Discoveries, News

Earliest tree-clinging and burrowing mammals show they weren’t afraid of dinosaurs

age of dinosaurs

Although mammals surfaced only 20 million years after the first dinosaurs evolved, there’s a general consensus that mammals were shadowed and reclusive in the face of dinosaurs, seeing how they were the dominant animals on the planet back then. As such, early mammals are thought to have been mostly nocturnal with minimal interaction with dinosaur environments, occupying very limited ecological niches. This conventional thinking might be toppled by recent findings made by Chinese paleontologists who discovered two highly sophisticated early mammals each at least 160 million years old: the first tree-clinging mammal and the first burrowing mammal. These creatures munched on the same plants dinosaurs did, proving they seemingly coexisted in the same ecological framework.

Discoveries, Great Pics, News

10,000 year old underwater forest discovered

It is believed the forest was drowned when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose 120 metres. The trees are now lying on the ground, where they have formed a natural reef, which is teaming with fish and plants

Divers off the coast of Norfolk have discovered a submerged prehistoric forest, hidden underwater for 10,000 years. The forest was part of Doggerland – a land area which connected Germany and Great Britain up to 8000 years ago. This is a forgotten part of Europe, hidden under 200 meters of water. Divers discovered it after a winter storm shifted thousands of

Discoveries, News, Science

Ancient 420-million-year-old fossil hints of bony fish and cartilaginous fish common ancestor

The 415-million-year-old fish Janusiscus provides evidence of a common bony and cartilaginous fish. Credit: SAM GILES, MATT FRIEDMAN, AND MARTIN BRAZEAU

Based on fossil evidence and genome analysis, scientists know that the two groups diverged from a common ancestor around 420 million years ago, but we’ve yet to find actual fossil of it. Things are shaping up though after paleontologists have identified an Early Devonian fish from Siberia, approximately 415 million years old, which bears features of both classes.

Discoveries, News

Microbial life found 2.4 km beneath the ocean floor – it’s the deepest marine drill ever

Microscope image of the tiny organisms discovered 2,4 km deep below the sea bed. Image: IODP Expedition

An expedition that drilled 2,400m beneath the seabed off Japan – the deepest marine drilling ever –  found life in cores brought back to the surface. The tiny, single celled organisms survived there without any oxygen or light, relying only on a harsh diet of hydrocarbons to make means. Because of the limited resources available to them, the organisms have an

Biology, Discoveries, Genetics, News

Genetic response to starvation is passed down to at least three generations

starvation

In 1944, the Nazis caused widespread famine in Western Netherlands after they blocked food supplies. A group of pregnant women living in the Netherlands, labouring under starvation conditions imposed by a harsh winter and food embargo, gave birth to relatively small babies. When their children grew up, in relative prosperity, to have children of their own their babies were unexpectedly small.

Anthropology, Discoveries, Genetics, News

Unique gene passed by extinct human species makes Tibetans superhuman

Tibetans acquired a unique gene by interbreeding with a now-extinct human species. Photo: easytourchina.com

Advancements in genetic sequencing has allowed genomic research to flourish. DNA sequencing is now much faster, cheaper and accurate than ever before, and we’re only now beginning to reap the rewards. It’s the first step to a complete understanding of our bodies. The Human Genome Project, once finally completed, mapped and identified all the genes of the human genome. This helps

Chemistry, Discoveries

X-rays image atoms during chemical reactions for the first time

The X-ray snapshots in the figure show the atomic arrangement of the molecule being brominated before, during, and after the reaction. Photo: Fujita et al/JACS

Since its advent some 100 years ago, crystallography has become one of the most important processes in chemical research and development. It involves bombarding a material with X-rays to produce a diffraction pattern as they reflect off the sample. The pattern can be used then to directly determine the atomic structure of the crystal. Using this technique, the structure of

Discoveries, News, Research

Pluto’s Moon may have harbored underground ocean

Underground-Ocean-on-Pluto

The new NASA-funded study showed that if the icy surface of Pluto’s giant moon Charon is cracked, analyzing the fractures could show if the interior was warm and perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water. Pluto is the most distant planetoid (no longer a planet, sorry) in the solar system. It’s extremely far from us,

Chemistry, Discoveries, Materials, News

Glass molecules jam to form fractal wells

Glasses form when their molecules get jammed into fractal "wells," as shown on the right, rather than smooth or slightly rough wells (left). Photo credit: Patrick Charbonneau:

Water is liquid, air is gaseous, but glass? For years at end, glass has perplexed scholars intending on fixing it under a state of matter. Neither liquid, nor solid, explaining glass is a lot harder than some might think. Researchers at Duke University have contributed to solving the puzzle after they performed numerical solutions and found the energy landscapes of glasses

Discoveries, Mathematics, Neurology, News

Monkeys can do math, study proves

A rhesus monkey preparing to choose the four and five combination on the panel. (c) PNAS

It’s long been supposed that monkeys are capable of mental arithmetics, but it was only recently that this was proven for a fact by neuroscientists at the Margaret Livingstone of Harvard Medical School in Boston. The researchers taught three rhesus macaques to identify symbols representing the numbers zero to 25, then when given the choice between two panels, one depicting