Nature


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A small town in Romania called Costesti is home to unusual geological manifestations – bulging bulbous boulders called trovants. These stones have long intrigued locals, with their organic-looking shapes and strange cement oozings, inspiring myths about the stones’ ability to grow and move – like living beings rather than inanimate objects.   Trovants vary greatly
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Found mostly in the open prairies of North America and some remote regions of Northern Europe, snow doughnuts or snow rollers might look like icy man-made structures, but these tire-shaped curiosities are entirely natural.   They’re very rarely seen because the number of weather conditions that need to be just right for them to form
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Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Valviloculus pleristaminis makes for a perfect example. Scientists only recently identified this mysterious, extinct flower. It once bloomed in the Cretaceous period – a floral relic of a bygone age, preserved in time-stopping amber since some nameless day when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.   “This
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Above water, they sound like bellowing Wookies. Below the ice, they sound like chirping, chattering robots. Either way, the Weddell seals of Antarctica should have no trouble finding work in an upcoming Star Wars project.   “The Weddell seals’ calls create an almost unbelievable, otherworldly soundscape under the ice,” Paul Cziko, a visiting professor at the University of
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With bizarrely ornate feathers and outrageous dances, New Guinea’s birds-of-paradise are glorious living examples of how sexual selection can make animals’ evolution get hilariously whacked.   Now we have evidence that such fancy and impractical flamboyance was a thing well before modern birds even evolved. A chicken-sized dinosaur with a dense mane of thick hair-like
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With impressively large webs and stunning colours on female spiders, golden silk orb-weavers aren’t just cool – they’ve also been an incredible help to science, with their silk even being investigated as a biomaterial to reconstruct nerves.   Now, a study of orb spiders (Trichonephila clavipes) in space has revealed that these smart arachnids can orientate themselves with light
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Scientists may have discovered a large-toothed mammal off the western coast of Mexico that they say looks and sounds unlike anything else on Earth. Researchers collected environmental genetic samples of this strange creature that are still being analysed, but the photographs and acoustic recordings have researchers “highly confident” it’s a never-before-described species of beaked whale.
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The highest point on Earth got a bit higher Tuesday as China and Nepal finally agreed on a precise elevation for Mount Everest after years of debate. The agreed height of 8,848.86 metres (29,031 feet) – unveiled at a news conference in Kathmandu – was 86 centimetres (2.8 feet) higher than the measurement previously recognised
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For the first time, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have formally identified a new species of undersea creature based solely on high-definition video footage captured at the bottom of the ocean.   And what an undersea creature it is. Meet Duobrachium sparksae – a strange, gelatinous species of ctenophore, encountered by the
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Ants are pretty organised little creatures. Highly social insects, they know how to forage, build complicated nests, steal your pantry snacks, and generally look after the queens and the colony, all by working together.   Leaf-cutter ants turn that cooperation up several notches. Leaf-cutter ant colonies like Acromyrmex echinatior can contain millions of ants, split
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The origins of life, a few billion years ago, were humble. Single-celled organisms squirming in the ooze, over millions and billions of years developing into multi-celled plants and, eventually, animals.   But when and how these evolutionary spurts occurred has been difficult to puzzle out. Organic material doesn’t necessarily preserve well, and when it does,
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Every now and then, Earth reminds us it’s capable of releasing some furious energy.  Case in point: scientists have just detected a new extreme in hotspots of lightning activity called ‘superbolts’: intense lightning strikes that shine up to 1,000 times brighter than typical lightning strikes.    The observations come from researchers at the US Los