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Fossils show primitive birds had four wings: study

Some primitive birds boasted four wings, before evolution led them to ditch their hind feathers in favor of webbed or scaly feet, scientists in China said on Thursday. Previous research had uncovered the existence of bird-like dinosaurs with hind limb feathers, but evidence has remained slim in birds, which are widely believed to have

Astronomers find water vapor in atmosphere of distant planet

But planet HR8799c unlikely to harbour life, as surface temperature exceeds 1,000C Astronomers have detected water vapour and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of a planet 130 light years away from Earth. However, the planet, known only as HR8799c, is devoid of methane, a gas that can indicate life, the researchers said. Their analysis was

Scientists: Mexican monarch butterfly numbers at record low

By Jo Tuckman, The Guardian This year’s 59% drop in the wintering population in central Mexico marks the sixth decline in the past seven years The colonies of migrating monarch butterflies that spend the winter in a patch of fir forest in central Mexico were dramatically smaller this season than they have been since

New data ‘strongly indicates’ particle is Higgs boson

New data unveiled on Thursday strengthens the belief that a subatomic particle discovered last year is the elusive Higgs boson, European physicists said. Analysis of two characteristics, teased from experiments at the world’s biggest particle smasher, aligns with theories that the discovery is a Higgs, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said. “The

Europe and Russia ink deal on double mission to Mars

The European Space Agency (ESA) said it signed a deal on Thursday with its Russian counterpart to launch two unmanned missions to Mars, a quest that was rocked by a US pullout last year. Called ExoMars, the scheme entails sending an orbital probe to the Red Planet in January 2016 to look for atmospheric

Astronomers: Early Universe bred ‘starburst’ mega-galaxies

In its exuberant childhood, the Universe created galaxies that were vast star-making machines, astronomers reported on Wednesday. Using a brand-new telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert, the team snared light that took more than 12 thousand million years to reach them. It came from massive galaxies in the distant cosmos which churned out a thousand

Scientists map tapeworm DNA

Scientists said Wednesday they had unravelled the genetic code of the tapeworm, unearthing data that should lead to more efficient drugs against the dangerous intestinal parasite. Tapeworms are among the first known parasites of humans, recorded by Hippocrates and Aristotle as long ago as 300 BC. Published in the journal Nature, the research highlighted

Phallus-shaped worm-like creature sheds light on Earth’s biodiversity

Fossilised forms of a phallus-shaped invertebrate have shed light on a dramatic spurt in Earth’s biodiversity that occurred half a billion years ago, Canadian scientists reported on Wednesday. Remains of 10-centimetre (four-inch) worm-like creatures were found in shale beds in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The sediment dates back to the

Czech lab mice injected with fluorescent protein for clues on cancer

Injected with a fluorescent protein to make them glow bright red, laboratory mice are helping Czech scientists better understand the causes behind intestinal cancers and skin diseases while leaving the rodents unscathed. A research group at the Institute of Molecular Genetics at the Czech Academy of Sciences is using proteins obtained from sea organisms

Closest Earth-like planet may be half as far as previously thought

The closest rocky, Earth-like world could be as close as 6.5 to 7 light years away, according to new research. New Scientist magazine reported Tuesday that Penn State University astronomer Ravi Kopparapu’s estimates put these types of potentially life-sustaining worlds half as distant from Earth as previously believed. In February, Courtney Dressing and David

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