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mary caperton morton

Scientists complete a global inventory of lakes

How many lakes are there in the world? Until recently, the exact number was anybody’s guess. Now, a new global inventory conducted using satellite imagery has placed the count at 117 million. The GLObal WAter BOdies database (GLOWABO) includes all lakes greater than 0.002 square kilometers, which combined, cover a surface area of 5 million square kilometers, or 3.7 percent of the Earth’s nonglaciated land area.

28 Jan 2015

Icebergs were the original Florida snowbirds

A new study shows that between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago, icebergs drifted southward off the coasts of South Carolina and Florida.

Using multibeam bathymetry data, Jenna Hill at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., and Alan Condron of the University of Massachusetts mapped a number of long scars on the seafloor that they attribute to scour marks left by icebergs journeying south.

23 Jan 2015

Modeling a big mess from Yellowstone

In the event of another super-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, few places in the U.S. would be ash-free, according to a new modeling study. The northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Miami and Los Angeles.

15 Jan 2015

New species of titanosaurus discovered in Tanzania

The Cretaceous landscape was dominated by huge herbivorous sauropods, the largest land animals ever to walk the planet. Fossils from many of these massive creatures have been unearthed around the world, but the recent discovery of a new specimen of titanosaurus in Tanzania is among the first sauropods found on the African continent.

14 Jan 2015

Marine mammals blamed for first New World tuberculosis

When Europeans arrived in the Americas they introduced an array of new infectious diseases that decimated the native populations. Now, a new genetics-based study published in Nature shows that the emergence of tuberculosis in Peru seems to have predated the arrival of the Spanish — and that seals and sea lions may be to blame instead for the ancient infections.

13 Jan 2015

Golden Gate ghost ships rediscovered

Just beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is a shipwreck graveyard where as many as 300 vessels lie in silty underwater repose. A team of NOAA researchers conducting a two-year study to identify and map the long-forgotten ships in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area has announced the discovery of three wrecks: the 1863 wreck of the clipper ship Noonday, the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the “mystery wreck” — all now obscured by mud and silt on the ocean floor.
 

11 Jan 2015

Textbook mantle plume theory may need revision

Every basic geology textbook has a section on mantle plumes, which have long been thought to underlie certain island chains and other volcanic hot spots, but hard evidence in support of narrow columns of magma upwelling from deep within the Earth’s mantle remains scant. Now a new study suggests that the long-held plume theory should be abandoned altogether.

07 Jan 2015

Dating the demise of the Neanderthals

For a time, Homo sapiens and Neanderthals shared space in Europe, likely interacting and possibly interbreeding, but roughly 40,000 years ago the Neanderthals died out for unknown reasons. Pinpointing the extinction of the Neanderthals has proved difficult due to limitations in carbon-14 dating techniques, the accuracy of which declines in samples approaching and older than 50,000 years due to a decreasing amount of carbon-14 for testing. Now, using a new dating technique, scientists have confirmed that Neanderthals likely disappeared between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago.

04 Jan 2015

Hallucigenia finally finds a home

A fossil so bizarre that it was formally dubbed Hallucigenia has finally found a place in the evolutionary tree of early life. One of the more head-scratching fossils to come out of the famous 500-million-year-old Burgess Shale assemblage in British Columbia, the worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail was originally drawn both backwards and upside down: The spines were originally thought to be legs, and its legs were thought to be tentacles.

02 Jan 2015

All dinosaurs may have had feathers

Since the first feathered dinosaur was discovered in China in 1996, more and more feathered theropod specimens have been found. Now, a new nontheropod fossil found in Siberia and described in Science suggests that all species of dinosaurs may have had feathers.

01 Jan 2015

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