WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) – With a little help from Clint
Eastwood, Jennifer Aniston and Josh Brolin – or at least photos
of them – scientists have gained a new understanding of how
memories of everyday events are formed in the brain.
Researchers said on Wednesday a study involving people with
electrodes implanted in their brains has shown that individual
neurons in a region called the medial temporal lobe play a
central role in swiftly forming these memories.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The ferocious saber-toothed cat Smilodon was a star in Hollywood long before it became Tinseltown, with extensive remains of this Ice Age predator that prowled North and South America preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
“If you think about it, Smilodon fatalis likely left their paw prints on what is today Hollywood Boulevard long before Marilyn Monroe left her hand prints at the Chinese Theater,” said paleontologist Z. Jack Tseng of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The bacterium Yersinia pestis has inflicted almost unimaginable misery upon humankind over the centuries, killing an estimated 200 million or more people and triggering horrific plagues in the 6th and 14th centuries.
But this germ was not always particularly dangerous. Scientists said on Tuesday minor genetic changes that it underwent many centuries ago – adding a single gene that subsequently mutated – turned it from mild to murderous.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than half a billion years ago, a peculiar little creature with rows of spikes on its back and delicate, feather-like front limbs to strain bits of food from the water thrived in the primordial seas of what is now China.
Scientists on Monday announced the discovery in Yunnan Province of beautifully preserved fossils of one of the stranger animals ever to call Earth home. The creature, Collinsium ciliosum, lived during the Cambrian Period, a time of remarkable evolutionary experimentation when many unusual animals appeared and vanished.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It looked like an odd lizard with a bulky body and only the skeletal precursor of a shell, but scientists say 240 million-year-old fossils unearthed in a quarry in southern Germany represent the grandfather of all turtles.
The scientists on Wednesday announced the discovery of the oldest-known turtle, an 8-inch (20-cm) Triassic Period reptile combining traits of its lizard-like ancestors with a set of emerging turtle-like features.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It was a creature so strange that experts literally could not make heads nor tails of it.
But scientists said on Wednesday a new analysis of fossils of Hallucigenia, so named for its fantastical appearance, has given them for the first time a complete understanding of this little sea oddball that lived about 508 million years ago.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government will no longer threaten to prosecute families who try to pay ransom to win the release of American hostages held overseas, and the United States will directly negotiate with militants holding them but will not pay ransom, officials said on Tuesday.
The policy, to be announced by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, changes the way the government handles cases in which Americans are taken hostage by groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda.
By Will Dunham
(Reuters) – Dick Van Patten, who grew from a busy child actor on Broadway to be a mainstay on U.S. television as the amiable patriarch on the family show “Eight Is Enough,” died on Tuesday at age 86, his spokesman said.
Van Patten died at a hospital in Santa Monica, California, of complications from diabetes, his representative, Jeffrey Ballard, said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You may not know it, but you probably have some Neanderthal in you. For people around the world, except sub-Saharan Africans, about 1 to 3 percent of their DNA comes from Neanderthals, our close cousins who disappeared roughly 39,000 years ago.
Scientists said on Monday a jawbone unearthed in Romania, of a man who lived about 40,000 years ago, boasts the most Neanderthal ancestry ever seen in a member of our species.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, sidestepping a divisive issue reignited by the church massacre in Charleston, refused on Sunday to say whether South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from its State House grounds.
Huckabee and Santorum, who draw support from their party’s conservative wing, said it is up to the state to decide. They made their comments a day after 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for the flag’s removal, labeling it “a symbol of racial hatred” to many people.