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Skills in Maths and Reading Shared by Same Genes

A common set of genes play a role in learning to read and do maths, with tiny variants influencing a child's skills in these tasks, according to a study published Tuesday.

But this ability is not just gene-driven, as schooling and help from parents are also vital contributors, its authors cautioned.

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Scientists Criticize Europe's $1.6B Brain Project

Dozens of neuroscientists are protesting Europe's $1.6 billion attempt to recreate the functioning of the human brain on supercomputers, fearing it will waste vast amounts of money and harm neuroscience in general.

The 10-year Human Brain Project is largely funded by the European Union. In an open letter issued Monday, more than 190 neuroscience researchers called on the EU to put less money into the effort to "build" a brain, and to invest instead in existing projects.

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Study: Fossil Soaring Bird Had Huge Wingspan

A fossil found in South Carolina has revealed a gigantic bird that apparently snatched fish while soaring over the ocean some 25 million to 28 million years ago.

Its estimated wingspan of around 21 feet is bigger than the height of a giraffe.

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China Arms Itself for Difficult 'War on Pollution'

Having declared "war on pollution", China is arming itself with tougher weapons from new courts to daily fines and shutting down offenders altogether, in what analysts call promising steps but no guarantee of progress.

For decades, China accepted the blight on the environment as the collateral damage of tremendous economic growth that raised the incomes of hundreds of millions of people -- who now increasingly clamor for a better quality of life as well.

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Thousands Celebrate Birthday of First Taiwan-Born Panda Cub

Thousands braved the summer heat Sunday to celebrate the first birthday of Yuan Zai, the first giant panda cub born in Taiwan, who has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors in six months.

Around 3,000 people joined a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run which was part of a series of programs marking the birthday.

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Tips from Space Give Long-Range Warning of Flood Risk

Satellite monitoring of tiny changes in the gravitational field of river basins may give up to 11 months' warning of disastrous floods, a study published on Sunday said.

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine drew up a map of the Mississippi River basin combining knowledge about land use and data from a NASA gravity-monitoring satellite called GRACE.

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Wild Things: Crackdown on Menu for China's Animal Eaters

Porcupines in cages, endangered tortoises in buckets and snakes in cloth bags -- rare wildlife is on open sale at a Chinese market, despite courts being ordered to jail those who eat endangered species.

The diners of southern China have long had a reputation for exotic tastes, with locals sometimes boasting they will "eat anything with four legs except a table".

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In Argentina, Dinosaur Hunters Embark on Next Phase

A few months ago, Argentine scientists found the remains of a giant dinosaur. Now they look forward to digging up hundreds more fossils, but what they really want is the big one's head.

In recent years, the discovery of fossils of such sauropods -- giant plant-eaters with thin necks and a long tail -- in Argentina's Patagonia region confirmed that the remote area was once home to the largest dinosaurs to roam the Earth.

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Skeletons Found in El Salvador Shed Light on Pre-Hispanic Life

Japanese and Salvadoran archaeologists said Friday they have found three human skeletons in El Salvador from more than 1,600 years ago that could shed new light on early human settlements in the region.

The three nearly complete human skeletons, preserved in volcanic ash, were found near the Pacific coast at a dig called "Nueva Esperanza," about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of the capital.

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Anti-Poaching Experts Gather Amid Warnings Super-Rich Drive Illegal Trade

Hundreds of experts will gather in Geneva next week to discuss a "disturbing upswing" in the illegal wildlife trade, driven increasingly by ostentatious displays of wealth by the super-rich. 

"We're seeing a shift from health to wealth... a significant shift away from (demand for) traditional uses associated with health to uses associated with wealth," said John Scanlon, head of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

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