Will's Feed
Oct 6, 2015

Newly identified human ancestor was handy with tools

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Homo naledi, the ancient human ancestor whose fossils have been retrieved from a South African cave, may have been handy with tools and walked much like a person, according to scientists who examined its well-preserved foot and hand bones.

Its foot and hand anatomy shared many characteristics with our species but possessed some primitive traits useful for tree climbing, the researchers said on Tuesday.

Oct 5, 2015

Post-apocalyptic ‘beaver’ thrived after dinosaurs died

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – The world had been wrecked. An
asteroid impact in Mexico compounded by colossal volcanism in
India 66 million years ago had killed about three-quarters of
Earth’s species including the dinosaurs.

But relatively soon afterward, a plucky critter that looked
like a beaver was thriving, exemplifying the resilience of the
mammals that would arise from the margins of the animal kingdom
to become Earth’s dominant land creatures.

Oct 2, 2015

Big gulp: feeding strategy of blue whales revealed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The blue whale is the largest creature on Earth and perhaps the biggest that ever lived, so it is no surprise it has a huge appetite. But the strategies this behemoth uses to get enough food has not been well understood – until now.

Scientists said on Friday a study of blue whales off California’s coast that used tags to track their movements and their prey, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, showed these marine mammals are not indiscriminate grazers as long thought.

Oct 1, 2015

Double trouble: asteroid, volcanoes implicated in dinosaur doom

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – It was a combination of
calamities – an asteroid strike followed by vast volcanic
eruptions half a world away – that doomed the dinosaurs and many
other creatures 66 million years ago.

That is the conclusion of scientists who said on Thursday
they have determined with new precision the proximity of the
dates of these catastrophes: a space rock about 6 miles (10 km)
wide striking Mexico’s Yucatan region and colossal eruptions in

Oct 1, 2015

Substance found to curb fuel fireballs from air and vehicle crashes

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Aiming to reduce dangerous
explosions after plane crashes and truck accidents, scientists
have developed a substance that can be added to fuel to curb
formation of a fine mist that can erupt into a deadly fireball
after a collision.

Researchers said on Thursday they had created a synthetic
polymer that can suppress post-crash fuel mist by making fuel
droplets fall like rain rather than remain suspended in the air.
As a fuel additive, it did not lessen engine power or
efficiency, but lowered soot formation, they said.

Sep 28, 2015

Fossilized fur reveals color of 49-million-year-old bats

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Fossils can do a good job of
revealing key aspects of an extinct creature: its bones, teeth,
claws, even soft tissue like fur, skin, feathers, organs and
sometimes remains of its last meal in the gut. Knowing its color
has been a trickier question.

But scientists have figured out how to answer it based on
microscopic structures in fossils that divulge pigment, and on
Monday disclosed for the first time the fur color of extinct
mammals: two of the earliest-known bats.

Sep 25, 2015

I’m all ears: fossils reveal human ancestors’ hearing abilities

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two-million-year-old fossils including the three tiny bones of the middle ear are helping scientists figure out the auditory abilities of early human ancestors at a time when they were beginning to hear more like a person and less like a chimpanzee.

A study published on Friday involving two species from South Africa, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus, showed they boasted better hearing than either chimps or people in a frequency range that may have facilitated vocal communication in a savanna habitat.

Sep 23, 2015

Fish scales to fangs: Surprising tale of how teeth got their bite

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The origins of the enamel that gives our teeth their bite is no ordinary fish tale.Scientists said on Wednesday fossil and genetic evidence indicates enamel did not originate in the teeth but in the scales of ancient fish that lived more than 400 million years ago, and only later became a key component in teeth.

Enamel is the hardest tissue produced in the bodies of people and other vertebrates but scientists have been uncertain about its beginnings.

Sep 22, 2015

Pentagon announces transfer of Guantanamo detainee to Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Tuesday it had transferred Abdul Shalabi, a longtime hunger striker at the Guantanamo Bay prison and described as a bodyguard for former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, to his home country of Saudi Arabia.

His departure after more than 13-1/2 years at the Guantanamo facility leaves 114 detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Sep 18, 2015

Now you see it, now you don’t: invisibility cloak nears reality

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A cloak of invisibility may be common in science fiction but it is not so easy in the real world. New research suggests such a device may be moving closer to reality.

Scientists said on Thursday they have successfully tested an ultra-thin invisibility cloak made of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that, like skin, conform to the shape of an object and can render it undetectable with visible light.