Scientists Discovered 100 Year Old Fruitcake In Antarctica

Researchers working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust recently discovered a fruitcake in Antarctica’s oldest hut in Cape Adare. The fruitcake was still wrapped in paper and encased in a badly damaged tin.

The Artifact is Still Edible

According to the researchers from the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the fruitcake was made by Huntley & Palmers and it was likely brought to Antarctica by British Explorer Robert Falcon Scott. The expedition took place from 1910 to 1913 and the party of explorers must have sought shelter into the hut. The hut itself was built in 1899. Unfortunately, all the members of the party died on their way back to the base.

Lizzie Meek, the conservation manager for the artifacts, notes that the fruitcake was a favorite item of the English society at the beginning of the 20th century. She added:

It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite item on modern trips to the Ice.

In addition, the Antarctic Heritage Trust wrote in their statement that the fruitcake looks and smells edible.

The trust’s conservation program in the Antarctic region ended in July. The team managed to conserve 1,500 artifacts by removing rust and preserving the metals. This is all in an effort to drive tourism in Antarctica which is already highly in demand. Scientists reconditioned several other huts in order to tell the entire story of the age of exploration.

The Antarctic region itself is currently in danger over warnings regarding climate change. The recent calving of the Larsen C ice shelf resulted in a massive iceberg the size of Delaware which now floats into the ocean. Scientists detected the crack in the ice shelf decades ago but it seemed to have accelerated during recent years. Scientists are still debating whether this was indeed due to climate change.

The First Gliding Mammals Seem To Have Lived Alongside Dinosaurs

gliding mammals illustration

Scientists took a closer look at what might well be the first gliding mammals.

An international team of scientists identified what are most likely the first ever gliding mammals, and these seem to have lived alongside dinosaurs.

A pair of fossils discovered in northeastern China, in the Tiaojishan Formation, revealed new details about the ancestors of all modern-day mammals. They show that, some 140 million years ago, if not more, these were soaring through the skies.

Exceptionally Well-Preserved Fossils of Gliding Mammals From the Jurassic

The team of paleontologists took a closer look at the two discovered fossils, which are now at the Beijing Museum of Natural History. These specimens were determined to be a Maiopatagium furculiferum and a Vilevolodon diplomylos.

The Maiopatagium, which translates to “mother of wings” was the biggest of the two, but still came to just around nine inches in length and some 4 to 6 ounces in weight. Vilevolodon or the “gliding mammal” was even smaller, being just three inches long and weighing some one to two ounces.

These two gliding mammals are haramiyidans or a branch of mammaliaforms that were herbivores and which went extinct some 40 million years ago. Mammaliaformes are held as being the ancient ancestors of all modern-day mammals.

Both of the analyzed fossils were exceptionally preserved as they still clearly presented membranes. These were noted to have connected their front to back limbs.

Skeletal features in both the forelimbs and the shoulder joints suggested that the animals were agile enough as to use the connected membranes for gliding. Their digits also suggested that they could have been used for gripping onto branches, much like the present-day bats.

Examples of Amazing Evolutionary Process

These are just some of the data that suggested that these two animals were well adapted for an aerial locomotion. Both of the species lived during the Mesozoic Era, in the Jurassic period, which makes them contemporaries of some of the dinosaurs.

The Maiopatagium and Vilevolodon were both dated as being at least 140 million years old, which makes them the earliest gliding mammals discovered until now.

“It’s amazing that the aerial adaptions occurred so early in the history of mammals,” stated David Grossnickle, a researcher part of the study and the University of Chicago.

“The groundwork for mammals’ successful diversification today appears to have been laid long ago,” stated another study member, Zhe-Xi Luo.

Research results and further details are available in the journal Nature.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Scientists Detect Giant Exoplanet With A ‘Glowing’ Water Atmosphere

giant exoplanet wasp-121b

Scientists detected a giant exoplanet, WASP-121b, that presents a “glowing” water atmosphere.

Scientists detected a Jot Jupiter or a giant exoplanet similar to our own gas giant planet that presents a “glowing” water atmosphere. One that also offers the closest yet evidence of the presence of a stratosphere on an exoplanet.

This particular giant exoplanet was named WASP-121b and is part of the “Hot Jupiter” class. These are all Jupiter-like gas giant planets which are believed to be quite common across the galaxy but which are apparently missing in our own galaxy.

Just as the rest of the space bodies in this class, WASP-121b is both still quite a mystery but also probably insanely hot. So it is quite unlikely that such an exoplanet could be capable of holding or developing life forms.

However, it is presenting a stratosphere could come with significant implications for the rest of the space bodies in the Universe. This 900 light years distant giant exoplanet could be a step forward in determining the chemical and physical conditions making up an alien world.

Giant Exoplanet Has a “Glowing” Atmosphere

giant exoplanet wasp-121b

NASA Ames Research Centre scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope detected glowing water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-121b. A spectroscopic analysis revealed that these water molecules were giving off infrared radiation. This happened as they were losing energy because of the heat increase in what must be the exoplanet’s stratosphere.

WASP-121b is estimated to register temperatures of around 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit in its upper atmosphere.

“This result is exciting because it shows that a common trait of most of the atmospheres in our Solar System – a warm stratosphere – also can be found in exoplanet atmospheres,” states Mark Marley, one of the study researchers.

He then continues by pointing out that scientists can now compare the atmospheric process registered on an exoplanet to those taking place, under different conditions, in our Solar System.

Future research will be looking to find out more about the mysterious Hot Jupiters. They will also be trying to precisely determine what chemicals in their atmosphere are absorbing so much starlight.

Current study results were published in the journal Nature.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

More Than Half Of The Milky Way Seems To Be Made Out Of Extragalactic Matter

milky way extragalactic matter

The Milky Way may be composed, in more than half, by extragalactic matter.

According to a new study, the Milky Way, our Earth, the Sun, and everything in between or around them could be made out of extragalactic matter. More simply put, it could be composed of star material from outside our galaxy.

Northwestern University astrophysicists are behind this new study. According to them, they created a “first of its kind analysis”. This shows that the Milky Way’s origins may be more far flung and less locally created than initially believed.

Extragalactic Matter, the Source Material for Many Galaxies?

The study team used supercomputer simulations to track and analyze how matter moved around the Universe over time. They called this process “intergalactic transfer”. These 3D simulation models tracked the generated galaxies from their early days following the Big Bang, up to the present day.

The simulation points out that collapsing supernovae can eject enormous quantities of gas from their galaxies. In turn, this transforms the atoms from their stars to farther away places, helping them from one galaxy to another.

“It is likely that much of the Milky Way’s matter was in other galaxies before it was kicked out by a powerful wind, traveled across intergalactic space and eventually found its new home in the Milky Way,” states Daniel Anglés-Alcázar.

He is the lead author and a Northwestern University postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

Anglés-Alcázar continues by stating that, together with his colleagues, they determined that possibly a half of the matter in the Milky Way might have come from other galaxies. Perhaps even very distant ones.

Anglés-Alcázar states that, given the significant amount of extragalactic matter in the Milky Way, people could consider themselves “space travelers”.

Now, the study team reports that they will be looking to test their simulations and result with real data. One collected by Earth-based observatories and also space telescopes.

A research paper with the current study results is available in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Scientists Develop A New Sort Of Vine-Like And Growing Robot

vine viper inspired growing robot

Scientists created a vine-like, snake-like growing robot prototype.

A team of scientists announced that they created a new, soft, vine-like and growing robot. This snake-like creation is capable of twisting and extending, and its capacities could be more useful than believed.

The research team was inspired, for its creation, by organisms that cover longer distances by growing. For example, they drew inspiration from vines or nerve cells. The resulting tentacular prototype could come to represent a new type of soft robotics. One that will also be capable of moving in ways that others can’t even dream of.

Stanford University researchers are behind this new creation. According to their study paper, the prototype works thanks to the principle of ‘eversion’. Basically, the robot’s body is folded within itself, so to move, it has to unfurl its plastic ‘innards’.

The Vine-Like and Growing Robot is Still in the Prototype Stage

“Essentially, we’re trying to understand the fundamentals of this new approach to getting mobility or movement out of a mechanism,” states Allison Okamura, a mechanical engineer part of the study.

Okamura also points out that this is a different way of locomotion from humans and most creatures.

The growing robot will basically “regurgitate” itself. Its front tip will be continuously new, as it will present the most recently released skin. This robotic creation’s body will lengthen as the end material will extend.

When fully unfolded, it will reach a length of 236 feet. It is also capable of achieving a pretty impressive speed of 21.7 mph.

The team, however, will not be focusing on its moving speed. Instead, it is looking to develop a robot that can move through challenging environments such as twisted, rocky, areas.

The available prototype is filled with air and powered by pneumatic air pressure. However, the research team considers that it could come to be made out of tougher materials, such as Kevlar, for example.

In turn, this might make it fillable with other materials as well. The team believes that it might come to contain water, which it could then transport to victims trapped under rubble or in other emergency situations.

Thanks to its inflatable nature, the robot could also come to be used in lifting heavy objects out of the way. These are also just a number of its vehiculated, future applications, which the scientists are now striving to achieve.

A paper in the journal Science Robotics offers further details on this growing robot.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Less Sleep In Old Age Is An Evolutionary Survival Tool

Man cannot fall sleep

Disrupted sleep patterns might be the relic of an evolutionary survival tool.

It’s common knowledge that as we get older we tend to sleep less or suffer from frequent sleep disruptions. However, researchers documenting the Hadza tribe in Northern Tanzania have come to the conclusion that restless sleep might be in fact an evolutionary survival tool. The survival mechanism evolved as the ancient hunter-gatherer tribes stood on guard against nocturnal threats.

Restless Sleep as Part of An Evolutionary Survival Tool

Researchers from the Duke University and the University of Nevada, USA teamed up with researchers from Tanzania to track the sleep patterns of the Hadza people. The Hadza are a modern-day tribe that lives in similar conditions to the ancient hunter-gatherers.

The researchers were able to gather data by strapping watches on their wrists that monitored their night-time movements. What they noticed is that there is a frequent change in the sleeping patterns between the old and the young so that at least one member of the tribe is awake. From the 20 days of study, the tribe was collectively asleep only for 18 minutes.

Researcher David Samson from the Duke University noticed that despite the restless sleep, the members felt no negative emotion about insomnia or other sleep problems that are frequent in Western societies. Moreover, Westerners get a more secure sleep than the tribe. The members sleep on the ground, next to a hearth or in huts made of branches. They have no controlled climate or synthetic lights.

Charlie Nunn, co-author, and professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke stated:

If you’re in a lighter stage of sleep you’d be more attuned to any kind of threat in the environment.

Sleep flexibility has been observed in other animals such as birds and mice. However, it is for the first time that humans exhibited such behavior. As a result, the data makes the researchers suggest that perhaps restless sleep is an evolutionary survival tool that had helped our ancestors protect their tribes from any nocturnal threats.

Image source: DepositPhotos

A One Trillion Tons Iceberg Broke From The Larsen C Ice Shelf

one million tons iceberg satellite view

A one trillion tons iceberg jut broke free of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in northwest Antarctica.

Scientists monitoring the Larsen C Ice Shelf announced early on Wednesday morning that a one trillion tons iceberg just broken free of the formation located in northwest Antarctica.

The team of researchers is part of Project MIDAS, a United Kingdom initiated research project. Scientists point out that such calving events are quite to be expected. Especially so considering the crack in Larsen C, which has been expanding faster than expected.

Calving is the term given to the process in which chunks of ice break off at the end or terminus of an ice shelf or glacier.


One Trillion Tons Iceberg, the Third Biggest Calving Ever Recorded

According to initial estimates, the one trillion tons iceberg which recently broke off is one of the largest such structures ever recorded. It was estimated to be about the size of Delaware as it has an area of some 2,200 square miles. It also contains an ice volume about twice as big as the size of Lake Erie.

The Project MIDAS researchers revealed these details in a blog release posted on July 12. This also pointed out that the iceberg will most likely receive the “A68” designation. Its title will help officials in charge of tracking the movement of icebergs so that these can be avoided by ships.

Scientists also state that it is still hard to predict how the situation will unfold from now on. This is turn due to the iceberg’s large size. Scientists report that this may either remain in one piece or break apart into fragments. This latter also seems to be the most likely variant.


The calving event in itself is believed to have taken place sometime in between Monday, July 10, and Wednesday, July 12.


However, the researchers pointed out that “The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12 percent, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever.”

If the one trillion tons iceberg does break apart, some parts of it may drift up north, into warmer parts. Some others may remain for decades in the same area where they are now.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

Hubble Managed To Capture An Image Of The Hidden Galaxy

hidden galaxy

Hubble managed to capture a much clearer image of IC 342 or the Hidden Galaxy.

The Hubble Space Telescope managed to snap a picture of a quite challenging cosmic target, namely the so-called Hidden Galaxy. Named IC 342, this bright galaxy is nonetheless hard to spot and capture in pictures, thus gaining its nickname mentioned above. IC 342 is situated relatively close to the Milky Way, at least in astronomical terms.

The Hidden Galaxy Offers a First Clearer Look

Because of the many obstacles in their way, astronomers have yet to determine the exact distance separating the two systems. This could be anything in between 7 million light years, to 11 million light years.

The Hidden Galaxy or Caldwell 5 is an intermediate spiral galaxy. It is positioned near the equator of the galactic disk of the Milky Way. This cosmic region is heavily populated by bright stars, dark dust, and cosmic gas. Also, these are not the only obstacle in viewing IC 342. The galaxy is also obscured by a significant amount of cosmic material in our solar system.

IC 342 appears to be one of the two brightest galaxies in the IC 342/Maffei Group galaxy groups of the Camelopardalis constellation. First discovered in 1985 by William Frederick Denning, it can be detected even with binoculars.

However, all the obstacles in its path make it hard to observe by either amateur or professional astronomers. Now, with some help from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA and ESA managed to capture the clearest yet image of the Hidden Galaxy.

This reveals: “A beautiful mixture of hot, blue star-forming regions, redder, cooler regions of gas, and dark lanes of opaque dust can be seen, all swirling together around a bright core.”

These colors indicate, according to a NASA statement, that the galaxy is very active. The new image reportedly captured the “very central region” of IC 342.

Back in 2003, astronomers confirmed that the core of this galaxy is a very specific type of central region. Titled an HII nucleus, its very name underlines the presence of ionized hydrogen. This is likely a driving force behind the creation of so many hot new stars.

Image Source: Flickr

Research Unearth New Remains Of Massive Jurassic-Era Crocodile Ancestor

crocodile ancestor jaws

Research results concerning fossil remains of a crocodile ancestor called notosuchian were recently released.

Researchers discovered new fossil remains belonging to a massive crocodile ancestor that lived and was probably an apex predator during the Jurassic Period era. The animal could have weighed about a ton and been around seven meters long.

This Jurassic-Era ancestor is an elusive notosuchian part of the archosaurian, some of the most fearsome predators before the appearance of the T-rex. Only a few remains of the specimens of this species have been discovered.

Crocodile Ancestor, Apex Predator

This new fossil, a jaw part, was discovered in north-west Madagascar, near the village of Ambondromamy. A closer analysis of these remains helped paint a clearer picture of what this elusive animal must have looked like.

For example, it revealed that it had strong, very large and probably deadly teeth. Ones possibly measuring some 15 centimeters from root to tip. These might have also presented serrated edges on the inner side, ones perfect for tearing into prey and breaking tendons and bones.

The teeth were also particularly wide and also expanded at the root. Their shape, resembling halved bananas, are called “pachydont teeth”. This also resembles the broad T-rex teeth more than it does any other of its close relations.

Cristiano Dal Sasso, the study’s author, states that the creature was about the size of a big saltwater crocodile.

“”Based on the preserved skull bones, we infer a body shape similar to that of baurusuchids, and consequently an overall length of 7 metres – 1.6m wide at the hips – and a weight of 800-1,000 kilograms,” states the lead, Dal Sasso.

The newly discovered crocodile ancestor is called Razanandrongobe sakalavae or, for short, Razana. It is believed to be the ‘most ancient’ and also largest notosuchians. It is some 42 million years older than the next known oldest specimen.

Study results are available in the journal PeerJ.

Image Source: Flickr

The Goebekli Tepe Site – Staggering Amounts of Skulls

Goebekli Tepe site

Archaeologists have found a staggering amount of skulls at the Goebekli Tepe site, Turkey

At the Goebekli Tepe site, Turkey, archaeologists have found a staggering amount of human skulls which, they consider based on the factual evidence, were part of a skull cult.

The Goebekli Tepe Site – Staggering Amounts of Skulls

As archaeologists wrote in a paper based on the ongoing archeological research, most of the skulls were in fragments. This makes it difficult to elaborate about their provenience or any type of information. As of this date, there were 408 skull fragments uncovered at the Goebekli Tepe. However, according to data, only a small number of skulls were carved.

The carving of skulls is linked with one form of ancestral worshiping. Or only to wrap strings around them in order to hang the skulls near the temple found at the Goebekli Tepe site.

Lee Clare, one of the archeologists at the site and coauthor of the study published in Science Advances journal, said:

“In a skeleton, the lower jaw tends to fall off. The grooves would have supported a string that could have been wound around the skull and kept it from slipping off”.

Furthermore, symbols found at the site indicate towards the idea that the skulls found at the Goebekli Tepe site played an important role in rites taking place at the temple. This hypothesis leans on evidence found at the temple. A statue, called the Gift Bearer, shows an entity holding a human skull in his hand while a headless human is shown on one of the T-shaped pillars found at the site.

In their study, the authors wrote that out of 691 bone fragments found at the Goebekli Tepe site 408 appertain to skulls. This would indicate that the skulls were selected from the rest of the body.

The compound measures 22 acres of land. And although the archaeological digging has been ongoing for over two decades the archeologists managed to excavate a little under 10% of the total area. Further research will offer more information in the future, as digging at the Goebekli Tepe site continues.

Image Source: Flickr