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November 15 2014

Gabon Announces World's Newest Underwater Reserve, Rich in Threatened Wildlife


SYDNEY—The central African nation of Gabon this week declared almost a quarter of its territorial sea off-limits to commercial fishing, creating a first-of-its-kind network of marine protected areas in the region, which is home to threatened species including great hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks.


Related: How a Misdrawn Map Put 1,400 Chimps and a Rare Plant in Peril

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November 15 2014

South Africa Mulls Legalizing Rhino Horn Trade


Pelham Jones bought his first rhinos for a private game park in South Africa some 25 years ago, completing his collection of the "Big Five" animals that visitors especially want to see. "And then the heartache began," he says.

Now, as South Africa faces a seventh straight yearly increase in rhino poaching, Jones is on a panel of experts studying an unusual proposal for battling the problem: legalising the trade in rhino horn.

He argues that this would pull the rug out from under crime syndicates by forcing down the price of rhino horn and removing the incentive to poach ?- all while providing cash to plough back into conservation efforts.

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November 15 2014

Why cats will probably never be as domesticated as dogs


There’s a reason cats aren’t called man’s best friend – and it’s all in their genes, according to a new study.

Cats are simply not as domesticated as dogs despite sharing households with humans for at least 9,000 years, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have found.

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November 15 2014

Do Rats Have Free Will?


New research on the neural basis of ‘spontaneous’ actions in rats could shed light on the philosophical mystery that is human ‘free will’.

The study, just published in Nature Neuroscience, is called Neural antecedents of self-initiated actions in secondary motor cortex. It’s from researchers Masayoshi Murakami and colleagues of Portugal’s excellently-named Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

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November 15 2014

Why is sitting by a fire so relaxing? Evolution may hold the key.


When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing quite like sitting by a cozy fire. But why do we find this experience so comforting? According to the author of this study, this relaxation response to fire is actually an evolutionary adaptation. The author argues that early humans who were more prone to relaxation at a campfire would be more likely to “benefit in the social milieu via fireside interactions”, thereby giving them a survival advantage. He then goes on to experimentally demonstrate that sitting by a fire (well, in this case a video of a fire), especially if you can hear that distinctive crackling sound, causes a reduction in subjects’ blood pressure.

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November 15 2014

The woman from Pataud shelter: Sculptor painstakingly recreates 17,000-year-old human


Her clothes are made from fur, hemp and nettle and for decoration she sports ivory and bone beads. She has dark hair worn in dreadlocks, tattoos and a penetrating stare.

Dubbed “the woman from the Pataud shelter”, little is known about this figure from prehistory — except how she might have looked.

Although the dreadlocks and tattoos are pure conjecture, modern scientific techniques mean the facial features of a long-dead person can now be accurately reconstructed.

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November 15 2014

Ears of Ancient Chinese Terra-Cotta Warriors Offer Clues to Their Creation


China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was a man haunted by death.

In 246 B.C. the adolescent ruler commissioned a massive tomb furnished with everything he'd need for the next life, including an entire army of life-size terra-cotta warriors, from mighty generals to humble infantrymen. Arranged in battle formation in pits near the emperor's tomb, the clay army stood watch for more than 2,000 years. Then, in 1974, local farmers rediscovered the site while digging a well.

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November 15 2014

Turkey’s immortal city gets new lease on life


Misis (Mopsouestia) might be outshone by Rome, but the ancient city on the banks of the Ceyhan River in southern Turkey is just as old as the old imperial capital, while arguably trumping Rome’s moniker of “the eternal city” with its own title, “the immortal city.” Some 7,000 years after its founding, archaeological work at the site is now revealing the traces of antiquity.

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November 15 2014

'Extraordinary' 5,000-year-old human footprints discovered


When a pair of fishermen waded into the frigid waters of the southern Baltic Sea about 5,000 years ago, they probably didn't realize that the shifting seabed beneath their feet was recording their every move. But it was.

The long-lost evidence of that prehistoric fishing trip two sets of human footprints and some Stone Age fishing gear was recently discovered in a dried up fjord, or inlet, on the island of Lolland in Denmark. There, archaeologists uncovered the prints alongside a so-called fishing fence, a tool that dates back to around 3,000 B.C.

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November 15 2014

Construction company tries to cover up Byzantine structure with cement


A cistern-like Byzantine-era structure has been unearthed during renovation of an underpass in Istanbul’s Beyazıt neighborhood. The construction company had tried to cover up the entrance to the structure to continue its work, but thanks to the keen eyes of a local citizen it has been rescued from being buried underground, according to daily Hurriyet.

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November 15 2014

Unique 2,000-year old pyramid discovered in Bolivia


BUENOS AIRES, November 12. /TASS/. A circular stepped pyramid built more than 2,000 years ago has been discovered in eastern Bolivia, local media reported.

Danilo Drakit, the coordinator of the archaeology project in the government of Bolivia's department of Santa Cruz, was quoted as saying that the pyramid is made of three circular sections of different diameter.

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November 14 2014

Former Egyptian antiquities minister faces questions over theft from pyramid


The world’s most famous contemporary Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, has been summoned for questioning over claims that he helped three German hobbyists steal rock samples from inside Egypt’s largest pyramid. Hawass denies the charges, saying “there is nothing against me”.

In April 2013, the three Germans – two amateur archaeologists and a film-making accomplice – crept inside the inner sanctum of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the last the seven wonders of the ancient world to remain relatively intact.

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November 14 2014

Our wine owes a debt to ancient viruses


Next time you pour a glass of wine, raise a toast to the 30-milion-year-old viruses that have contributed to the genetic make-up of modern grapes.

A team of UQ-led plant scientists has discovered that the Pinot Noir grape variety owes a significant part of its genetic heritage to ancient plant viruses.

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November 14 2014

A Band-Aid that could suck bugs out of your wound


Medical engineers have long used nano-sized fibers as sturdy scaffolds for growing tissues. Now, researchers are developing nanofiber meshes that might suck bugs out of wounds and accelerate healing, they report here this week at the 61st annual AVS meeting. Scientists have injected cell-carrying nanofibers into wounds to jump-start tissue repair, but to design a truly smart dressing, they need to know how the material interacts with bacteria.

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November 14 2014

Artificial muscle capable of ‘remembering’ movements developed


Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed artificial muscles which can learn and recall specific movements, the first time that motion control and memory have been combined in a synthetic material.


Related: 'Muscles' Triggered by Electricity Could Power Tiny Robots

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November 14 2014

Bacteria become “genomic tape recorders”


MIT engineers have transformed the genome of the bacterium E. coli into a long-term storage device for memory. They envision that this stable, erasable, and easy-to-retrieve memory will be well suited for applications such as sensors for environmental and medical monitoring.

“You can store very long-term information,” says Timothy Lu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering.

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November 14 2014

All 'quantum weirdness' may be caused by interacting parallel worlds, physicist theorizes


A Texas Tech University chemical physicist has developed a new theory of quantum mechanics that presumes not only that parallel worlds exist, but also that their mutual interaction is what gives rise to all quantum effects observed in nature.

The theory, first published by Professor Bill Poirier four years ago, has recently attracted attention from the foundational physics community, leading to an invited Commentary in the physics journal, Physical Review X.

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