nature

If not for this near-extinction mystery the oceans would be full of sharks

If not for this near-extinction mystery the oceans would be full of sharks

Were it not for a mysterious near mass-extinction event roughly 19 million years ago, the oceans could be filled with a whole lot more sharks than they are today. Those prone to galeophobica should probably look away, because a new study of deep sea shark tooth remains suggest populations could've been exponentially higher had the marine predators not faced a dinosaur-style wipeout.

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Galápagos Islands’ iconic Darwin’s Arch rock structure has collapsed

Galápagos Islands’ iconic Darwin’s Arch rock structure has collapsed

Darwin's Arch, an iconic rock formation in the Pacific Ocean near the Galapagos Islands, has collapsed. The structure was notable for its jutting, squared pillars, and rounded tunnel-like entrance, making it a popular photography attraction and sightseeing destination for tourists. Officials believe the arch collapsed due to natural erosion.

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This nasty old skull, the oldest human genome, and a cow DNA mistake

This nasty old skull, the oldest human genome, and a cow DNA mistake

The skull you're looking at was in pieces when it was discovered. After a whole heck of a lot of work, the physical remnants were put together again for this photo. But it's the tiniest of pieces we care about today. It's the DNA this 45,000 year old skull provided that's placed it in the headlines this week.

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Real “Jurassic Park” is possible says Elon Musk’s Neuralink co-founder

Real “Jurassic Park” is possible says Elon Musk’s Neuralink co-founder

Elon Musk's Neuralink may be busy implanting brain chips in animals, but the co-founder of the brain-computer interface startup is also thinking of rather more outlandish experiments, including a real-life "Jurassic Park." Unlike the movie, the goal wouldn't be resurrecting ancient dino DNA, however, and fingers-crossed it also wouldn't involve loosed-lizard rampages.

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Three incredibly rare beetles named after Pokemon

Three incredibly rare beetles named after Pokemon

A research paper published this week described three newly-identified insects named according to their rarity. Courtesy of Pokemon-loving scientists, these three Australian beetles were given the names Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos. Each of these beetles is a species of the genus Binburrum Pollock, and each has a distinct look, allowing them to easily be matched to the three Legendary Pokemon.

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This adorable black-footed ferret is a rare cloning breakthrough

This adorable black-footed ferret is a rare cloning breakthrough

The first endangered US species to be successfully cloned, a black-footed ferret, could pave the way for at-risk animals to be brought back from the brink of extinction, scientists and conservationists hope as details of the breakthrough are shared this week. Elizabeth Ann may look like any other black-footed ferret, but the roughly two month old animal was actually created from frozen cells of an animal that lived three decades ago.

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Bluebot robots demo surreal “Blueswarm” like a school of fish

Bluebot robots demo surreal “Blueswarm” like a school of fish

A swarm robotic fish donned the cover of Science Robotics this week courtesy of researchers from Harvard University. Florian Berlinger, Melvin Gauchi, and Radhika Nagpal delivered a paper on "Implicit coordination for 3D underwater collective behaviors in a fish-inspired robot swarm." These little robots are very, very cute, too.

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Reactivated Yellowstone geyser isn’t an indication of pending volcanic eruptions

Reactivated Yellowstone geyser isn’t an indication of pending volcanic eruptions

Something rather strange has been going on in Yellowstone National Park. The park is home to some of the most famous geysers in the world, and in 2019 a geyser known as the Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin at the park erupted. That was notable because this particular geyser had its first documented activity in 1878 and has only erupted sporadically since then.

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Kilauea volcano erupts in three places, new lava lake formed

Kilauea volcano erupts in three places, new lava lake formed

Lava appeared after the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) announced detection of a a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath Kīlauea Volcano's south flank. This event was officially detected on Sunday, December 20 at 10:36 PM HST. A lava lake grew overnight at tremendous speed, and plenty of video and photos were recorded as liquid fire spewed forth from the depths.

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Mount Everest is officially taller now

Mount Everest is officially taller now

The most official calculation of the height of the world's highest mountain has been updated. Nepal and China jointly announced an adjustment - or rather an agreement of a calculation - of the official height of the mountain. Before this announcement, China's government marked the mountain's height at 8,844.43 meters. That's nearly four meters lower than the surveyed height counted by Nepal.

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Study clears up shark “sword” battle mystery

Study clears up shark “sword” battle mystery

A shark washed ashore this year in Libya, on the Mediterranean coast. It was April, and a group of citizen scientists captured photos and video of the creature as it appeared DOA at the edge of the water. The shark was a bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus), and it had (what appeared to be) a sword embedded in its back. NOTE: Photos above and below were captured by The Ichthyological Society of Japan, 2020.

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Your elderly cat’s tooth disease may soon be treatable

Your elderly cat’s tooth disease may soon be treatable

If your old cat is on the path to tooth resorption (TR), the only viable cure is tooth extraction. If your cat shows signs of TR, your cat's veterinary specialist will almost certainly recommend that they remove the affected teeth before TR goes too far. A study published this week worked with a set of feline teeth, sequencing extracted RNA to characterize transcriptomic changes involved in feline TR. Scientists involved in the study aimed to learn more about feline TR so that they might eradicate the disease before tooth extraction becomes necessary.

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