The riches of the natural world are not spread evenly across the globe. Some places, such as the tropical Andes in South America, are simply stacked with unique species of plants and animals, many found no place else on Earth. So-called biodiversity “hotspots” are thought to cover just 2.3 percent of the planet’s surface, mostly in the tropics, yet they account for half of all known plant species and 77 percent of land vertebrates.
A preliminary study published this month in JAMA Psychiatry presents evidence that psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in Psilocybe cubensis, or so-called magic mushrooms, may be a useful treatment for depression when paired with psychotherapy.
In the ninth century A.D., the Maya abandoned the great city of Tikal after hundreds of years of prosperity and expansion. Researchers have long sought to explain how and why the city collapsed, but despite extensive study of the site, unanswered questions remain. Continue reading Why Did the Maya Abandon the Ancient City of Tikal?
In 1979, researchers in the Eastern Pacific Ocean scooped up a small, never-before-seen shark with distinctive pockets near its gills. Another “pocket shark,” as the animal was dubbed, was not seen again until 2010, when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship found one in the Gulf of Mexico. But as Mindy Weisberger reports for Live Science, a new study has revealed that the two specimens do not belong to the same species—highlighting just how much scientists have yet to discover about the creatures that live in the mysterious deep. Continue reading This New Shark Species Looks Like a Tiny Sperm Whale
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then scent, as revealed by a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is in not only a smeller’s nose, but their DNA. Continue reading New Study Reveals How One Person’s ‘Smellscape’ Can Differ From Another’s
When a mosquito lands and your arm and starts taking a drink, it’s not just an unhappy accident. Mosquitoes use an array of chemical neuroreceptors to track down their next blood meal. Now, researchers have identified a key receptor that detects the lactic acid in human sweat, a finding that could eventually help people avoid becoming fast food for the insects. Continue reading Mosquitoes Can Smell Your Sweat
Around five years ago, a pregnant woman in Australia went in for her six-week ultrasound and was told she would be having twins. Her scan showed that the fetuses were sharing a single placenta, indicating that they were identical. But when the woman came in for a follow-up ultrasound at 14 weeks, it was discovered that she was carrying a boy and a girl—something that is impossible in identical twins. Continue reading Doctors Identify Very Rare ‘Semi-Identical’ Twins