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SCIENCE

Fat from 558 million years ago reveals earliest known animal

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) and overseas have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil to reveal the earliest confirmed animal in the geological record that lived on Earth 558 million years ago. The strange creature called Dickinsonia, which grew up to 1.4 metres in length and …

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What makes a mammal a mammal? Our spine, say scientists

Mammals are unique in many ways. We’re warm-blooded and agile in comparison with our reptilian relatives. But a new study, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by Harvard University researchers Stephanie Pierce and Katrina Jones, suggests we’re unique in one more way — the makeup of our …

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Mathematics meets biology to uncover unexpected biorhythms

A novel mathematical approach has uncovered that some animal cells have robust 12-hour cycles of genetic activity, in addition to circadian or 24-hour cycles. The method, published in the journal PLOS ONE, assessed the periodicity of gene expression data and compared the results with those obtained with other computational methods. …

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Southeast Asian population boomed 4,000 years ago

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered a previously unconfirmed population boom across South East Asia that occurred 4,000 years ago, thanks to a new method for measuring prehistoric population growth. Using the new population measurement method, which utilises human skeletal remains, they have been able to prove …

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Basking sharks can jump as high and as fast as great whites

A collaborative team of marine biologists has discovered that basking sharks, hundreds of which are found off the shores of Ireland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and Scotland, can jump as fast and as high out of the water as their cousins, the famously powerful and predatory great white shark. …

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Physicists train robotic gliders to soar like birds

The words “fly like an eagle” are famously part of a song, but they may also be words that make some scientists scratch their heads. Especially when it comes to soaring birds like eagles, falcons and hawks, who seem to ascend to great heights over hills, canyons and mountain tops …

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How long does a quantum jump take?

Quantum jumps are usually regarded to be instantaneous. However, new measurement methods are so precise that it has now become possible to observe such a process and to measure its duration precisely — for example the famous ‘photoelectric effect’, first described by Albert Einstein. It was one of the crucial …

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Moderate warming could melt East Antarctic Ice Sheet

Parts of the world’s largest ice sheet would melt if Antarctic warming of just 2°C is sustained for millennia, according to international research. University of Queensland scientist Dr Kevin Welsh was part of a team that used evidence from warm periods in Earth’s history to see how the East Antarctic …

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Cane toad: Scientists crack genetic code

A group of scientists from UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney, Deakin University, Portugal and Brazil have unlocked the DNA of the cane toad, a poisonous amphibian that is a threat to many native Australian species. The findings were published in academic journal GigaScience today. “Despite its iconic status, there …

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Creating 3D printed ‘motion sculptures’ from 2D videos

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has often credited his success to spending countless hours studying his opponent’s movements on film. This understanding of movement is necessary for all living species, whether it’s figuring out what angle to throw a ball at, or perceiving the motion of predators and prey. But simple …

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Magellanic Clouds duo may have been a trio

Two of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way — the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — may have had a third companion, astronomers believe. Research published today describes how another “luminous” galaxy was likely engulfed by the Large Magellanic Cloud some three to five billion years ago. ICRAR Masters …

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More ships and more clouds mean cooling in the arctic

With sea ice in the Arctic melting at an alarming rate, opportunities for trans-Arctic shipping are opening up, and by mid-century ships will be able to sail right over the North Pole — something not previously possible for humankind. UConn geographer Scott Stephenson and colleagues say the growth of trans-Arctic …

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