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Scientists discover ‘Mother of All Lizards’ in the Alps

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:51

Sometimes it's hard to imagine what the Earth was like when massive beasts like the Tyrannosaurus rex freely roamed the land, but it can be even harder to go all the way to a time before dinosaurs were so fantastically dominant. There was planet Earth, ripe for habitation, with animal life still figuring out what evolutionary path it wanted to take. Now, researchers studying fossils from the Italian Alps have uncovered a true relic from that time, a tiny creature that is now the oldest known lizard to ever walk on this big blue marble.

This 'Mother of All Lizards," as it is being called, was a Megachirella. It was only about the size of a chameleon, but it was the precursor to the planet-spanning group of reptiles called squamates, which includes modern lizards and snakes.

The new discovery, which was detailed in a research paper published in Nature, was actually made using a 240-year-old fossil that had been discovered decades earlier. The tiny lizard was originally classified by scientists as an offshoot of the lizard family tree, but new scanning technology allowed the scientists to examine the fossil in an entirely new way.

After performing a CT scan on the fossil and the rock it was embedded in, the researchers discovered tiny features of the bone structure that were obscured by the fossil's rocky shell. In particular, a small bone in the lower jaw of the Megachirella revealed that it was part of the squamate lineage, and a very old one at that.

"I spent nearly 400 days visiting over 50 museums and university collections across 17 countries to collect data on fossil and living species of reptiles to understand the early evolution of reptiles and lizards," Tiago Simoes of the University of Alberta, and co-author of the study, explained. "I used this dataset to conduct the phylogenetic analysis presented in this study."

The discovery offers a more detailed explanation for the origins of modern day lizards and snakes than has ever been possible before, and proves that such animals were already on the scene when the earliest dinosaurs were roaming the land.


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Scientists hunt down genes behind humankind's big brain

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:21

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have pinpointed three genes that may have played a pivotal role in an important milestone in human evolution: the striking increase in brain size that facilitated cognitive advances that helped define what it means to be human. The three nearly identical genes, as well as a fourth nonfunctional one, are called NOTCH2NL genes, arising from a gene family dating back hundreds of millions of years and heavily involved in embryonic development. The NOTCH2NL genes are particularly active in the reservoir of neural stem cells of the cerebral cortex, the brain's outer layer responsible for the highest mental functions such as cognition, language, memory, reasoning and consciousness.


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Cannon fires unbelievable ammo - could help rescue victims

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:12

Fox Firepower: Allison Barrie with an up close look at a new cannon that could aide in active shooter situations through the use of its unbelievable ammo - water jugs.


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The Populism Debate Ignores the Real Lessons of Italy's Political Crisis

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 08:48

The situation in Italy reflects a divide between a prosperous EU core and an increasingly powerless periphery


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President Trump Says He's Pardoning Dinesh D'Souza. Who's That, and What Did He Do?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 08:46

'Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!'


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President Trump's Tariffs Draw Threats of Relation from EU, Mexico and Canada

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 08:20

The Trump administration announced it will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada.


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Space Race: China Releases Plans to Build a New Space Station

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:54

Less than two weeks after China launched a communications satellite that will help it land a robot on the far side of the Moon, the country released its plan to have a space station in orbit and inhabited by 2022. Construction is already underway on parts of the new space station, which will follow the country's previous endeavors Tiangong-2, currently in orbit, and Tiangong-1, which fell out of orbit earlier this year. China is hoping the new station, which will consist of three main modules, will become operational in 2022 after launching the first module in 2019.


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Space Race: China Releases Plans to Build a New Space Station

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:54

Less than two weeks after China launched a communications satellite that will help it land a robot on the far side of the Moon, the country released its plan to have a space station in orbit and inhabited by 2022. Construction is already underway on parts of the new space station, which will follow the country's previous endeavors Tiangong-2, currently in orbit, and Tiangong-1, which fell out of orbit earlier this year. China is hoping the new station, which will consist of three main modules, will become operational in 2022 after launching the first module in 2019.


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The Boss: We Design Beautiful Interiors for the World’s Coolest Hotels

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 06:00

The co-founders of Avenue Interior Design launched their business with $20K


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Serbian archaeologists find sarcophagus with two skeletons and jewellery in ancient city

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 05:45

By Aleksandar Vasovic KOSTOLAC, Serbia (Reuters) - Serbian archaeologists at the site of the ancient Roman city of Viminacium have found an intact sarcophagus with two skeletons bedecked with gold and silver adornments. Ilija Mikic, an anthropologist at the site, said the skeletons were of a tall, middle-aged man and a slim younger woman. In addition to three delicate glass perfume bottles, the woman had golden earrings, a necklace, a silver mirror and several expensive hair pins, while a silver belt buckle and remains of shoes were found lying around the man.


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Did the Trump Administration Lose Immigrant Children?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 05:21

Reports spread that migrant children were separated from their families and that Donald Trump’s Administration lost nearly 1,500 kids


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Watch as Nearly 1,000 Drones Come Together to Make TIME's New Cover

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 04:39

TIME worked with Intel's Shooting Star drones for this week's unique cover


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The Milky Way galaxy is probably much bigger than we thought

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 04:34

New research suggests, our galactic home spans a distance of 200,000 light-years.


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TIME's Drones Issue: Go Behind the Cover

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 04:21

TIME's newest cover was created with nearly 1,000 drones making a light show in the sky.


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Flying Over the Line

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 03:30

Photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve used his drone to capture life along the U.S.-Mexico border, the world's busiest international crossing.


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Current lava flows are hottest, fastest of latest eruption

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 02:35

HONOLULU (AP) — The hottest and fastest-moving lava of Kilauea volcano's latest eruption spread across new parts of the Big Island Wednesday, forcing officials to order evacuations in two coastal neighborhoods over fears that the rapidly advancing flows could cut off dwindling escape routes.


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