Taxonomy term

lucas joel

Benchmarks: March 31, 1933: The Civilian Conservation Corps is established

On Jan. 25, 1938, a heavy winter snowstorm struck Wisconsin, blocking the road connecting Blackwell to the nearest hospital 10 kilometers away in Laona. The storm left Blackwell resident Stella Simonis, an expectant mother who was hours away from delivering her child, snowed in with no way to get to the hospital, according to an Associated Press article that ran in several Wisconsin papers the next day.

31 Mar 2019

Down to Earth With: Paleoanthropologist and underground astronaut Lindsay Hunter

In 2013, Lindsay Hunter found herself at a personal and professional crossroads. She had gone through a divorce, left the paleoanthropology doctoral program at the University of Iowa, where she had received her master’s in 2004, and moved, along with her three dogs and two cats, to live with her parents on a farm outside Austin, Texas.

25 Mar 2019

Humans accidentally created new rivers in Europe

Meandering rivers that flow through and transport sediment to deltas often split off from their main courses and flow in different directions. This process, called avulsion, happens naturally when a river overflows its banks and the floodwaters carve out a new course for the river to follow. But humans can also trigger avulsions by changing the shape of the landscape, and in a new study, scientists report that people have been doing this for a very long time.

15 Feb 2019

Redefining Dinosaurs: Paleontologists are Shaking the Dinosaur Family Tree to its Roots

A radical reconfiguration of the classification of dinosaurs challenges an orthodoxy built on roughly a century and a half of research. But many paleontologists are not ready to accept such a big shift in our understanding of dinosaur evolutionary history.

04 Feb 2019

Forecasting California's earthquake hazard

In California, scientists use a model called the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) to assess earthquake hazards across the state based not on the physics of the state’s faults, but on history: By considering the historic record of earthquakes, including the location and severity of past quakes, UCERF3, the third version of the model, provides a hazard measure. “But those observations are limited, because we only have a few hundred years [of written earthquake records] in California,” says Greg Beroza, a seismologist at Stanford University. “In the long term, we have a small sample of the possible behavior of the system.” This means the resulting hazard assessments, relying on the relatively short historical earthquake record, may not accurately reflect earthquake potential across the state. So, scientists have long been trying to come up with physics-based models that show how particular faults might rupture without depending on historical records — and now, they have.

04 Dec 2018

First Antarctic tetrapods

Tetrapods include all those animals with four limbs. Humans are tetrapods, as are dogs and dinosaurs and salamanders. The earliest tetrapods evolved on land from fish with bony fins during the Devonian Period between about 420 million and 359 million years ago. Until now, fossils of the earliest four-legged forms were only known from equatorial regions, but paleontologists working in South Africa now report the discovery of fossil tetrapods that lived in the Late Devonian Antarctic.

18 Oct 2018

Where will the San Andreas Fault rupture next?

In 1906, the San Andreas Fault Zone ruptured, and the shaking that followed brought the city of San Francisco to its knees. Buildings toppled and fires raged and, in the end, more than 3,000 people died as a result. Since then, Californians have often wondered aloud when and where the next “Big One” will strike. Geologists do not know the answers, but recent research has offered a new clue: Field mapping of the San Andreas’ southernmost reaches, near the Salton Sea, reveals a type of fault structure that researchers think may be just right for triggering a big earthquake.

08 Oct 2018

Earth's first footprints

As far as we know, life originated on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago, and for roughly the first 3 billion years of that history all life was microscopic. Then, during the Ediacaran Period from 635 million to 541 million years ago, the first organisms visible to the naked eye emerged. Although many members of this group, called the Ediacara biota, would have looked alien to us, some nonetheless had features we might find familiar. And according to a new study, it was Ediacaran creatures that left behind Earth’s oldest-known footprints.

05 Oct 2018

An asteroid redirected bird evolution

When an asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago, it helped wipe out all the dinosaur lineages save one: the birds. But birds didn’t completely dodge the cataclysm the asteroid triggered. Recent research suggests that forests around the planet were devastated. With forests gone, bird species that called trees home went extinct alongside their nonavian dinosaur cousins. This means that the birds that we see living in trees today evolved from lineages that, in the aftermath of the impact, were ground-dwelling.

30 Aug 2018

Bolts of insight on earthly gamma ray showers

A handful of times between 2014 and 2016, an array of ground detectors placed in Utah’s western desert sensed something in thunderstorms that occasionally raged overhead: showers of gamma rays — the highest energy waves in the electromagnetic spectrum — occurring alongside lightning bolts.

15 Aug 2018