MI weekly selection #151


Still trying to make sense of New Horizons’ Pluto data

Pluto’s frozen mountain ranges Norgay Montes and Hillary Montes are among many of the dwarf planet’s features described in the first published study of data gathered so far from the close flyby of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in July. The mission scientists acknowledge they still have much to learn about the mysterious dwarf planet, even as more data from the flyby comes in.


Bees can become hooked on caffeine

Honeybees seem to have a weakness for caffeine, a fact some flowers capitalize on to keep the insects coming back for more, a new study suggests. Researchers raised concerns, however, that bees who fixated on plants containing caffeine are more likely to ignore nectar from uncaffeinated flowers.

The Washington Post

Climate-driven lava pulses have little effect on sea-floor hill formation

Faulting action and regular magma eruptions form hills along the sea floor, not climate-driven lava pulses as previous studies have suggested. The new study tested the climate hypothesis with three different models, and researchers said none showed that climate made any significant difference in the hills’ formation.


Ancient teeth found in China shed light on migration of early humans

Scientists are learning more about Homo sapiens‘ migration from Africa thanks to the discovery of 47 fossilized human teeth in a southern China cave. The teeth are between 80,000 and 120,000 years old. “This finding suggests that Homo sapiens is present in Asia much earlier than the classic, recent ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis was suggesting: 50,000 years ago,” said paleontologist Maria Martinon-Torres, an author of the study.


Well-preserved fossil of furry little mammal that lived with dinosaurs found

A small, furry rat-like creature lived alongside dinosaurs about 125 million years ago, according to analysis of an extremely well-preserved mammal fossil found in Spain. The remains of Spinolestes xenarthrosus include a complete skeleton, along with cellular level fur, spines like those of a hedgehog, and liver and lung soft tissues. Scientists say the fossil gives them the best view yet of mammals that lived with dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era.


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