The prosthetics sported by military veterans and others today are high-tech masterpieces, but they are the evolution of a simple, and age-old, idea. To illustrate that point, the BBC News Health site has gone through the London Science Museum’s wonderful archive of historical medical devices and put together a slideshow of prosthetics dating from seven centuries BCE to the mid-twentieth century. Our favorites: The factory work’s arm with four attachable hammers, the Egyptian toe prosthesis, and the gas-powered arms for a twelve-year-old boy.
Ask a group of snake researchers whether our modern snakes evolved from land-loving or ocean-loving lizards, and you’re likely to start a heated argument. But the days of snake-origin squabbles may be coming to a close–researchers have created the first 3-D images of snake fossils and have discovered that their legs are more akin to the legs of land-dwelling lizards than they are to the ocean-dwelling kind.
The researchers studied a 95-million-year-old fossilized snake called Eupodophis descouensi that was found in present-day Lebanon. Published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the scientists used a novel 3-D imaging technique called synchrotron-radiation computed laminography:
“Synchrotrons are enormous machines and allow us to see microscopic details in fossils invisible to any other techniques without damage to these invaluable specimens,” said co-author Paul Tafforeau from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. [Discovery News]