Move over Archaeopteryx, an older bird just landed on the evolutionary tree.
Scientists writing in Nature magazine, say a feathered, chicken-sized creature known as Aurornis xui, unearthed recently in northeastern China, challenges the "pivotal position of Archaeopteryx" — long regarded as the oldest bird.
Prescription painkillers are among the most widely used drugs in America. In the decade since New York Times reporter Barry Meier began investigating their use and abuse, he says he has seen the number of people dying from overdoses quadruple — an increase Meier calls "staggering."
"The current statistic is that about 16,000 people a year die of overdoses involving prescription narcotics. ... It's a huge problem. The number of people dying from these drugs is second only to the number of people that die in car accidents," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Earlier this month, we told you about a U.N. report that makes the case for insects to improve global food security: They're cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Now, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides East Coast Americans, for whom bug eating is considered novel at best, with an opportunity to try local insect cuisine.
We're going to hear now about what could be thought of as the Rip Van Winkle of the plant world. Scientists have found examples of a kind of plant known as bryophytes. And after spending 400 years buried by a glacier, when the ice receded the plants started growing again.
NPR's Joe Palca has more.
JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Bryophytes don't get much respect. They're not the gaudy seed plants people plant in their gardens or give as gifts. Jonathan Shaw runs the bryology lab at Duke University.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan in Washington. Neal Conan is away. A small hole in the ground, that's all it looked like the other day in the photo of the Christian Science Monitor, published in its coverage of a tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, a small hole in the ground surrounded on all sides by the wreckage of totally flattened homes, right up to the very edge of that hole in the ground, which oddly is rectangular in shape in the photo and has a door attached to it, flung open.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene, good morning
Let's say you're at work and you find a document that shows your company has been giving out misleading information. Or, let's say you see a co-worker act in an abusive or unethical manner. Would you speak up? Well, social scientists have been asking why whistle-blowers become whistle-blowers.
The small patch in the middle of the image is <em>Aulacomnium turgidum</em>, a type of bryophyte plant. Researchers in the Canadian Arctic say they are surprised the bryophytes were still green, even after being covered by ice.
Credit Courtesy of Caroline La Farge
In the lab, scientists grew cultures of some of the plants found beneath the receding Teardrop Glacier. These are <em>Aulacomnium turgidum</em>, a relative of moss.
Credit Courtesy of Catherine La Farge
As the Teardrop Glacier on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic recedes, researchers have found a kind of evergreen plant called bryophytes coming out from beneath the ice. Here, a researcher stands next to part of the glacier for scale.
Attributing human characteristics to animals makes for great cartoons, but it's not usually considered rigorous science. Now, a new book argues that animals do think and feel in ways similar to humans.
Barbara J. King is a professor of anthropology and a commentator on NPR's science blog, 13.7. And her book, How Animals Grieve, makes a powerful case for the presence of love, affection and grief in animals — from a house cat mourning her lost sister to elephants who pay respects to the bones of their matriarchs.
Once upon a time, there was a small Hungarian village that was very proud of its sour cherries. The village was called Újfehértó. As in many Hungarian villages, tall cherry trees lined the streets and provided welcome shade in the summertime.
When communism came to Hungary after World War II, the government introduced big collective farms, and Hungarian scientists had to decide which cherries the farms should grow.
We now know what caused the Irish potato famine. Scientists have pinpointed the pathogen by using plant samples collected in the mid-19th century. Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden talks about it with the study's co-author, Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury Lab in the United Kingdom.
I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:
"What would happen if the Internet went away?"
Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.
The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.
In parts of the southeastern US, aggressive fire ants have been driven out by an even more recent arrival, the tawny crazy ant. Edward LeBrun, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, describes the newcomers and how one invasive species can out-invade another.