Stefan Sirucek

Speech is integral to who we are as a species, but how did it evolve? The lip-smacking sounds made by a rare African primate may provide a clue, a new study says. Most primates make rudimentary calls that consist of one or two syllables. But the gelada—native only to the grasslands of the Ethiopian plateau—displays “rapid…

Wildlife

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet—but does an eye in any other place see as sharply? The answer may be yes—a finding that could help people with blindness or other eye disorders, a new study says. Recent experiments show that tadpoles bred with eyes surgically implanted in their tails instead of…

Wildlife

Fairy circles—circular patches of bare soil surrounded by a ring of grass—have long mystified scientists. Found mainly in the grasslands of southern Africa, the oddly shaped formations can grow to more than 65 feet (20 meters) wide, but no one knew what caused them. Now, perhaps dashing the hopes of those who thought actual fairies were…

Changing Planet

Spring may be when a young man’s fancy turns to love, but new evidence suggests that it’s winter when his sperm is at its spunkiest.  Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that sperm concentration and the percentage of fast motility—the ability to move spontaneously and independently—decreased significantly from spring into summer and…

Wildlife

A thunderous pounding, flashes of light—the symptoms are familiar to anyone who’s suffered a headache or migraine. But according to new research, headaches may have more to do with electrical storms than anyone imagined. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that lightning may in fact contribute to the onset of headaches and migraines. (Explore an…

Wildlife

A cluster of tapeworm eggs have been discovered in 270 million-year-old fossilized shark feces, a new study says. The find suggests that the intestinal parasites, common in vertebrates, are much older than previously thought. It could also potentially sow the seeds for Hollywood’s next monster movie: Sharkworm: Escape from the Past. “This discovery shows that…

Wildlife

No such thing as a free lunch? That may not be the case for a certain strain of single-celled algae, a new study says. The microscopic organism is apparently even lazier than normal algae, which never made our list of most industrious organisms to begin with. Prymnesium parvum, a distant cousin of phytoplankton and giant kelp, is typically found…

Changing Planet

Fake poop for good health? It’s no load of crap, according to Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario. She has developed a synthetic “poop” that can be used to treat human gastrointestinal infections caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile. (Related blog: “Infusion of Pseudo-Poo Cures Gut Infections in Two Women.”) Allen-Vercoe and colleagues developed the…

Wildlife