North America’s oldest skull surgery dates to at least 3,000 years ago

A man with a hole in his forehead, who was interred in what’s now northwest Alabama between around 3,000 and 5,000 years ago, represents North America’s oldest known case of skull surgery. Damage around the man’s oval skull opening indicates that someone scraped out that piece of bone, probably to reduce brain swelling caused by ... Read more

Here are the Top 10 times scientific imagination failed

Science, some would say, is an enterprise that should concern itself solely with cold, hard facts. Flights of imagination should be the province of philosophers and poets. On the other hand, as Albert Einstein so astutely observed, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Knowledge, he said, is limited to what we know now, while “imagination ... Read more

We can do better than what was ‘normal’ before the pandemic

It’s a weird time in the pandemic. COVID-19 cases are once again climbing in some parts of the United States, but still falling from the January surge in other places. The omicron subvariant BA.2 is now dominant in the country, accounting for more than 50 percent of new cases in the week ending March 26, ... Read more

This hieroglyph is the oldest known record of the Maya calendar

Buried within the Las Pinturas pyramid in San Bartolo, Guatemala, thousands of painted plaster mural fragments offer a window into ancient Maya civilization. Two of those fragments form the earliest known record of a Maya calendar, created between 300 and 200 B.C. The fragments depict the date of “7 Deer” from the 260-day sacred calendar ... Read more

A newly discovered planet renews debate about how some giant worlds form

A young, massive planet is orbiting in an unusual place in its star system, and it’s leading researchers to revive a long-debated view of how giant planets can form. The protoplanet, nine times the mass of Jupiter, is too far away from its star to have formed by accreting matter piece by piece, images suggest. ... Read more

A very specific kind of brain cell dies off in people with Parkinson’s

Deep in the human brain, a very specific kind of cell dies during Parkinson’s disease. For the first time, researchers have sorted large numbers of human brain cells in the substantia nigra into 10 distinct types. Just one is especially vulnerable in Parkinson’s disease, the team reports May 5 in Nature Neuroscience. The result could ... Read more

These male spiders catapult away to avoid being cannibalized after sex

An act of acrobatics keeps males of one orb-weaving spider species from becoming their mates’ post-sex snack. After mating, Philoponella prominens males catapult away from females at speeds up to nearly 90 centimeters per second, researchers report April 25 in Current Biology. Other spiders jump to capture prey or avoid predators (SN: 3/16/19). But P. ... Read more