You've probably never heard of a long-extinct organism known as Dickinsonia. Unlike dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex or more recent extinct beasts like the wooly mammoth, fossils of¬† Dickinsonia aren't particularly interesting to look at. The large, flat, ribbed blobs are mostly featureless, and the animal itself probably wouldn't have been very exciting to observer. Nevertheless, it's an incredibly important creature for the simple fact that it's now considered the oldest known animal that ever lived.
You see, Dickinsonia lived over half a billion years ago, back when plants and animals were really nothing like they are today. Many of the organisms of the day were flat and ribbed and, well, boring. This makes it surprisingly hard to tell what finds in the fossil record are animals and which are plants. A new study says it's now likely Dickinsonia was one of the earliest animals, but that's far from a sure thing.
To get it out of the way: Dickinsonia, if it was indeed an animal, would definitely be the oldest known animal on Earth. A new paper published in Science focuses on one particular Dickinsonia fossil that was analyzed in depth. In the fossil the researchers discovered something surprising: cholesterol. Tiny molecules of cholesterol were found in the fossil and, the researchers believe, it's all the proof we need to declare the organism to be a true animal rather than a plant or fungus.
"The fossil fat molecules that we've found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought," associate professor Jochen Brocks of the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences said in a statement.
"Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what¬†Dickinsonia¬†and other bizarre fossils of the Edicaran Biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution or the earliest animals on Earth. The fossil fat now confirms¬†Dickinsonia¬†as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of palaeontology."
This all sounds pretty definitive, but others aren't totally on board with the study's conclusions. As Gizmodo notes, some researchers are unswayed by the study, pointing out that it's entirely possible that the fossil had been contaminated in some way during the 550+ million years it was waiting to be discovered.
At least six more women have come forward with allegations against a California orthopedic surgeon, who was first accused of drugging and sexually assaulting at least two women, in tandem with his girlfriend.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) ‚ÄĒ The mysterious closure of a solar observatory in New Mexico earlier this month happened after the FBI opened a child pornography investigation involving a janitor's computer found at the observatory, and agents tracked wireless signals used to access child porn, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit.
When the Trump administration announced last month it would immediately cut all US aid for UNRWA, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately hailed it as a ‚Äúpraiseworthy‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúimportant‚ÄĚ decision. Established to care for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East has long been a punching bag for Israeli politicians. It upends a 50-year old accommodationist policy supported by the defense establishment, which considers UNRWA‚Äôs social welfare work ‚Äď for all its political warts ‚Äď as a stabilizing force among some 2.1 million registered refugees in the West Bank and Gaza.
From the safety of their research vessel, scientists are exploring one of Earth's last frontiers - the sea floor - to discover more about valuable minerals vital in the manufacture of smartphones. The scientists, from the University of Bergen in Norway, are sending robots 2,500 metres (8,000 feet) down into the waters between Norway and Greenland, to try to understand the environments potentially rich with rare earth minerals. "The ocean sea floor on Earth is, for the most part, unknown," scientist Thibaut Barreyre told Reuters.
A glass bong taller than a giraffe. Huggable faux marijuana buds. A pool full of foam weed nuggets. Las Vegas' newest attraction ‚ÄĒ and Instagram backdrop ‚ÄĒ is a museum celebrating all things cannabis. ...
As President Trump prepared to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last spring, a debate flared over who would wind up more isolated as a result of such a move: Iran, or the United States. Four months after Mr. Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 seven-nation accord, the evidence is increasingly clear that not just one of the two principal antagonists of the landmark agreement is isolated, but that both are ‚Äď though in different ways and to different degrees. Simply put: While Iran‚Äôs growing isolation is economic, for the US the repercussion from exiting the nuclear deal has been diplomatic.
For the first time in recorded history, fewer than 1 in 10 people are living in ‚Äúextreme poverty,‚ÄĚ according to a new World Bank report. This progress has been so steady that many experts now ask if a zero level of extreme poverty could soon be possible. According to poverty expert Esther Duflo at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the anticipation of future poverty has long exacerbated current poverty.
You might not imagine humans have got a lot in common with octopuses. The bizarre, clever, gelatinous, shape-shifting creatures, with eight tentacles, three hearts, blue blood, and the ability to change colors and taste with their skin seem as close to space aliens as anything on Earth. Soak the solitary sea dwellers in a bath…
Psychologists have a new way of categorizing personalities, and it‚Äôs something of a downer. Researchers from Northwestern University analyzed the questionnaires of 1.5 million respondents and came up with four distinct personality types: ‚Äúaverage,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúreserved,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúself-centered,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúrole model.‚ÄĚ All but one of them sound to me like an insult, and none are appropriate descriptions…
Indonesia's president has signed a moratorium on all new palm oil plantation development, an official said Thursday, in a move hailed by environmentalists. The moratorium effectively halts any new land being made available for plantations in the world's top producer of the edible vegetable oil, a key ingredient in many everyday goods, from biscuits to shampoo and make-up. President Joko Widodo signed the instruction, which will last three years, on Wednesday, Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, a deputy minister at the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, told AFP.
A massive landslide buried dozens of homes near a central Philippine mountain Thursday, killing at least 18 people and sending rescuers scrambling to find survivors after some sent text messages pleading for help.
SEATTLE (AP) ‚ÄĒ The U.S. government will test and implement a new system to capture and destroy dangerous vapors released at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site as part of a settlement agreement reached Wednesday.
For the last decade, a cauldron stewed inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.¬† A giant lake of churning lava, over 500 feet across and hundreds of feet deep, drew visitors from around the planet to the lake's eerie red glow, visible at night as the sun set beyond Hawaii's Big Island. Just in April, the burgeoning lava lake overflowed its banks and spilled onto the floor of the volcano's summit. But over four months later, the scorching lake is gone. Following an onslaught of volcanic quaking and explosions this summer, it drained, completely.¬† SEE ALSO: Hawaii's newest volcanic cone is over 100 feet tall. How will it be named? "For the past 10 years we‚Äôve been spoiled. You could walk 20 yards and see the largest lava lake on the planet," Ben Hayes, the park's Chief of Interpretation and Education, said in an interview. "Instead, there‚Äôs a massive, colossal hole." The famous national park shuttered in May after violent quakes, falling boulders, and explosions of ash from the crater rendered the area exceedingly dangerous. It's the longest the park has been closed in its 102-year-long history, said Hayes.¬† Now, on September 22, the park is set to reopen.¬† The draining lava lake in May 2018.Image: usgsThe explosions have stopped. But it will be a vastly different place. A land famous for orange molten rock will be dry.¬† "There's not going to be any lava," Bobby Camara, who spent three decades working as a ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and has since retired nearby, said in an interview.¬† All the noticeable quakes have stopped, too. It's as if Hawaii's youngest volcano, Kilauea, has gone to sleep. "Nothing. Nothing. There is nothing ‚ÄĒ everything stopped," said Camara. Still, Hayes is expecting some 10,000 visitors on September 22, double the daily average, and continued heavy visitation after that. The steaming, volcanically-ravaged park is an island destination, and for good reason.¬† June 5 overflight of summit #KilaueaEruption site. #Halemaumau Crater has expanded and collapsed over the past month. Watch the live stream https://t.co/ZfVc8WBpkU & see more videos https://t.co/vOjDzOXaSl #KilaueaSummit #KilaueaEruption pic.twitter.com/xP46wrYAKn ‚ÄĒ USGS VolcanoesŪ†ľŪľč (@USGSVolcanoes) June 6, 2018 Yet without lava, the park's programming, like its ranger talks and presentations, will have to focus on the recent dramatic alteration of the land. After all, it's not just the lava lake that's gone. The greater Halema‚Äėuma‚Äėu Crater at the volcano's summit ‚ÄĒ which once held the lava lake ‚ÄĒ has collapsed down by some 1,300 feet.¬† "It's like you‚Äôre looking into the Grand Canyon now," said Hayes.¬† "The amount of change is unprecedented in the 102 years there's been a national park," he added. "We‚Äôve had 80,000 earthquakes over the last four months." A return of lava? The lava isn't just gone from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It's also stopped flowing about 24 miles east, where for three months, Fissure 8, the site of Hawaii's newest volcanic cone, intensely gushed lava before cooling off in early August. A lava river from Fissure 8 flowing to the ocean.Image: usgsThis could be a simple pause. Or it could be something greater. It could be the end to an immensely active period in Kilauea's life, wherein both the lava lake vanished and the volcano's summit collapsed. "None of us dreamt that we‚Äôd see anything like this in our lives," said Camara, who has seen quite a bit in his day, including Kilauea coming alive with fountaining lava in the early 1980s.¬† But what comes next is unknown.¬† "It‚Äôs too soon to tell whether this is a pause or an end to the recent phase of activity," Ingrid Johanson a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said over email. The lava lake in 2012 inside¬†Halema‚Äėuma‚Äėu Crater.Image: usgsIt's hard to say because the goings on inside Kilauea's plumbing system ‚ÄĒ the underground labyrinths and channels that carry the lava ‚ÄĒ can only be known through indirect means, like measuring how the ground swells, or sinks. What is known quite well, however, is that for the three dramatic months spanning May through early August, immense amounts of lava flowed from Kilauea's summit area, precisely where the lava lake was once located, to the area around Fissure 8. As for the halt of flowing lava, one possibility, said Johanson, is that the lava reservoir beneath the park may have lost so much lava, it simply "depressurized," a bit like an air mattress deflating. In this case, there's just not presently enough pressure to force any more lava out.¬† Early morning¬†incandescent glow from the lava lake in 2009.Image: usgsOr, there could be an obstruction, like a collapsed mass of rock, blocking the flow of lava underground. Either way, Kilauea's summit area in the park has the next hand to play, and Johanson is watching to see what happens next.¬† Remembering the violence When the park reopens on September 22, Camara hopes people can appreciate what happened there. The natural violence was extreme.¬† The Earth rumbled, shook, collapsed, and blew masses of lava and ominous clouds of ash into the sky.¬† "It was so overwhelming and stupefying that I believe it requires a different level of respect by¬†everyone," Camara said. Park geologists assess earthquake damage along a trail.Image: npsThe quaking in the park was so sustained, and ultimately damaging, that much of the park will still remain closed even when some parts reopen. "In some cases the trails are gone," said Hayes.¬† Of 150 miles of trail, the park has only been able to safely inspect about 29 miles.¬† One of the two major park overlooks, outside the Jagger Museum, is off-limits ‚ÄĒ to everyone. Structural engineers and geomorphologists (who assess movement of the landscape) found that the hundreds of feet of rock that once stabilized the area had collapsed away, into the crater below. "That's all gone," said Hayes. In the end, however, Hayes recognizes that our present experience in Kilauea is fleeting. These changes may be dramatic for the park, and those seeking to glimpse red-hot flowing rock oozing from the Earth, or brewing in a lake. Quakes wreaked havoc on some park roads.Image: J. Michael Johnson/NPSBut in the long term, this is normal, expected volcano behavior.¬† "Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a wild place and Kilauea is constantly being shaped by uncontrollable natural forces," said Hayes. "This is routine ‚ÄĒ and it will continue." Although much of the park is closed, there's still plenty of volcanically-devastated terrain to see. The main visitor center will be open. You can walk to an overlook of the heavily-altered summit area, or drive through the lava-blanketed land along Chain of Craters Road. Visitors can also get out on the trails not imperiled by falling boulders. But come night, the dark world of the park is no longer lit aflame by a molten cauldron. The orange-red incandescent brilliance is gone, vanished deep into the Earth, whence it came. "Now the glow is absent," said Camara. "There‚Äôs nothing there." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end? ¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†
Flying over eastern Greenland, the NASA scientists stared down from a Gulfstream jet as it followed the precise course they had flown in previous years - using radar to map the loss of ice. ‚ÄúIn the tube,‚ÄĚ flight engineer David Elliott said as the team locked into their route over the ice sheet covering 80 percent of the world‚Äôs largest island. The March mission was part of NASA‚Äôs Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project, a five-year, $30 million effort aimed at improving sea level rise projections by understanding how warming oceans are melting ice sheets from below - the most ambitious research on the subject to date.
The United States‚Äô deadliest hurricanes have killed most of their victims with powerful winds and flooding in the hours and days immediately before and after landfall. The National Hurricane Center says that when Katrina struck Louisiana and other states in 2005 it caused 1,500 direct deaths and 300 indirect ones from causes like heart attacks and failed medical equipment.Largely due to decades of neglect and years of fiscal crisis, the Puerto Rican electrical grid collapsed into the United States‚Äô longest-ever blackout after Maria hit on Sept. 20, 2017. That spawned a long and deadly tail for the storm, with hundreds of deaths coming long after the first weeks, as medical equipment failed and sick people weakened in the suffocating heat.Researchers from George Washington University hired by Puerto Rico‚Äôs government estimated last month that 2,975 people had died because of Maria in the six months after landfall, a number Puerto Rico accepted as official.Though President Trump continued to assert this week that his administration‚Äôs efforts in Puerto Rico were ‚Äúincredibly successful,‚ÄĚ both the local and federal governments have been heavily criticized for inadequate planning and post-storm response. The GWU report found that Puerto Rico had no plan for communication with its citizens in a crisis. The Center for Investigative Journalism found in May that the island‚Äôs health department had no emergency-response plan for hospitals and other medical facilities.As for the Trump administration, more than half of federal emergency personnel in Puerto Rico were not qualified for their assigned tasks as of October 2017, a month after landfall, according to a Sept. 5 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.An after-action report by FEMA found it had underestimated the food and fresh water needed, and how hard it would be to get supplies to the island. Puerto Rico was understocked in part because Hurricane Irma had struck two weeks before Maria, battering the U.S. Virgin Islands. Staff was depleted because of wildfires and other major natural disasters.On Oct. 19, Trump said he graded the federal response to Maria as an ‚ÄúA-plus‚ÄĚ and a 10 out of 10.‚ÄúWe have done a really great job,‚ÄĚ he said. (AFP)See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.
At a coffee shop off the pretty main street of Oakville, an affluent community just southwest of Toronto on Lake Ontario, Mayor Rob Burton points to the table to his right where a mother and two young boys laugh together over a computer screen. On the patio outside, young mothers have parked their strollers as they sip on lattes.
‚ÄúI am!‚ÄĚ Lena Epstein, candidate for Michigan‚Äôs 11th congressional district, beams and gives her a hug. ‚ÄúI heard you talking about your values and I knew that it had to be you,‚ÄĚ the woman tells Ms. Epstein. It radiates the optimism that has infused the 2018 campaign cycle, especially among women candidates.
This is the fourth edition of the Quartz Africa Innovators, our annual series identifying some of the most ambitious and imaginative minds on the continent. The 30 movers and thinkers on this list range across fields from the arts and science to technology and entrepreneurship and beyond. They all have one thing in common: a…
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is scheduled to appear in court Thursday after being arrested and charged this week with transferring hundreds of millions of dollars from state funds into his personal bank accounts.
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spoke today at the Air Force Association‚Äôs 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference, his head wasn‚Äôt just up in the clouds. To be sure, he devoted a lot of attention to his Blue Origin space venture and what it could offer for U.S. space dominance. But Bezos also talked about two-way vs. one-way doors in decision making; experimentation vs. operational excellence, and other strategies from Amazon‚Äôs management playbook. There were even references to Amazon‚Äôs HQ2 search, and the value of putting square pegs in round holes. Here‚Äôs a lightly edited transcript of Bezos‚Äô 50-minute talk‚Ä¶ Read More