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Ancient skull provides earliest evidence of modern humans in Mongolia

Ancient skull provides earliest evidence of modern humans in Mongolia

Science
Jan. 30 (UPI) -- An ancient Mongolian skull thought to belong to the a unique species of Pleistocene hominin, dubbed Mongolanthropus, is actually the earliest evidence of modern humans in the region. Using radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis, paleontologists determined the skull belonged to Homo sapiens. The discovery is described in a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications. As a result of compromised dating efforts and the fossil's archaic skull features, some researchers previously hypothesized the hominid remains hailed from the mid to late Pleistocene and belonged to Homo erectus or the Neanderthals. The new analysis posits that the modern human specimen lived sometime between 34,950 and 33,900 years ago. Because the skull is contaminated with a variety of...
Physicists replicate earliest days of the universe in super-chilled helium

Physicists replicate earliest days of the universe in super-chilled helium

Science
Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Scientists have for the first time triggered quantum structures long-predicted by cosmologists. Researchers at Aalto University in Denmark observed "walls bound by strings" in superfluid helium-3. The breakthrough could allows scientists to better understand what the universe looked like in its earliest days, as it quickly cooled in the wake of the Big Bang. Helium is unique in it's ability to remain a fluid even at cryogenic temperatures. When supercooled, helium becomes a superfluid, which means it boasts zero viscosity. Superfluids can flow forever without losing energy. When trapped inside a nanostructure, superfluid phases of the isotope helium-3 can help scientists study unusual quantum structures called half-quantum vortices. The movement of helium inside these vor...
Jurassic-era piranha is world's earliest flesh-eating fish

Jurassic-era piranha is world's earliest flesh-eating fish

Science
Scientists have unearthed the fossilised remains of a piranha-like species that they say is the earliest known example of a flesh-eating fish.This bony creature, found in South Germany, lived about 150 million years ago and had the distinctive sharp teeth of modern-day piranhas. These Jurassic marauders used their razor teeth to tear chunks of flesh and fins off other fish.Other fish were found nearby which had been attacked by the ancient piranhas."We have other fish from the same locality with chunks missing from their fins," said Dr David Bellwood of James Cook University, Australia, who is one of the authors of the study."Feed on a fish and it is dead; nibble its fins and you have food for the future." ...
MUSE data reveals hydrogen reservoirs around earliest galaxies

MUSE data reveals hydrogen reservoirs around earliest galaxies

Science
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Astronomers have discovered an abundance of Lyman-alpha radiation in Hubble Ultra-Deep Field. The data -- collected by the MUSE spectrograph on ESO's Very Large Telescope -- suggests the universe's earliest galaxies were surrounded by large reservoirs of hydrogen. The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field is a small, dark region of the night sky home to a large concentration of ancient galaxies. The field is home to thousands of the cosmos' earliest galaxies, as they appeared just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. The field's light spent 12 billion years traveling to Hubble's lens. Lyman-alpha emission, or radiation, is the spectral line of hydrogen. As revealed by the spectrographic data collected by MUSE, the early universe was saturated by Lyman-alpha emission. "Realiz...
558-million-year-old fat molecule reveals world's earliest animal

558-million-year-old fat molecule reveals world's earliest animal

Science
Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a fat molecule preserved in a 558-million-year-old fossil. According to a new paper published this week in the journal Science, the discovery confirms Dickinsonia, a strange blob-like sea creature, as the earliest animal in the geologic record. Dickinsonia is a member of the Ediacaran biota, a group of primitive organisms with frond-like patterns. The group emerged during the Ediacaran period, which lasted from 635 to 542 million years ago. Scientists have previously argued whether Ediacaran species were animals. The fat molecule -- a type of cholesterol unique to animals -- found within the Dickinsonia fossil suggests they were. "The fossil fat molecules that we've found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millio...