Ground beetle (Carabus (Coptolabrus) elysii), detail

Eek! Each of These Insect Portraits Is Made From More Than 8,000 Images

With a mastery of macro, Levon Biss captures every hair and dimple on insects’ vibrant bodies

This brittle star, Sigsbeia oloughlini, was found the coast of Esperance, Western Australia.

Meet the Diverse and Bizarre “Stars” of the Deep Sea

As human activities encroach on remote oceans, scientists work to map the denizens of the deep

Washing your hands will make them clean, but it may not get rid of the microbes that live there.

Your Skin’s Microbial Inhabitants Might Stick Around, Even If You Wash

This tiny ecosystem is surprisingly stable from months to years, study reveals

Hosting an Event? Don't Toss Leftover Food, Donate It

With an Uber-like app, Transfernation is reducing food waste while feeding those in need

Severe drought killed this stand of trembling aspen trees, Populus tremuloides, near Fairplay, Colorado.

What Does a Dying Forest Sound Like?

As temperatures rise, scientists scramble to pinpoint trees in danger of drought

Feather identification expert Roxie Laybourne stands surrounded by colorful birds. This image took roughly eight hours to set up.

The Story Behind Those Jaw-Dropping Photos of the Collections at the Natural History Museum

The images capture only a fraction of the millions of creatures and objects that are stored away from the public eye

Ancient Mayan skull and bones remain in a Mexican sinkhole, remnants of a long-ago human sacrifice. The victims of sacrifice in Mayan rituals were varied, ranging from slaves to captive rulers of other lands.

Human Sacrifices May Lie Behind the Rise of Ancient Social Status

Dark practices may have helped the elite keep the lower classes in line, a new study hints

An ant of the species Iridomyrmex purpureus (center) lifts a leg in an aggressive display when she encounters ants from a different nest.

Antennae Yield New Clues Into Ant Communication

Despite more than a century of study, scientists still have much more to learn about the complex world of ant communication

The highly regular spacing of fairy circles in Australia becomes visible in dense vegetation. The grasses in the foreground of the image are patchy as they rebounding from fire.

Mysterious Fairy Circles Have Been Found in Western Australia

Once thought to exist only in Namibia, circles spotted 6,200 miles away are helping sort out how these odd features form

These ancient amber fossils from Burma in Southeast Asia help complete the patchy record of lizard evolution.

Pint-Sized Lizards Trapped in Amber Give Clues to Life 100 Million Years Ago

The trove of Cretaceous reptiles includes an early relative of the chameleon—the oldest yet discovered

Explore the Magnificent and Mysterious Surface of the Moon in Pictures

At the National Air and Space Museum, beautiful images show how the moon's pockmarked surface is rife with mystery

Scott Kelly works on the International Space Station during a nearly eight-hour spacewalk in November 2015.

What Happens to the Human Body in Space?

Data from astronauts who spent 340 days in orbit will add to almost 55 years of research on how low gravity sends Earthlings for a loop

The great pond snail is helping scientists make great leaps in their understanding of asymmetries in the animal kingdom.

Snail Shells Add a New Twist to the Mystery of Animal Asymmetries

After more than a century of searching, scientists have discovered a gene in snails that may control asymmetries inside many animals

Comparison of a Neanderthal skull (left) and a human skull (right) with a 55,000-year-old fragment from a possible human-Neanderthal hybrid.

Humans May Have Had Romantic Rendezvous With Neanderthals 100,000 Years Ago

New DNA evidence suggests that ancient humans got busy with our stocky Neanderthal cousins much earlier than previously thought

Artist Gary Staab and his team spent roughly 2,000 hours over five months to create the first of three models.

An Artist Creates a Detailed Replica of Ötzi, the 5,300-Year-Old "Iceman"

Museum artist Gary Staab discusses the art and science of constructing exhibition pieces

Thousands of infants born in Brazil have been reported to show signs of microcephaly, like Alice pictured here being comforted by her father.

How Can Viruses Like Zika Cause Birth Defects?

While the link between Zika and microcephaly is uncertain, similar diseases show how the virus might be affecting infants

White rhinos graze in Nakuru National Park, Kenya.

Five Ways to Fight Wildlife Crime in the Digital Age

From GPS-tagged eggs to smartphone apps, these emerging technologies could help give endangered species a chance at survival

Fossilized microbial mats, or stromatolites are one of the oldest fossils found on Earth. This one lurked in shallow waters 3.4 billion years ago.

Life and Rocks May Have Co-Evolved on Earth

A Carnegie geologist makes the case that minerals have evolved over time and may have helped spark life

Thin Red Line Aerospace Chief Engineer and CEO Maxim de Jong inspects a UW-CAES “Energy Bag” during initial test inflation

Could Renewable Energy Be Stored in Balloons in the Ocean?

Underwater compressed air energy storage is promising, but the fate of this tech remains unknown

Deep Earth creepy crawlies, mushrooms making rain, and a Maya city buried in ash are just a few highlights from this year's collection of science stories.

Cool Science Stories You May Have Missed in 2015

Quantum spookiness, a Maya city buried in ash and more in this year’s surprising science

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