Backyard Nature's Direct Feed from
The British Broadcasting Company's
Science & Nature News

The latest stories from the Science & Environment section of the BBC News web site.

Last updated on  October 31st, 2014

Virgin spacecraft crash kills pilot: Click here
A pilot is killed and another is injured as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space tourism craft crashes in California.

Rockets 'destroy chemical weapons': Click here
A team has developed micro-sized rockets, powered by seawater, that can neutralise chemical and biological weapons.

Wannabe is 'catchiest hit single': Click here
Results from a citizen science online experiment suggests that the Spice Girls' Wannabe is the UK's catchiest hit single.

WW2 technology 'Plan B' for GPS: Click here
Technology developed during World War Two is to be used as a back-up for GPS in ports across England and Scotland.

Newt flesh fungus 'brought by pets': Click here
A skin-eating fungus threatens salamanders and newts across Europe, and probably arrived on pet amphibians imported from Asia.

IPCC debates 'most important' report: Click here
Scientists and government officials are meeting in Copenhagen to edit a report on the causes, impact and solutions to global warming.

Low oxygen 'delayed life on Earth': Click here
Animals took so long to evolve and thrive on Earth because of incredibly low levels of oxygen during a period more than a billion years ago, scientists say.

Rocket makers probe US explosion: Click here
The builders of an unmanned supply rocket which exploded on the way to the International Space Station have vowed to find the cause of the failure.

New species of frog in urban jungle: Click here
Scientists confirm that a frog found living in New York City wetlands is a new species.

Koala chlamydia vaccine raises hope: Click here
Australian scientists say they have successfully tested a vaccine aimed at protecting wild koalas from chlamydia.

Salt destroying fertile land - UN: Click here
About 2,000 hectares of fertile land are lost each day due to damage caused by salt, according to a UN analysis.

Giant tortoise 'miraculous' recovery: Click here
A new study confirms that giant tortoise numbers on one of the Galapagos Islands have bounced back thanks to captive breeding.

Met Office supercomputer confirmed: Click here
Plans are unveiled for a £97m supercomputer which will boost the Met Office's computing capacity by 13 times, improving weather forecasting and climate modelling.

Google developing a cancer detector: Click here
Google is attempting to diagnose cancers, heart attack risks and other ailments with a system that combines nanoparticles and a wrist-worn sensor.

Two genes linked with violent crime: Click here
Two genes are associated with repeat violent offenders, according to a genetic analysis of almost 900 criminals in Finland.

Protection plan 'will not save reef': Click here
Australia's Academy of Science says a government draft plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef will not prevent its decline.

Key to sounding charismatic revealed: Click here
An innate ability some people have to manipulate their vocal frequency could be the key to sounding charismatic, according to new research.

Why scratching 'intensifies itching': Click here
Scratching an itch releases serotonin, which paradoxically makes you more itchy, research suggests.

Piece of Australia found in Vanuatu: Click here
A fragment of ancient Australia is found under Vanuatu in the South Pacific, raising new questions about how continents are formed.

Legal fight begins to save beavers: Click here
Campaigners start legal action to prevent the government from capturing a family of wild beavers.

Monster shark 'kept whales in check': Click here
The extinction of the biggest shark known to science may have triggered whales to grow to their current hefty sizes, a study suggests.

Farmland birds show rapid decline: Click here
Farmland birds are at their lowest levels since records began, according to government figures.

DNA yields secrets of human pioneer: Click here
DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals.

Mystery of giant arm dinosaur solved: Click here
Two dinosaur skeletons have been unearthed in Mongolia, solving a mystery that has baffled palaeontologists for 50 years.

Population controls 'not effective': Click here
Attempts to restrict population growth will not solve global sustainability issues in the short term, new research says.

EU leaders agree CO2 emissions cut: Click here
The EU agrees what it calls "the world's most ambitious" deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, overcoming deep divisions.

'Tree of the Year' shortlist issued: Click here
The 10 trees to make the final of England's "Tree of the Year" competition are announced.

Turtles tracked on swimming frenzy: Click here
Small tags stuck to the undersides of baby loggerhead turtles are used to follow the animals' frenetic first hours.

Wind farms outstrip nuclear power: Click here
The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

Pesticide bans 'could hit UK crops': Click here
The EU's decision to ban the use of some pesticides could threaten UK crops, increase food prices and hit farmers' profits, a report claims.

Threatened birds of prey 'vanish': Click here
Two of the rarest birds of prey in England, which had been satellite tagged, vanish in unexplained circumstances.

Hyenas feast at vulture restaurants: Click here
"Restaurants" of dead meat set up for endangered vultures also attract an undesirable clientele of hyenas and jackals, according to a six-year study.

Brazil releases 'good' mosquitoes: Click here
Brazilian researchers release thousands of mosquitoes infected with a bacteria that suppresses dengue fever into the environment in Rio de Janeiro.

VIDEO: Russia's 39,000-year-old mammoth: Click here
A 39,000 year-old baby mammoth named Yuka has been put in display in central Moscow making it the best preserved mammoth in palaeontology.

VIDEO: Baby pandas wrestle with their keeper: Click here
A breeder in China's Chendgu province was trying to give these two baby pandas medicine instead of their usual bamboo leaves- and they were having none of it.

VIDEO: Lab for world’s worst animal viruses: Click here
A look around a new lab at Pirbright Institute in Surrey, where the world’s most contagious livestock viruses will be kept.

VIDEO: Moment unmanned rocket explodes: Click here
An unmanned cargo rocket has exploded seconds after lifting off from a commercial launch pad in Virginia.

VIDEO: 1000C lava reaches homes in Hawaii: Click here
A lava flow from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island is now drawing close to homes.

VIDEO: App aims to identify bird songs: Click here
A mobile phone app that recognises which species of bird is singing is being developed by a researcher at Queen Mary University in London.

VIDEO: Wild flowers targeted by thieves: Click here
Conservationists are warning that some of Britain's endangered plants are being put under even greater threat, because thieves are stealing them to order.

VIDEO: New supercomputer for Met Office: Click here
Funding has been confirmed for a £97m supercomputer to improve the Met Office's weather forecasting and climate modelling.

IPCC keen to avoid old ghosts: Click here
Climate talks stalked by spectre of the past

Is the traditional metal key becoming obsolete?: Click here
Keys are 4,000 years old but are their days numbered?

In pictures: Relics found in Mexico: Click here
Ancient Mexican city yields 50,000 treasures

How will future city signs look?: Click here
How jetpacks and driverless cars will change the cityscape

VIDEO: The island disappearing into the sea: Click here
The story of two families and one fragile Louisiana wetland

The high-stakes world of rare-plant theft: Click here
The high-stakes world of botanical crime

Baffling ballet: Click here
Can science explain the flocking habits of starlings?

10 things you may not know about laughter: Click here
10 things you may not have known about being amused

Bloodhound Diary: Putting it all together: Click here
Into the assembly of the world's fastest car

Australia green firms hit by cut: Click here
Australia's green energy firms hit by target cuts

Autumnwatch returns to Leighton Moss: Click here
Stags, starlings and more turn out for Autumnwatch

Egyptian obelisk revealed anew: Click here
Egyptian hieroglyphs seen in a new light

Go to the Backyard Nature Homepage