MI weekly selection #414
Oumuamua may be hunk of nitrogen-rich planet
The interstellar object Oumuamua is likely a piece of a planet rich in nitrogen that broke off about 500 million years ago and is shaped more like a cookie than a cigar. Researchers used computer models focusing on Oumuamua’s shape, size and shininess to determine the object’s possible origins.
Cretaceous herbivore was built for digging
An ancient armored dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous Period was likely a powerful digger, using its short limbs to unearth plants and find water, according to analysis of fossil remains found in Mongolia. The ankylosaurid was a herbivore with bony protrusions covering its skin and strong forelimbs.
Why getting lemurs to hibernate is a big deal
Fat-tailed lemurs are humans’ closest living relatives that hibernate, and studying their biological processes during hibernation could lead to new insights into metabolic disorders, treatments for traumatic injuries and safer space travel. Lemurs at zoos and research institutions typically do not hibernate for long, impeding research, but scientists at Duke Lemur Center successfully created the conditions fat-tailed lemurs need to replicate wild lemurs’ hibernation patterns.
Plant fossils suggest Greenland was once ice-free
Fossilized plant matter brought up from deep below the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1966 has been examined and suggests the area was free of ice at some point in the last million years. The plant matter included twigs, leaves and moss.
Smaller storms may feed Great Red Spot’s appetite
The massive storm on Jupiter known as the Great Red Spot may be consuming smaller storms to maintain its strength. In a survey of images gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Juno probe, researchers saw a number of smaller storms encounter the Great Red Spot and get sucked in.