Science X Newsletter Week 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 17:

Billion-year-old fossil reveals missing link in the evolution of animals

A billion year old fossil, which provides a new link in the evolution of animals, has been discovered in the Scottish Highlands.

Mars helicopter makes 4th flight, gets extra month of flying

After proving powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Ingenuity helicopter has new orders: scout ahead of the Perseverance rover to assist in its search for past signs of microbial life.

Extinct 'horned' crocodile gets new spot in the tree of life

A study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History has resolved a long-standing controversy about an extinct "horned" crocodile that likely lived among humans in Madagascar. Based on ancient DNA, the research shows that the horned crocodile was closely related to "true" crocodiles, including the famous Nile crocodile, but on a separate branch of the crocodile family tree. The study, published today in the journal Communications Biology, contradicts the most recent scientific thinking about the horned crocodile's evolutionary relationships and also suggests that the ancestor of modern crocodiles likely originated in Africa.

Scientist: Extent of DDT dumping in Pacific is 'staggering'

Marine scientists say they have found what they believe to be more than 25,000 barrels that possibly contain DDT dumped off the Southern California coast near Catalina Island, where a massive underwater toxic waste site dating back to World War II has long been suspected.

Wolf packs don't actually have alpha males and alpha females, the idea is based on a misunderstanding

You may have heard that a wolf pack is led by an alpha pair.

New study has scientists re-evaluating relative brain size and mammalian intelligence

Scientists from Stony Brook University and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior have pieced together a timeline of how brain and body size evolved in mammals over the last 150 million years. The findings, published in Science Advances, show that brain size relative to body size—long considered an indicator of animal intelligence—has not followed a stable scale over evolutionary time.

Researchers determine which dogs more often establish eye contact with humans

Eye contact plays a fundamental role in human communication and relationships. However, humans also make eye contact with dog companions. According to new research by Hungarian ethologists, at least four independent traits affect dogs' ability to establish eye contact with humans. Short-headed, cooperative, young and playful dogs are the most likely to look into the human eye.

New duckbilled dinosaur discovered in Japan

An international team of paleontologists has identified a new genus and species of hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur, Yamatosaurus izanagii, on one of Japan's southern islands.

SARS-CoV-2 spike protein alone may cause lung damage

Using a newly developed mouse model of acute lung injury, researchers found that exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein alone was enough to induce COVID-19-like symptoms including severe inflammation of the lungs.

Move over CRISPR, the retrons are coming

While the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system has become the poster child for innovation in synthetic biology, it has some major limitations. CRISPR-Cas9 can be programmed to find and cut specific pieces of DNA, but editing the DNA to create desired mutations requires tricking the cell into using a new piece of DNA to repair the break. This bait-and-switch can be complicated to orchestrate, and can even be toxic to cells because Cas9 often cuts unintended, off-target sites as well.

How long is a day on Venus? Scientists crack mysteries of our closest neighbor

Venus is an enigma. It's the planet next door and yet reveals little about itself. An opaque blanket of clouds smothers a harsh landscape pelted by acid rain and baked at temperatures that can liquify lead.

Researchers unveil oldest evidence of human activity in African desert cave

Few sites in the world preserve a continuous archaeological record spanning millions of years. Wonderwerk Cave, located in South Africa's Kalahari Desert, is one of those rare sites. Meaning "miracle" in Afrikaans, Wonderwerk Cave has been identified as potentially the earliest cave occupation in the world and the site of some of the earliest indications of fire use and tool making among prehistoric humans.

Engineering professor solves deep earthquake mystery

These mysterious earthquakes originate between 400 and 700 kilometers below the surface of the Earth and have been recorded with magnitudes up to 8.3 on the Richter scale.

A two-qubit engine powered by entanglement and local measurements

Researchers at Institut NĂ©el-CNRS, University of Saint Louis and University of Rochester recently realized a two-qubit engine fueled by entanglement and local measurements. This engine's unique design, outlined in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, could open up exciting possibilities for thermodynamics research and inform the development of new quantum technologies.

Probing deep space with Interstellar

When the four-decades-old Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft entered interstellar space in 2012 and 2018, respectively, scientists celebrated. These plucky spacecraft had already traveled 120 times the distance from the Earth to the sun to reach the boundary of the heliosphere, the bubble encompassing our solar system that's affected by the solar wind. The Voyagers discovered the edge of the bubble but left scientists with many questions about how our Sun interacts with the local interstellar medium. The twin Voyagers' instruments provide limited data, leaving critical gaps in our understanding of this region.

Egypt archeologists unearth 110 ancient tombs in Nile Delta

Egyptian archeologists unearthed 110 burial tombs at an ancient site in a Nile Delta province, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said Tuesday.

Antarctic ice-sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, study says

Global sea level rise associated with the possible collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been significantly underestimated in previous studies, meaning sea level in a warming world will be greater than anticipated, according to a new study from Harvard researchers.

One of the biggest Iron Age weapon hoards in western Germany unearthed

A team of researchers with the Westfalen-Lippe Landscape Association revealed during a presentation in the city of Schmallenberg that one of the largest hoards of Iron Age weapons in western Germany had been unearthed at a nearby dig site on a small mountain in Wilzenberg. In their press release, the researchers note that they found approximately 100 Celtic Iron Age artifacts—primarily through the use of a metal detector.

Icy clouds could have kept early Mars warm enough for rivers and lakes, study finds

One of the great mysteries of modern space science is neatly summed up by the view from NASA's Perseverance, which just landed on Mars: Today it's a desert planet, and yet the rover is sitting right next to an ancient river delta.

3D holographic head-up display could improve road safety

Researchers have developed the first LiDAR-based augmented reality head-up display for use in vehicles. Tests on a prototype version of the technology suggest that it could improve road safety by 'seeing through' objects to alert of potential hazards without distracting the driver.


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