Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Plant Grown from Ancient Seeds

Living plants of an extinct species of narrow-leafed campion (Silene stenophylla) have been grown from 32,000-year-old seeds discovered in the burrow of an Arctic ground squirrel in northeastern Siberia, the oldest plant by far ever grown from ancient tissue.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Class of Planet

Observations of the exoplanet GJ 1214b by the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed a newly discovered class of planet, one larger than Earth but with its mass consisting of more water than solid rock and an internal structure extraordinarily different than what is known.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Moon Being Pulled Apart

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has found small valleys called graben on the Moon's surface caused by the crust stretching and breaking along these faults, with this activity considered still active as it is estimated to have occurred less than 50 million years ago.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Underground Desert Oasis

Researchers have discovered a robust ecosystem of bacteria, archaea, DNA and other molecules of life only two meters beneath the surface of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth and a good analogue for most of the terrain of Mars.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Immortal" Tasmanian Devil

DNA analysis shows that the bizarre communicable cancer threatening the Tasmanian devil populations can be traced back to a single "immortal" female who lived about 16 years ago and who lives on through the infection, revealing possible leads for a potential vaccine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fighting Parasites with Alcohol

New research shows that fruit flies (D. melanogaster) actively seek out ethanol-containing food to both prevent and treat itself from being parasitized by wasps, which leads to the death of the wasp larvae growing within them and may provide evidence for alcohol's use in fighting infections.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interior of the Moon

A new study using data from Apollo-era seismic equipment and rock samples returned from those missions has determined the deepest parts of the lunar mantle to be up to 30% molten yet the absence of active volcanoes on the surface is prevented as this lunar magma is too dense to rise to the surface.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ants Remember Enemy Scent

A new study using tropical weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) shows that ants remember the particular chemical odor of other ants not native to their colonies and are able to pass along that "chemical signature" to their nest-mates as a collective memory for defense of the colony.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Single-Atom Transistor

Physicists have created a working transistor element from only a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon crystal, another large step in quantum computing toward engineering whole nanocomputers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Young Goats Develop Accents

Young goats have been found to develop distinctive bleating "accents" to their vocalizations when divided into separate similar social groups, a subtle and innate quality once thought too primitive to be expressed in all but a few mammals and songbirds.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Miniature Reptiles Discovered

Researchers have discovered four new species of miniature reptiles living only in a few square miles on Madagascar, including the smallest leaf chameleon known (Brookesia micra) that grows no more than an inch long.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Venus Spinning Slower

According to data from the ESA's Venus Express orbiter, the planet Venus is rotating 6.5 minutes slower than it was 16 years ago when it was measured by NASA's Magellan mission, with planetary scientists unable to explain the cause of this difference.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Life Began on Land, Not Sea

A new study suggests the origin of life to be land-based, heated volcanic ponds of water instead of the popular theory of life arising from deep ocean thermal vents, citing the high ratios of potassium to sodium found in both cellular fluid and volcanic mud pots.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Neanderthal Cave Paintings

Paintings found in the Nerja caves in Malaga, Spain, are the oldest yet found -- radiocarbon dated to about 43,000 years ago -- but also the first paintings to be left by Neanderthals, previously believed to be too primitive for representational art.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shark Skin Provides Thrust

Researchers have found that the flexible skin of a shark, covered in sharp tooth-like scales called denticles, alters the structure of the fluid flow near the surface of the skin in a way that not only reduces drag but actually enhances thrust for the animal's motion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Zebra Stripes as Insect Defense

Researchers have found the vertical stripes of the zebra to be the least attractive hide pattern for horseflies (tabanids), who are otherwise attracted to horizontally polarized light to identify aquatic environments, suggesting the zebra stripes evolved as a defense against these insects.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New "Porto Potty" Flower

A new flower has been discovered in Madagascar of the same genus as the "corpse flower," this species (Amorphophallus perrieri) nicknamed the "porto potty" flower after its strong stench of rotting meat and feces used to attract insects.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shipping Noise Stresses Whales

Using data from the two days following the 9/11 attacks in which shipping traffic all but ceased in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, marine biologists found stress-hormone levels taken from North Atlantic right whale feces to be lower than the following four years, providing the first evidence that human underwater noise stresses whale populations.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tarsiers Call in Ultrasound

New research has discovered that Philippine tarsiers (Tarsius syrichta) are the only primate species and one of the few mammal species to communicate using purely ultrasonic calls, vocalizing at 70 kHz to 90 kHz and well beyond the range of human hearing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Full Genome of Extinct Humans

Researchers have completed deriving the entire genome of a previously unknown extinct line of humans, a group closely related to Neanderthals called Denisovians, from a small fragment of a finger bone found in the Denisovia Cave in southern Siberia.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chirp of Extinct Cricket

Researchers have constructed a model of a fossilized bush cricket (Archaboilus musicus) found in northeast China from its exceptionally well-preserved microscopic wing features enough to reproduce the song of this extinct species after 160 million years.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Russian Origin for First Americans

New genetic research has revealed a link between Native American populations and the indigenous groups of the Altay Mountains of southern Siberia dating back about 18,000 years, suggesting a possible origin point for the descendants of the original North American settlers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jupiter's Moon Controls Auroras

The plasma from ionic sulphur produced by Jupiter's volcanic moon Io has been shown to affect the width and activity of that planet's permanent ring of auroral light surrounding each of its poles.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Predicting Volcanic Eruptions

New studies suggest the recharge of the magma reservoir beneath certain volcanoes with silicic magma and associated crystal growth in the century before an eruption may provide a means of predicting an eruption decades before the actual event.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ancient Blood-Sucking Parasite

The unique discovery of an extinct genus of blood-sucking bat fly trapped in amber for 20 to 30 million years has revealed several key facts, including the specific co-evolution of bats and bat flies and the prevalence of malaria in the New World for millions of years.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Different Outside Solar System

Data from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer probe has revealed the space outside our own solar system to be very different than the space within the heliosphere, with more free oxygen atoms found inside our solar system than in the immediate interstellar space.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stonehenge Precursor Found

Excavation of a Stone Age site on Scotland's Ness of Brodgar dating to 3200 B.C. has revealed an earthwork site that may have served as a model for Stonehenge and other similar complexes across ancient Great Britain.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Active Sun Clears Space Junk

The recent increase in solar activity has had the byproduct of helping to clear away some millions of pieces of man-made space junk left in orbit around Earth, with the increased solar radiation causing the thermosphere to swell and increase the drag on objects in orbit.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Volcanoes Triggered Little Ice Age

A new study suggests a 50-year period that included four massive eruptions of tropical volcanoes triggered the "Little Ice Age," a period of extended cooling due to decreased solar radiation that lasted from about 1300 A.D. into the nineteenth century.