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Today’s “Planet Earth Report” –The Great Elephant Cancer Mystery: ‘They Have a Zombie Gene 20x That of Humans’

“We can use the tricks of evolution to try to figure out when this defunct gene became functional again,” said Vincent Lynch, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago. “It seems to have emerged around the time when the fossil record indicates that the small groundhog-sized precursors of today’s elephants began to grow bigger. This started about 25 to 30 million years ago. This supplementary method of suppressing cancer may have been a key element enabling enormous growth, which eventually led to modern elephants.”

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“Scientist Discovers a New Form of Life” –The Genius Who Changed the Way We Think About the Origin of Life (Today’s Top Science Headline)

 

“We are not precisely who we thought we were. We are composite creatures, and our ancestry seems to arise from a dark zone of the living world, a group of creatures about which science, until recent decades, was ignorant. Evolution is trickier, far more complicated, than we realized. The tree of life is more tangled. Genes don’t just move vertically. They can also pass laterally across species boundaries, across wider gaps, even between different kingdoms of life, and some have come sideways into our own lineage — the primate lineage — from unsuspected, nonprimate sources. It’s the genetic equivalent of a blood transfusion or (to use a different metaphor preferred by some scientists) an infection that transforms identity. They called it ‘infective heredity.'”

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“The Oldest Flying Creature?” Rare Pterosaur Discovered at 200-Million-Year-Old Watering Hole

 

In a patch of Utah desert no larger than a living room, scientists working a decade ago discovered a late Triassic treasure trove: 18,000 bones from nine unusual species of reptiles, all victims of a watering hole that dried up some 201 million to 210 million years ago. Now, they’re reporting on the most interesting find to date: the oldest ever pterosaur. The find is especially unusual because ancient flying reptiles of that era were thought to live in coastal areas.

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“Rerun the Tape of Evolution” –DNA, RNA, ATP, Krebs Cycle– and Life Would Probably Arise Again (Here or In Distant Worlds)

 

 

Charles Cockell, an astrobiologist at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Center for Astrobiology and author of The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution views the topic of life’s construction through the lens of someone who is trying to understand how life on Earth can serve as a test case for the nature of possible life elsewhere in the universe.

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“World Without Continents or Mountains” –Jupiter’s 3,000 Kilometer-Deep Jet Steams Reveal Secret of the Gas Giant’s Vivid Colored Bands

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“300 vs 100,000 Light Years” — Tiny Dwarf Galaxy Discovered Harboring a Supermassive Black Hole Equal to Milky Way’s

 

 

Fornax UCD3 is a part of a Fornax galaxy cluster (above) and belongs to a very rare and unusual class of galaxies – ultracompact dwarfs. The mass of such dwarf galaxies reaches several dozen millions of solar masses and the radius, typically, does not exceed three hundred light years. This ratio between mass and size makes UCDs the densest stellar systems in the Universe.

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Deep Dive on the Demise of Easter Island’s Seafarers

 

“The idea of competition and collapse on Easter Island might be overstated,” says lead author Dale Simpson, Jr., an archaeologist from the University of Queensland. “To me, the stone carving industry is solid evidence that there was cooperation among families and craft groups.”

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Today’s Top Science Headline –We Are Merging With Robots: “A New World Permeated by a Growing Swath of Alien Intelligences”

 

“Artificial intelligences already outperform us at many tasks and are now able to train themselves to reach competencies (in restricted domains such as chess or Go) that we can barely comprehend. Sex and companionship robots are already here. Entirely new forms of sensory perception, such as the North Sense, are becoming possible, and human brains look fluid enough to make use of just about any reliable stream of information and control opportunity.”

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