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Scientists shocked by mysterious deaths of ancient trees

Scientists shocked by mysterious deaths of ancient trees

Science
A tree regarded as the icon of the African savannah is dying in mysterious circumstances.International scientists have discovered that most of the oldest and largest African baobabs have died over the past 12 years.They suspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have no direct evidence of this.The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may live hundreds if not thousands of years.The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is "an event of an unprecedented magnitude".Revealing the findings in the journal, Nature Plants, they say the deaths were not caused by an epidemic."We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part wi...
Scientists find methane ice dunes on Pluto

Scientists find methane ice dunes on Pluto

Science
June 1 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered dunes on Pluto's surface, which are likely to have been formed of methane ice grains released into its atmosphere. The discovery, outlined in a study published in the journal Science, suggests that Pluto's surface is more geologically diverse and dynamic than scientists previously expected. The role of its tenuous, low-pressure atmosphere in shaping the landscape is still unclear. An international team of geographers, physicists and planetary scientists analyzed detailed images of the dwarf planet's surface from July 2015, captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. The images showed that on the boundary of the Sputnik Planitia ice plain, pushed up against a major mountain range, there is a series of dunes spreading across an area less than 46.6...
Scientists create hair dye from Ribena blackcurrants

Scientists create hair dye from Ribena blackcurrants

Technology
Blackcurrant skins left over in the production of Ribena have been used to create a new type of hair dye. Scientists at the University of Leeds developed the new technique by extracting natural colouring from the waste skins.Colour chemist Richard Blackburn said the aim was to create a more natural alternative to existing products."Because of issues and concerns around conventional dyes, we wanted to develop biodegradable alternatives that minimise potential risks to health and offer consumers a different option," he said.Blackcurrant skins contain high concentrations of anthocyanins - pigments that provide colour to many berries, flowers, fruits and vegetables."They are non-toxic, water soluble and responsible for pink, red, purple, violet and blue colours, and are widely ...
Dolphin 'happiness' measured by scientists in France

Dolphin 'happiness' measured by scientists in France

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Scientists working with dolphins at a marine park near Paris have attempted to measure how the animals feel about aspects of their lives in captivity.In what researchers say is the first project to examine captivity "from the animals' perspective", the team assessed what activities dolphins looked forward to most.They found that the marine mammals most keenly anticipated interacting with a familiar human.The results, they say, show that "better human-animal bonds equals better welfare".The study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, was part of a three-year project to measure dolphin welfare in a captive setting.Lead researcher Dr Isabella Clegg worked at Parc Astérix, a...
Scientists detect oxygen legacy of first stars

Scientists detect oxygen legacy of first stars

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Astronomers have made the most distant ever detection of oxygen.They observed it in a galaxy of stars that existed just 500 million years after the Big Bang. But what is really fascinating is that this oxygen can only have been produced in an even older group of stars that would have dispersed it when they died and blew themselves apart. That means we could be witnessing the traces of events that occurred a mere 250 million years after the Big Bang. Scientists reporting in the journal Nature say this takes us back into the theorised epoch known as Cosmic Dawn when the Universe was first bathed in light.The team cannot see this critical period directly - it is beyond the capability of current technol...