Latest Science


Chimps and bonobos find a common language

It seems chimpanzees and bonobos have a lot more in common than just looks and genes. They use many similar gestures during grooming and usually mean the same thing when they use them. An international team has painstakingly defined the meaning of 33 bonobo gesture types and compared them with known chimpanzee gesture meanings. The overlap was quite substantial and, according to lead author Dr Kirsty Graham from the University of York, “may indicate that […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Life is out there… maybe

The search for extra-terrestrial life has had a boost, with two new papers finding life is able to exist on Mars and Enceladus In the ongoing search for extra-terrestrial life, researchers keep looking towards Enceladus – the icy moon of Saturn – and Mars. This is for a good reason, both planets have conditions which are thought to be able to support life. Adding weight to this search is two papers released this week which […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Long-term depression changes your brain

Discovery of raised inflammation could lead to new treatments. People with longer periods of untreated depression over a decade had significantly more brain inflammation compared to those who had less than 10 years of untreated depression. It suggests that depression may be progressive, rather than a static condition. Despite depression not being a neurodegenerative disease, it draws parallels with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease which are associated with brain inflammation and […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Secrets of super sorghum revealed

A super-fertile strain of sorghum produced accidentally in 2013 has now been fully sequenced, revealing the secret of how it doubles seed-production. Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a critically important cereal crop used for human and animal feed around the world. Its seeds are produced in clusters along multi-branched structures at the top of each stem. However, in its natural state, each structure produces two types of flowers – sessile spikelets (SS) and pedicellate spikelets (PS) […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel
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Opportunity’s 5,000 sols on Mars

It’s the Mars rover that just won’t quit – Opportunity has clocked up 5,000 Martian days exploring the red planet. And it’s still serving up surprises. On Saturday 17 February, the NASA-operated rover Opportunity awoke to its 5000th sol, or Martian day, on Mars. But rather than celebrating, the dependable rover just kept plugging away on its scientific mission. Each sol, a Martian day, is slightly longer than Earth’s at around 24 hours and 40 […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: David Gozzard from The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
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We're living in the aftermath of a galactic tidal wave

An ancient fly-by of our Milky Way by a neighbour may have warped our galaxy into a huge galactic wave, scattering stars 14,000 light years above and below the disc, according to new observations. It looks like our galaxy had a more violent past than previously thought. The location of two collections of stars, A13 and TriAnd, have been a long-running mystery for astronomers studying the structure of the Milky Way. One previous model suggested […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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The caterpillar that learnt to whistle

When is a caterpillar like a kettle? It sounds like a Christmas cracker joke, but it isn’t, especially in the case of the Nessus sphinx hawkmoth. The moth species (Amphion floridensis) is common in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada, and because they are active during the day the adults are a familiar sight in fields and suburbs alike. The caterpillars, however, are less visible, at least to humans, being a dull […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Scientists map the elephant's genetic family tree

An international team of researchers has finally worked out the evolutionary relationships of elephants and their ancestors. The researchers analysed 14 complete elephant genomes, from the three modern species of elephants, and 11 extinct species including mastadons, woolly mammoths, Columbian mammoths and the largest elephant ever to walk the earth – Palaeoloxodon which lived about 120,000 years ago. Ancient elephants interbred with each other “Elephants and their ancient relatives like the woolly mammoths and mastodons […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Marine ecosystems could counteract some adverse effects of climate change

Marine wildlife may be more resilient to increasing CO2 levels in the ocean than previously thought, according to new research. Rising carbon dioxide levels in seawater, otherwise known as ocean acidification, is a projected consequence of global warming. Previous studies have found that although elevated CO2 levels can boost growth in certain species, it can simultaneously erode resources necessary for survival. Acidification can raise the energy cost of crucial operations, such as the production of calcium, neural functioning and […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Archaeologists discover new tombs in ancient Egyptian cemetery

An ancient necropolis has been uncovered at an archaeological site in Tuna Al-Gabal, south of Cairo. The discovery contains several tombs and burial shafts from the late pharaonic period and the early Ptolemaic dynasty. The discovery was part of ongoing work to find the remainder of the cemetery of Upper Egypt’s 15th nome (a territorial division of ancient Egypt) during ancient times. The excavation site, on the west bank of the Nile River, is one […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Where have all the wild horses gone?

There are no more ‘wild’ horses in the world. They haven’t turned over a new leaf – they just don’t exist. It has long been assumed that Przewalski’s horses, native to the Eurasian steppes, are the last wild horse species on Earth, but new research shows they may be feral and not actually wild. Instead, they are descended from the earliest-known instance of horse domestication by the Botai people of northern Kazakhstan some 5,500 years […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Space pic of the week: A rose made of galaxies

The Hubble Space Telescope caught this incredible rose made of galaxies To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope‘s deployment into space in 2011, astronomers pointed Hubble’s eye at an especially photogenic pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Neanderthals were as artistic as modern humans

The oldest known cave paintings show that the Neanderthals were thinking creatively 20,000 years before humans arrived on the scene. Describing someone’s artistic endeavours as Neanderthal may not be quite the insult that it first appears. An international scientific team has found that Neanderthals were knocking out cave paintings in Spain 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe, and that this involved such sophisticated behaviour as the choosing of a location, planning of light source […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel

Commercial fishing takes over more than half the world's oceans

A global study reveals data showing how more than half the world’s oceans are commercially fished. This is the first time a study has looked at such a large global scale. More than 70,000 industrial fishing vessels were tracked with automatic identification system (AIS) technology that records position, speed, and turning angles from January 2012 to December 2016. That culminated in 22 billion AIS messages to analyse. The results from the study by David Kroodsma and colleagues […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Bats are host to many deadly viruses – so how come they don't get sick?

As mammals go, bats should be completely screwed up and dysfunctional. The fact that they aren’t, and have evolved to produce around 1,200 species throws up some particularly curly questions for scientists. There are three reasons why bats shouldn’t be as successful as they are. First off, they fly – which is weird for a mammal, but, more importantly, means that their cells are put under enormous stress and often leak fragments of DNA from their […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Seeing the future of AI in diagnosis of eye diseases

Researchers in the US have built an artificial intelligence tool that can diagnose and suggest treatment for eye diseases with 95% accuracy. In the quest for faster, more accurate medical diagnoses, medical researchers and doctors are increasingly looking at artificial intelligence. The latest field to set their eyes on AI is ophthalmology, with the announcement of a new artificial intelligence-powered diagnosis tool for retinal diseases. The new program was not only able to diagnose macular […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Crime prevention expert urges a new approach to fix ‘close the gap’ failures

With Indigenous leaders calling for greater intervention to save at-risk families in the wake of the rape of a toddler, a leading criminologist is scathing of our attempts to improve the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but says he has a plan to fix it using tried and tested prevention methods. Australia won’t succeed in “closing the gap” for Indigenous communities until it adds sound science to good intentions and […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel

When it comes to survival, having the right roots is critical

Big leaves and pretty flowers had nothing to do with it. The spread of plants around the globe was enabled by developments out of sight and underground. As the land-based plant kingdom commenced its gradual spread north and south from its tropical beginnings it did so by evolving ever thinner roots, according to a new study. A team led by Lars Hedin of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University analysed root […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson
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The Check Up - tackling doping, human-sheep hybrid, and autism blood test

The Check Up is a weekly feature highlighting some of the best, most fascinating, most important, or simply unmissable health, medical, and human stories from around the web. Tackling doping before it starts There are a few more days of wintry Olympic goodness left, but that could mean a few more days of wintry badness! I’m talking about doping, and this article is a deep dive into why it happens, and how the next generation can be educated […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Casey Harrigan from Australia's Science Channel
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New rotavirus vax targets newborns

Australian discovery closes a crucial age-gap during which existing vaccines left very young children unprotected. Rotavirus infection induces severe gastroenteritis and is responsible for about 37 per cent of childhood deaths caused by diarrhoea. It accounts for more that 200,000 deaths worldwide every year. The condition is caused by any one of eight species of double-stranded RNA virus clustered in a single genus of the family Reoviridae, although one, Rotavirus A, accounts for roughly 90 […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Snake skin inspires slithering soft robots

US researchers have been inspired by snakes to develop a new type of robot movement In the Venn diagram of science, the overlap between robots and snakes is probably pretty small. Yet scientists have used the slithery stuff of nightmares as inspiration, creating flexible scaly skins that allow immobile soft robots to crawl. Combining inspiration from the reptiles and the ancient Japanese paper cutting art of kirigami, they came up with cost-effective textured skins capable […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel

Amateur astronomer snaps a surprise supernova at its birth

Happy accidental discovery surprises researchers with what it reveals. Imagine your surprise when playing with your new camera-phone you see a bright dot in the edge of your test post to instagram. Now imagine the chances of that bright dot being one of the most destructive events in the known Universe. You may well be surprised. Amateur astronomer Victor Buso made that exact chance photograph as he tested his new camera on a 40-cm Newtonian […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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Red wine is good for your teeth

Recommendations for good oral hygiene may soon include drinking a daily glass of red wine, recent research suggests. Polyphenols, elements found in red wine and grape seeds, stop the bacteria that cause caries and plaque from sticking to teeth and gums, preventing them from taking up residence, a new study has found. The effect is increased if the polyphenols are combined with a bacterial species called Streptococcus dentisani, an oral probiotic. The research, published in […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Paris climate agreement won't stop sea level rise – what the experts say

Even if all the countries signed up to the Paris Agreement meet their targets, sea levels are still going to rise between 0.7 and 1.2m by 2300, according to new modelling published today in Nature Communications. For every five-year delay in mitigation efforts, sea levels will rise 0.2m, emphasising the need for action in the coming decades, say the researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Related: Sea-level rise is accelerating What do the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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First 3D models of Tasmanian Tiger joeys

First 3D scans show development of Tasmanian Tiger joeys. Tasmanian tigers got the name for their stripes but their scientific name, Thylacinus cynocephalus, translates to “dog-headed pouch-dog”. That reflects the animal’s remarkable similarity in appearance to canines despite diverging from them on the evolutionary tree more than 160 million years ago. Tasmanian Tigers, or thylacines, were the top marsupial predators across Australia until their extinction from the mainland around 3,000 years ago, and extinction due to […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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