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What fossils reveal about the spider family tree is far from horrifying | Susannah Lydon

Recent fossils in amber tell us how spiders evolved into their modern groups, but the fossil record for arachnids goes much deeper

The discovery of a 100m-year-old spider ancestor with a whip-like tail, bearing a more than slight resemblance to everyone’s favourite parasitoid alien –

Doctors warn against rush to prescribe medicinal cannabis

Evidence of effectiveness remains ‘limited’, says Medical Journal of Australia editorial

Doctors have been warned against rushing to prescribe medical cannabis despite Australians’ acceptance of its use.

To date, the evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis remains “limited”, say Jennifer Martin and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo in an editorial for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

China’s great leap forward in science
Chinese investment is paying off with serious advances in biotech, computing and space. Are they edging ahead of the west?

I first met Xiaogang Peng in the summer of 1992 at Jilin University in Changchun, in the remote north-east of China, where he was a postgraduate student in the department of chemistry. He told me that his dream was to get a place at a top American lab. Now, Xiaogang was evidently smart and hard-working – but so, as far as I could see, were most Chinese science students....

Gaming addiction as a mental disorder: it’s premature to pathologise players

Gaming addiction is expected to be classified as a mental disorder by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but – while concerns over the addictive properties of video games are reasonable – there is a lack of rigorous research to back it up

Video games played on smartphones, tablets, computers and consoles have been a popular form of leisure for some time now. In Europe, recent figures indicat...

Scientists unravel secrets of ‘superagers’

Researchers find elderly people with high cognitive function have more of a certain type of brain cell

“Superagers” have long puzzled scientists, but now researchers say they are unpicking why some people live beyond 80 – and still appear to be in fine fettle, with cognitive capacities on a par with adults decades younger.

Researchers have spent years studying superagers in an attempt to understand what sets the senior citizens apart.

Laser scanning reveals 'lost' ancient Mexican city had as many buildings as Manhattan

Groundbreaking lidar scanning reveals the true scale of Angamuco, built by the Purhépecha from about 900AD

Archaeology might evoke thoughts of intrepid explorers and painstaking digging, but in fact researchers say it is a high-tech laser mapping technique that is rewriting the textbooks at an unprecedented rate.

The approach, known as light detection and ranging scanning (lidar) involves directing a rapid succession of laser pulses at the ground from an aircraft.

Cheddar Man changes the way we think about our ancestors
The study of a 10,000-year-old man surprised people when it revealed his blue eyes and dark skin – and few predicted he would reshape our view of our genetic heritage

In 1903 workmen digging a drainage trench in Gough’s Cave in the Cheddar Gorge, in Somerset, uncovered the remains of a young man, sealed under a stalagmite. The figure, feet curled up underneath him, was small, at about 5ft 5in, and would have weighed around 10 stone when he died in his early 20s. The cause of death has still...

Trump administration considers privatizing International Space Station

Documents show a plan to cease funding for the orbiting lab by 2024 and pitches running ISS ‘as part of a future commercial platform’

The Trump administration is considering turning the International Space Station over to private enterprise, according to internal documents obtained by

DIY faecal transplants carry risks including HIV and hepatitis, warn experts

Faecal transplants have been used in medical settings to tackle superbugs, but following YouTube videos at home is too risky, say researchers

Concerns have been raised about the growing trend for DIY faecal transplants, with experts fearing such attempts could put individuals at an increased risk of HIV and hepatitis as well as conditions ranging from Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis to obesity and sleep disorders.


Scientists capture exploding beetles' amazing escapes from toads' stomachs

Bombardier beetles observed causing audible toxic explosions inside toads stomachs causing them to vomit their lunch to freedom

The toad’s reaction to the explosion deep in its stomach is not instantaneous. But in time the body shakes, the mouth opens, and the culprit is expelled: a mucus-covered beetle that will live to fight another day.

Japanese scientists captured footage of the great escape during lab tests that pitted the