Every year, Science publishes hundreds of news stories, both online and in our weekly magazine. And whereas many of these highlight huge advances in research (some of which get a nod in our breakthroughs of the year), a lot are simply cool stories that resonated with us, our readers, or both. And that’s what this list focuses on—some of our coolest and most popular online news stories of the year. It’s an eclectic mix, and you’re sure to find at least a few you’ll want to read—or read all over again.
Strawberries aren’t just delicious—they have the youngest known sex chromosomes of any plant or animal, meaning they branched into male and female forms relatively recently. This fascinating story explores how they did it—and what the implications are for the rest of the kingdom of life.
Some of our favorite stories fundamentally change our understanding of how the world works—and where that world begins and ends. In this case, it’s the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It turns out that it’s a lot closer than we thought.
A dinosaur story seems to make our list every year, and this one’s a doozy. Most fossils of the heavily armored ankylosaur are found upside down. The reason was a mystery for decades, but thanks to an unusual collaboration between paleontologists and armadillo experts, scientists may finally have an answer.
You’ve heard of a steam engine and an internal combustion engine—but how about a measurement engine? This unusual device—based on a bizarre aspect of quantum mechanics—could run with nearly 100% efficiency, far greater than a car engine. It’s all hypothetical for now, but physicists say it might actually be possible to build one.
Naked mole rats: Is there anything they can’t do? These homely little mammals rarely get cancer, don’t feel some types of pain, and can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen. They also appear not to age, according to this story.
The ancient Romans staged elaborate sacrifices at what they believed were entrances to the underworld. The animal victims died quickly, but the humans who accompanied them returned unharmed. Is this proof of the supernatural, or is there a much simpler, geological explanation?
It’s known as the “obstetrical dilemma”: the idea that two opposing evolutionary forces have shaped the human birth canal. But this story—one of our most popular of the year—suggests this long-held theory may not hold up. Far from just a paradigm shift, the work could improve practices surrounding childbirth.
You can’t argue with a cool video, and this is one of the coolest we saw this year: the first known footage of anglerfish—some of the creepiest denizens of the deep—mating. One expert says: “It was really a shocker for me.”
Let’s pretend you’ve got a boat—and a lot of free time. What path would send you on the longest ride in the world, without ever having to touch the steering wheel? The question, first posed on reddit, now has an answer, thanks to a team of resourceful scientists.
You may think your gut has a mind of its own—especially when it wakes you up in the middle of the night in search of brownies. This isn’t too far from the truth, finds our most popular item of the year. Our gut has a direct connection to our brain through a neural circuit that allows it to transmit signals in mere seconds. The findings could lead to new treatments for obesity, eating disorders, and even depression.