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The cerebellum may have played an important role in the evolution of the human brain

The cerebellum -- a part of the brain once recognized mainly for its role in coordinating movement -- underwent evolutionary changes that may have contributed to human culture, language and tool use, according to a new study.

Sharks use Earth's magnetic fields to guide them like a map

Sea turtles are known for relying on magnetic signatures to find their way across thousands of miles to the very beaches where they hatched. Now, researchers have some of the first solid evidence that sharks also rely on magnetic fields for their long-distance forays across the sea.

Bats know the speed of sound from birth, scientists discovery

Unlike humans, who map the world in units of distance, bats map the world in units of time. What this means is that the bat perceives an insect as being at a distance of nine milliseconds, and not one and a half meters, as was previously thought.

Earliest evidence of humans changing ecosystems with fire

A new study provides the earliest evidence to date of ancient humans significantly altering entire ecosystems with flames. The study combines archaeological evidence -- dense clusters of stone artifacts dating as far back as 92,000 years ago -- with paleoenvironmental data on the northern shores of Lake Malawi in eastern Africa to document that early...

Lightning and subvisible discharges produce molecules that clean the atmosphere

Scientists have found that lightning bolts and, surprisingly, subvisible discharges that cannot be seen by cameras or the naked eye produce extreme amounts of the hydroxyl radical and hydroperoxyl radical. The hydroxyl radical is important in the atmosphere because it initiates chemical reactions and breaks down molecules like the greenhouse gas methane.

Was North America populated by 'stepping stone' migration across Bering Sea?

A new study documents the newly named Bering Transitory Archipelago and then points to how, when and where the first Americans may have crossed. The authors' stepping-stones hypothesis depends on scores of islands that emerged during the last ice age as sea level fell when ocean waters were locked in glaciers and later rose when ice sheets melted.

Global glacier retreat has accelerated

Scientists have shown that almost all the world's glaciers are becoming thinner and losing mass -- and that these changes are picking up pace. The team's analysis is the most comprehensive and accurate of its kind to date.

Mammals evolved big brains after big disasters

A large study reveals the way relative brain size of mammals changed over the last 150 million years.

Icy clouds could have kept early Mars warm enough for rivers and lakes

A new study led by a planetary scientist uses a computer model of Mars to put forth a promising explanation onto how Mars once contained rivers and lakes: Mars could have had a thin layer of icy, high-altitude clouds that caused a greenhouse effect.

A new perspective on the genomes of archaic humans

Researchers examined 14,000 genetic differences between modern humans and our most recent ancestors at a new level of detail. They found that differences in gene activation -- not just genetic code -- could underlie evolution of the brain and vocal tract.

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