Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Cover Story

Cover Story

New Ideas about the Neanderthal Extinction

A modern human cranium (left) and a Neanderthal cranium (right). Modern humans have a globe-shaped braincase with steep sides, our foreheads lack a prominent bony ridge about the eye sockets, and our faces are shorter and flatter with scalloped cheeks. Credit: BirdImages/iStockphoto

A modern human cranium (left) and a Neanderthal cranium (right). Modern humans have a globe-shaped braincase with steep sides, our foreheads lack a prominent bony ridge about the eye sockets, and our faces are shorter and flatter with scalloped cheeks. Credit: BirdImages/iStockphoto

By Darren Curnoe

Were modern humans so superior that they drove Neanderthals to extinction, or did their lonely existence leave them genetically vulnerable?

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Should Australia Allow Mitochondrial Donation?

Credit: nobeastsofierce

Credit: nobeastsofierce

By Ainsley Newson & Stephen Wilkinson

Is there any ethical reason why legislation should prevent the use of donor mitochondria in cases where children are likely to inherit mitochondrial disease from their mothers?

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The Big Picture on Nanoparticle Safety

Credit: olly/Adobe

Credit: olly/Adobe

By Laurence Macia & Wojciech Chrzanowski

Nanoparticles are found in our food, cosmetics and tattoo inks, but regulations for their use aren’t keeping up with new research questioning their safety.

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Inside the Lair of a Mysterious Cosmic Radio Burster

A flash from the Fast Radio Burst source FRB 121102 travelling towards the 100-metre Green Bank telescope in the USA.  The burst shows a complicated structure, with multiple peaks that may be created during the burst’s emission or imparted during its 3-billion-light-year journey to us. This burst was detected using a new recording system developed by the Breakthrough Listen project. Credit: Danielle Futselaar/Shutterstock

A flash from the Fast Radio Burst source FRB 121102 travelling towards the 100-metre Green Bank telescope in the USA.  The burst shows a complicated structure, with multiple peaks that may be created during the burst’s emission or imparted during its 3-billion-light-year journey to us. This burst was detected using a new recording system developed by the Breakthrough Listen project. Credit: Danielle Futselaar/Shutterstock

By Charlotte Sobey

Two of the world’s largest radio telescopes have unveiled the astonishingly extreme and unusual environment of a mysterious source of repeating radio bursts emanating from 3 billion light-years away.

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Neandertal Life Reconstructed One Bacterium at a Time

The complete jaw of Spy II, with small and thin dental calculus deposits that pr

The complete jaw of Spy II, with small and thin dental calculus deposits that provided usable DNA sequences. Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Nature Sciences

By Laura Weyrich

Fossilised dental calculus is revealing that Neandertals weren’t the oafish brutes we’ve long considered them to be.

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How You Can Weigh Black Holes

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major 11.4 million light years away. The pitch angle of its spiral arms is 13.4°, which correlates with the black hole at its centre being 67.6 million times more massive than our Sun. Credit: © Ken Crawford http://www.imagingdeepsky.com/Galaxies/
M81/M81.htm

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major 11.4 million light years away. The pitch angle of its spiral arms is 13.4°, which correlates with the black hole at its centre being 67.6 million times more massive than our Sun. Credit: © Ken Crawford http://www.imagingdeepsky.com/Galaxies/ M81/M81.htm

By Ben Davis

The largest invisible monsters in our universe are hidden at the centres of galaxies, and we can predict how massive they are by the shape of spiral arms in their host galaxies. Here’s how you can take part in a global “citizen science” census of black holes.

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Oz Mammal Genomics

The fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) is a model marsupial species that’s frequently used in laboratory studies, and has the ancestral marsupial arrangement of chromosomes.

The fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) is a model marsupial species that’s frequently used in laboratory studies, and has the ancestral marsupial arrangement of chromosomes.

By Sally Potter & Mark Eldridge

A large project to sequence the genomes of Australia’s mammals will provide the first complete picture of their interrelationships and evolutionary history – and aid their conservation.

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Alchemists of Catastrophe: How Disasters Deliver Data

Scientists could never have justified dumping more than 500,000 tonnes of methane into the ocean to study the effects of climate change on deep-sea habitats, but they didn’t have to – Deepwater Horizon did it for them.

Scientists could never have justified dumping more than 500,000 tonnes of methane into the ocean to study the effects of climate change on deep-sea habitats, but they didn’t have to – Deepwater Horizon did it for them.

By Shanta Barley & Jessica Meeuwig

Ecologists are treating oil spills, species invasions and other environmental calamities as natural experiments on a scale that could never be attained by normal laboratory or field studies.

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Ancient Australia’s Super-Eruptions

Credit: Microstocker/Adobe

Credit: Microstocker/Adobe

By Milo Barham

Sediments beneath the Nullarbor Plain have revealed that super-eruptions in eastern Australia more than 100 million years ago were powerful enough to blast crystals right across the country.

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