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Tue, 12 Dec 2017
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Preventing Extinction: The Miracle of the Frozen Zoo

With the California Condor already saved, genetic samples from endangered species at the Frozen Zoo will prevent extinctions all over the planet.


On a sunny spring afternoon, the San Diego Zoo is teeming with shorts-clad tourists of all ages. While most visitors gravitate toward the pandas, giraffes, and gorillas, one little boy seems particularly taken with the Javan bantengs, a species of endangered Southeast Asian wild cattle that can grow to be seven feet long and weigh nearly a ton. Asked which one is his favorite, the child sizes up each of the animals before settling on a male with a dark blue-black coat grazing closest to him. It happens to be the spitting image of another banteng that died in 1980, and the resemblance is more than superficial: The four-year-old animal at the zoo is its clone.

Telescope

Polish students discover two asteroids

Polish secondary school students from Szczecin and Warsaw have discovered two new asteroids in images that were provided for them within the framework of the "International Asteroid Search Campaign." The discoveries follow a series of successes of young amateur astronomers conducting research in their schools under the supervision of their physics teachers.

Comment: Interesting that more asteroids are being discovered and reported by students these days, don't you think?


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Are we missing a dimension of time?

A scientist has put forward the bizarre suggestion that there are two dimensions of time, not the one that we are all familiar with, and even proposed a way to test his heretical idea next year.

Question

Understanding mysterious continental intraplate earthquakes

A new volume published by the Geological Society of America sheds light on mysterious earthquakes in the interiors of continents. These earthquakes, like those that occur in the central U.S., are what the book's editors describe as "an embarrassing stepchild of modern earthquake seismology." Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard, and Policy Issues provides a comprehensive overview of these rare but very real global hazards.

The plate tectonics revolution of the 20th century elegantly explained why most earthquakes occur where they do - at Earth's plate boundaries. It didn't explain, however, the occurrence of intraplate quakes and the deformation processes that give rise to them. As a result, geologists studying areas like the central U.S., western Europe, and Australia, don't know what causes these quakes, how often they will happen in the future, and how dangerous they are.

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85 million-year-old "duck-billed dinosaur" skull found in Japan

An 85 million-year-old dinosaur skull has been found in southwestern Japan, one of the oldest discoveries of its kind in the country, the Kyodo news agency said on Saturday.

The fossilized skull, belonging to a herbivore called hadrosaurid, was unearthed on a mountain in the town of Mifune in Kumamoto prefecture, Kyodo said, quoting an official of the Mifune Dinosaur Museum.

The fossil was found in February 2004 by an amateur expert, but only identified as the skull of a hadrosaurid after a delicate cleaning process.

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New 'toothy' dinosaur species discovered

U.S. scientists have identified a new dinosaur species found to have populated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area in Utah.

"It was one of the most robust duck-billed dinosaurs ever," said Utah Museum of Natural History paleontologist Terry Gates. "It was a monster."

Researchers from the museum, the national monument and California's Raymond Alf Museum of Paleontology unearthed fossils of the ancient plant-eater from the rocks of the Kaiparowits Formation.

Telescope

Undergraduates Discover More than 1,300 Asteroids

Undergraduate astronomy students at the University of Washington combing through images from a specialized telescope have discovered more than 1,300 asteroids that had never before been observed. That is about one out of every 250 known objects in the solar system.

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New crew and a tourist arrive at space station

A Russian capsule carrying a new crew for the International Space Station and Malaysia's first astronaut slipped into a berthing port at the orbital outpost on Friday as the space ships sailed 220 miles above Earth.

©REUTERS/NASA
Spaceflight participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia floats inside the Destiny module of the International Space Station after arriving aboard the orbiting laboratory October 12, 2007 in this image from NASA TV.

Star

Famous Orion Nebula Closer Than Thought

The widely photographed and heavily studied Orion Nebula is nearly 300 light-years closer to Earth than previously thought, according to a new study.

The finding, detailed in the Oct. 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal, also hikes up the age of the nebula's stellar inhabitants.

Telescope

Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling

A carbon-rich black layer, dating to {approx}12.9 ka, has been previously identified at {approx}50 Clovis-age sites across North America and appears contemporaneous with the abrupt onset of Younger Dryas (YD) cooling. The in situ bones of extinct Pleistocene megafauna, along with Clovis tool assemblages, occur below this black layer but not within or above it. Causes for the extinctions, YD cooling, and termination of Clovis culture have long been controversial. In this paper, we provide evidence for an extraterrestrial (ET) impact event at {cong}12.9 ka, which we hypothesize caused abrupt environmental changes that contributed to YD cooling, major ecological reorganization, broad-scale extinctions, and rapid human behavioral shifts at the end of the Clovis Period. Clovis-age sites in North American are overlain by a thin, discrete layer with varying peak abundances of (i) magnetic grains with iridium, (ii) magnetic microspherules, (iii) charcoal, (iv) soot, (v) carbon spherules, (vi) glass-like carbon containing nanodiamonds, and (vii) fullerenes with ET helium, all of which are evidence for an ET impact and associated biomass burning at {approx}12.9 ka. This layer also extends throughout at least 15 Carolina Bays, which are unique, elliptical depressions, oriented to the northwest across the Atlantic Coastal Plain. We propose that one or more large, low-density ET objects exploded over northern North America, partially destabilizing the Laurentide Ice Sheet and triggering YD cooling. The shock wave, thermal pulse, and event-related environmental effects (e.g., extensive biomass burning and food limitations) contributed to end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions and adaptive shifts among PaleoAmericans in North America.