New study reveals how reptiles divided up the spoils in ancient seas — ScienceDaily

While dinosaurs ruled the land in the Mesozoic, the oceans were filled by predators such as crocodiles and giant lizards, but also entirely extinct groups such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs.

Now for the first time, researchers at the University of Bristol have modelled the changing ecologies of these great sea dragons.

Mesozoic oceans were unique in hosting diverse groups of fossil reptiles, many of them over 10 metres long.

These toothy monsters fed on a variety of fishes, molluscs, and even on each other. Yet most had disappeared by the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago, when the dinosaurs also died out. There are still some marine crocodiles, snakes and turtles today, but sharks, seals, and whales took over these ecological roles.

In a new study, completed when she was studying for the MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, Jane Reeves, now

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The ancient Neanderthal hand in severe COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

Since first appearing in late 2019, the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, has had a range of impacts on those it infects. Some people become severely ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and require hospitalization, whereas others have mild symptoms or are even asymptomatic.

There are several factors that influence a person’s susceptibility to having a severe reaction, such as their age and the existence of other medical conditions. But one’s genetics also plays a role, and, over the last few months, research by the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative has shown that genetic variants in one region on chromosome 3 impose a larger risk that their carriers will develop a severe form of the disease.

Now, a new study, published in Nature, has revealed that this genetic region is almost identical to that of a 50,000-year old Neanderthal from southern Europe. Further analysis has shown that, through interbreeding,

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Ancient underground lakes discovered on Mars

This beautiful ESA image of the Martian surface is titled Cappuccino swirls at Mars’ south pole.


ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Bill Dunford

Be sure to pack some arm floaties and a really big drill for when you fly to Mars. There may be a whole world of water-filled ponds hiding beneath the dry and dusty planet’s southern ice cap.

A new study led by researchers at Roma Tre University in Italy strengthens the case for a 2018 discovery of a hidden lake under the Martian polar ice, and then extends the find to include three new ponds. 

The researchers used radar data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter to make its original detection of liquid water. 

“Now, taking into account more data and analyzing it in a different way, three new ponds have been discovered,”

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Remnants of an ancient asteroid shed new light on the early solar system — ScienceDaily

Researchers have shaken up a once accepted timeline for cataclysmic events in the early solar system. About 4.5 Ga (giga-anum, or billion years ago), as a large disc of dust and ice collapsed around our newly formed star, planets and smaller celestial bodies were formed. What followed was a chaotic and violent period of collisions and impacts as the familiar eight planets carved out their orbits to resemble the balanced system we observe today. Geological and geochemical records indicate that after about 600-700 million years after formation — but still early in the solar system’s existence — the Earth-Moon system experienced a period of frequent and cataclysmic impacts from asteroids and other bodies. This period is dubbed the late heavy bombardment (LHB) period.

It was once thought that this period had a relatively sudden onset, but a research team at Hiroshima University and The University of Tokyo in Japan have

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Chromium steel was first made in ancient Persia

Chromium steel was first made in ancient Persia
Chahak people and the layer. Credit: Rahil Alipour, UCL

Chromium steel—similar to what we know today as tool steel—was first made in Persia, nearly a millennium earlier than experts previously thought, according to a new study led by UCL researchers.


The discovery, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, was made with the aid of a number of medieval Persian manuscripts, which led the researchers to an archaeological site in Chahak, southern Iran.

The findings are significant given that material scientists, historians and archaeologists have long considered that chromium steel was a 20th century innovation.

Dr. Rahil Alipour (UCL Archaeology), lead author on the study, said: “Our research provides the first evidence of the deliberate addition of a chromium mineral within steel production. We believe this was a Persian phenomenon.

“This research not only delivers the earliest known evidence for the production of chromium steel dating back as early

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