Taxonomy term

january 2015

A dry and ravaged land: Investigating water resources in Afghanistan

Decades of war, loss of hydrological knowledge, climate change and a growing population all threaten Afghanistan’s water supply, but the U.S. Geological Survey is working with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other partners to establish safe and reliable supplies of water for now and well into the future. 

04 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

Old piles of shells reveal ancient El Niño patterns

Understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is evolving as scientists unearth new data sources. In a study recently published in Science, scientists turned to the discarded remains of shellfish for a 10,000-year record of eastern Pacific ENSO activity, which offered glimpses into unexpected past ENSO behavior and intensity.

03 Jan 2015

Benchmarks: January 3, 1970: Lost City meteorite is tracked and recovered

On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 3, 1970, residents of northeastern Oklahoma saw a fireball as bright as a full moon blaze across the sky. The nine-second light display was accompanied by a sonic boom heard over a 1,000-square-kilometer area.

 
03 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

Where on Earth? - January 2015

Clues for January 2015:

1. Extending over parts of three countries, this neotropical region is home to a diversity of lush ecosystems due to its transitional position and steep elevation drop-off between high mountains and arid plateaus to the west and a major rainforest and river basin to the east.

Lead-up to Icelandic earthquakes seen in groundwater chemistry

Scientists tracking groundwater in Iceland have reported that significant shifts in the water’s chemistry occurred months prior to earthquakes in 2012 and 2013. It’s far too early to apply the findings to earthquake hazard assessment, researchers say, but the results suggest that precursory groundwater changes may also herald earthquakes elsewhere and point toward a potential means of future seismic monitoring.

31 Dec 2014

Twister season comes earlier to tornado alley

Recent studies have examined whether tornadoes are increasing in intensity or number, but a consensus has not yet been reached. Now, a new study looking at a different aspect of tornadoes — when they occur — has found that the severe storm systems that spawn tornadoes may be peaking earlier in the spring than in the past in the infamous tornado alley.

29 Dec 2014

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