Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fossils point to ancient ape-monkey split

The oldest known fossils of an ape and a monkey have been uncovered, providing an intriguing glimpse of a crucial time in primate evolution.

The discoveries suggest that by 25 million years ago, two major groups of primates were distinct: one that today includes apes and humans and another that encompasses Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques. Previous studies using living primates’ DNA suggested that ancient apes and Old World monkeys parted from a common ancestor between 25 million and 30 million years ago.

The new ape and monkey fossils, from Tanzania’s Rukwa Rift Basin, suggest that the evolutionary split between these primate lines must have occurred close to 30 million years ago, or perhaps even earlier, anthropologist Nancy Stevens of Ohio University in Athens and her colleagues conclude in the May 15 Nature.

Do you subscribe to the theory that apes and monkeys were once common ancestors?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Huge asteroid to zip past Earth May 31

A big asteroid will cruise by Earth at the end of the month, making its closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries. The May 31 flyby of asteroid 1998 QE2, which is about 1.7 miles long, poses no threat to Earth. The giant space rock will come within 3.6 million miles of our planet — about 15 times the distance separating Earth and the moon, researchers say. But the close approach will still be dramatic for astronomers, who plan to get a good look at 1998 QE2 using two huge radar telescopes — NASA's 230-foot Goldstone dish in California and the 1,000-foot Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Do you worry about asteroids hitting the Earth?

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Top 10 Most Extreme Places in North America

From Death Valley to Mt. McKinley, North America is a land of extremes. Courtesy of the Discovery network, take a look at some of the weirdest, loneliest, windiest, snowiest, hottest, coldest, driest, wettest, highest and lowest places on the continent.


Weirdest Place: Fly Geyser located in the westernmost county of Nevada. This surrealistic structure got its start about a hundred years ago when well drilling opened up an underground reservoir that served as a fresh water source over several decades.
Loneliest Place: Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Yukon Alaska. Larger and more mountainous than Switzerland, this vast area includes 13 million acres that have about as many roads and people as a small town!
Windiest Place: During a wild storm in April 1934, a wind gust of 231 mph was recorded by the observatory on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. This wind speed still stands as the all-time surface wind speed recorded in North America.

Snowiest Place: The greatest annual snowfall level in North America is at Mount Rainier, Washington, where an average of 692 inches accumulates every year. The single year record was set during 1971-1972 with 1,122 inches of snow.

Coldest Place: The remote settlement of Snag in Canada’s Yukon Territory holds the title for the coldest officially-recorded spot in North America. On February 3, 1947, a government weather station at a small landing field recorded a temperature of -81.4° Fahrenheit in dry, still conditions.

For more interesting information about unique places in North America, visit this Discovery network link:


What is the most unusual place you’ve ever visited?

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