Large numbers of children in Britain are missing out on the natural world, a study from the RSPB suggests.

The three-year project found that only 21% of children aged 8-12 were "connected to nature".

Girls were much more likely than boys to be exposed to the great outdoors, while children in Wales had the lowest score across the UK.

The RSPB says that a perception among some adults that nature is dangerous or dirty could be holding children back.

There has been an increasing amount of research in recent years underlining the lack of contact and experience with nature among modern children.

The idea that there were several different human species walking the Earth two million years ago has been dealt a blow.

Instead, scientists say early human fossils found in Africa and Eurasia may have been part of the same species.

Writing in the journal Science, the team says that Homo habilisHomo rudolfensis and Homo erectus are all part of a single evolving lineage that led to modern humans.

But others in the field reject this.

A team looked at the most complete hominid skull ever found, which was uncovered in Dmanisi, Georgia.

It had a small braincase, large teeth and a long face, characteristics it shares with H. habilis. But many features from the braincase were also "unique" to H. erectus.

The 1.8-million-year old skull comes from a site that has given up the biggest collection of well-preserved early-human remains known anywhere in the world.

Divers working at a Russian lake have recovered a half-tonne chunk of the space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk earlier this year.

The object plunged into Lake Chebarkul in central Russia on 15 February, leaving a 6m-wide hole in the ice.

Scientists say that it is the largest fragment of the meteorite yet found.

More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-tonne space rock burned up over Central Russia, breaking windows and rocking buildings.

Air pollution is continuing to damage European citizens' health and the environment, latest figures show.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) listed tiny airborne particles and ozone as posing a "significant threat".

However, the authors said nations had significantly cut emissions of a number of pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.

In a separate study, research identified a link between low birth-weight and exposure to air pollution.

EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said that EU nations had made considerable progress over recent decades to reduce the visible signs of air pollution, with cities now no longer shrouded in blankets of smog.

Conservationists are calling for an investigation into plummeting badger numbers in the run up to the cull.
The apparent 50% decline over a year before the cull started appears to be unprecedented, data from other badger populations suggests.
Government officials have blamed the cold winter, disease or lack of food for the dwindling numbers.
But a wildlife charity claims illegal killing of badgers may behind the fall in numbers and is calling for answers.
Meanwhile, reports on social networks suggest protestors have been interfering with the hair traps used to assess badger numbers. This could potentially lead to errors in population estimates.