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mary caperton morton

Jerusalem tower facelift reveals it's 1,000 years younger

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to at least 2400 B.C. Downhill from the heart of the city is Gihon Spring, a year-round natural fount that was likely the primary water source for the ancient city. Defensive fortifications built around the spring, known as the Spring Tower, were originally dated to the Middle Bronze Age, around 1700 B.C., but a new study reveals the tower could be as much as 1,000 years younger.

19 Sep 2017

End of ice age may have been too wet for megafauna

Between 15,000 and 11,000 years ago, dozens of ice-age megafauna species went extinct. Various causes, from climate-driven habitat changes to overhunting to extraterrestrial impacts, have been cited for these extinctions. But new research looking at fossils of large herbivores such as bison, horses and llama supports the idea that a worldwide uptick in moisture was a main driver of the extinction trend.

08 Sep 2017

Dehydrated sediment layer made Sumatra quake stronger

Subduction zones are notorious for unleashing great earthquakes and tsunamis, such as the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Sumatra quake that caused shaking and inundations that killed more than 250,000 people and left millions more homeless. However, despite the dangerous reputations of subduction zones, their hazards are still often underestimated. New research reveals how sediments in the Sumatra Trench may have contributed to producing an even bigger earthquake and tsunami than hazard forecasts had estimated.

07 Sep 2017

Asymmetrical fossil feathers fill in timeline of flight

To get off the ground and evolve into flying birds, dinosaurs got a lift from asymmetrical feathers, which are more aerodynamic than symmetrical feathers. The discovery of a new species of asymmetrically feathered dinosaur in northeastern China from the Early Cretaceous is helping fill in the timeline of adaptations that led to flight.

29 Aug 2017

Coatings may prevent pipeline clogs

When ice forms in household water pipes, blockages and expansion can cause the pipes to burst. Similar problems can arise in the transportation of oil and gas when ice-like substances called gas hydrates build up inside pipelines — an issue traditionally mitigated by insulating pipes or by using antifreeze additives. But in a new study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, researchers report an alternative solution: specialized coatings for the inside of oil and gas pipes that prevent hydrate buildups and clogs. The coatings could prove more reliable than the usual approaches, but whether the method can be applied cost-effectively on a large scale is uncertain.

27 Aug 2017

Earthquakes make volcanoes more — and less — gassy

Triggering of volcanic emissions by earthquakes has been observed since antiquity. The Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder proposed the link as early as A.D. 77, and in “The Voyage of the Beagle,” Charles Darwin wrote about inland eruptions in Chile closely following an offshore earthquake in 1835. More recent statistical studies show that after large earthquakes, volcanic activity around the world increases. But the lack of robust monitoring equipment at most volcanoes has made it hard to quantify the relationship. In a new study, scientists demonstrate how satellites can be used to track changes in sulfur dioxide emissions from volcanoes after seismic events, offering a potential way to study the often elusive link between seismicity and volcanism.

25 Aug 2017

T. rex's bone-crushing bite

In a landscape rife with fearsome predators, Tyrannosaurus rex carved out a bone-crushing niche. New research analyzing the force generated by T. rex’s massive jaws found that the terrible tyrant’s bite could exert a pressure of more than 30,300 kilograms per square centimeter (431,000 pounds per square inch): a world record.

24 Aug 2017

Transylvanian ice cave reveals European winter climate record

Over the last 10,000 years, water dripping into a cave in Transylvania has frozen into one of the largest and oldest cave glaciers in the world. Today, the Scărișoara Ice Cave in central Romania preserves one of the longest ice records on Earth, a boon for climate researchers seeking to study how Europe’s climate has fluctuated during the Holocene.

23 Aug 2017

Young Costa Rican lavas might reflect pockets of primordial mantle

During the Archean, between 4 billion and 2.5 billion years ago, Earth’s super-heated young mantle produced a unique type of lava known as komatiite. In a new study published in Nature Geoscience, researchers looking at 90-million-year-old komatiites in Costa Rica — by far the youngest komatiites ever found — suggest the modern mantle may still harbor pockets of intense heat reminiscent of early Earth.

18 Aug 2017

Baby Louie dinosaur fossil gets a formal name

A baby dinosaur found fossilized with a clutch of eggs in China in the 1990s has finally been identified as an embryo from a new species of giant oviraptorosaur, according to a study in Nature Communications. The specimen, nicknamed “Baby Louie” and once featured on the cover of National Geographic, has been formally classified as a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur named Beibeilong sinensis, which translates to “Chinese baby dragon,” by Hanyong Pu of the Henan Geological Museum in Zhengzhou, China, and colleagues.

16 Aug 2017

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