New Scientist

Robotic elephant trunk can learn new tasks on its own

Technology 16 April 2021 By Matthew Sparkes A robotic elephant trunk that uses artificial intelligence to mimic some aspects of brains could lead to snake-like machines that can roam and adapt to new tasks. Sebastian Otte at the University of Tubingen in Germany and his colleagues created a 3D-printed robot trunk from segments that each…

Heat overrides genes to make bearded dragon embryos change sex

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre The central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) of Australia can change sex before hatchingMOAimage / Getty ImagesSome lizards that begin developing as males will actually hatch as females if the egg is particularly warm – and now we know why. The heat triggers genes that override chromosomal sex determination. In the 1960s, French…

The US plans to put a nuclear-powered rocket in orbit by 2025

Space 12 April 2021 By David Hambling Nuclear thermal rockets could be more manoeuvrable in spaceDARPAThe US is taking steps to put a nuclear-powered rocket in orbit by 2025, paving the way for navigation in space to become much easier. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to turn the long-studied concept of a…

Female monkeys call to males when they see a predator approaching

By Ibrahim Sawal A female putty-nose monkey C.Kolopp/WCSWhen faced with a predator, female putty-nosed monkeys will call males to help protect them from the threat. Putty-nosed monkeys (Cercopithecus nictitans) live in the forests of West Africa in groups of one male with multiple females and their offspring. The male will tend to roam further from…

Animals with weird neurons may rewrite the story of brain evolution

By Michael Marshall Mnemiopsis leidyi at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, CaliforniaFRANS LANTING, MINT IMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYMarine animals called comb jellies have nervous systems unlike those of any other known animal. Their neurons are oddly shaped and use chemicals not found in those of other animals. “These neurons are quite unique,” says Pawel Burkhardt at the…