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December 12 2014

As Above So Below - Do the Giza Monuments encode the date of the Younger Dryas comet impact?


The earth was hit by a comet around 12,800 years ago with globally cataclysmic effects that brought on an epoch of devastating, cold, darkness and floods known by geologists as the Younger Dryas. For the past seven years academics have been involved in such an intense dispute about whether or not the comet impact actually occurred that the implications of what it might have meant for the story of civilisation have not yet been considered at all.

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December 12 2014

Humans and birds share the same singing genes


It's not just great minds that think alike. Dozens of the genes involved in the vocal learning that underpins human speech are also active in some songbirds. And knowing this suggests that birds could become a standard model for investigating the genetics of speech production – and speech disorders.


Alt: New Family Tree Illuminates 'Big Bang' in Bird Evolution After Dinosaur Extinction

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December 12 2014

Scientists discover how birds localize sound sources


German researchers have figured out how birds locate the source of a sound even though they don’t have external ears.

Outer ears on mammals help the animal identify whether sounds are coming above, below or at the same level.

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December 12 2014

Evidence of early Norse metalwork in Canada


Archaeologists have found further evidence of a Viking presence in Arctic Canada.

Norse artefacts have been uncovered in mainland Canada and the Arctic islands over the past several decades.

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December 12 2014

Beer and Beef: Why the Vikings' Elaborate Feasts Died Out


Vikings have a reputation for their ruthless marauding ways, but new evidence from an ongoing archaeological dig shows that the Vikings who settled in Iceland spent more time brewing beer and basting beef than pillaging and plundering. These meals of beef and booze were served during elaborate feasts that were likely held as a strategy to gain some political footing in their new home, research suggests.

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December 12 2014

Water’s role in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire


Smart agricultural practices and an extensive grain-trade network enabled the Romans to thrive in the water-limited environment of the Mediterranean, a new study shows. But the stable food supply brought about by these measures promoted population growth and urbanization, pushing the Empire closer to the limits of its food resources.


Related: Water woes in Lima: A glimpse of our future?

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December 12 2014

Israeli cave offers clues about when humans mastered fire


Mastering fire was one of the most important developments in human prehistory. But it’s also one of the hardest to pin down, with different lines of evidence pointing to different timelines. A new study of artifacts from a cave in Israel suggests that our ancestors began regularly using fire about 350,000 years ago—far enough back to have shaped our culture and behavior but too recent to explain our big brains or our expansion into cold climates.

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December 12 2014

Black Mesa mines: Native Americans demand return of their ancestors' bones


Navajo and Hopi Nations are fighting for the protection of Arizona burial grounds as one of the world’s largest coal companies seeks extension of its mining permit.


Related: Raids by uncontacted Amazon tribes raise fears of violence

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December 12 2014

Bees and Wasps in Britain Have Been Disappearing For More Than a Century


Since the early 2000s scientists have been sounding the alarm that pollinating bees are being stricken with disease or mysteriously vanishing from their hives.

However, analysis of species diversity in Great Britain shows a decline in pollinating bees and wasps that began far earlier than scientists had suspected.


Alt: Bee losses followed World Wars

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December 12 2014

Great wall of trees keeps China's deserts at bay


CHINA is holding back the desert, for now. The Great Green Wall – a massive belt of trees being planted across China's arid north in what might be the largest ecological engineering project on the planet – seems to work, according to a new study.

"Vegetation has improved and dust storms have decreased significantly in the Great Green Wall region, compared with other areas," says Minghong Tan of the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resource Research in Beijing. But whether planting trees is a long-term solution remains disputed.

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December 12 2014

New Dates Tie Volcanic Flood to Dinosaur Extinction


An incredible outpouring of lava 66 million years ago could have set off environmental changes that killed off the dinosaurs, a new study finds.

The research reports precise dates for India's Deccan Traps, mountain-high piles of basalt lava flows that cover as much territory as France. The youngest lava flows emerged 66.29 million years ago, about 250,000 years before the Chicxulub space rock crashed into eastern Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The findings could revive the idea that the Deccan Traps caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction — a hypothesis long pushed aside in favor of the asteroid impact.

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December 12 2014

Ponds or pounding are both possible origins for life


IT'S hard to think of two more wildly different possibilities: did life on Earth get its start amid the gentle bubbles of a "warm little pond", as Darwin put it, or was it born amid the colossal blows of space rocks slamming into our young planet?

The Rosetta spacecraft has now found water in the coma of comet 67P – the tenuous envelope of gas forming around the comet as it approaches the sun. That's not unexpected: water has already been detected in other comets.

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December 12 2014

Soggy space rocks brought water to young moon


The moon is thought to have formed when a Mars-sized object smashed into the early Earth about 20 to 100 million years after the solar system coalesced. The heat from this impact should have left the moon drier than a bone, so Alberto Saal at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and his colleagues were surprised when they found 50 parts per million of water trapped inside tiny spheres of lunar volcanic glass in 2008.

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December 12 2014

Could Ancient Mars Have Supported Life? Water Isn't the Only Key


Ancient Mars featured flowing rivers and sizable lakes — but that doesn't mean the Red Planet definitely could have supported life, one prominent researcher stresses.

The presence of liquid water is just one of many factors that researchers need to take into account when investigating the past or present habitability of Mars or any other cosmic body.


Related: Curiosity's 'Whale Rock' Emerged from Mars' Wet Past

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December 12 2014

Radiation Belts Shield Earth From High-Energy Particles


The pair of radiation belts surrounding Earth stop high-energy particles in their tracks, a new study reveals.

Data gathered by NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes, which launched in August 2012, show that the donut-shaped Van Allen belts present a nearly impenetrable barrier to high-energy electrons, keeping them from hitting Earth.


Related: NASA 'Admitted To Apollo Hoax' In Orion Video, Say Obviously Mistaken Conspiracy Theorists

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December 12 2014

Cosmic Mystery Solved? Possible Dark Matter Signal Spotted


Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe.


Alt: Researchers detect possible signal from dark matter

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December 11 2014

Mystery of where Earth's water came from deepens: Comet water is different


The mystery of where Earth's water came from got murkier Wednesday when some astronomers essentially eliminated one of the chief suspects: comets.

Over the past few months, the European Space Agency's Rosetta space probe closely examined the type of comet that some scientists theorized could have brought water to our planet 4 billion years ago. It found water, but the wrong kind.


Alt: Rosetta discovers water on comet 67p like nothing on Earth

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