material out into space.
To see firsthand how an elusive species of jumbo squid lives, scientists have strapped video cameras to the carnivorous sea creature in the eastern Pacific.
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The footage has helped reveal some remarkable secrets of the Humboldt squid: They are capable of amazing bursts of speed, up to nearly 45 mph (72 km/h); they "talk" to each other by changing their body color; and they hunt in big synchronized groups.
A jagged scar etched in copper-colored rocks, the Colorado River's channel curls through one of the world's most scenic landscapes.
Draining seven states and two countries, the river is one of the Southwest's most important water sources. One of its major reservoirs, Lake Powell, can be seen from space in a photo snapped March 12 by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.
A plan to eliminate rats on Alcatraz, home to the famous old prison in San Francisco Bay, led to the discovery of an unfamiliar glowing creature never…Read More »
before seen on the island.
In early 2012, National Park Service employees placed a non-toxic dye into food for rats to eat; the dye makes the animals excrete fluorescent droppings that glow under black lights, making it easier to track the rodents. A group of workers and volunteers from the UC Davis' entomology club canvassed the island using black lights to search for evidence of rats, which threaten populations of birds on the Rock.
Astronomers have discovered a new kind of supernova, a star explosion so weak that scientists dubbed it a miniature stellar blast.
Supernovas represent the deaths of stars, which collapse in powerful explosions. They generally are classified into two main types; the new class, called Type Iax, "is essentially a mini-supernova," said lead researcher Ryan Foley, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the runt of the supernova litter."
Cats, whether house-size or larger, are known for their curiosity. A tiger cub in India's Bhadra Tiger Reserve was no exception, as it was photographed…Read More »
inspecting a remote camera set up in the park to monitor its species.
Cats, whether house-size or larger, are known for their curiosity. A tiger cub in India's Bhadra Tiger Reserve was no exception, as it was photographed inspecting a remote camera set up in the park to monitor its species.
Deep in the Peruvian Amazon lurk strange creatures and unique animals and sights, including spiders that make large spider-shaped decoys in their webs,…Read More »
unusually hairy caterpillars and atmospheric specters called solar halos.
These amazing finds were spotted by Jeff Cremer, marketing director for Rainforest Expeditions, an ecotourism company that hosts guests in the Peruvian Amazon and organizes trips to the jungle, as well as Phil Torres, a collaborating biologist.
Two new species of lemur look so similar that it's impossible to tell them apart without sequencing their genes.
The itsy-bitsy primates are both mouse lemurs, which are tiny, nocturnal lemurs that measure less than 11 inches (27 centimeters) from nose to tail. The newly discovered Madagascar natives have gray-brown coats and weigh only 2.5 to 3 ounces (65-85 grams).