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July 2008 Archive

A 40,000-year-old human fossil with delicate toe bones from China suggests humans wore shores at least 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, scientists say.

A dense and highly interconnected structure inside the human brain seems to play a vital role in communication within and between the hemispheres, a new study says.

A well-preserved town provides rare clues to the daily lives of ancient Egyptians, including the importance of local commerce and politics, archaeologists say.

For centuries, the Chapel of All Saints in the Czech Republic has drawn visitors with a chandelier and other décor made from the bones of some 40,000 people.

Australian scientists are conducting field studies to track a fungal infection that has been killing Tasmanian platypuses for more than 25 years.

On the anniversary of the massive blast, U.S. experts are calling for increased funding to protect Earth from destructive meteor strikes.

Officials are working to clear a huge algal bloom that has struck the waters near Qingdao, where the Olympic sailing events are scheduled for August.

Birds that travel widely can understand warning calls made by other bird species encountered during migrations, scientists say. Stay-at-home birds show no such ability.

In at least ten locations, prehistoric cave sketches are found in spots that transform and amplify the sounds of human voices and musical instruments, according to a new study.

Lebanon has launched a campaign to get its renowned Jeita Grotto caves named as one of the world's "New Seven Wonders of Nature."

Young penguins are freezing to death as rainfall increases in Antarctica—one of many factors endangering two-thirds of penguin species, a new paper says. With video.

Most car buyers in the U.S. don't know that even small boosts to gas-guzzler efficiency can save more fuel than bigger mpg gains in already efficient vehicles, according to a new study.

Wig curlers, a pipe with Masonic carvings, and a half million other artifacts were also part of the discovery, which will help scholars fill in large gaps in the story of the first U.S. president's early life.

After being used to create the world's longest shoe chain, more than 10,000 donated sneakers will be recycled into athletic surfaces for playgrounds.

Every year a Vermont researcher follows another of the state's residents to the Caribbean: the Bicknell thrush, a small migratory bird.

Many Bolivians feel that coca has been unfairly stigmatized in the country, where the plant has traditional medicinal uses and features in many everyday rituals.

Some environmentalists fear that the historic land deal could be seriously hampered unless the U.S. Congress follows through on a funding commitment it made almost 20 years ago.

Mercury is covered by volcanoes, a mysterious ion cloud, and scars from a violent past, reveal the first in-depth studies of the solar system's smallest planet in decades.

A litter of puppies, bred from dogs in Bosnia, are undergoing training to help sniff out unexploded munitions that litter the Cambodian countryside.

The "world's most active volcano" put on a spectacular fireworks show for the 4th of July, spewing a plume 150 feet (46 meters) high and sending lava into the sea.

A grassland like those found throughout Western Europe shows very little change in species composition even after 13 years of controlled exposure to higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns, a new study says.

A panda that survived China's massive May earthquake gave birth to twins on Sunday. Guo Guo was evacuated from Wolong Nature Reserve, where damage was severe and one panda died.

About 9,500 years ago, nomadic hunter-gatherers camped out on the banks of the Seine to hunt and collect flint pebbles, archaeologists say.

South Africa's poor can lessen the burden of soaring food costs by resuming traditional subsistence agriculture, officials say. Part of Global Food Crisis: A Special News Series.

Bertha has strengthened into the first hurricane of the season and is expected to turn in the general direction of Bermuda, forecasters say.

A newfound tomb in northern Peru contains well-preserved human remains and artifacts, shedding light on the pre-Colombian Moche Indian civilization, archaeologists say.

Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier is in the midst of a spectacular rupture. No large Argentina glacier has broken like this in winter since records began in 1917, officials say.

There's no explanation for why Bertha went from barely a hurricane to a Category Three storm in just a few hours, highlighting a need for more research into rapid intensification, meteorologists say.

In the 1980s planned flooding submerged part of the Great Wall of China. Now divers are gaining a unique perspective on the ancient structure.

Certain brain cells likely control memories that help animals learn not to be afraid, a finding that could lead to new drugs for anxiety disorders, experts say.

Rare mountain gorillas in Africa's Virunga region face a constant stream of human threats, but their cousins just a few miles north are relatively safe, as long as they don't outgrow their home.

With a highway running through it and weather wearing it down, China's greatest landmark is no longer the nearly impenetrable barrier of centuries past.

Global-warming-related dry spells are slowing down the eruptions of the park's iconic geysers—and may even put an end to them completely—scientists say.

Flatfishes' lopsided eye arrangement evolved gradually, a new fossil study suggests—perhaps solving "a major, major puzzle to evolutionary biologists."

The water discovery counters the belief that Earth's satellite is bone dry, forcing scientists to reconsider the mechanics of the "giant impact" theory of moon formation.

A postcard from Martin Luther King, Jr., and a congressional Medal of Honor are among hundreds of the late U.S. civil rights pioneer's possessions to be auctioned off.

Because coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species, their loss could devastate marine biodiversity, scientists warn.

Songbirds such as zebra finches and European starlings can move their vocal cords a hundred times faster than a blink of the human eye, new research says.

A recently formed tunnel in Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier collapsed on Wednesday. This is the first time in decades such an event has occurred during the Southern Hemisphere's winter.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano—which has been erupting for 24 years now—continues to spew lava during its latest active spurt from fissures far below the crater.

The Vindhyan Basins are up to 500 million years older than previously believed, a new study says, possibly revising the time line for development of complex life.

Burrowing animals are making "Swiss cheese" of some of England's oldest historic sites, the country's heritage guardian has revealed.

The newfound starburst galaxy dubbed "Baby Boom" can churn out a startling 4,000 new stars a year, compared to our Milky Way's mere ten, scientists say.

In an African park infamous for gorilla murders, gunners killed two women riding in a truck owned by an animal-protection group on July 7.

A new exhibition of woolly mammoth fossils in Taiwan includes the partial remains of a Siberian find that are apparently being displayed outside Russia for the first time.

The Phoenix Mars lander is finding it difficult to break ice for analysis and has a worrying short circuit. But scientists say the mission is still moving along at near perfection.

A tabby cat that recently gave birth has "adopted" a red panda cub into her litter. The panda, born at Amsterdam's Artis Zoo, was rejected by its mother.

Experts and residents fear heavy foot traffic and pollution is destroying what's left of the thousand-year-old temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

African pesticides and pollutants are ending up in oceans across the world, possibly endangering the survival of already fragile coral reefs, experts say.

The birds and the bees are developing a new sort of relationship in Japan: scaring crows away from vulnerable seabirds' nesting site.

A new fracture in the Antarctic Peninsula's Wilkins ice shelf may signal the upcoming collapse of the entire shelf, new satellite images show.

A breeding program in India has successfully released captive-born red pandas into the wild.

Two GPS-tagged bears, nicknamed Suzy and Johnny, have been released in Canada as part of a look at whether captive-born bears can flourish in the wild.

The animals are mating and dying younger in areas affected by an unusual, contagious cancer, a new study finds.

Food prices are creating a vexing dilemma in India, which is trying to cement its status as a rising economic power even as it remains home to half the world's hungry. Part of Global Food Crisis: A Special News Series.

Even with 28 million insect specimens in their collection, experts at London's Natural History Museum haven't found a match for a bug in their own backyard.

Dog-eating catfish and other rare species are drawing fishers to a sport lake outside Bangkok -- and some conservationists couldn't be happier. With video.

At an artificial lake in Thailand, several of the world's largest and rarest freshwater fish lurk near anglers' baited hooks—and some conservationists couldn't be happier.

A 2,500-year-old discus believed to have been used to protect a ship from the "evil eye" has been found by a lifeguard diving off Israel.

A violent volcanic eruption in Alaska's Aleutian Islands that continues to spew ash and sulfur dioxide gas and is expected to stay active for weeks, observers say.

At a major aircraft trade show in England, recycling of plane parts is on the agenda—while in California, yesterday's 747 is tomorrow's house.

The "singing" sands of Dunhuang are no longer music to the ears of city residents, who face disappearing rivers, buried farms, dust-choked homes, and other ills.

Egypt is still suffering from riots and violence, despite expensive increases in bread subsidies, export bans, and strict regulation of fuel and utility prices. Part of Global Food Crisis: A Special News Series.

"Excuse me, you have a koala stuck in the grille of your car," an Australian driver heard recently. Sure enough, "Lucky" had been carried for miles—but emerged unscathed.

For millions of years, the red planet was a warm and wet place, minerals suggest—a perfect host for the development of life, scientists say.

Explosions of magma about 93 million years ago sapped the oceans of oxygen, causing a mass extinction of marine life, a new study found.

The ghastly predators, which suck up earthworms like spaghetti, may have traveled to the United Kingdom as stowaways in plants from the Caucasus region.

Having mastered some of the world's most grating sounds—sirens, cell phone ringtones—a blackbird is irritating Britons with its powers of mimicry.

The number of people seeking treatment for stings has been increasing in Alaska, especially in regions farther north than where insects such as wasps are common, a new report says.

A rapidly expanding economy has proven to be a mixed blessing in Brazil, where the growth has caused food prices to rise much more quickly. Part of Global Food Crisis: A Special News Series.

Humans, birds, and other land animals share a brain circuit for vocalizing with toadfish, suggesting that the mechanism first appeared in animals 400 million years ago, a new study says.

An Australian veterinarian recently helped save an endangered grey nurse shark by sticking his arm down the shark's throat and dislodging a steel hook.

Rapid warming will cause more icebergs to break free, drift, and scour away practically all life on swaths of the seafloor, a new study says.

His eyes covered with metal plates, a thousand-year-old elite mummy has been found surrounded by unfamiliar artifacts—shedding light on a mysterious culture.

Disemboweled and decorated with scarlet paint and metal eye plates, the centuries-old man was found with slingshots, a figurine of himself, and other artifacts. A National Geographic News exclusive.

Animals and plants that can't escape climate change on their own should be relocated by humans, researchers say. But others argue it should only be a last resort.

Dead and dying fish have become a common sight in Yucatán waters, killed off by a rare but naturally occurring algal bloom known as red tide.

The trend toward larger brains relative to body size developed independently in isolated groups of primates, according to a new fossil analysis.

An autopsy on the cub, born at an Amsterdam zoo, showed the animal's windpipe filled with milk, indicating it had choked to death, officials report.

At the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, visitors could see, for the first time, an underground ship apparently intended to carry a pharaoh into the afterlife.

The Mexican government has grossly undervalued coastal mangrove forests, which are vital to the country's commercial fishing industry, a new report says.

The largest giant squid ever caught in Australian waters has been dissected, revealing several hearts and chainsaw-like teeth.

While politically related violence in Kenya has subsided, the tourism industry has not yet recovered.

Just months after being removed from federal "endangered" status, the region's gray wolves have been temporarily relisted, derailing state plans to hold public wolf hunts this fall.

The discovery in an eastern Ecuadorian rain forest marks the highest number of bat species ever recorded in one place.

Eating bats is popular among elders in at least one village in northeastern Thailand, in part because "they do wonders for your libido."

Parts of the Northern Hemisphere will soon see a rare total solar eclipse. Find out how it works, where to watch, and more.

A new population of the highly endangered greater bamboo lemur has been found in east-central Madagascar wetlands, hundreds of miles from its forest-dwelling relatives.

Growing evidence suggests an exploding comet-based meteorite laid waste to Russia's Tunguska region in 1908, scientists said at a recent scientific meeting in Moscow.

Hot sand is hard-boiling eggs of some rare turtles in Costa Rica, spurring efforts to counter this and a host of other problems caused by a changing environment.

The path of totality will sweep across northern Canada into central Russia and Mongolia before ending in China, and experts are urging safe viewing practices among sky-watchers. With video.

After an exhaustive search, an explorer finds one of the elusive rays—perhaps the largest freshwater fish—near Bangkok. And then it gives birth.

Gulf Coasters cleared yards and bought plywood and flashlights, as approaching storm Dolly neared hurricane status. National Guard troops were mobilized in preparation for expected flooding.

By turns spacey, electric, and just plain cute, fuel-saving car designs from Ford, Saab, Mini, and others took center stage at the British International Motor Show.

The strengthening Category 2 storm, expected to make landfall at the U.S.-Mexico border today, has helped make July 2008 already the third most active month on record for hurricanes.

Wearing blindfolds is part of an annual kimono-dressing competition in Japan. Women are judged on both speed and overall elegance of the finished result.

With most Greek and Roman god monikers already taken, astronomers are tapping into other cultures' mythologies to christen new cosmic bodies.

The twin barn swallows don't show physical features associated with the genetic abnormality, leaving experts unsure how the young birds came to be literally attached at the hip.

A newfound link between bursts of energy in magnetic field lines and brighter auroras may solve a 30-year mystery about the polar lights, researchers say. With video.

The total length of the underground calcite river is still unknown, though a recent expedition surveyed several thousand more feet of the odd formation in New Mexico Cave.

Young female red-fronted lemurs adopt male coloration to dupe their aggressive female groupmates, a new study found.

The hippodrome—where chariots and horses raced in the most prestigious events of the ancient Olympics—has been located in Greece with geomagnetic technology, researchers believe.

The European Union proposes banning products from seals killed in a "cruel" way. The move targets Canada, where harp seals are killed with rifles, spiked clubs, and other weapons. Warning: video contains graphic imagery.

For the first time, scientists may have found the triggers of space "explosions" that result in unusually bright auroras, also called the northern lights and southern lights.

Hundreds of fossils of crustacean-like animals found recently in Antarctica suggest that 14 million years ago, the warmer continent was booming with life, a new study says.

A U.S. biotech company's auction fetched more than $135,000 each from four owners eager to clone their canines. Yet opponents say the technology is flawed.

A Melbourne, Australia, couple's pet rabbit scratched at their bedroom door and woke them just before a fire raged through their house.

The guillemot, a seabird that depends on ice, is losing its habitat and falling prey to polar bears desperate for food. Part of Wild Chronicles' Climate Connections series.

Unprecedented footage captures a great white shark off the coast of South Africa breaching the water's surface to snare a seal during nocturnal hunting.

The concave-eared torrent frog from China is the only known animal that can physically control which frequencies it hears using the biological equivalent of earmuffs, researchers say.

The rapidly warming Arctic may be given a brief reprieve by North American wildfires, which lower surface air temperatures for weeks or months at a time.

More than 400 million years ago, sea temperatures plummeted to almost present-day levels, causing a hospitable environment for a rise in species, scientists say.

Built in 1904, the Grand Pier in Weston Super Mare, England, was reduced to a smoldering wreck, taking with it a go-kart track, rides, and an entertainment center.

Less than two weeks before the Olympics, heavy smog in Beijing has Chinese officials blaming natural factors, such as fog. But others say athletes "have reason to be concerned."

Did the Polynesians or Columbus make it to the Americans first? A new study contradicts previous evidence of a link between Chilean and Polynesian chickens.

The commercially funded WhiteKnightTwo, now the world's largest carbon-composite aircraft, should soon ferry a six-passenger spaceship beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Running in sauna-like chambers and the sticky Texas humidity is helping athletes adjust their bodies to perform at their peak during the 2008 summer games, but smog remains a worry.

The Chinese have chronicled solar eclipses for more than four millennia, with myths, politics, and possibly a fear of beheading driving the earliest innovations in prediction techniques.

The pen-tailed tree shrew's 55-million-year bender suggests that humans' taste for alcohol might predate the known advent of brewing some 9,000 years ago.

A seaside stone that had been decorating a home owner's ornamental pond for 15 years might actually be an 80-million-year-old fossilized fish head, experts say.

Russian scientists have reached the bottom Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest. They'll study plants and animals as much as a mile (1.6 kilometers) underwater.

The first WhiteKnightTwo plane—designed to carry a smaller craft nearly to the edge of space—was unveiled by billionaire Richard Branson.

A chunk of ice has broken off the Canadian Arctic's largest ice remaining ice shelf, mirroring a trend of declining ice throughout the region, experts say.

The 2005 discovery of soft tissue in a T. Rex bone may actually be bacterial slime coating blood vessel walls, a controversial new study claims.

The 2,100-year-old Antikythera mechanism not only predicted lunar and solar eclipses, it also tracked the cycle of ancient athletic contests, a new study shows.

The last living vestiges of Genghis Khan's empire in China are disappearing as Mongol herders adopt modern lifestyles and are outnumbered by Han Chinese neighbors.

In Siberia for the August 1 solar eclipse, an astronomer shares insights on the upcoming event and 30 years of staring at the sun—or at least its hottest feature.

A childlike robot and six-legged machine display the latest in human-robot interaction in London. One responds to touch with its "heart." The other robot focuses on faces.

All venomous snake species arose from the same fanged ancestor, says a new study based on the discovery that fangs shift in some snake embryos.

As if this week's tremor wasn't enough to unnerve Southern Californians, bubbling mud near the Salton Sea may add 18 miles to the powerful fault.

Ripples in the early universe following the big bang caused gases to coalesce into the luminous seeds of the first stars, a new computer simulation reveals.

Earth's richest concentrations of marine life have shifted over time, cropping up where tectonic plates collide and climate is friendliest to life, researchers say.

The gigantic manta ray is actually two distinct species with different behaviors and habitats, new research shows.

Pearl harvesting was once a key livelihood for people who lived in what is now the United Arab Emirates. Now the practice is making a comeback.

Preserved by salt in a mine for thousands of years, the bodies of six men are on display on Iran.

During the rare total solar eclipse on August 1, the moon's shadow will sweep across northern Canada, Russia, Mongolia, and China. Experts urge caution for sky-watchers. With video.

An exterminator, searching for gold in the Australian outback, became stranded for more than four days and says he survived by eating termites and other insects.

The hydrocarbon lake, one of many, adds to evidence that the giant satellite is oddly Earthlike—despite having rivers of "gasoline."

With a reported repertoire of 32 sounds, belugas are called canaries of the sea. But in Russia some conservationists warn that the white whales may be too enticing for their own good.

The largest coral reef system in the southern Atlantic is twice as big as previously estimated, and it's teeming with life, experts announced.

Cloned Labradors add up to quadruple cuteness, a rare lemur group is discovered in Africa, and more in our first weekly gallery of animal news photos.

A baby panda parades its pinkness, a whale learns a new trick, and more in our new weekly gallery of animal news photos.

Animals that were injured or left homeless by the May 12 earthquake are getting second chances -- and sometimes homemade walkers -- at a shelter near Chengdu.

A well-preserved settlement near the temple of Edfu provides rare glimpses into the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians.

A tailless plane and a craft that sports engines on top of its wings were among the ultra-efficient designs that took top honors in the 2008 NASA Fundamental Aeronautics Student Competition.

Wig curlers and fragments of a tea service were among the half a million artifacts found at the childhood home of America's first president.

The loss of Mexico's coastal mangrove forests to development is threatening the country's multimillion-dollar fishing industry, according to a new study.

Fossil-filled cliffs in Canada, wetlands in Kazakhstan, and coral lagoons in the South Pacific are among the eight natural wonders named as new World Heritage sites in 2008.

Lightning crackles, a storm makes its power felt, and more in our new weekly roundup of weather shots, natural disaster images, and other nature news photos.

A lucky penguin survives a long, strange trip; a strangely beautiful oil slick fouls the Mississippi; and more in our weekly roundup of nature news photos.

Metal plates covered the eyes and mouth of the mummy, which was found with mysterious balls and other "strange things we never expected," as one researcher said.

As much of the world awaits August 1's total solar eclipse, get an eyeful of what can be expected—stunning shots of recent eclipses.

A new view of a supernova "gumball," the California fires as seen from above, and a vivid rocket launch are part of this week's roundup of eye-catching space images.

Signs of water on Mars, "colorful" wildfires, and a massive dust storm over the Mideast join this week's roundup of space-themed pictures.

A colorful "pinwheel," an engine test for future moon trips, and mystery Martian features are part of this week's roundup of cosmic events.

Beijing cracks down on pollution, distant galaxies are revealed, and scientists track a quiet supernova explosion in this week's best space news.

Toadfish grunts, bird songs, and human speech are all controlled by a common brain circuit that first appeared in animals hundreds of millions of years ago, a new paper says.

An ancient city carved from rock, Chinese mini-fortresses, and a cliff-top monastery are among the 27 new sites added to the UN's World Heritage list in 2008.

Designed to hoist passenger planes into space, the first WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane rolled out for a champagne splash by billionaire Richard Branson.

A beach full of red balloons, a new Argo setting sail, and a U.S. flag lit up by lightning are among this week's most colorful events.

Exploding lava, a rare glacier collapse, a pole-vaulting bullfighter, and a newborn panda are among the stars of this week's extreme images.

The end of the "running of the bulls" festival, a peek at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and the pope's visit to Australia are among this week's highlights.

A guinea pig clotheshorse, an eye-opening eye, and a glittering galaxy are among the week's best news photos.

Russians dance on the grave of an economic collapse, horses hit the water, Greece burns, and more of our favorite recent news photos. logo