I’m not entirely sure what happened to last week, Aledans, and this week seems to be going in the same direction. I do know I’m on vacation next week, though, so things should normalize around here for a bit. Even though today’s Science News is a day late I hope it’s not a dollar short. In fact, the first article alone should make up for the wait. It’s amazing.
The Tower of Babel, by Paul Gosselin.
Before Babel? Ancient Mother Tongue Reconstructed: “We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age,” said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom….In other words, if modern-day humans could somehow encounter their Stone Age ancestors, they could say one or two very simple statements and make themselves understood, Pagel said.
This has got to be the coolest scientific thing I’ve read since the mega-volcano that ripped apart Pangea and killed half of the Earth’s species back in March.
Arctic Ocean ‘Acidifying Rapidly’: They say even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels.
Nanoparticle Tech Could Bring Clean Water to Rural Poor: A water purification system that uses nanotechnology to remove bacteria, viruses and other contaminants may be able to deliver clean drinking water to rural communities for less than $3 a year per family, according to a new study.
Exposure to Fire Retardants During Pregnancy Linked to Hyperactivity, Lower IQ: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are chemicals that have been used to lower the risk of fires in items like baby strollers, carpets and electronics. Because of known health risks, the chemicals have mostly not been used in items on sale in the U.S. since 2004. However, since they are not very biodegradable, PBDEs may still exist in older products that people may have or continue to exist in the tissue of people who were exposed to the chemicals.
Scientists Identify New Dog-sized Dinosaur: The discovery of the Acrotholus Audeti touched off further investigation that suggested the world’s dinosaur population was more diverse than once believed.
Pet Dino anyone?
Tongue Erections Help Bats Sop Up Nectar: Nectar-eating bats lap up the sweet liquid by engorging their tongues with blood, which, in turn, makes hairlike projections on the tongue stand at attention, new research finds. Together, the erect hairs, called papillae, act like a mop that grabs more liquid than a smooth surface could alone.
Admit it, that title made you giggle.
Bizarre Mars Mountain Possibly Built by Wind, Not Water: Many scientists suspect that the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) Mount Sharp formed primarily from layers of lakebed silt, which is one of the main reasons that the mountain was selected as Curiosity’s ultimate destination. But the new study holds that wind probably did most of the heavy lifting.
Europeans All Closely Related, Gene Study Shows: For more than a decade, researchers calculated theoretically that all people shared common ancestors fairly recently.
To test that theory, Coop and his colleagues analyzed 500,000 spots on the genome of Europeans, from Turkey to the United Kingdom. To untangle European ancestry, they calculated the length of shared segments of DNA, or the molecules that contain the genetic instructions for life. When two people share a longer stretch of identical DNA, they are likely to share a more recent common ancestor, since over time those gene segments evolve and diversify.
The researchers found that all Europeans shared a common ancestor just 1,000 years ago.
Um….WHAT? That doesn’t seem long enough.
Ancient DNA Found Hidden Below Sea Floor: The DNA, from tiny, one-celled sea creatures that lived up to 32,500 years ago, is the first to be recovered from the abyssal plains, the deep-sea bottoms that cover huge stretches of Earth. In a separate finding published this week, another research team reports teasing out plankton DNA that’s up to 11,400 years old from the floor of the much shallower Black Sea. The researchers say that the ability to retrieve such old DNA from such large stretches of the planet’s surface could help reveal everything from ancient climate to the evolutionary ecology of the seas.
Maybe my wisteria needs a buddy?
Plant Seedlings Thrive by Talking with Friends: The research adds to growing evidence that plants “talk” via sound. Gagliano already has shown that fennel, which transmits nasty chemicals to curb competing plants, also shuts down seedling growth when its chemical signaling is cut off via a sealed box. Evidence abounds for acoustic signaling between plants and insects, such as orchids that release pollen only for the high-frequency buzz of a certain bee. And scientists are tracking drought by listening to hydraulic pops in drying tree and plant leaves.
Scientists Discover New Species of Bass in Florida: After confirming the initial discovery, scientists searched for the DNA profile in bass caught in nearby rivers to determine the bass’ range. They found the Choctaw bass in coastal rivers in Alabama and along the western Florida panhandle, including the Choctawhatchee River.
Greenland’s Glacial Ice Melt May Slow: According to the model, which looked at four swiftly shrinking outlet glaciers, today’s breakneck retreat will soon hit the brakes, thanks to natural processes like narrow fjords that choke glacial retreat and increased iceberg production that cools warm ocean water. But that doesn’t mean Greenland’s overall ice loss will stop, Nick warns.
Giant Gas Clouds Found in Void Between Galaxies: The discovery comes from a new survey of the dark, starless void between the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and the Triangulum Galaxy (M33), which revealed that the giant clouds of hot ionized hydrogen gas that could provide a fresh influx for star birth.
50-Year-Old Flouride Mystery Closer to Being Solved: The study suggests that fluoride works by reducing the ability of bacteria to stick to teeth, making the germs easier to wash away with saliva, brushing and other activities.
When fluoride bonds with tooth enamel, bacteria probably cannot hold onto it as strongly, said study researcher Karin Jacobs, a physicist at Saarland University in Germany.
Water on Earth and Moon May Have Same Source: The findings hint that water may have existed on Earth before the giant impact the planet received that created the moon, and that the moon possessed water from its earliest moments, scientists added. It remains a mystery exactly how water found within the moon survived this violent collision, though.
Hubble Telescope Discovers ‘Polluted’ Dead Stars: “We have identified chemical evidence for the building blocks of rocky planets,” researcher Jay Farihi of the University of Cambridge said in a statement Thursday (May 9). “When these stars were born, they built planets, and there’s a good chance that they currently retain some of them. The signs of rocky debris we are seeing are evidence of this — it is at least as rocky as the most primitive terrestrial bodies in our solar system.”
Submarine Ridge off Brazil: Piece of Sole Original Continent? After a month long expedition using a research submarine, the scientists say the so-called Rio Grande Elevation, a rise on the ocean floor about 1,500 km (932 miles) southeast of Rio de Janeiro, features granite and minerals, including iron, manganese, and cobalt, that differentiate it from the rest of the surrounding seabed.
Jerusalem’s Ancient ‘City of Quarries’ Reveals City-Building Rocks: The first-century quarry, which fits into the Second Temple Period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70), would’ve held the huge stones used in the construction of the city’s ancient buildings, the researchers noted.
Archaeologists also uncovered pick axes and wedges among other artifacts at the site in the modern-day Ramat Shlomo Quarter, a neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem.
Synthetic Spider Venom Makes a Kinder, Safer Antidote: Because it’s non-toxic, the synthetic “venom” might even be suitable for vaccinating people. “If they get bitten, they’ll already have antibodies capable of neutralising the most harmful effects of the venom,” says Chávez-Olórtegui.
Blood Hormone Restores Youthful Hearts to Old Mice: The protein, known as growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), circulates at high levels in the blood of young mice but declines with age. In a study published this week in Cell1, the researchers report that elderly mice treated with the protein experience a reversal of tissue aging in the heart.
Cuthbert the Mouse (who ended up being female…oops)
Disease Threatens Florida’s Citrus Industry: Although the disease, citrus greening, was first spotted in Florida in 2005, this year’s losses from it are by far the most extensive. While the bacteria, which causes fruit to turn bitter and drop from the trees when still unripe, affects all citrus fruits, it has been most devastating to oranges, the largest crop. So many have been affected that the United States Department of Agriculture has downgraded its crop estimates five months in a row, an extraordinary move, analysts said.