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December 23 2014

Animals Hack Nature’s Medicine Cabinet – We Should Too


When we fall ill we visit a clinic or a pharmacy. Our ancestors, however, didn’t have that luxury. Instead, early humans likely observed and learned from sick animals that healed themselves by eating certain plants. Yet, only in the past two decades have biologists and chemists begun to recognize that animals do self-medicate – select and use substances specifically to cure themselves of parasites and ailments.

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December 23 2014

Antarctic tourism may pose disease threat to penguins


For those who go, it's the trip of a lifetime – and it wouldn't be complete without a selfie with penguins. But growing tourism to the Antarctic, in combination with its warming climate, could be placing penguins at a risk of infectious diseases.

Antarctic species are believed to have weaker immune systems due to their long isolation from the world's common pathogens. Humans only started visiting Antartica roughly 200 years ago.

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December 23 2014

Winter solstice: Why isn't the shortest day also the coldest?


Residents of the Northern Hemisphere, don’t worry about the winter solstice – it’s not the middle of winter, and in some places, it’s not even the start of wintry weather.

So why exactly is the shortest day of the year so distant from the coldest temperatures? It’s usually another month before the bone-aching freezes of winter hit their worst.

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December 23 2014

North Atlantic signalled Ice Age thaw 1,000 years before it happened, reveals new research


The Atlantic Ocean at mid-depths may have given out early warning signals – 1,000 years in advance - that the last Ice Age was going to end, scientists report today in the journal Paleoceanography.

Scientists had previously known that at the end of the last Ice Age, around 14,700 years ago, major changes occurred to the Atlantic Ocean in a period known as the Bolling-Allerod interval. During this period, as glaciers melted and the Earth warmed, the currents of the Atlantic Ocean at its deepest levels changed direction.

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December 23 2014

Year in review: Old humans reveal secrets


Scientists probed the complete genetic secrets of an unprecedented number of ancient humans this year, revealing insights into how people, ideas and disease spread around the world.

Researchers have gotten so good at working with ancient scraps of DNA that, this fall, they unveiled the entire genetic makeup of a man who lived in Siberia near Ust’-Ishim about 45,000 years ago.

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December 23 2014

World's Most Ambitious Re-Creation of Prehistoric Cave Art to Open


On a September afternoon in 2013, Gilles Tosello sat sipping a cup of American-style coffee in his Toulouse studio, pondering the talents of cave painters who lived in France 36,000 years ago.

Tosello enjoyed a personal connection with those painters because he was the man the French Ministry of Culture and Communication had engaged to re-create their most famous works, some of the oldest, most beautiful, and best preserved cave art on Earth: the images in the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc. Its legendary Panel of Horses includes exquisite charcoal horse heads, snarling lions, and battling wooly rhinoceroses drawn across 475 square feet of undulating rock.

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December 22 2014

Archaeologists Unearth Entryway to King Herod's Palace


Israeli archaeologists are showing off the monumental, many-arched corridor that led to Herod the Great's hilltop palace near Jerusalem in the first century. The corridor in the ancient fortress of Herodium, about 7 miles (12 kilometers) south of Jerusalem, has been excavated to reveal a space 65 feet long, 65 feet high and 20 feet wide (20 by 20 by 6 meters).

In King Herod's day, the corridor was designed to lead directly into the palace courtyard — but archaeologists determined during the excavations that it didn't get much use. Instead, they say it was back-filled when the palace was converted into Herod's burial monument.

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December 22 2014

Discovery of clay seals offer evidence for the existence of biblical kings David and Solomon


Six official clay seals found by a Mississippi State University archaeological team at a small site in Israel offer evidence that supports the existence of biblical kings David and Solomon.


Alt: Do these clay seals prove that biblical accounts of King David and Solomon are correct? Bullae found in Israel hint at political activity in 10th century BC

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December 22 2014

The Myth of the Megalith


Baalbek, Lebanon, is the site of one of the most mysterious ruins of the Roman Empire, a monumental two-thousand-year-old temple to Jupiter that sits atop three thousand-ton stone blocks. (The pillars of Stonehenge weigh about a fortieth of that.) The blocks originated in a nearby limestone quarry, where a team from the German Archaeological Institute, in partnership with Jeanine Abdul Massih, of Lebanese University, recently discovered what they are calling the largest stone block from antiquity, weighing one thousand six hundred and fifty tons and matching those that support the temple. Its provenance is more shadowy than one might expect of a three-million-pound megalith. Nobody seems to know on whose orders it was cut, or why, or how it came to be abandoned.

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December 22 2014

How celestial events influenced ancient construction at Petra


During the winter solstice, the sun is filtered into the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, illuminating the podium of a deity. Just at this moment, the silhouette of the mountain opposite draws the head of a lion, a sacred animal. These are examples from a study where researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and CSIC (Spain) showed how celestial events influenced the orientation of the great constructions of the Nabataeans.

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December 22 2014

Birds build snow tunnels for fun


Whether it's making snow angels or building a snow man, most of us love playing in a winter wonderland - and it turns out some birds do too.

It usually starts with one bird that burrows in the snow, creating tunnels. Another joins in, then a few more, until the entire group is doing it, leaving behind a maze of burrows and furrows.

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December 22 2014

Study shows starving mantis females attract more males


A study done by Katherine Barry an evolutionary biologist with Macquarie University in Australia has led to the discovery that a certain species of female mantis attracts more males when starving, then do those who are well fed. In her paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, she describes experiments she carried out that contradicted conventional thinking.


Related: World’s Second-Longest Insect Discovered in Vietnam

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December 22 2014

Back to the future: Scientists want 'rewilded' crops to boost agriculture


Scientists should "re-wild" food crops by inserting lost genetic properties of ancient, edible plants in order to boost agricultural output for a growing population, a new study said.

Important properties of wild plants, including varieties of wheat and rice, have been unintentionally lost during thousands of years of breeding.

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December 22 2014

AncestryDNA reconstructs partial genome of person living 200 years ago


AncestryDNA genetic scientists have pushed the boundaries of human genome reconstruction methods by using the DNA of many living people to reassemble an unprecedented proportion of the human genome attributed to a 19th Century American and his two successive spouses. This scientific feat is a step forward in the use of consumer genetics in family history, providing a glimpse into what a long ago ancestor may have looked like or which traits they may have passed down to descendants.


Related: The Echoes of Hearts Long Silenced

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December 22 2014

New analysis of DNA evidence contradicts claims of 'Yeti' brown/polar bear hybrid in Himalayas


A pair of researches are challenging claims made by a British scientist last year that DNA samples of animal remains found in the Himalayas were from a brown/extinct polar bear hybrid that is still alive and wandering about in the mountains—and is likely the source of rumors of a Yeti. Now, Ross Barnett and Ceiridwen Edwards of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and Oxford, respectively, have published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggesting that an analysis they conducted on the same animal remains shows that one came from a modern polar bear and the other from a rare type of brown bear that is still alive today.

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December 22 2014

Mysterious 'Ice Pancakes' Form on Scottish River


A biologist in the U.K. was surprised to come upon strange-looking ice formations the size of dinner plates floating on the River Dee in Scotland.

River Dee Trust biologist Jamie Urquhart came across the "ice pancakes" and photographed them at Lummels Pool at Birse, in Aberdeenshire.


Related: Did Google Earth Spot A Sea Monster In New Zealand?
Related: Strange Contrails Appear Over Russian Town

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December 22 2014

UFO Found In Archive Footage Of Apollo 15 Mission


A UFO enthusiast has found what they believe to be definitive proof that a UFO was monitoring the Apollo missions, in particular Apollo 15.

Searching through the archive footage and photos from the mission, they found one particular image that suggested there might have been something watching the astronauts.


Related: Another alleged UFO sighting near volcano in Mexico

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