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Ancient bee fossil reveals secrets of human ancestor’s habitat

Posted on 28 Sep 2016 in Human Origins, Journalism, Palaeontology

The skull of an ape-like Australopithecus found in 1924 and nicknamed the Taung Child revolutionised our view of human origins. It suggested humans evolved in Africa, not Eurasia as previously thought. No other hominin fossils have been found at the site since. But now a fossilised bee’s nest provides an insight into the local habitat in which that early human lived almost 3 million years ago – and hints that more fossils could be waiting to be discovered. Image: scead

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There is a huge ‘monolith’ on Phobos, one of Mars’s moons

Posted on 24 Sep 2016 in Journalism, Space

Many people are vexed by the Phobos monolith. It has inspired all manner of alien-based conspiracy theories and this fascinating discussion on Reddit. It even gave its name to an album released this year by Les Claypool and Sean Lennon Ono. So what is it? Image: Mars Global Surveyor/Nasa

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How some animals accelerate faster than all others

Posted on 19 Sep 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

The smashing mantis shrimp predatory attacks are so fast, and so brief, that their exact speed went unappreciated by scientists until about 15 years ago. And what does the mantis shrimp do with its astonishingly quick weapons? It uses them to attack an animal virtually synonymous with sluggishness: a snail. Image: Christian Gloor (mostly) underwater photographer

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Tap-dancing songbirds drum with their feet to attract mates

Posted on 19 Sep 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

It is not just about speed. The only songbird known to perform a rapid tap dance during courtship makes more noise with its feet during its routines than at other times. Image: acornjfl

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Snub-nosed monkeys are so inbred they may struggle to survive

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 in Evolution, Journalism

With a global population below 250, things have been looking bleak for the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. But the creatures might be in even more trouble than we thought. One section of mitochondrial DNA seems to be identical in all members of the largest known population – a sign of inbreeding that can leave a species vulnerable to extinction. Image: dangnguyenxuan

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Blind people use brain’s visual cortex to help do maths

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 in Journalism, Neuroscience

Subtract 8 from 52. Did you see the calculation in your head? While a leading theory suggests our visual experiences are linked to our understanding of numbers, a study of people who have been blind from birth suggests the opposite. Image: morebyless

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