Philip Ross writes: The withered but well-preserved carcass of an Ice Age steppe bison has been uncovered in the frozen lowlands of Siberia after being entombed in ice for nearly 10,000 years. The bison mummy, one of the most complete frozen mummies ever found, still has a full coat of fur and several major organs, including its brain, heart, blood vessels and digestive system, according to researchers who presented their findings Thursday at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting in Berlin. The discovery has provided researchers with a rare opportunity to study the Ice Age beast in greater detail.
Philip Ross writes: The next time someone calls you a wimp, tell them it’s your brain’s fault. There’s a reason some people are more sensitive to physical pain than others, and the answer to why involves differences in the structure of the brain itself. According to new research, variances in pain sensitivity are related to the amount of grey matter – a major component of the central nervous system that contains most of the brain’s neuronal cell bodies – in a person’s brain.
Philip Ross writes: Fresh analysis of an extinct relative of humans suggests our ancient ancestors dined primarily on tiger nuts, which are edible grass bulbs, settling a discrepancy over what made up prehistoric diets. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, the strong-jawed ancient hominin known as Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man,” which roamed East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, survived on a diet scientists previously thought implausible.
Philip Ross writes: A new study of Stone Age human teeth proves that even our ancestors defied dentists’ orders. Archaeologists studying 13,700-year-old teeth recovered from Morocco’s Grotte des Pigeons found some of the earliest evidence for common tooth decay, suggesting that dental caries were widespread much earlier than scientists previously thought.
Philip Ross writes: New research into Pompeiians' daily lives is broadening our understanding of this ancient Roman culture, particularly their eating habits, before Mt. Vesuvius brought it all crumbling down nearly 2,000 years ago. Over the past decade, archaeologists excavating a row of building plots discovered remnants of food that would have been widely available and inexpensive in ancient Italy, like grains, fruits, olives, lentils, local fish, nuts and chicken eggs. They also uncovered evidence that Pompeiians enjoyed a variety of exotic foods, some of which would have been imported from outside Italy, including sea urchins, flamingos and even the butchered leg joint of a giraffe.
Philip Ross writes: A new study of methane emissions finds that the U.S. is spewing 50 percent more methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere than the Environmental Protection Agency previously assumed. Several factors contribute to the accumulation of methane gas in Earth’s atmosphere, such as the burning of fossil fuels and leaks from oil and gas refining and drilling, but one contender stands out above the rest as particularly repugnant: cow farts.
Philip Ross writes: An ancient Buddhist shrine found in Nepal opens a new window into the life of Siddhartha Gautama, more famously known as the Buddha. Archaeologists have recently discovered what they’re calling the “earliest Buddhist shrine in the world.” The small wooden shrine, located underneath the revered Maya Devi temple at Nepal’s Lumbini pilgrimage site, dates back to the sixth century B.C., meaning Buddha’s birth was about a century earlier than scholars previously believed.
Philip Ross writes: Uses for 3D printers are more widespread than ever, but researchers in Germany are expanding 3D-printing territory even further. For the first time ever, scientists from the Department of Radiology at Charité Campus Mitte in Berlin have recreated dinosaur fossils from blueprints made by computed tomography, or CT, scans. The ability to scan and 3D-print dinosaur fossils could have wide-ranging applications for not only paleontologists but also educators and private collectors alike.
Philip Ross writes: Humans aren’t the only social beings haunted by traumatic events. According to a new study on elephant behavior, elephants that survived a cull — the systematic killing of older members of an elephant family to control elephant populations in African nature reserves — were still affected by the events decades later. Researchers found that the elephants’ “social understanding” were impaired, particularly when it came to appropriately responding to other elephants’ calls.
Philip Ross writes: Astronomers have warned that our planet is long overdue for a defense plan against catastrophic asteroid collisions. When it comes to deflecting Earth-obliterating celestial bodies, short of a superhero capable of punching the approaching rock back into outer space, there is no single force dedicated to stopping cosmic bullies from striking our little blue planet straight in the eye. That’s why the United Nations said it will establish an International Asteroid Warning Group to intercept and divert dangerous asteroids.
Philip Ross writes: Australia’s oldest bird footprints were made 100 million year ago when dinosaurs still roamed the Australian landscape. The Early Cretaceous period fossilized footprints survive today in a slab of rock recovered from the cliffs of Dinosaur Cove, a fossil-rich area on the coast of southern Victoria near Melbourne. The discovery of the prehistoric bird tracks helps paleontologists better understand Australia’s prehistoric timeline.
Philip Ross writes: Neanderthals, modern man’s close primitive relative, may have favored the flavor of a food-gorged animal gut now and then, according to scientists studying Neanderthals’ dental records. Anthropologists from London’s Natural History Museum describe the plant material found in the plaque of 50,000-year-old Neanderthal teeth as having come from the stomach contents of their prey. Researchers revisited the dental records of Neanderthals from El Sidrón Cave in Spain, where Neanderthal remains were first uncovered in 1994. The records were assembled last year as part of a study into Neanderthal diets.
Philip Ross writes: Scientists at the University of Texas looked at the interactions between bacteria in 3D-printed environments to better understand what makes some microbes resistant to antibiotics, something health officials have been warning us about for a long time. They used high-precision lasers to print multiple two-dimensional images, using a chip modified from a digital movie projector, onto a layer of flexible gelatin where bacteria were growing. As layers of protein were added to the gelatin, which contains photosensitive molecules that become aroused and bond together after being hit with a laser, they formed a tiny encasing around the bacteria.
Philip Ross writes: Archaeologists from the Donetsk Museum of Regional Studies found a carved sundial while excavating a 3,200- to 3,300-year-old Bronze Age grave between the Ural Mountains and Ukraine’s Dnieper River. The ancient sundial may be the oldest of its kind ever found. The analemmatic sundial which, unlike traditional sundials, doesn't have a fixed vertical that casts a shadow. Instead, an analemmatic sundial’s vertical, called a gnomon, must be moved every day of the year as the sun’s position in the sky changes.
Nate the greatest writes: Guilford County Schools' headline grabbing tablet program is back in the news again. The program came to an abrupt end last Friday when the school district announced that they were recalling all of the Amplify tablets. GCS had leased over 15 thousand of the tablets (at a cost of $200 a year) for its middle school students, but decided to recall the tablets just one month into the school year after some 1500 students reported a broken screen. Around 2 thousand complained of improperly fitting cases, and there were also 175 reports of malfunctioning power supplies. There's currently no explanation for the cases or power supplies, but GCS has stated that the tablets broke because they lacked a layer of Gorilla Glass. This was listed in the contract, but the school district did not confirm the condition of the tablets before accepting them.
This program was the poster child for Newscorps' entry into the educational market. It was the single largest program to use the Amplify tablet, and its failure represents a serious setback. The Amplify tablet now has a record for poor construction quality and a breakage rate that is 12 times higher than what Squaretrade reported in early 2012 for the iPad 2.