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July 10 2014

Whoa! Seahorses Don't Neigh — They Growl


Dogs and bears aren't the only animals that give off warning growls. Seahorses do too.

For the first time, researchers have recorded seahorses growling, a tiny, deep sound not easily detectable by the human ear. These distinctive little fishes growl in response to stress, specifically the stress of being captured and handled, according to a new study published online June 26 in the Journal of Zoology.

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July 10 2014

Birds co-operate within a communal nest to achieve a common good


A new insight into one of the biggest questions in science – why some animals, including humans, work together to maintain a common good – has been achieved by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

Sociable weavers, a highly social and co-operative breeding bird from the savannahs of southern Africa, build the largest nests of any bird, housing colonies of up to several hundred birds that can often weigh tonnes and last for decades. The massive nests consist of individual nest chambers which are used throughout the year for breeding and roosting and are embedded within a communal thatch.

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July 10 2014

Huge Trove of Dinosaur Footprints Discovered in Alaska


A "world-class" dinosaur track site discovered in Alaska's Denali National Park shows that herds of duck-billed dinosaurs thrived under the midnight sun.

"We had mom, dad, big brother, big sister and little babies all running around together," said paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo, who is studying the dinosaur tracks. "As I like to tell the park, Denali was a family destination for millions of years, and now we've got the fossil evidence for it.".

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July 10 2014

Researchers declassify dinosaurs as being the great-great-grandparents of birds


The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly. The birdlike fossil is actually not a dinosaur, as previously thought, but much rather the remains of a tiny tree-climbing animal that could glide, say American researchers Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina. The study appears in Springer's Journal of Ornithology.

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July 10 2014

Algae May Hold Key to Origin of the Sexes


A tiny, unassuming little alga may hold the secret to how the sexes evolved.

A single gene that determines male or female sex in multicellular algae evolved from a more primitive version found in a single-celled ancestor that doesn't have sexes, according to a new study.

The new discovery could point to one of the key genetic steps involved in the origin of the sexes.

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July 10 2014

Impact Craters May Have Cradled Life on Earth


Asteroid and comet impacts could have created refuges for early life on Earth, protecting the first microorganisms from the sun’s harsh rays when the planet still lacked an ozone shield.

“Most people associate impacts with the extinction of the dinosaurs, but they can also be beneficial to life,” said Gordon Osinski, a geologist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

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July 10 2014

Hotspot May Reveal Origin of High-Energy Cosmic Rays


A massive telescope array in the Utah desert detected a hotspot of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays coming from a region of the sky near the Big Dipper.

It's still not clear exactly what is causing the rays, but the hotspot could help researchers understand how the highest-energy particles in the universe are formed.

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July 10 2014

Exploding star reveals origins of Universe's dust


Astronomers watching a supernova may have found out where the dust that makes up much of the Universe came from.

Cosmic dust is crucial to the birth of stars and rocky planets, and provides the elemental ingredients for life. But its origin is obscure. Many astrophysicists think that dust is forged during the explosive supernova deaths of massive, short-lived stars, yet some observations of supernovas near our galaxy indicate that they produce too little material to account for the copious amounts of dust present in the young Universe.

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July 10 2014

The quiet search for dark matter deep underground


One of the quietest, darkest places in the cosmos isn’t out in the depths of space. It’s at the center of a tank of cold liquid xenon in a gold mine deep under the Black Hills of South Dakota. It needs to be that quiet: any stray particles could confuse the detectors lining the outside of the tank. Those detectors are looking for faint, rare signals, ones that could reveal the presence of dark matter.

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July 10 2014

Scientists discover radio emissions from fireballs


Streaking across the sky at more than 50 kilometers per second at atmospheric heights of more than a 90 kilometers high, researchers using the first station of University of New Mexico's Long Wavelength Array (LWA) saw something new that had never been seen before; something that could hold a treasure trove of new information in the world of physics.

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July 10 2014

NASA finds friction from tides could help distant earths survive, and thrive


As anybody who has started a campfire by rubbing sticks knows, friction generates heat. Now, computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits.

The findings are consistent with observations that Earth-sized planets appear to be very common in other star systems. Although heat can be a destructive force for some planets, the right amount of friction, and therefore heat, can be helpful and perhaps create conditions for habitability.

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July 10 2014

Salt on Mars May Have Melted Red Planet's Ice


Water could have flowed on the surface of Mars with the help of salts in the Martian soil that can melt ice, just as salts on Earth can be used to melt ice on slippery winter roads and sidewalks, researchers say.

These findings suggest "the shallow subsurface of Mars could be habitable," study co-author Nilton Rennó, a planetary and atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, told Live Science.

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July 9 2014

Water Shaped Mars' Highlands, New Red Planet Map Shows


An incredibly detailed new map of Mars' southern highlands shows how profoundly liquid water sculpted the region long ago, scientists say.

"This map depicts the complicated sequence of geologic processes that have served to modify ancient, rugged highland terrains surrounding the Hellas impact basin and shows evidence for the persistent effects of water and ice in degrading the Martian surface," David Crown, of the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) in Tucson, Arizona, said in a statement.

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July 9 2014

Liquid water on Mars can and DOES exist- but only for a few hours every day in the spring and summer


Most of our studies of Mars so far have focused on whether water could have once existed on its surface millions or billions of years ago.

But now researchers at the University of Michigan say small amounts of liquid water could form on the planet today - despite its below-freezing temperatures.

To come to the conclusion they created chambers that mimic the conditions on Mars, and found that they were able to make liquid water form for brief periods of time.

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July 9 2014

Remains of Long-Lost Temple Discovered in Iraq


Life-size human statues and column bases from a long-lost temple dedicated to a supreme god have been discovered in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

The discoveries date back over 2,500 years to the Iron Age, a time period when several groups — such as the Urartians, Assyrians and Scythians — vied for supremacy over what is now northern Iraq.

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July 9 2014

Reconstructing prehistoric languages


When University of Kentucky student Erica Mattingly enrolled in one of Andrew M. Byrd's linguistics courses, she had no idea she would be rewriting history—or at least re-speaking it.

Byrd, assistant professor of linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and his students have drawn national attention for their groundbreaking work to reconstruct and understand prehistoric languages.

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July 9 2014

Some Bees Shout 'That Nectar's Ours!'


Imagine you're a bee and you just located a prime nectar source. You want to alert your hivemates, but not attract competitors. What should you do?

Some bees devise a special "whisper" to discretely let bees in their colony know about a food source, but others, new research has shown, "shout" it out loud with a message along the lines of, "This is good nectar and it's all ours or -- watch out!"

In the case of bees, the insects aren't actually shouting, but signalling to each other and outside bees using information-rich pheromone trails.

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