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The question of whether a 7-million-year-old primate, nicknamed ‘Toumai,’ walked on two or four legs has whipped up drama amongst palaeontologists – complete with a vanishing femur. Since the discovery of Sahelanthropus tchadensis’s first fossil back in 2001, it has often been cited as our earliest known hominin ancestor. Initial analysis suggested that Sahelanthropus regularly walked upright
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An Egyptian mummy that was decorated with a woman’s portrait contained a surprise – the body of a child who was only 5 years old when she died. Now, scientists have learned more about the mysterious girl and her burial, thanks to high-resolution scans and X-ray ”microbeams” that targeted very small regions in the intact artifact. Computed X-ray tomography (CT)
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Ants are pretty organised little creatures. Highly social insects, they know how to forage, build complicated nests, steal your pantry snacks, and generally look after the queens and the colony, all by working together. Leaf-cutter ants turn that cooperation up several notches. Leaf-cutter ant colonies like Acromyrmex echinatior can contain millions of ants, split into
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Just before going into a hallucinogenic trance, Indigenous Californians who had gathered in a cave likely looked up toward the rocky ceiling, where a pinwheel and big-eyed moth were painted in red. This mysterious “pinwheel,” is likely a depiction of the delicate, white flower of Datura wrightii, a powerful hallucinogen that the Chumash people took not
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The origins of life, a few billion years ago, were humble. Single-celled organisms squirming in the ooze, over millions and billions of years developing into multi-celled plants and, eventually, animals. But when and how these evolutionary spurts occurred has been difficult to puzzle out. Organic material doesn’t necessarily preserve well, and when it does, we
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Every now and then, Earth reminds us it’s capable of releasing some furious energy.  Case in point: scientists have just detected a new extreme in hotspots of lightning activity called ‘superbolts’: intense lightning strikes that shine up to 1,000 times brighter than typical lightning strikes.  The observations come from researchers at the US Los Alamos
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In July of 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe made history when it became the first mission ever to conduct a close flyby of Pluto. This was followed by the spacecraft making the first-ever encounter with a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) – known as Arrokoth (AKA 2014 MU69) – on 31 December 2018. In addition, its unique position in the outer Solar System has