Ancient human relative used fire, surprising discoveries suggest

Charcoal and burned bones offer intriguing — if controversial — clues that the species Homo naledi made hearths to light its way and cook in dark caves.

By Mark JohnsonDecember 5, 2022

Smithsonian exhibit digs out the ‘nature’ in old books

An exhibit focuses on long-ago artisans’ use of natural items such as leather, flax, lead and even semiprecious jewels to create tomes.

By Erin BlakemoreDecember 3, 2022

Why this mammal eats its own brain — and why it could matter for you

Unlocking the shrew’s secret to shrinking its own cognitive tissue in winter – only to regrow it in spring – may help doctors treat brain diseases in humans.

By Dino GrandoniNovember 30, 2022

Fishtopher, the ‘very sad and depressed’ cat, is adopted after viral fame

“FISHTOPHER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!” a New Jersey shelter announced after a Maryland couple adopted the cat, who went viral on Thanksgiving.

By Annabelle TimsitNovember 28, 2022

Scientists ‘re-discover’ lost pigeon species in Papua New Guinea

Scientists captured it on camera for the first time ever — with just hours to spare on a scientific expedition aimed at finding the long-lost bird.

By Erin BlakemoreNovember 26, 2022

Skywatch: Mars brightens in early December, and Geminids peak mid-month

A description of planetary activity in December.

By Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.November 25, 2022

Mars rover digs up intriguing clues in the hunt for life beyond Earth

NASA's Perseverance mission has collected samples that hold life-friendly molecules “in pretty much every rock” — as well as a few geologic surprises

By Joel AchenbachNovember 23, 2022

Why the 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia was so deadly

Scientists who study earthquakes offer several factors that could have contributed to the tragic death toll of this relatively mild temblor.

By Carolyn Y. JohnsonNovember 22, 2022

Loss of 38 satellites prompts call for better space weather forecasts

Instead of reaching orbit, the satellites fell toward Earth, burning up as they reentered its atmosphere.

By Erin BlakemoreNovember 19, 2022

The Earth now weighs 6 ronnagrams. What does that mean?

Ronna, quetta, ronto and quecto are newest prefixes in the recently expanded metric system, or the International System of Units.

By Andrew JeongNovember 19, 2022

Almost all species in global shark fin trade to be protected

Dozens of countries vote for 'landmark' decision to regulate trade that has killed millions of sharks and threatened numerous species.

By Kelly Kasulis ChoNovember 19, 2022

Webb telescope spots earliest galaxies yet, and they are cosmic oddballs

The distant bundles of stars are far brighter than anyone expected, challenging views of how the cosmos first took shape.

By Mark JohnsonNovember 17, 2022

Some octopus species may deliberately throw stuff to defend personal space

Researchers say octopuses not only throw objects — an uncommon behavior in animals — but may also be capable of deliberately targeting each other.

By Jennifer HassanNovember 17, 2022

What happens when 10,000 minks are set loose? A county is finding out.

The ferret-like creatures have scrambled traffic on a northwest Ohio highway as drivers stop on the shoulder to take pictures.

By Marisa IatiNovember 16, 2022

Wild octopuses throw debris at one another

Researchers captured wild Octopus tetricus “throwing” sea debris at one another in what they said could be deliberate attacks.

November 15, 2022

Cows fed hemp produced milk with THC, researchers say

Protein-rich hemp has promise as animal feed. But a German study shows that dairy cows fed industrial hemp can produce milk containing the buzzy compound THC.

By Joel AchenbachNovember 14, 2022

Researchers track down two copies of fossil destroyed by the Nazis

When a Nazi bomb obliterated the collections of a London museum during World War II, many thought one fossil had been lost to science.

By Erin BlakemoreNovember 12, 2022

Pigs mediate barnyard fights with a light touch of the snout, study says

Pigs are so smart they have conflict resolution strategies, Italian researchers found. After two fight, a third can intervene to lower aggression or anxiety.

By Leo SandsNovember 10, 2022

Please stop licking psychedelic toads, National Park Service warns

The National Park Service told visitors to quit licking the Sonoran Desert toad in attempts to get high from the natural psychedelic substance bufotenin, also known as 5-MeO-DMT.

By Adela SulimanNovember 8, 2022

Asteroids! Solar Storms! Nukes! Climate Calamity! Killer Robots!

A guide to contemporary doomsday scenarios — from the threats you know about to the ones you never think of.

By Joel AchenbachNovember 7, 2022