Half-Shelled Prehistoric Reptile Was Early Ancestor of Turtles

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | June 24, 2015 12:00 pm

STEM TURTLE

Researchers have found a new species of reptile which they say is an ancestor of modern turtles.

The 240 million-year-old fossils were found in sediments of a Triassic freshwater lake in southern Germany. The species, named Pappochelys (“grandfather turtle”) rosinae, could help settle a long-running debate about how turtles evolved.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, paleontology

Racehorses Haven’t Reached Peak Speed Yet

By Carl Engelking | June 23, 2015 6:00 pm

horse racing

Scientists may have settled a long-standing debate in horse racing: Are thoroughbreds still getting faster, or have they reached their maximum speed?

Past studies examining this question concluded that racehorses have hit their biological speed limit, but researchers from Exeter University in the United Kingdom say those findings were based on data that didn’t tell the entire story. And although American Pharaoh wouldn’t stand a chance racing against 1973’s Triple Crown winner Secretariat, a new analysis of race times from 1850 to 2012 shows that racehorses, on average, are getting faster every year. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

Water Was ‘Recently’ on Mars – And Will Be Again

By Susan Conway, The Open University | June 23, 2015 11:04 am
Istok crater on Mars shows signs of recent water flow.

Istok crater on Mars shows signs of recent water flow.

A hot topic in science over the past few decades has been whether liquid water is present or has been present on Mars in the past few millions of years. But despite a lot of research no conclusive answer has been put forward to date. Our international team has now hunted down another piece of evidence. By comparing satellite images of Mars with mud flows on Earth, we found that running water must have existed on the red planet relatively “recently,” in the past million years.

My (intellectual) journey to Mars when I first saw the beautiful high-resolution images of the surface of Mars in the early 2000s from Mars Global Surveyor and others. I thought they were from deserts on Earth. I was studying how the action of water, wind, ice, and volcanism form landscapes on Earth and realized that there was another planet out there remarkably like our own. Since then I have been drawn to Mars and in particular how flowing water has sculpted its surface.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: mars

Black Bears’ Amazing Rock-Climbing Skills, Caught on Camera

By Carl Engelking | June 22, 2015 2:33 pm

climbing-bear

Black bears can snatch fish out of a raging river using their mouths, sprint 30 miles per hour and tear through meals with powerful jaws.

Oh yeah, they can also climb sheer rock faces.

You wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it, and thanks to a kayaker who was in the right place at the right time, you can certainly see that bears have some killer climbing skills. A female Mexican black bear and her cub were seen scaling a canyon wall near Big Bend National park along the U.S. border with Mexico. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

Ceres Gets Weirder With More Bright Spots and Unexplained ‘Pyramid’

By Carl Engelking | June 22, 2015 12:34 pm
pyramid

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

If you thought Ceres’ spots were weird, wait until you see its mystifying ‘pyramid.’

Indeed, Ceres has intrigued NASA scientists and worked fringe UFO bloggers into a frenzy since the Dawn spacecraft arrived for a close-up of the dwarf planet in March. Upon arrival, Dawn imaged a cluster of bright spots in a crater; now, a pyramid towering over a flat landscape serves as the latest addition to Ceres’ scrapbook of oddities. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

New Horizons’ Pluto Approach Hyped in Epic Video

By Carl Engelking | June 19, 2015 12:52 pm
nh-pluto-approaches-charon

Artist’s illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. (Credit: NASA)

The National Space Society has successfully turned New Horizons’ approach of Pluto into this summer’s must-see blockbuster.

The organization, in a video published this week, borrowed a page from Hollywood to get our hearts pumping and adrenaline flowing for the grand finale of mankind’s half-century journey through the solar system. On July 14, after logging more than 3-billion miles, the New Horizons spacecraft is going to reach the finish line: Pluto and its moons. The National Space Society’s video puts the whole journey into perspective, and will probably give you chills. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Kennewick Man Was Native American Ancestor, DNA Suggests

By Gemma Tarlach | June 18, 2015 12:00 pm
kennewick man face

This clay facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man was carefully sculpted around the morphological features of his skull. Credit: Brittney Tatchell, Smithsonian Institution

A new study ends a nearly 20-year debate over whether a famous ancient skeleton is related to modern Native Americans. But the findings also open a new chapter in an equally long legal battle over who decides the fate of the remains.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

Nostalgia for Happy Times Reduces Depression in Mice

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | June 17, 2015 12:18 pm

woman looking at photos

It’s a well-known coping strategy when you’re feeling down to think back on happy memories. And, according to a new study on mice, recalling positive memories could do even more good than we thought: it might increase long-term resilience to stress even more effectively than actually experiencing a new happy event.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

Tiny Octopus Is So Cute Scientists Might Name It ‘Adorabilis’

By Carl Engelking | June 16, 2015 12:17 pm
octopus

(Screenshot from YouTube/Science Friday)

Deep in the ocean’s cold, dark waters lives a species of wide-eyed octopus that will surely warm your heart with pure cuteness.

Up until now, these peculiar creatures have gone unnamed. Now, scientists are preparing to formally name the species, and they’re considering the one word that captures this tiny cephalopod’s essence: Opisthoteuthis adorabilis.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

This Evaporation-Powered Engine Can Drive a Tiny Car

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | June 16, 2015 10:15 am

motor

Artificial muscles may move the machines of the future, and the only power they need is evaporating water.

Researchers at Columbia University have built artificial muscles that expand and contract with changing humidity, and in the lab, they’re already powering LEDs and propelling miniature cars.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
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