Hundreds of burnt snail shells were found near fireplaces along with tools and other animal remains in rock shelters along a cliff in Spain. The snails probably didn't make up a calorically significant part of these Paleolithic people's diet, but may have provided key vitamins and nutrients, said study lead author Javier Fernández-López de Pablo, an archaeologist at the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social in Spain.
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 4:33 pm
By Ludwig Burger MUENSTER Germany (Reuters) - Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport. The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires. Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 3:43 pm
In the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs ruled the land, tiny mammals probably had to keep a low profile and survive by gobbling any insects they could find, but new research suggests these early mammals may have been pickier eaters than scientists previously thought. "Our results confirm that the diversification of mammalian species at the time was linked with differences in diet and ecology."
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 3:40 pm
The reason our brains have that wrinkly, walnut shape may be that the rapid growth of the brain's outer brain — the gray matter — is constrained by the white matter, a new study shows. Researchers found that the particular pattern of the ridges and crevices of the brain's convoluted surface, which are called gyri and sulci, depends on two simple geometric parameters: the gray matter's growth rate and its thickness.
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 3:23 pm
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Far from wiping out Neanderthals overnight, modern humans rubbed along with their shorter and stockier cousins for thousands of years, giving plenty of time for the two groups to share ideas - and have sex. The most accurate timeline yet for the demise of our closest relatives, published on Wednesday, shows Neanderthals overlapped with present-day humans in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years before disappearing about 40,000 years ago. Pinpointing how and when the Neanderthals became extinct has been tough because the mainstay process of radiocarbon dating is unreliable for samples that are more than 30,000 years old, due to contamination. The data showed that Neanderthals vanished from Europe between 39,000 and 41,000 years ago - but rather than being replaced rapidly by modern humans, their disappearance occurred at different times across sites from the Black Sea to the Atlantic.
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 2:08 pm
The European Southern Observatory released the photo of the star cluster NGC 3603 and NGC 3576 nebula shining in the southern Milky Way today (Aug. 20). While the two cosmic objects are separated by about 10,000 light-years, they appear to glow with similar brightness in the new photo taken by ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The nebula can be seen on the right side of the image, with the NGC 3603 star cluster — located about 20,000 light-years from Earth — on the left. NGC 3576 is about 9,000 light-years closer to Earth than the star cluster, according to ESO.
Posted on 20 August 2014 | 11:29 am
By Bill Cotterell TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Five climate scientists warned Florida Governor Rick Scott in a meeting on Tuesday that a steadily rising ocean was a major threat to the state's future, urging it to become a leader in developing solar energy and other clean power sources. The Republican governor, who disputed the human impact on climate change in his 2010 campaign, agreed recently to meet with the scientists after his main Democratic challenger for re-election this year, former Governor Charlie Crist, proclaimed himself a firm believer in global warming. “I’m inherently an optimist,” said David Hastings, a professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College on Florida's west coast. I’m concerned he might not do anything.” The scientists said they hoped Scott would respond to the Obama administration's proposal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 38 percent in Florida by 2030.
Posted on 19 August 2014 | 8:18 pm
The space-funding company Uwingu launched its "Beam Me to Mars" project today (Aug. 19), inviting people to contribute, for a fee, to a "digital shout-out" that will send messages from Earth to the Red Planet on Nov. 28 — the 50th anniversary of Mars exploration. The first successful Mars mission, NASA's Mariner 4, launched on Nov. 28, 1964. "Beam Me to Mars" celebrates that landmark effort in a new and original way, Uwingu representatives said. "We want it to inspire people," said Uwingu CEO Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and former NASA science chief.
Posted on 19 August 2014 | 12:58 pm
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - A pair of Russian cosmonauts began their work week on Monday floating outside the International Space Station to toss out a small satellite for a university in Peru, install science experiments and tackle some housekeeping chores. First out of the hatch was cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who stood on a ladder outside the station's Pirs airlock to release a 2.2-pound (1-kg), 4-inch (10-cm) cube-shaped satellite built by students at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru. Video broadcast on NASA Television showed the satellite, called Chasqui-1, tumbling away from the back of the station as it sailed about 260 miles (418 km) above the southern Pacific Ocean. Artemyev was then joined by spacewalker Alexander Skvortsov to install a European package of experiments to the outside of the Russian Zvezda module.
Posted on 18 August 2014 | 4:49 pm
When researchers first discovered the fossil worm Hallucigenia in the 1970s, they were so perplexed they identified its head as its tail and its legs as its spines. The finding is surprising because it rewrites the evolutionary history of spiders, insects and crustaceans, said study researcher Javier Ortega-Hernandez, a paleobiologist at the University of Cambridge. Most genetic studies have found that these arthropods are close relatives of today's velvet worms, Ortega-Hernandez said in a statement. "The peculiar claws of Hallucigenia are a smoking gun that solves a long and heated debate in evolutionary biology," said study researcher Martin Smith, an earth scientist at the University of Cambridge.
Posted on 18 August 2014 | 4:41 pm