Nell Greenfieldboyce Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.
Nell Greenfieldboyce 2010
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Nell Greenfieldboyce

A 6-foot-long electric eel is basically a 6-inch fish attached to a 5-1/2-foot cattle prod, researchers say. The long tail is packed with special cells that pump electricity without shocking the fish. Mark Newman/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image hide caption

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Mark Newman/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

A Shocking Fish Tale Surprises Evolutionary Biologists

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By comparing "Skull 17" from the Sima de los Huesos site with many others found in the same cave, researchers were able to discern the common facial features of the era. Javier Trueba /Madrid Scientific Films hide caption

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Javier Trueba /Madrid Scientific Films

How To Become A Neanderthal: Chew Before Thinking

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DNA from these crab plovers, collected in Djibouti, Africa, should help scientists figure out how the unusual species fits into the family tree, says the Smithsonian's Helen James. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

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Maggie Starbard/NPR

Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

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The egg definitely came before the chicken in this case — the skeleton is from a modern adult kiwi, the egg from its much bigger, long-extinct cousin, Aepyornis maximus. Kyle Davis and Paul Scofield/Canterbury Museum hide caption

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Kyle Davis and Paul Scofield/Canterbury Museum

Big Flightless Birds Come From High-Flying Ancestors

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Unlike humans, an octopus doesn't have constant awareness of each arm's location. Each appendage sort of has a "mind of its own," research shows. Joe Parks/Flickr hide caption

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Joe Parks/Flickr

Why This Octopus Isn't Stuck-Up

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'Past The Point Of No Return:' An Antarctic Ice Sheet's Slow Collapse

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Being able to insert the two man-made letters into DNA, alongside the usual four-letter alphabet, could teach old cells new tricks and lead to better drugs, researchers say. courtesy of Synthorx hide caption

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courtesy of Synthorx

Chemists Expand Nature's Genetic Alphabet

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Botulism bacteria, or Clostridium botulinum, grow in poorly preserved canned foods, especially meat and fish. The microbe's toxin could be lethal as a bioweapon. Dr. Phil Luton/Science Photo Library/Corbis hide caption

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Dr. Phil Luton/Science Photo Library/Corbis

Who's Protecting Whom From Deadly Toxin?

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An artist's rendering of Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit in the habitable zone of a distant star. T. Pyle/NASA/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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T. Pyle/NASA/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin'

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The world must cut its greenhouse gas emissions to meet its goals, climate experts said Sunday. Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (left to right) Youba Sakona, Ramon Pichs Madruga, Ottmar Edenhofer and Rajendra Pachauri hold copies of their new report in Berlin. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says

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Street vendors sell chickens at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in early 2013. Last year Cambodia reported more cases of H5N1 bird flu than any other country. Mak Remissa/EPA /LANDOV hide caption

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Mak Remissa/EPA /LANDOV

Where's the moon rock? Curators say national treasures are often overlooked in the museum's current display, which hasn't changed much since 1976. National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution hide caption

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National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide makes a space walk outside the International Space Station in 2012. NASA/Getty Images hide caption

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NASA/Getty Images

Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel

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This diagram for the outer solar system shows the orbits of Sedna (in orange) and 2012 VP113 (in red). The sun and terrestrial planets are at the center, surrounded by the orbits (in purple) of the four giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Kuiper belt, which includes Pluto, is shown by the dotted light blue region. Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science hide caption

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Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits

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This Freeloading Bird Brings Help — And The Help Smells Gross

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