Natalie Parletta

Natalie Parletta

Natalie Parletta is a freelance science writer based in Adelaide and an adjunct senior research fellow with the University of South Australia.

Natalie Parletta is a freelance science writer based in Adelaide and an adjunct senior research fellow with the University of South Australia.

  • Using maths to improve ocean rescue

    New algorithm promises to find missing people faster.

    When someone gets lost at sea, every minute counts, as the probability of finding people alive plunges after six hour...

    May 27, 2020
  • Marine migrations and ecosystem disruption

    Warming waters penetrate the ocean’s depths.

    Our warming planet is dislocating all manner of species as they travel poleward in search of cooler temperatures, and...

    May 26, 2020
  • What shapes genetic diversity in mammals?

    Global map points to evolution and climate.

    On the heels of the International Day for Biological Diversity, scientists have compiled the first comprehensive map ...

    May 25, 2020
  • Tropical forests quite resilient to warming

    But carbon storage could plummet.

    In an ambitious, long-term study of more than half a million trees, a virtual army of scientists has found that tropi...

    May 22, 2020
  • The complex choices of animals

    3D technology meets behavioural research.

    How do animals make decisions, such as where to live? This is an important choice with implications for key life matt...

    May 20, 2020
  • How a pandemic created a cleaner planet

    Scientists quantify fall in emissions – but more is needed.

    Since the coronavirus lockdown we’ve seen reports of clear waters in Venice, dramatically reduced air pollution in Ch...

    May 20, 2020
  • Megafauna fossils found in tropical Australia

    Rich site suggests climatic change drove extinction.

    More than 40,000 years ago, Australia’s tropical northeast was home to species of giant birds, reptiles and marsupial...

    May 19, 2020
  • COVID-19 update: Africa, Italy and inequality.

    Scientists explore the unfolding ramifications.

    As the world continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, four papers just released in leading journals as...

    May 18, 2020
  • Fossil footprints sheds clues on past behaviour

    Insights from largest assemblage of human tracks in Africa.

    Thousands of years ago, a group of people trekked across African soil, and their footprints remain to shine a torch o...

    May 15, 2020
  • Boosting coral heat resistance

    Assisted algal adaptation may help fight bleaching.

    Australian scientists may have found a way to help corals become more tolerant to warmer waters by fast-tracking heat...

    May 14, 2020
  • Soil pathogens rise as temperatures do

    Study highlights growing threat to food security.

    Pathogenic plant fungi are likely to multiply and spread as rising temperatures warm soils, thereby accelerating clim...

    May 13, 2020
  • Early fossil evidence of humans in Europe

    Artefacts suggest cultural interaction with Neanderthals.

    Newly unearthed fossil remains offer the earliest clear evidence of Homo sapiens in Europe and suggest they had great...

    May 12, 2020
  • Good odds for baby number two using IVF

    Analysis provides insights for second-time hopeful parents.

    Many couples who have used in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to conceive a baby will likely need it again if they want ano...

    May 8, 2020
  • Higher rainfall could amplify global warming

    Microbes release more CO2 from soil when it’s wet.

    Global warming causes multiple feedback loops – including parts of the tropics, it seems. The drainage basin of th...

    May 8, 2020
  • For coral reefs, more is less

    Increases in big fish could lead to ecosystem collapse.

    The story of coral reef bleaching ramifications continues to unfold with an international study revealing the long-te...

    May 7, 2020
  • Get a good night’s rest before tests

    Monitoring confirms our brains replay memories while we sleep.

    Students have long been told they should get a good night’s sleep before exams rather than cramming up to the last mi...

    May 6, 2020
  • Global warming affects tropical cyclone patterns

    Study confirms shifting geographical trends.

    Global warming is shifting patterns in the distribution of tropical cyclones rather than their frequency, according t...

    May 5, 2020
  • Smarter irrigation could feed millions more

    Modelling shows people and ecosystems will benefit.

    US researchers have calculated that accessing untapped freshwater around the world would allow farmers to feed 620 to...

    May 4, 2020
  • Microplastic hotspots on the seafloor

    Study shows how ocean currents transport them.

    The ocean currents that transport nutrients and oxygen to organisms on the deep-sea floor also carry microplastics th...

    May 1, 2020
  • ‘Crazy beast’ discovered in Madagascar

    Mammal lived with dinosaurs on Gondwanaland.

    When in isolation, animals evolve bizarre features and behaviours.  Adding to the weird and wonderful fauna on the...

    April 30, 2020
  • Tree rings tell of water and climate change

    Scientists compile a global water-use efficiency database.

    By unlocking the secrets of tree rings, scientists have created a global database of trees’ water-use efficiency, whi...

    April 29, 2020
  • Coupling big data and conservation

    Scientists highlight opportunities to generate sustainable solutions.

    The “big data revolution” offers an unprecedented opportunity to better chart environmental degradation and inform gl...

    April 28, 2020
  • ‘Insect apocalypse’ not so clear-cut

    Mega-study shows declines are highly variable.

    Love them or hate them, recent reports of an “insect apocalypse” sounded alarm bells around the world as conservation...

    April 27, 2020
  • Punishing selfishness starts young

    It’s influenced by social norms, study suggests.

    Why do humans (mostly) cooperate? Following social norms to punish others for selfish behaviour plays a part, accordi...

    April 24, 2020
  • Small habitats matter for biodiversity

    Study informs global conservation efforts.

    With the planet’s biodiversity crisis putting up to half a million species at risk of extinction, conservationists ar...

    April 22, 2020
  • Ten ‘catastrophic’ threats to our survival

    Commission for the Human Future calls for change.

    The current pandemic may have shifted our focus, but we cannot ignore ten “catastrophic and existential” threats to h...

    April 22, 2020
  • Seeing the adult in the infant

    Toddler temperament can predict personality, study finds.

    Ever wished you could peek into a crystal ball and see your baby’s future? A three-decade-long study that followed 14...

    April 21, 2020
  • Good news for coral reef conservation

    Study points way to effective marine reserve management.

    Amidst all the bad news about coral reef bleaching, an international team has shed light on what conservation measure...

    April 20, 2020
  • Putting drought in the spotlight

    Drying planet is a growing problem to be taken seriously.

    Of all the natural disasters, droughts strike right at the heart of life itself – no human, animal or plant can survi...

    April 17, 2020
  • Genetic vulnerability and mental illness

    Gene combinations could increase lifelong risk.

    People with genetic vulnerability for adult depression are more likely to have emotional and social problems in child...

    April 16, 2020
  • Missing climate targets could cost trillions

    But global cooperation would be profitable for all, report suggests.

    If nations don’t meet their current goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the global economy could lose around...

    April 15, 2020
  • Old trees do the heavy carbon lifting

    Rainforest study points way for regeneration and management.

    When it comes to storing carbon, an increasingly vital function of rainforests for the health and survival of the pla...

    April 13, 2020
  • Wildlife exploitation = infectious disease risk

    Study links human activities to virus spillover from animals.

    Zoonotic diseases – those transmitted from animals to humans – are quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest public...

    April 9, 2020
  • How some flowers recover from injury

    It’s a newly discovered adaptation to enhance survival.

    Some flowers have a remarkable capacity to pick themselves up – literally – after an accident, according to a study p...

    April 9, 2020
  • For birds, innovation is survival

    Study shows novel behaviours lower extinction risk.

    If you’ve ever ventured beyond admiring the assorted dazzling plumages of birds or simply enjoying their symphony of ...

    April 7, 2020
  • The emotional lives of mice

    Machine learning detects distinct feelings from facial expressions.

    Cartoonists have captivated generations by humanising mice, from the enigmatic Mickey Mouse and charming Stuart Littl...

    April 6, 2020
  • Gondwana in amber

    Fossil trove sheds light on ancient antipodean ecology.

    An international team of palaeontologists has discovered an assortment of intact amber fossils in the Southern Hemisp...

    April 3, 2020
  • How we can restore marine life by 2050

    Scientists map out strategies to save the oceans.

    An international team of scientists has painstakingly mapped out positive actions that could return the planet’s mari...

    April 2, 2020
  • What causes equatorial marine biodiversity?

    It’s not higher predation as popularly thought.

    The puzzle of what factors create rich biodiversity towards the equator has captivated ecologists as far back as Darw...

    April 1, 2020
  • I count, therefore I am

    For all animals, it seems, maths is survival.

    From birds and bees to frogs, wolves and ants, it’s an enduring source of wonder that animals can count. This is not ...

    March 31, 2020
  • Neanderthals ate brain food from the sea

    And they relied on it as much as early humans.

    Neanderthals were quite the foodies, it seems, as their diets included not only hunted animals and plant foods, but a...

    March 30, 2020
  • Warming waters are altering marine life

    Scientists warn of broader ecosystem impacts.

    As the world’s oceans have warmed by one degree Celsius since pre-industrial times, there has been a pervasive shift ...

    March 27, 2020
  • Some birds with small brains aren’t that silly

    They simply breed more to survive chaotic cities.

    It’s not just big brains that can give birds a survival advantage in harsh urban environments. Some small-brained bir...

    March 26, 2020
  • From lions to orcas, females outlive males

    That’s even though males don’t age faster.

    Whether you’re a female human, orca, lion or elephant seal, you have a fairly good chance of outliving many of your m...

    March 25, 2020
  • Electric cars are better for the environment

    Study confirms they produce fewer emissions.

    A global analysis has verified that electric cars and heat pumps generate less greenhouse gas over their life cycle t...

    March 24, 2020
  • Wildlife conservation is getting better

    According to AI probe of scientific studies.

    Whether it’s plastic pollution, climate change or endangered species conservation, there’s a growing tsunami of scien...

    March 23, 2020
  • Fancy some worms with your sushi?

    Parasites in raw fish have risen dramatically, study finds.

    The presence of parasitic worms in raw or undercooked seafood, popular in dishes such as sushi, sashimi, poke and car...

    March 20, 2020
  • ‘Wonderchicken’ fossil from dinosaur age

    Find sheds light on the origin of modern birds.

    Palaeontologists have found the oldest fossil of a modern bird, originating from before the last mass extinction that...

    March 19, 2020
  • Prehistoric structure of mammoth bones

    Discovery offers more clues to survival in the Ice Age.

    Archaeologists have gingerly unearthed buried remains of mammoth bones used to make a circular structure in the Russi...

    March 18, 2020
  • Even a small nuclear war could hit food supply

    Study sounds warning about unstable nations.

    As the nuclear arms race unfolds with renewed vigour, researchers have shown that even a limited, regional nuclear ba...

    March 17, 2020
  • The simple protein that started all life

    And could help NASA find life on other planets.

    Scientists believe they have discovered a simple protein that started all life 3.5 to 2.5 billion years ago, publishi...

    March 17, 2020
  • Your backyard could reduce global warming

    Gardens cool urban temperatures by six degrees, study finds.

    Australian researchers found during an extreme heatwave that backyard gardens lowered land surface temperatures by fi...

    March 16, 2020
  • Earth’s tilt angle trigger for ending ice ages

    Analysis of global glaciations confirms its significance.

    International research covering the past million years of global glaciations shows that small changes in the tilt of ...

    March 13, 2020
  • Mongoose sheds insight on spread of disease

    The research has implications for human behaviour.

    By watching banded mongoose populations across a range of different environments in Botswana, Africa, researchers hav...

    March 13, 2020
  • Scientists crack 58-year-old quantum mystery

    Fluke find could revolutionise nuclear magnetic resonance.

    Curiosity-driven research can yield exciting discoveries. The latest is an accidental breakthrough by Australian engi...

    March 12, 2020
  • Coffee and chocolate increase malaria risk

    Commodities contribute to deforestation and mosquitoes.

    As we’re savouring a steaming cup of coffee with a mouth-watering chocolate, we might want to spare a thought for the...

    March 11, 2020
  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall

    Study finds large ecosystems collapse more quickly.

    Vast, rich ecosystems that have existed for millennia could collapse in less than a human lifetime, according to a st...

    March 11, 2020
  • Astronauts grow lettuce in space

    The plants are fresh, nutritious and safe to eat.

    Astronauts may no longer have to miss out on eating freshly picked, gourmet salad. Researchers have successfully grow...

    March 8, 2020
  • Individuality – beyond nature or nurture

    Fruit fly study links it to random variation in brain wiring.

    Whether to walk the straight and narrow or meander through life is one of countless traits attributed to a combinatio...

    March 5, 2020
  • Thirdhand smoke in non-smoking movie theatre

    The toxic chemicals were transported by moviegoers.

    While remarkable progress has been made in several countries to prevent people inhaling toxic secondhand fumes from c...

    March 5, 2020
  • A decade of dithering on climate action

    Four times the effort now to comply with the Paris agreement.

    An analysis of climate change targets agreed to in Paris versus emission reductions actually achieved reveals that na...

    March 4, 2020
  • Air pollution pandemic warning

    A leading cause of global deaths is right under all our noses.

    While governments are on the verge of declaring a coronavirus pandemic – an outbreak that is hogging daily media atte...

    March 3, 2020
  • Ancient Mongolians sustained with millet

    And had more complex economies than first thought.

    Ancient Mongolian kingdoms may have been more sophisticated than history has credited them for, according to a study ...

    March 3, 2020
  • Half the world’s sandy beaches could be lost

    Human intervention and lower emissions could help save them.

    Half the world’s sandy beaches could be lost by the end of the century due to changing weather patterns and rising se...

    March 2, 2020
  • Glowing frogs and salamanders

    Biofluorescence is more prevalent than previously thought.

    Sharks do it, fish do it, even scorpions and spiders do it. Now, researchers have revealed more of nature’s secret li...

    March 2, 2020
  • The co-evolution of plants and humans

    Botanical historian puts new twist on plant domestication.

    We think we’re so clever, but perhaps we underestimate plants. Edible flora have long evolved ways to move seeds a...

    February 27, 2020
  • Solar storms linked to stranded whales

    Magnetic disruptions make them ‘blind’.

    Analysis of grey whale stranding incidents has supported speculations that the migratory mammals rely on a magnetic s...

    February 24, 2020
  • Intensifying marine conservation efforts

    Scientists quantify how much and where.

    At least a quarter of the Earth’s oceans need urgent conservation measures to preserve marine biodiversity, according...

    February 23, 2020
  • Bees are smarter than we thought

    Performing complex transfers of information between senses.

    Bees have a lot going on in their teeny brains; with less than a million neurons compared to the 86 billion that huma...

    February 20, 2020
  • Whisker-printing to identify individual lions

    New technique better maps their numbers and density.

    Indian researchers have developed a method to more accurately map numbers and density of wild lions in their country’...

    February 19, 2020
  • Birds migrated through the last ice age

    Surprise finding could help predict future adaptations.

    Birds have been migrating much longer than previously thought; in fact, research published in the journal Nature Comm...

    February 18, 2020
  • Extreme weather can disrupt energy supply

    We need more storage and grid improvements.

    Future climate variation could produce a gap of up to 34% between renewable energy potential and demand without conce...

    February 17, 2020
  • Revealed: the mystery of stinging water

    It’s the mucus of upside-down jellyfish.

    People who have experienced stingy, itchy skin from warm coastal waters might be familiar with some of the theories a...

    February 13, 2020
  • Smart birds remember new tricks

    And this impressive skill could boost their survival.

    Not only can you teach a wild bird new tricks, but they can remember it nearly two years later, according to research...

    February 12, 2020
  • Breaking the rules is good for survival

    Some plants thrive by defying ecology.

    Invasive species have been likened to bullies, leaving an ecological path of destruction in their wake. Now research...

    February 11, 2020
  • Tropical forests struggle to recover from El Niño

    The lingering impacts on carbon storage and biodiversity.

    The extreme weather patterns of the 2015-16 El Niño, among the worst since the 1950s, had crippling ripple effects ar...

    February 10, 2020
  • Ants don’t need anger management

    They’ve got their aggression under control.

    At a time when humans are expressing increased outrage, we might have something to learn from ants. Researchers have...

    February 5, 2020
  • Biodiversity hotspots most vulnerable

    Refuges enabled organisms to survive past climatic cataclysms.

    Polar and tropical regions that foster the planet’s richest biodiversity are the most vulnerable to future impacts of...

    February 4, 2020
  • Protecting the deep blue

    Scientists identify strategies to conserve ocean ecosystems.

    More than 100 scientists have highlighted key targets for conserving and managing the deep sea, including habitat-sus...

    February 3, 2020
  • More bad news about microplastics

    Their watery trail of havoc plumbs the depths.

    Dutch and Chinese researchers have independently unearthed more bad news about nano- and microplastics, focusing on t...

    February 2, 2020
  • Gut bacteria could shape your persona

    Sociable types have more of the right type.

    A new study from Oxford University, published in the journal Human Microbiome, has linked gut bacteria strains and di...

    January 30, 2020
  • School smarts more than reading and maths

    Academic and cognitive skill training goes both ways.

    It’s well established that cognitive abilities such as reasoning, memory and focussed attention help children do well...

    January 28, 2020
  • Buffering vineyards against climate change

    Researchers model the impact of sticking to the tried and true.

    As the planet continues to warm, many vineyards will become less viable – but diversifying crops could help mitigate ...

    January 27, 2020
  • Sign languages grew from five lineages

    Scientists merge linguistics with evolutionary biology.

    Delving into centuries-old manuscripts depicting dozens of sign language alphabets, scientists have identified five p...

    January 23, 2020
  • River deltas are changing shape

    Modelling reveals impact of human activities.

    Deforestation and damming have altered the shape of river deltas across the globe, contributing to a net 54 square ki...

    January 22, 2020
  • Australian Astronomer wins US science award

    Lisa Kewley transformed our understanding of the universe.

    Quietly tucked away in Canberra, Australia, is one of the world’s most influential astronomers right now. Lisa Kewle...

    January 22, 2020
  • Earth’s oldest known impact structure

    Geological dating at the 70-kilometre wide Yarrabubba crater.

    Evidence that the 70-kilometre wide Yarrabubba crater in outback Western Australia may be the Earth’s oldest known me...

    January 21, 2020
  • Modern culture isn’t evolving that quickly

    Study suggests it's basically on pace with biological evolution.

    We’re surrounded by an avalanche of new arts, technologies and scientific discoveries, so it’s easy for us humans to ...

    January 20, 2020
  • Is canine responsiveness to people innate?

    Wolf pups and stray dogs pick up human cues with no training.

    Two studies have independently found that wolf pups and stray dogs can correctly interpret human cues and respond to ...

    January 19, 2020
  • Crabs compromise to avoid competition

    Hermit crab species co-exist by living in different shaped shells.

    Rather than compete for shelter, two closely related hermit crab species appear to have adapted to differently shaped...

    January 16, 2020
  • Global roadmap to insect recovery

    International researchers urge a suite of conservation measures.

    Dozens of researchers from around the globe have united to create a comprehensive roadmap for insect conservation and...

    January 15, 2020
  • Vast avian database links form to function

    Bird bodies provide clues to their role in ecosystems.

    A decade-long effort building on bird specimens collected over the past two centuries has culminated in a database of...

    January 14, 2020
  • How do ancient trees grow so old?

    Study reveals they can defy senescence.

    Some large trees have steadfastly endured for hundreds, even thousands of years, surviving through generations of hum...

    January 13, 2020
  • New songbird found on Indonesian islands

    Discovery amplifies the archipelago’s rich biodiversity.

    Tucked away in three of the most geographically isolated Indonesian islands of Wallacea, known for their unique and r...

    January 12, 2020
  • Unveiling the tomato’s evolution

    It’s more complex than previously thought.

    From wild, blueberry-like fruit to the large domesticated tomatoes that people enjoy today, the evolution of one of t...

    January 8, 2020
  • Birds, bats and bacteria

    Study questions microbial co-evolution across species.

    Collecting poo samples from nearly 900 different species of invertebrates might seem daunting – and messy – for some,...

    January 7, 2020
  • Chimps share tools when tasks gets tough

    Study sheds light on evolution of technology.

    Wild chimpanzees are more likely to share termite gathering tools with novices when the task involves greater complex...

    January 6, 2020
  • Culture vultures may live longer

    Study highlights health benefits of engaging with the arts.

    By Natalie ParlettaThose who think enjoying a good dose of culture is arty-farty could be missing out, with a new stu...

    December 19, 2019
  • Early battle with a rising sea that failed

    Mediterranean seawall couldn’t protect village.

    By Natalie ParlettaAround 7000 years ago, Neolithic villagers built an extensive seawall to protect themselves agains...

    December 18, 2019
  • Moves like a marsupial, climbs like a primate

    The koala is built for life in the trees.

    Australia’s cuddly koala seems to have evolved tree clambering abilities that rival those of the apes and monkeys tha...

    December 17, 2019
  • Bird migratory patterns change with the climate

    But scientists question whether it’s enough.

    A study tracking hundreds of bird species across the US over more than two decades has found they are altering their ...

    December 16, 2019
  • Why are whales so big, but not bigger?

    Researchers identify biological drivers and ecological limits.

    Whales are huge mammals weighing from 20 to 200 tonnes. The blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have existed...

    December 15, 2019
  • There’s hope for narcissistic teens

    They’ll probably grow out of it, like the rest of us.

    It’s common for people “of a certain age” to bemoan the self-centredness of today’s teenagers, but they do tend to gr...

    December 11, 2019
  • Clues to the evolution of modern penguins

    An old bird with proportions close to current-day relatives.

    Penguin fossils from around 62 million years ago in the Palaeocene suggest the ones we know today may have evolved ea...

    December 10, 2019
  • Less ploughing leads to higher crop yields

    Satellite data confirms importance of leaving soil alone.

    Scientists have used modern technology to show that an ancient approach to agriculture may be the best. Satellite im...

    December 9, 2019
  • Timber travelled in Roman times

    Old boards reveal the importance of trade to the empire.

    Some of the oak planks found in a Roman portico and later analysed to determine their origin.Bernabei at al., 2019By ...

    December 8, 2019
  • Canines recognise words, regardless of the speaker

    It’s not just a human skill, new research suggests.

    Dogs seem to have the ability – until now thought to be uniquely human – to spontaneously recognise words even when t...

    December 4, 2019
  • Socialites not primary behavioural influencers

    Research suggests it’s more likely close-knit cliques.

    If you want to influence people’s behaviour, simply growing your social networks isn’t going to cut it, according to ...

    December 3, 2019
  • On the savannah, mixed company is good

    Interspecies mingling brings strategic survival benefits.

    It’s not uncommon for different species of wild animals on the African plains to hang out together, and now scientist...

    November 28, 2019
  • Amazon fires could increase glacier melting

    Study highlights the impact of black carbon and dust.

    By Natalie ParlettaSmoke plumes from burning rainforests in the Amazon basin could increase melting of tropical Andea...

    November 28, 2019
  • World map rates sustainable food systems

    Comprehensive tool provides a benchmark for moving forward.

    Scientists have created a new global map of food system sustainability that rates each country on a sweeping series o...

    November 26, 2019
  • Scientists record a blue whale’s heartbeat

    Vast range could explain why it’s big, but not bigger.

    Scientists have recorded the heart rate of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in the wild and found considerable ex...

    November 25, 2019
  • Dung beetle’s horns not so novel after all

    Research finds they stem from the same genes as wings.

    A revelation that the dung beetle’s thoracic horns grew from wing genes challenges biology textbook definitions of no...

    November 24, 2019
  • Bacteria keeping up the fight against dengue

    New Wolbachia strain nearly halved cases in Malaysia.

    The Wolbachia trials were conducted in high-density areas in Malaysia.Ary Hoffmann, University of MelbourneBy Natalie...

    November 21, 2019
  • Many African plant species face extinction threat

    Analysis speeds up risk assessment – and could aid conservation.

    By Natalie ParlettaAbout a third of all tropical African plant species are potentially or likely threatened by extinc...

    November 20, 2019
  • Insight into malaria immune response

    Discovery could also improve other treatments.

    Australian researchers have found new insights into how the immune system responds to malaria infection, which they s...

    November 19, 2019
  • Were animal ancestors bisexual?

    We might have been working on some incorrect assumptions.

    The paradox of same-sex relations in animals and humans has long confounded evolutionary scientists because it produc...

    November 18, 2019
  • Birds leave genetic clues in drinking water

    Environmental DNA proves a powerful conservation tool.

    Australian researchers have worked out how to trace an endangered bird species by analysing water samples from its dr...

    November 14, 2019
  • More depressing news about anti-depressants

    Research highlights impact on fish behaviour.

    Australian researchers have found further evidence of the likely impact of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in anti-...

    November 13, 2019
  • Nemo’s cousins have a way of finding him

    Some clownfish make good use of their UV vision.

    Clownfish, made famous by the movie Finding Nemo, may have their own secret way of finding friends and anenomes. The...

    November 11, 2019
  • Playing in the right dirt can have a calming effect

    Research finds biodiverse soil makes mice less anxious.

    Microbes could be a link between healthy ecosystems and healthy people, according to a paper published in the journal...

    November 7, 2019
  • These birds form complex societies

    And that’s despite not having particularly large brains.

    The gregarious, small-brained vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) forms complex, multi-level societies, accor...

    November 4, 2019
  • Tracing poached ivory to the source

    Online tool matches genetic sequences to a database.

    By Natalie ParlettaA new software tool will speed up the tracking of locations where African elephant tusks have been...

    November 3, 2019
  • Vampire bats are friendly, like us

    Social bonds formed in captivity continue in the wild.

    Vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) form enduring relationships much like humans and other social primates, according to...

    October 31, 2019
  • Tracing poached ivory to the source

    Online tool matches genetic sequences to a database.

    Loxodonta LocaliserBy Natalie ParlettaA new software tool will speed up the tracking of locations where African eleph...

    October 31, 2019
  • The science behind Jackson Pollock’s art

    Research finds he was a master of fluid dynamics.

    By Natalie ParlettaWhatever you think of Jackson Pollock’s abstract art, it seems there’s a bit of science to it. In ...

    October 30, 2019
  • What’s good for people is good for the planet

    Mega analysis reveals how small dietary changes can benefit health and the environment.

    By Natalie Parletta A mega sweep of pooled studies has confirmed that the health and environmental impacts of diffe...

    October 28, 2019
  • Early Celts believed wine should be for all

    Analysis of ceramic vessels throws new light on social customs.

    Residues from ceramics found at an archaeological site in Germany suggest that Early Celts from all social classes dr...

    October 27, 2019
  • Birds wing it in many ways

    Their movement, not shape, determines flight behaviour, study shows.

    Some of the wings from Vancouver’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum used in the study: (top to bottom) gyrfalcon (Falco rust...

    October 24, 2019
  • A few revelations about moths and butterflies

    Busting theories about their age – and why moths grew ears.

    A comprehensive evolutionary tree of Lepidoptera, the order that includes butterflies and moths, reveals that this as...

    October 22, 2019
  • It was the asteroid, not volcanoes

    New insights into the last mass extinction.

    Researchers have resolved long-standing uncertainty about what caused the last mass extinction around 66 million year...

    October 21, 2019
  • Saving pumas with genomics

    Advanced techniques to identify inbreeding could inform conservation efforts. Natalie Parletta re...

    Genomes from mountain lions, or pumas, have spawned insights into how to encourage genetic diversification within the...

    October 20, 2019
  • Evolution clues to insect invader destruction

    It could prevent costly damage and protect ecosystems.

    Researchers have found a way to predict how non-native herbivorous insects could become seriously invasive, a conundr...

    October 17, 2019
  • Holy galloping ants

    The Saharan silver ant clocks up record speeds over hot sands.

    The diurnal silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, has made impressive adaptations to the extreme temperatures of midday ...

    October 16, 2019
  • Insights from historical human-clam coexistence

    Research points to traditional custodians for clues to sustainable practices. Natalie Parletta re...

    Coastal ecosystems are not only threatened by habitat loss and climate change; a breakdown of traditional aquaculture...

    October 15, 2019
  • Being pregnant and stressed not a good mix

    Study underscores importance of social support.

    A new study has unravelled the differential impacts of physical and psychological stressors during pregnancy on pre-t...

    October 14, 2019
  • Nature giveth, humans taketh away

    To our detriment, and global modelling shows just how.

    Nature has been supporting life on Earth for millennia. But human exploitation of her generous resources is wearing t...

    October 10, 2019
  • Would you like some chemicals with that?

    You might have no choice if you eat out. Natalie Parletta reports.

    If anyone needs another good reason for choosing home-cooked food over restaurants or take-out, here it is: a study h...

    October 10, 2019
  • Canine pals could be key to longevity

    Studies confirm that dog owners live longer, healthier lives.

    As most dog owners will attest, four-legged canine companions generate boundless love and joy through their playful a...

    October 8, 2019
  • Bird’s eye view of forests can predict demise

    This new method could spark timely efforts to save the trees. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Researchers have found a way to predict death of forests by detecting “hidden” signals of resilience using satellite ...

    October 8, 2019
  • How do conservation efforts stack up?

    Not bad, if they go viral or have a lot of support – but they could do better. Natalie Parletta r...

    Conservation initiatives are cropping up all over the planet to address escalating environmental threats and crumblin...

    October 7, 2019
  • Brooding bees lose sleep for their young

    The findings raise questions about the purpose of sleep.

    It’s not only human mums who give up precious sleep to care for their newborns. Nursing bees also sacrifice sleep to ...

    October 3, 2019
  • Groundwater extraction a “ticking time bomb”

    Current practices are having an escalating impact on aquatic ecosystems.

    A glimpse into the sustainability of global groundwater extraction for rivers, streams and lakes in the next few deca...

    October 2, 2019
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

    Failure can lead to greater career success.

    Throughout time, people have recognised the value of failure – and of getting back up again, like Henry Ford who repo...

    October 1, 2019
  • There’s more joy in books than tablets

    Conflict while reading digital books could impact development.

    Although it’s recommended that parents engage with young children when using digital media, research has found that w...

    September 30, 2019
  • Bees are nearly lost before they’re found

    New Fijian species are at risk of extinction

    Australian researchers have named nine new species of bees from the genus Homalictus Cockerell in the Fijian archipel...

    September 24, 2019
  • Corals need a lot of help from their friends

    Research reveals how reefs depend on microscopic life forms. Natalie Parletta reports.

    New research has supplied unique insights at a genetic level into how corals collaborate with their microscopic partn...

    September 23, 2019
  • Your cat could just be playing hard to get

    They bond more with humans than we thought.

    Cats might seem aloof, but new research shows they become just as attached to their humans as dogs and even children....

    September 23, 2019
  • Megafauna more mega than we thought

    Research sheds new light on an ancient Australian marsupial giant. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Australia’s unique megafauna continues to surprise, with new research adding insights into the peculiar bodies and li...

    September 16, 2019
  • Girls are just as good at STEM, study finds

    The proof lies in longer test duration. Natalie Parletta reports.

    An analysis of global data should shatter gender stereotypes that suggest females have an inferior grasp of STEM (sci...

    September 3, 2019
  • Beware white owls when it’s a full moon

    Light-reflecting plumage tricks their prey.

    The plumage of white barn owls (Tyto alba) appears to be a unique evolutionary quirk that helps them catch common vol...

    September 2, 2019
  • Bacteria v mozzies. Bacteria holds their own

    Study finds long-term viability in blocking spread of infection.

    Bacteria found to block the transmission of mosquito-borne infections show long-term viability as a biocontrol agent,...

    August 26, 2019
  • Manta rays like hanging out with their mates

    Understanding social connections could help conservation efforts. Natalie Parletta reports.

    A five-year study in Indonesian waters has confirmed that wild-roaming reef manta rays (Manta alfredi) form selective...

    August 22, 2019
  • Could air pollution contribute to psychiatric illness?

    Research suggests it does, but the findings are controversial. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Poor air quality has been associated with higher rates of bipolar disorder and major depression in observational rese...

    August 20, 2019
  • Women may not multitask better after all

    It seems that neither gender is very good at it.

    Challenging a popular stereotype, new research suggests that men and women perform equally well (in fact, equally bad...

    August 14, 2019
  • Songbirds show remarkable flexibility in learning tunes

    The findings could give new insights into human speech development. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Young songbirds can learn tunes from another species, according to new research, and the underlying neural processes ...

    August 12, 2019
  • Infants expect leaders to correct injustices

    They learn early about social hierarchies and power dynamics.

    It’s well-known that humans have evolved to rely on leaders to settle grievances in their social group. A new study s...

    July 30, 2019
  • To manage groundwater, first understand it

    Tthe dangers of over-exploiting an important resource.

    It may be out of sight, but it should not be out of mind. Water hidden beneath the earth’s surface comprises 98% of ...

    July 28, 2019
  • Peer pressure driving sustainable diets

    Modelling suggests it would be more effective than facts.

    People find it notoriously difficult to change eating habits to improve their own health, let alone the planet’s. No...

    July 25, 2019
  • Using nature to improve mental health

    Multi-level review supports links between nature and wellbeing.

    Evidence that nature can improve mental health and wellbeing has been germinating slowly but surely. To give it root...

    July 24, 2019
  • Plant-based diets could prevent type 2 diabetes

    New study quantifies the protective effect.

    Eating a diet high in plant foods with little or no red meat has been linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the ...

    July 22, 2019
  • Diabetes increases risk of heart failure

    Data from 10 countries reveal women are most at risk.

    Diabetes, an epidemic that is sweeping the world, has been linked to increased risk of heart failure in a global stud...

    July 19, 2019
  • Shifting stereotypes favour women

    Study looks back at 72 years of public opinion.

    An analysis of social attitudes in the US has found that women are now perceived to be as competent as men, if not mo...

    July 18, 2019
  • Is the Blue Economy sustainable?

    Australian researchers are exploring ways to create sustainable maritime industries, while also k...

    “Blue Economy” has become a popular buzz word over the past decade. Drawing from the notion of a “Green Economy”, it ...

    July 14, 2019
  • Global farming trends ‘a threat to food security’

    Study finds too little diversity and too great a dependence on pollinators. Natalie Parletta repo...

    Industrial agriculture’s growing dependence on single, pollinator-dependent crops is jeopardising global food securit...

    July 11, 2019
  • Pointing originates from touch

    Study sheds new light on how babies start to communicate.

    Researchers have discovered that the uniquely human act of pointing, which appears in the first nine to 14 months of ...

    July 10, 2019
  • Arctic ice reveals 1500 years of progress

    Lead concentrations tell a story of human environment.

    Lead concentrations trapped in Arctic ice cores parallel periods of growth and technological progress across centurie...

    July 8, 2019
  • Male elephants stick together around humans

    Behavioural adaption is creating a new social order.

    The evolving tendency of endangered Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to gather in all-male groups may be a behaviour...

    July 4, 2019
  • Social isolation makes spiders aggressive

    Research shows they’re a lot happier staying in groups.

    When spiders leave their family networks as they mature, it’s not because of their antisocial tendencies as previousl...

    July 2, 2019
  • Social conditions may influence sperm quality

    In mice at least, a bit of blokey competition can help.

    Males who grow up in an environment where they must compete for mates are more likely to breed boys than girls, accor...

    June 27, 2019
  • Body weight link with Lou Gehrig’s disease

    Motor neurons are remarkably vulnerable to energy depletion.

    Carrying excess weight is linked to a plethora of chronic health conditions, but amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),...

    June 26, 2019
  • Captive-bred migratory butterflies don’t migrate

    Conservation plan for Monarchs appears to be backfiring.

    Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) reared commercially in North America fail to head south on the annual migratio...

    June 24, 2019
  • For food production, diversity brings strength

    Mathematical research suggests that when it comes to growing crops, more is more. Natalie Parlett...

    Higher crop diversity could have a substantial impact on stabilising national food harvests and mitigating sharp decl...

    June 19, 2019
  • Elephant poaching spikes in Botswana, endangering the species

    Researchers warn illegal killing of animals could prompt population crash. Natalie Parletta reports.

    A new study has found that poaching of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) for ivory has escalated in northern Bot...

    June 13, 2019
  • Warnings over ultra-processed food

    Cakes and sugary drinks boost heart disease risk study finds.

    Ultra-processed foods have been associated with higher incidence of heart disease and mortality in two large European...

    May 29, 2019
  • A French delicacy being eaten to death

    Eating ortolans is a French tradition but pushing the species to extinction.

    Illegal and unregulated hunting of a tiny migratory songbird, the ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana), a coveted Fre...

    May 22, 2019
  • For Antarctic food webs, penguin poo is the gift that keeps on giving

    Study finds wind-blown faecal matter boosts inland ecosystems. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Nitrogen-rich droppings from penguins and seals along the Antarctic Peninsula fuel biodiversity hotspots that stretch...

    May 9, 2019
  • Contraceptives and knee injury link found

    Fewer contraceptive-takers require post-injury surgery.

    Oral contraceptives appear to reduce the severity of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female athletes, a ...

    May 5, 2019
  • Restaurant staff don’t understand allergy risk

    Floor and kitchen staff poorly trained for allergy risks.

    Restaurant staff know surprisingly little about food allergies, and attitudes to customer health risks are often poor...

    April 24, 2019
  • Kids make judgements based on faces

    Character assessment according to appearance begins early in life.

    Children as young as five make stereotypical inferences about people’s behaviour and modify their own behaviour towar...

    April 22, 2019
  • Little-known bush foods set to change the world

    A quiet slow-food revolutions are underway.

    A food revolution is building in West Africa. Hundreds of women in land-locked Mali are harvesting the diverse potent...

    April 16, 2019
  • Vitamin D doesn’t better cancer outcomes

    Role of vitamin in treatments have been heavily debated.

    High doses of vitamin D do not improve survival rates for patients with gastrointestinal cancer, according to a new c...

    April 14, 2019
  • Gene-edited plants aid food security

    Support for modified food unlikely to gain approval.

    With renewed attention to implementation and regulation, new plant breeding technologies such as gene editing could m...

    March 28, 2019
  • You sound how you eat: speech evolved as diet changed

    Research confirms a long-derided linguistic theory. Natalie Parletta reports.

    A surprising new study has revealed that diverse sounds produced by human speech not only evolved after Neolithic tim...

    March 17, 2019
  • How to grow a better blueberry

    Using grasses instead of fertiliser solves a nutrient problem linked to berry evolution. Natalie ...

    Growing grasses amongst blueberry (Vaccinium spp) bushes boosts the berries’ antioxidant content by correcting iron d...

    March 13, 2019
  • The man who swims with sharks

    Charlie Huveneers is researching some of the most terrifying creatures in the ocean.

    Early February 2019, Charlie Huveneers, marine ecologist from Australia’s Flinders University, was preparing to embar...

    March 3, 2019
  • Garlic, onion, linked to decreased cancer risk

    It adds to evidence alliums can deliver positive health outcomes.

    Eating lots of onions, garlic and leeks has been linked to reduced risk of bowel cancer in a Chinese study of more th...

    February 25, 2019
  • Revealed: the carrot of youth

    A natural source of an anti-ageing compound.

    A Japanese relative of the carrot might hold the key to longevity, scientists have discovered.  The flowering ashita...

    February 21, 2019
  • Why grapes spark when you microwave them

    When you make a grape flash, does it give a little whine?

    For more than two decades, millions of science-curious viewers have been captivated by online videos showing grapes s...

    February 19, 2019
  • Plant respiration over-estimated by 25%

    Data has implications for ecosystem management.

    Eddy Covariance sounds like a rockabilly singer. But it turns out this is the name given to measuring patterns of eco...

    February 11, 2019
  • Did an early taste for fat fuel brain development?

    A novel source of nutrients needed to drive human evolution.

    Four million years ago, our hominin ancestors’ appetite for fat could be what delivered the energy needed to develop ...

    February 10, 2019
  • Revealed: what caused Indonesia’s devastating tsunami

    Uncommon seismic events combined to produce a rare and devastating result. Natalie Parletta reports.

    The catastrophic tsunami that killed more than 2000 people in Palu, Indonesia, in September 2018 occurred as a culmin...

    February 4, 2019
  • Planes can intensify rain and snow

    Finnish research confirms a meteorological quirk. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Airborne planes can increase precipitation from clouds by around 10-fold, and under certain conditions can increase r...

    February 3, 2019
  • Newborns can isolate words from speech

    Research suggests it may be an innate ability.

    Babies are born with the ability to pick out distinct words from continuous speech, according to a study published in...

    January 30, 2019
  • Excess insulin is toxic to placental cells, study finds

    Unexpected finding also offers opportunity to intervene. Natalie Parletta reports.

    While investigating possible causes of unexplained pregnancy loss, US researchers have discovered that insulin is tox...

    January 29, 2019
  • Poor sleep magnifies the brain’s response to pain

    Just one night is all it takes. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Exploring the well-known link between sleep and pain, a new study has found for the first time that sleep impacts on ...

    January 28, 2019
  • Exercise does help prevent depression

    And not exercising can make things worse.

    An international study of the genetics of 300,000 people has confirmed that physical activity can help prevent depres...

    January 24, 2019
  • Spying around corners just got easier

    It’s simply a matter of making a wall act like a mirror. Natalie Parletta reports.

    Objects that are out of sight could now be captured with an ordinary digital camera, according to new research publis...

    January 23, 2019
  • UV light may help birds navigate forests

    Amplifying contrast makes leaves stand out more clearly.

    It’s not only beauty that varies with the eye of the beholder. Unlike humans, birds can detect ultraviolet (UV) light...

    January 22, 2019
  • Is anything private in the digital age?

    Even your contact list and your musical choices reveal personal information. Natalie Parletta rep...

    Most of us think we have control over our online privacy with the security settings of social platforms – and some le...

    January 21, 2019
  • Feeding the planet: a call for radical action

    New report links our eating choices to the future of the environment. Natalie Parletta reports.

    A report released in The Lancet heralds the launch of a concerted effort to generate urgently needed solutions for fe...

    January 17, 2019
  • Most potatoes suffer depression

    Modern propagation techniques are reducing crop fitness.

    A large proportion of the world's potato crops are suffering from severe depression, according to researchers. That’...

    January 14, 2019
  • Rice is a major source of arsenic exposure

    Findings add to growing concerns about health risks.

    Researchers have verified that rice – grown and cooked in water – is a key food source of inorganic arsenic Long-ter...

    December 5, 2018
  • Barbecued meat: how to reduce cancer risk

    Population analysis suggests much more research needed.

    Barbecue-cooked meat represents a significant cancer risk, according to Danish researchers.   Their findings, publis...

    December 4, 2018
  • The physics of fried rice

    Making the most popular dish in the world turns out to be surprisingly complicated. Natalie Parle...

    Highly skilled: wok-frying rice is much more complicated than it appears.Ko, et alMechanical engineers have revealed ...

    November 19, 2018
  • Major study finds smaller role for genes in ageing

    Social factors more influential than genetics, family tree analysis finds. Natalie Parletta reports.

    A surprising new study combined family trees from over 400 million people and discovered that genes play a considerab...

    November 6, 2018
  • Researchers listen to their guts

    Invention promises new clues for the diagnosis of IBS.

    Inspired by acoustic sensing technology devised to pick up the munching sounds of termites, Australian scientists hav...

    September 23, 2018
  • Disappearing turtles could spell disaster

    Turtles are being driven to extinction, with consequences.

    These slow, gentle creatures have inhabited the Earth and its oceans for more than two million years. They’ve outlive...

    September 17, 2018
  • Because it’s Friday: a pigeon in a mask

    Technology reveals how homing pigeons navigate. Natalie Parletta reports.

    If you’d looked to the skies in Oxford, UK, during the summer of 2016 you could have been forgiven for thinking you h...

    September 6, 2018
  • The Serengeti is the product of livestock farming

    Prehistoric herders tended animals on the African plains.

    Thousands of years of livestock dung have stimulated fertile and ecologically diverse wildlife hotspots in Africa, ac...

    August 29, 2018
  • Solving the mystery of lost foals

    Outbreaks of spontaneous abortions in horses are devastating - and costly.

    Hairy caterpillars, bird-borne bacteria, and flying foxes share something in common – they all pose serious threats t...

    August 28, 2018
  • When it comes to collective effort, laziness pays off

    The physics of ant colonies yields clues for robot swarms and road traffic control. Natalie Parle...

    Humans have much to learn from ants, it seems. Researchers have now discovered from their behaviour how a busy work f...

    August 16, 2018
  • Weeds in poor city areas have nutritional value

    Researchers find a surprising wealth of free stuff.

    Despite the odds, nature does her best to nurture us. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have r...

    August 12, 2018
  • Dateless and dreaming: people on online romance sites try to punch above their weight

    A study reveals that for single people, hope springs eternal – and sometimes pays off. Natalie Pa...

    People searching for love using a popular online dating website tend to target potential mates who are more desirable...

    August 8, 2018
  • The Earth is breathing heavily – and that’s a problem

    Meta-analysis throws doubt on the ability of soil to act as a carbon sink. Natalie Parletta reports.

    The ripple effects of rising global temperatures on Earth’s ecosystems extend to accelerated release of carbon from t...

    August 2, 2018
  • Can crab shells and trees replace plastics?

    A biodegradable alternative to plastic food packaging.

    An eco-friendly material made from crab shells and trees could replace plastic food packaging, according to US resear...

    July 25, 2018
  • Possible link between cured meat and mania identified

    People hospitalised with some forms of bipolar were more likely to have consumed foods such as sa...

    Researchers looking for a connection between foodborne viruses and psychiatric disorders instead found a surprising l...

    July 19, 2018

Read science facts, not fiction...

There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.