Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest known remains of human habitation at the coast, a finding that may explain how humans ventured beyond Africa at the start of their planetary odyssey. Mussel shells and stone micro-tools found in a sea cave in South Africa suggest that Homo sapiens headed for the beach quite soon after emerging from the savannah.
Gorillas, China's baiji dolphin, Asian vultures and Pacific corals on Wednesday joined the list of species hurtling to oblivion as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) warned of a fast-track ''global extinction crisis''. In an update of its famous Red List of biodiversity, the Swiss-based IUCN said it had identified 41 415 species at threat.
Environment ministers ground their way towards the end of a 12-day climate summit on Friday, squabbling over a blueprint for negotiating the next round of carbon pollution curbs under the United Nations's Kyoto Protocol. The talks gathered members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Only a week after Pluto was stripped of its status as a full-fledged planet of the solar system, rebel astronomers have launched a campaign to have it restored in pomp and glory. A petition already signed by more than 300 researchers is attacking the International Astronomical Union decision to expel Pluto from the solar system's A-list and doom it to the status of ''dwarf planet''.
It has been called the Sun-eating Dragon. The Spirit of the Dead. The Eye of God. A harbinger of great events, good and evil -- terrible famines, bumper harvests, wars, the birth and death of kings. On Wednesday, tens of millions of people will be treated to this spine-tingling celestial sight: a total eclipse of the Sun.
A publicity stunt in which a golf ball will be whacked into orbit from the International Space Station has met a chilly reception from scientists, who say the scheme is risky and adds to the growing problem of space junk. Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov is to take on the role of a celestial Tiger Woods under a deal between a Canadian golf club manufacturer and the cash-strapped Russian Space Agency.
Twenty years ago, the loss of the United States shuttle Challenger dealt an enduring blow to confidence in manned space flight yet also helped open up a golden era of exploration by machine. As Nasa this Saturday mourns the 1986 disaster, the contrast in fortunes between human and unmanned missions in space has never seemed more acute.
Fed up with the daily grind? Eager for something different? A little glory, perhaps? Well, how about helping a quest to understand the life and death of stars? And how about the reward of making your name immortal? Scientists are looking for people with keen eyesight, lots of patience and spare time on their home computer to help them sift through the results from an extraordinary space mission.