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‘Bandit-masked’ feathered dinosaur hid from predators using multiple types of camouflage

  Researchers from the University of Bristol have revealed how a small feathered dinosaur used its colour patterning, including a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes, to avoid being detected by its predators and prey. By reconstructing the likely colour patterning of the Chinese dinosaur Sinosauropteryx, researchers have shown that it had multiple types of…

Scientists detect comets outside our solar system

Scientists from MIT and other institutions, working closely with amateur astronomers, have spotted the dusty tails of six exocomets  comets outside our solar system  orbiting a faint star 800 light years from Earth. These cosmic balls of ice and dust, which were about the size of Halley’s Comet and traveled about 100,000 miles per hour…

Martian landscapes formed from sand ‘levitating’ on a little boiling water

Scientists from The Open University (OU) have discovered a process that could explain the long-debated mystery of how land features on Mars are formed in the absence of significant amounts of water. Experiments carried out in the OU Mars Simulation Chamber — specialised equipment, which is able to simulate the atmospheric conditions on Mars —…

Small asteroid or comet ‘visits’ from beyond the solar system

A small, recently discovered asteroid or perhaps a comet  appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first “interstellar object” to be observed and confirmed by astronomers. This unusual object — for now designated A/2017 U1 — is less than a…

Indigenous people have been on the far northeastern edge of Canada for most of the last 10,000 years, moving in shortly after the ice retreated from the Last Glacial Maximum. Archaeological evidence suggests that people with distinct cultural traditions inhabited the region at least three different times with a possible hiatus for a period between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago. Now, researchers who’ve examined genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA provide evidence that two of those groups, known as the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk, brought different matrilines to the island, adding further support to the notion that those groups had distinct population histories. The findings are published in Current Biology on October 12. “Our paper suggests, based purely on mitochondrial DNA, that the Maritime Archaic were not the direct ancestors of the Beothuk and that the two groups did not share a very recent common ancestor,” says Ana Duggan of McMaster University. “This in turn implies that the island of Newfoundland was populated multiple times by distinct groups.” The relationship between the older Maritime Archaic population and Beothuk hadn’t been clear from the archaeological record. With permission from the current-day indigenous community, Duggan and her colleagues, led by Hendrik Poinar, examined the mitochondrial genome diversity of 74 ancient remains from the island together with the archaeological record and dietary isotope profiles. All samples were collected from tiny amounts of bone or teeth. The sample set included a Maritime Archaic subadult more than 7,700 years old found in the L’Anse Amour burial mound, the oldest known burial mound in North America and one of the first manifestations of the Maritime Archaic tradition. The majority of the Beothuk samples came from the Notre Dame Bay area, where the Beothuk retreated in response to European expansions. Most of those samples are from people that lived on the island within the last 300 years. The DNA evidence showed that the two groups didn’t share a common maternal ancestor in the recent past, but rather one that coalesces sometime in the more distant past. “These data clearly suggest that the Maritime Archaic people are not the direct maternal ancestors of the Beothuk and thus that the population history of the island involves multiple independent arrivals by indigenous peoples followed by habitation for many generations,” the researchers write. “This shows the extremely rich population dynamics of early peoples on the furthest northeastern edge of the continent.”

Indigenous people have been on the far northeastern edge of Canada for most of the last 10,000 years, moving in shortly after the ice retreated from the Last Glacial Maximum. Archaeological evidence suggests that people with distinct cultural traditions inhabited the region at least three different times with a possible hiatus for a period between…

Brain waves reflect different types of learning

Figuring out how to pedal a bike and memorizing the rules of chess require two different types of learning, and now for the first time, researchers have been able to distinguish each type of learning by the brain-wave patterns it produces. When neurons fire, they produce electrical signals that combine to form brain waves that…

New type of stem cell line produced offers expanded potential for research and treatments

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators have created Expanded Potential Stem Cells (EPSCs) in mice, for the first time, that have a greater potential for development than current stem cell lines. These stem cells have the features of the very first cells in the developing embryo, and can develop into any…

Baby talk in any language: Shifting the timbre of our voices

When talking with their young infants, parents instinctively use “baby talk,” a unique form of speech including exaggerated pitch contours and short, repetitive phrases. Now, They shift the timbre of their voice in a rather specific way. The findings hold true regardless of a mother’s native language. “We use timbre, the tone color or unique…

Paleogenomic analysis sheds light on Easter Island mysteries

Easter Island is a place of mystery that has captured the public imagination. Famous for ancient carved statues and a location so remote it boggles the mind, the island presents a captivating puzzle for researchers eager to understand how and when it became inhabited, and by whom. New paleogenomic research conducted by an international team…

Engineers develop a programmable ‘camouflaging’ material inspired by octopus skin

For the octopus and cuttlefish, instantaneously changing their skin color and pattern to disappear into the environment is just part of their camouflage prowess. These animals can also swiftly and reversibly morph their skin into a textured, 3D surface, giving the animal a ragged outline that mimics seaweed, coral, or other objects it detects and…

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