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April 12 2015

New Controversy Surrounds Alleged 'Jesus Family Tomb'


A new piece of evidence is reigniting controversy over the potential bones of Jesus of Nazareth.

A bone box inscribed with the phrase "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" is potentially linked to a tomb in Talpiot, Israel, where the bones of people with the names of Jesus' family members are buried, according to a new chemical analysis.


Related: The Mystery of the Lost Ark in Japan

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April 11 2015

Did neurons evolve more than once on Earth?


TRANSLUCENT comb jellies are some of the most primitive animals on Earth, yet they have remarkable nervous systems. Controversial data discussed at a meeting in London last month proposes that their neurons are unlike any others on Earth. This could be evidence that neurons evolved more than once in the history of animal life.

The suggestion that neurons evolved in parallel multiple times has divided biologists for over a century.

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April 11 2015

Researchers find neural 'wiring' is similar to structure of online networks


Researchers sketching out a 'wiring diagram' for rat brains have discovered its structure is organized like the Internet.

They say the animal's cerebral cortex is 'like a mini-Internet'.

The first comprehensive picture of how neurons connect to one another found local networks of neurons layered like the shells in a Russian nesting doll.

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April 11 2015

UN urged to ban 'killer robots' before they can be developed


Fully autonomous weapons, already denounced as “killer robots”, should be banned by international treaty before they can be developed, a new report urges the United Nations.

Under existing laws, computer programmers, manufacturers and military commanders would all escape liability for deaths caused by such machines, according to the study published on Thursday by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School.

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April 11 2015

Amazon Wins Approval to Test Delivery Drones in US


Amazon has won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin testing delivery drones in the United States.

Last month, Amazon was granted a similar certificate from the FAA, but because that request spent six months in regulatory limbo, the prototype drone approved by federal regulators had become obsolete.

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April 11 2015

Iris Scanner Identifies a Person 40 Feet Away


Police traffic stops are in the news again, tragically, sparking a new round of discussion on whether and how to outfit police with cameras and other technology.

For several years now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Biometrics Center have been testing an iris recognition system that can be used to identify subjects at a range of up to 40 feet.

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April 11 2015

To Predict Future Diseases, Doctors Will Map Newborns' Genes


If you could find out your baby’s future health problems right after he or she was born, would you want to know? Some new parents will get to make that decision soon. This month, doctors in Boston will begin the BabySeq project, in which they will sequence the genomes of newborns to look for signs of diseases that begin in childhood.

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April 11 2015

'Domesticated' explores how humans have altered animals


The taming of the auroch probably began with rounding up those animals that would tolerate humans. Eventually, people could have selected mild-mannered aurochs for breeding. By contrast, now-tame predators such as dogs and cats may have kick-started their own domestication, with friendlier animals thriving on food they found in camps and settlements.

These are just a few of the evolutionary origin stories that science journalist Richard Francis shares in Domesticated.

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April 11 2015

'Lost' sea turtles don't go with the flow


A tracking study has shown that young sea turtles make a concerted effort to swim in particular directions, instead of drifting with ocean currents.

Baby turtles disappear at sea for up to a decade and it was once assumed that they spent these "lost years" drifting.

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April 11 2015

Mountain gorillas: Deleterious genetic variations disappeared from population thanks to inbreeding


Researchers have produced the first whole-genome sequences of endangered mountain gorillas in the Virunga volcanic mountain range in central Africa. Findings from sequence analysis suggest the gorillas have lived in small groups for thousands of years, coping well with inbreeding that scientists feared would lead to health problems. Based on these results, scientist say the gorillas, if properly protected from habitat destruction and hunting, should continue to flourish for thousands of years to come.

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April 11 2015

Dogs shown to sniff out prostate cancer


Dogs have been found to have 98 per cent reliability rate in sniffing out prostate cancer in men, according to new research.

The Italian study backs up tests carried out by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which is based in Buckinghamshire. Its co-founder, Dr Claire Guest, said its research had found a 93 per cent reliability rate when detecting bladder and prostate cancer, describing the new findings as “spectacular”.

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April 11 2015

Culling cats 'may do more harm than good'


Shooting or trapping feral cats may increase their numbers, a new study has found.

The accidental finding, made during research into the ecological impact of feral cats, emphasises the need to monitor the effects of culling programs, say wildlife biologist Billie Lazenby of the Tasmanian department of primary industries.

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April 11 2015

Brain scans reveal how people 'justify' killing


A new study has thrown light on how people can become killers in certain situations, showing how brain activity varies according to whether or not killing is seen as justified.

The study, led by Monash researcher Dr Pascal Molenberghs, School of Psychological Sciences, is published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

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April 11 2015

Man in lonely shallow grave buried by community who thought jaw deformities indicated evil


Lower jaw deformities from birth, a missing right hand and foot bones, trepanning to exorcise “bad spirits” and a lonely burial were the lot of a middle-aged Saxon or early medieval man found face down in a shallow grave.


Related: Ancient Tomb Reveals Man Sacrificed for Noblewoman's Burial

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April 11 2015

Primitive rock shelter vandalized in Nine Mile Canyon


The leader of a nonprofit archaeology organization says he's baffled by an act of vandalism that was recently discovered in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon.

"It's one of the weirdest things I've ever seen," said Spangler, who has more than two decades of experience in the field.

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April 11 2015

Tombs Filled with Dozens of Mummies Discovered in Peru


Dozens of tombs filled with up to 40 mummies each have been discovered around a 1,200-year-old ceremonial site in Peru's Cotahuasi Valley.

So far, the archaeologists have excavated seven tombs containing at least 171 mummies from the site, now called Tenahaha.

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April 11 2015

Controversy Blooms Over Earliest Flower Fossil


A tiny flower pressed between layers of sandstone for more than 160 million years could be the oldest flower fossil ever found, a new study reports.

However, not everyone agrees that the fossil represents an actual flower or that it is as old as the study claims.

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