Joggers naturally pace themselves to conserve energy even on short runs

For many recreational runners, taking a jog is a fun way to stay fit and burn calories. But it turns out an individual has a tendency to settle into the same, comfortable pace on short and long runs — and that pace is the one that minimizes their body’s energy use over a given distance. ... Read more

Mom’s voice holds a special place in kids’ brains. That changes for teens

Young kids’ brains are especially tuned to their mothers’ voices. Teenagers’ brains, in their typical rebellious glory, are most decidedly not. That conclusion, described April 28 in the Journal of Neuroscience, may seem laughably obvious to parents of teenagers, including neuroscientist Daniel Abrams of Stanford University School of Medicine. “I have two teenaged boys myself, ... Read more

Dog breed is a surprisingly poor predictor of individual behavior

Turns out we may be unfairly stereotyping dogs. Modern breeds are shaped around aesthetics: Chihuahuas’ batlike ears, poodles’ curly fur, dachshunds’ hot dog shape. But breeds are frequently associated with certain behaviors, too. For instance, the American Kennel Club describes border collies as “affectionate, smart, energetic” and beagles as “friendly, curious, merry.” Now, genetic information ... Read more

Pterosaurs may have had brightly colored feathers on their heads

Pterosaurs not only had feathers, but also were flamboyantly colorful, scientists say.That could mean that feathers — and vibrant displays of mate-seeking plumage — may have originated as far back as the common ancestor of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, during the early Triassic Period around 250 million years ago.Analyses of the partial skull of a 113-million-year-old ... Read more

How I decided on a second COVID-19 booster shot

Booster shots against COVID-19 are once again on my mind. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that older people and immunocompromised people are eligible for a second booster shot provided it has been at least four months since their last shot. After I got over the shock of the FDA calling me “older” — ... Read more

These male spiders catapult away to avoid being cannibalized after sex

An act of acrobatics keeps males of one orb-weaving spider species from becoming their mates’ post-sex snack. After mating, Philoponella prominens males catapult away from females at speeds up to nearly 90 centimeters per second, researchers report April 25 in Current Biology. Other spiders jump to capture prey or avoid predators (SN: 3/16/19). But P. ... Read more

This camera lens can focus up close and far away at the same time

Ben Franklin had nothing on trilobites. Roughly 400 million years before the founding father invented bifocals, the now extinct trilobite Dalmanitina socialis already had a superior version (SN: 2/2/74). Not only could the sea critter see things both near and far, it could also see both distances in focus at the same time — an ... Read more

Why you should care about ‘The Insect Crisis’

Imagine a world without insects. You might breathe a sigh of relief at the thought of mosquito-free summers, or you might worry about how agriculture will function without pollinators. What you probably won’t picture is trudging through a landscape littered with feces and rotting corpses — what a world devoid of maggots and dung beetles ... Read more

All of the bases in DNA and RNA have now been found in meteorites

More of the ingredients for life have been found in meteorites. Space rocks that fell to Earth within the last century contain the five bases that store information in DNA and RNA, scientists report April 26 in Nature Communications. These “nucleobases” — adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine and uracil — combine with sugars and phosphates to ... Read more

Antibiotics diminish babies’ immune response to key vaccines

Taking antibiotics in the first two years of life can prevent babies from developing a robust immune response to certain vaccines. The new finding provides another cautionary tale against overusing antibiotics, researchers say. Babies get immunized in their first six months, and receive booster doses in their second year, to protect against certain infectious diseases. ... Read more