Carved Skulls Flesh Out Neolithic Cult Evidence

Fragments of uniquely carved skulls — at least one of which may have also been decorated — have turned up at one of Turkey's most important Neolithic sites. Investigation into how the skulls were modified, and what they might have been used for, points to a skull cult that's the first of its kind in the world. The archaeological trove of Göbekli Tepe sits on an artificial hill in southeastern Turkey. It's a complex of monumental buildings with enormous pillars, many of them carved with

Yeast’s Newest Trick: Detecting Deadly Pathogens

Yeast, the ubiquitous little fungus that can seemingly do it all, is doing more. If you aren’t familiar with yeast’s accolades, here’s a refresher: It gives beer its buzz, it can produce textiles, safer opioids, tasty food and is the workhorse model organism in scientific labs around the world. Now, researchers have put yeast to work detecting deadly, pervasive fungal pathogens. A team of researchers lead by Columbia University's Virginia Cornish designed an elegantly simple biosensor—

Anemones can detach from rocks and swim, and it looks hilarious.

Despite having grown up in the Puget Sound area, and visiting my share of touch tanks and aquariums, I had no idea that some local species of sea anemone could swim! It's been known for a long time, at least since the publication of this paper in 1955 in the journal Science. The authors accidentally discovered that the sea anemone Stomphia coccinea can detach itself from rocks and swim away when confronted with a starfish predator. And not only that, while swimming, the anemones look... pretty f

Watch: Animation of satellite images shows smoke from the Brian Head fire drifting across much of Utah and beyond

With hot, dry and windy conditions continuing, the dangerous Brian Head fire is expected to grow significantly Super dry conditions and winds gusting to more than 40 miles per hour yesterday have fanned Utah's Brian Head wildfire, reportedly sending flames shooting 100 feet into the air. Those flames lofted giant plumes of smoke that were easily seen by the GOES-West weather satellite. You can see it happening in the animation above, which I created using imagery acquired by the satellit

Could you be a plant whisperer?

What are plants trying to tell us? Take a moment to look at and listen to the plants around you. Are they blooming earlier than usual? Are they playing host to pollinators? Do you know their names? Summer is finally here and the plants in our yards, parks, and schools are probably in full bloom. Below we've highlighted four citizen science projects that help you help plants tell their stories. Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.

What Are “Hard” and “Soft” Drugs?

A new study examines the blurry distinction between "hard" and "soft" drugs. The "hardness" of drugs is a concept that makes intuitive sense, but is difficult to put into precise terms. "Hard" drugs are those which are viewed as more addictive, more potent and more toxic than the comparatively benign "soft" variety. The concept has a normative aspect: "hard" drugs are bad, and you should avoid them, even if you use soft drugs. In the new paper, Slovakian researchers Peter Janik et al.

Dogs Notice When People (or Other Dogs) Sound Sad

Your dog may act like a good listener—but does she really notice when you're feeling down? Or does she just know how to deploy a wet nose and a tail-wag to earn treats? A new study says negative emotions are contagious for dogs. They'll pick up a companion's bad feelings just by sound, whether that companion is human or canine. "Emotional contagion" is the most basic form of empathy, write Annika Huber of the University of Vienna's Clever Dog Lab and her colleagues. We're not talking

Solving the Centuries-old Mystery of Rare ‘Bright Nights’

On rare occasions throughout history, the darkness of night fails to materialize. Even with the moon darkened, the sky fills with a diffuse glow that seems to filter out of the very air itself. Such "bright nights" have been recorded back to the days of Pliny the Elder around 132 B.C., although explanations for the phenomenon have been lacking. Using a special interferometer and data from the 1990s, two Canadian researchers say that they can explain why the sky seems so much brighter

10 Online Clothing Retailers With Awesome Return Policies

Buying clothes in a store—once the only way to shop—now seems almost antiquated. Why limit yourself to merely one designer, or even all the options available in a mall, when you have the infinite variety of the internet to choose from? But despite the convenience and selection of online shopping, I still prefer to…

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Fishing Fleets Threw Away 10 Percent of Their Catch Over the Past Decade

“Waste not, want not.” The origin of this proverb traces back centuries, but time has hardly tarnished its relevance. It’s a warning every generation would do well to heed: Mismanaging precious commodities today will lead to an impoverished future. It’s so simple. It’s so true. It’s so often ignored. Case-in-point: global industrial fishing operations. Over the past decade, fishing fleets simply threw away more than 10 percent—enough to fill 4,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools—of the wo

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