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January 28 2015

How Earth’s earliest life overcame a genetic paradox


On ancient Earth, the earliest life encountered a paradox. Chains of RNA—the ancestor of DNA—were floating around, haphazardly duplicating themselves. Scientists know that eventually, these RNA chains must have become longer and longer, setting the stage for the evolution of complex life forms like amoebas, worms, and eventually humans. But under all current models, shorter RNA molecules, having less material to copy, would have reproduced faster, favoring the evolution of primitive organisms over complex ones.

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January 28 2015

Modern languages show no trace of our African origins


The evolution of human culture is often compared to biological evolution, and it’s easy to see why: both involve variation across a population, transmission of units from one generation to the next, and factors that ensure the survival of some variants and the death of others. However, sometimes this comparison fails. Culture, for instance, can be transmitted “horizontally” between members of the same generation, but genes can't.

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January 28 2015

What Facebook Addiction Looks Like in the Brain


For many Facebook users, the urge to like a kitten video or snoop on a high-school flame is almost irresistible.

As it turns out, this type of "Facebook addiction" may show up in the brain: A new study found that the brains of people who report compulsive urges to use the social networking site show some brain patterns similar to those found in drug addicts.


Related: Why the modern world is bad for your brain

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January 28 2015

Healing the mind: Science shows yoga can help treat depression, anxiety


Yoga has long been a popular form of exercise and meditation, but science is starting to confirm the ancient practice has the power to treat depression and anxiety.

With one in five Canadians dealing with a form of mental illness at some point in their lives, physicians are beginning to look beyond traditional methods of treatment, such as therapy or medication. Some are turning to yoga.


Related: Warped Brain Lobes Could Underlie Depression Symptoms

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January 28 2015

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids


HINT: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 35 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

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January 28 2015

Learn to Count like an Egyptian


Last semester, I began my math history class with some Babylonian arithmetic. The mathematics we were doing was easy—multiplying and adding numbers, solving quadratic equations by completing the square—but the base 60 system and the lack of a true zero made those basic operations challenging for my students.

Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics compares learning Egyptian math to learning a new language. “Spanish is stupid,” he told a junior high Spanish teacher after a run-in with an irregular verb. Irregular verbs can make a language seem arbitrary to an outsider.

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January 28 2015

Experts Say King Tut's Busted Burial Mask May Be Repairable


Late last week it was revealed that the beard from King Tut's burial mask was hastily glued back on with epoxy after being accidentally knocked off by a maintenance crew. After inspecting the priceless artifact, a German restoration specialist says it can probably be fixed.

We have some more information for you about this incident, both in terms of what happened and what's going to happen next.

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January 28 2015

Ancient underwater forest discovered off Norfolk coast


Nature experts have discovered a remarkable submerged forest thousands of years old under the sea close to the Norfolk coast.

The trees were part of an area known as 'Doggerland' which formed part of a much bigger area before it was flooded by the North Sea.


Alt: Diver finds 10,000-year-old FOREST which originally stretched as far as Europe hidden under the North Sea (images)

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January 28 2015

Blackbeard's Booty: Pirate Ship Yields Medical Supplies


Archaeologists are excavating the vessel that served as the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, and the medical equipment they have recovered from the shipwreck suggests the notorious buccaneer had to toil to keep his crew healthy.

Blackbeard is the most famous pirate who ever lived. His real name was Edward Teach (or possibly Thatch).

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January 27 2015

Ancient Iceman’s Tattoos Mapped


New research has revealed previously unknown tattoos on a man who had been preserved in ice for over 5,000 years.

By using advanced imaging techniques to analyse the ancient man, named Ötzi, the new tattoos were discovered on his chest.


Alt: Ötzi the iceman's hidden tattoos uncovered: Scans reveal previously unseen inkings on 5,300-year-old mummy's ribcage (images)

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January 27 2015

Bones From Era of Alexander the Great Raise More Questions Than Answers


Media reports and the blogosphere are fueling speculation that the remains of a woman found in a massive tomb in northern Greece may belong to Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias, who was executed when she was about 60 years old.

The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports reported last week that the remains of five individuals have been found in the burial chamber of the elaborate tomb beneath what is known as Kasta Hill in the ancient city of Amphipolis.

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January 27 2015

Duck-Billed Dinos Gave T. rex a Run for Its Money


Pity the hadrosaur. The duck-billed dinosaur had no horns, armor or tusks for defense when Tyrannosaurus rex was on the hunt. And it was too big to escape by climbing a tree or burrowing into the ground. To top it all off, the herbivore was slow of foot. Luckily, the layout of a hadrosaur's leg and tail muscles may have helped it escape the massive jaws of tyrannosaur predators.

T. rex would win in a sprint, but a hadrosaur would outrun it in a longer race, paleontologist W. Scott Persons argues in a study about the dinosaurs' caudofemoralis muscles.

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January 27 2015

On the trail of the first dogs to put their paws in the Americas


Humans began migrating to the Americas roughly 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. But domesticated canines likely didn’t show up on American continents until 10,000 years ago, long after humans first arrived, according to a new analysis of ancient dog DNA by University of Illinois researchers. Their findings were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

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January 27 2015

Rare shark birth captured on camera


A remarkable photograph of the live birth of a thresher shark has cast light on the lives of these elusive, vulnerable fish.

Lead researcher Dr Simon Oliver from the University of Chester told BBC News that this was also "the first record of any oceanic species giving birth".

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January 27 2015

Wild dolphins exchange names when they meet at sea


It’s been known for some time that captive dolphins can invent new vocalizations. Although such whistles may be harder for us to pronounce than names like “Flipper” or “Willy”, they nonetheless serve many of the same purposes among porpoises. That’s because dolphins make up new whistles that other dolphins then use to signal each whistle’s inventor. But what happens when dolphins meet for the first time? And what about wild dolphins–do they use “names”? Well, according to this study, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “yes”!

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January 27 2015

Learning From Animal Friendships


Science has not entirely ignored unusual interactions between species. Biologists have described relationships formed to achieve a specific goal, like the cooperative hunting between groupers and moray eels. And in the mid-1900s, Konrad Lorenz and other ethologists demonstrated that during critical periods after birth, certain birds and other animals would follow the first moving object they saw, whether animal, human or machine, a phenomenon known as imprinting.

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January 27 2015

Rationing ravens and merciful monkeys: can animals be altruistic?


Bernd Heinrich was on a hike through the woods of New England when he observed something which would go on to change our perception of animal psychology.

A group of ravens had gathered to feed on a dead moose. But rather than choosing to keep the bounty for themselves, they were making a strange call, one which seemed to be deliberately attracting more ravens to the feast.

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