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Westlake Legal Group > LiveScience

2,100-year-old ‘iPhone case’ discovered in ‘Russian Atlantis’

From the depths of Russia’s “Atlantis” — a famed archaeological site in southern Siberia that lies underwater for most of the year — archaeologists emerged with what looks like a jewel-studded case for an iPhone.

But the black rectangle, which measures about 7 inches (18 centimeters) long and around 4 inches (9 cm) wide, is no electronics accessory; it’s an ancient belt buckle made of jet — a gemstone made from pressurized wood — inlaid with small beads of mother-of-pearl, carnelian and turquoise, The Siberian Times reported.

Scientists with the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) found the object in a woman’s grave, where it lay upon the skeleton’s pelvis. The researchers nicknamed the woman “Natasha” and dubbed the artifact “Natasha’s iPhone,” according to The Siberian Times.

Related: 24 Amazing Archaeological Discoveries

Although the buckle was discovered years ago, it recently drew renewed attention because Pavel Leus, one of the dig’s archaeologists and a RAS researcher, shared the image on Instagram, Leus told Live Science in an email.

The grave that held the so-called iPhone lies in the Siberian territory of Tuva, near the border of Mongolia. There, archaeologists identified two burial sites — Terezin and Ala-Tey — dating to the Xiongnu period around 2,000 years ago, according to a study co-authored by Leus and published in 2018 in the journal Asian Archaeology.

However, there are only a few weeks each year when archaeologists can access these historically important locations, according to the Russian Geographical Society (RGS). The burial sites lie in a flood zone; they are covered by the Sayan Sea — an artificial reservoir — except when the flood waters recede, from the end of May through the first half of June, the RGS reported.

“Burials at both sites include many decorations for belts and clothing, beads, pendants, earrings, Chinese wu zhu coins, and Western Han mirrors and their fragments,” the scientists wrote in the study.

In recent years, they found large and small jet buckles in three graves. The “massive” iPhone-like buckle had holes on the short sides, “with the two round holes on one side for fixing the buckle to the belt and one oval hole on the other side, probably for clasping,” the researchers reported. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the grave’s contents dated to between 92 B.C. and A.D. 71.

Jet objects from this period are rare, but some have surfaced in Russia’s upper Volga region; in Transbaikalia, a mountainous zone to the east of Russia’s Lake Baikal; in Mongolia; and in Central Asia, Leus said. It’s possible that this type of ornament was common in Xiongnu culture and was brought west as these nomadic people migrated across the Eurasian steppes, he explained.

Rectangular bronze buckles, many of them carved with animal designs, also have been found in graves and settlements in Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia, according to a report published in 2011 by the University of Bonn in Germany.

Though bronze and jet belt buckles are sometimes found in female burials in some parts of this Central Asian region, “they are generally found in well-furnished graves of warriors,” the scientists wrote. Questions still linger about Tuva’s graves and their contents, but more discoveries are expected to be announced in the coming months, Leus said in the email.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group iphone-russia-case 2,100-year-old 'iPhone case' discovered in ‘Russian Atlantis’ Mindy Weisberger LiveScience fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc article 6d6cd7f4-22c6-5358-9210-2ad31381675a   Westlake Legal Group iphone-russia-case 2,100-year-old 'iPhone case' discovered in ‘Russian Atlantis’ Mindy Weisberger LiveScience fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc article 6d6cd7f4-22c6-5358-9210-2ad31381675a

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Nightmare creature had egg-shaped eyes, Swiss Army knife head and a butt shield

A spiky, armor-plated “walking tank” with bulging eyes, a shield on its butt and a head like a Swiss army knife scuttled along the seafloor more than 500 million years ago, snapping up prey with a deadly pair of mouth pincers called chelicerae.

Researchers discovered astoundingly well-preserved fossils of these thumb-size predators in 2012, and a new study recently described the creatures, determined to be a previously unknown species now dubbed Mollisonia plenovenatrix. Scientists have found dozens of fossils of this species in recent years that include preserved soft tissue of the mouthparts, along with the animals’ multiple legs and bulbous eyes.

The mouth pincers, in particular, caught scientists’ attention. Chelicerae are found in a diverse group of animals called chelicerates; the group includes more than 115,000 species alive today, among them spiders, scorpions and horseshoe crabs. These fossils provided the oldest evidence to date of these mouth appendages. But these robust pincers may have originated in an unknown species that is even older, the study said.

M. plenovenatrix had a segmented body covered with protective plates. Broad, spine-studded shields covered the creature’s rear and head, which was topped with bulbous eyes. The animal likely used its three pairs of legs to trot along the sea bottom, the study authors reported.

The newly described species had a wider, plumper body than other, similar Mollisonia creatures that scientists knew only from partial fossils of their shed exoskeletons. And its name — from “plena venatrix,” which means “plump huntress” in Latin — reflects that, lead study author Cédric Aria, a postdoctoral fellow with the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Live Science in an email.

Not only were the chelicerae exquisitely preserved, but the creature also sported gill-like respiratory structures that were surprisingly similar to those in modern chelicerates. This find hinted that chelicerae likely first appeared in a species that predated M. plenovenatrix, the study said.

The rocks have eyes

Researchers uncovered the first evidence of the Mollisonia genus more than 100 years ago, in Burgess Shale deposits in British Columbia. But those fossils were only empty carapaces that the growing arthropods had discarded, so a lot of questions remained about the animal’s anatomy, said study co-author Jean-Bernard Caron, a curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Then, in 2012, scientists hit the Mollisonia jackpot in another Burgess Shale location; called Marble Canyon, it sits about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the site where the first fossil carapaces appeared. In fact, M. plenovenatrix was among the first fossils researchers found, and they spotted it because of its bulging, oversize eyes peering back at them from the rock, Caron told Live Science.

“With additional material, we realized there was more than just the eyes preserved — there were also limbs,” Caron said.

Over the next six years, the researchers returned to the site and excavated 49 M. plenovenatrix specimens, most of which included preserved soft tissues. The fossils also presented the animals in different positions, providing highly detailed views of their bodies from multiple angles, Caron said.

The Mollisonia exoskeleton fossils found in the Burgess Shale dated to about 480 million years ago, while the Marble Canyon fossils date to more than 500 million years ago. “So, we are pushing back the origin of this group by 20 [million] to 25 million years,” Caron said.

Mollisonia probably lived in or near a steeply sloping part of the seafloor that was home to diverse marine life, such as trilobites, bristle worms “and ice cream cone-like shelly animals called hyoliths; those might have in fact been on Mollisonia’s menu, although we lack direct evidence from gut contents to be certain,” Aria said in the email. In turn, arthropod predators such as Tokummia, an ancient relative of modern centipedes, may have used its giant mandibles to chomp on Mollisonia, Caron added.

Indeed, M. plenovenatrix wasn’t the only underwater weirdo produced by the Cambrian period (541 million to 485 million years ago). Life on Earth erupted during the Cambrian, producing numerous oddball animals such as giant, bristle-mouthed shrimp; a toothy “penis worm”; an arthropod larva with a tail like a dagger; a “beautiful nightmare” crab with soccer ball eyes; and a creature that resembled the Millennium Falcon of “Star Wars.”

When it comes to animal body plans, evolution during the Cambrian ably demonstrated that “reality often surpasses fiction” — particularly for Mollisonia, which possessed an arresting combination of “dread and beauty,” Aria said.

“The past is full of complexity and surprises. Mollisonia adds an important piece to the puzzle of biodiversity,” he said.

The findings were published today (Sept. 11) in the journal Nature.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group livescience-image Nightmare creature had egg-shaped eyes, Swiss Army knife head and a butt shield Mindy Weisberger LiveScience fox-news/science/natural-science fnc/science fnc e4724836-58b2-5d6b-9657-d421d5e3fa07 article   Westlake Legal Group livescience-image Nightmare creature had egg-shaped eyes, Swiss Army knife head and a butt shield Mindy Weisberger LiveScience fox-news/science/natural-science fnc/science fnc e4724836-58b2-5d6b-9657-d421d5e3fa07 article

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There’s a lost continent hiding beneath Europe

There’s a lost continent hidden below southern Europe. And researchers have created the most detailed reconstruction of it yet.

The lost continent “Greater Adria” emerged about 240 million years ago, after it broke off from Gondwana, a southern supercontinent made up of Africa, Antarctica, South America, Australia and other major landmasses, as Science magazine reported.

Greater Adria was large, extending from what is now the Alps all the way to Iran, but not all of it was above the water. That means it was likely a string of islands or archipelagos, said lead author Douwe van Hinsbergen, the chair in global tectonics and paleogeography in the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. It would have been a “good scuba diving region.”

Hinsbergen and his team spent a decade collecting and analyzing rocks that used to be part of this ancient continent. The mountain belts where these Greater Adrian rocks are found span about 30 different countries, Hinsbergen told Live Science. “Every country has their own geological survey and their own maps and their own stories and their own continents,” he said. With this study, “we brought that all together in one big picture.”

Earth is covered in large tectonic plates that move relative to each other. Greater Adria belonged to the African tectonic plate (but was not a part of the African continent, since there was an ocean between them), which was slowly sliding beneath the Eurasian tectonic plate, in what is now southern Europe.

Around 100 million to 120 million years ago, Greater Adria smashed into Europe and began diving beneath it — but some of the rocks were too light and so did not sink into Earth’s mantle. Instead, they were  “scraped off” — in a way that’s similar to what happens when a person puts their arm under a table and then slowly moves it underneath: The sleeve get crumpled up, he said. This crumpling formed mountain chains such as the Alps. It also kept these ancient rocks locked in place, where geologists could find them.

Hinsbergen and his team looked at the orientation of tiny, magnetic minerals formed by primeval bacteria in these rocks. The bacteria make these magnetic particles in order to orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. When the bacteria die, the magnetic minerals are left behind in the sediment, Hinsbergen said.

With time the sediment around them turns into rock, freezing them in the orientation they were in hundreds of millions of years ago. Hinsbergen and his team found that in many of these regions, the rocks had undergone very large rotations.

What’s more, Hinsbergen’s team pieced together large rocks that used to belong together, such as in a belt of volcanoes or in a big coral reef. Moving faults scattered the rocks “like pieces of a broken plate,” he said.

It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle, Hinsbergen said. “All the bits and pieces are jumbled up and I spent the last 10 years making the puzzle again.” From there, they used software to create detailed maps of the ancient continent and confirmed that it moved northward while twisting slightly, before colliding with Europe.

After many years working in the Mediterranean region, Hinsbergen has now moved on to reconstruct the lost plates in the Pacific Ocean. “But I’ll probably return — probably in 5 or 10 years from now when a whole bunch of young students will demonstrate that parts are wrong,” Hinsbergan said. “Then I’ll come back and see if I can fix it.”

The findings were published Sept. 3 in the journal Gondwana Research.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group live-science-image-lost-continent There's a lost continent hiding beneath Europe Yasemin Saplakoglu LiveScience fnc/science fnc article 64907c0d-03df-552f-8847-9897e4f5da09   Westlake Legal Group live-science-image-lost-continent There's a lost continent hiding beneath Europe Yasemin Saplakoglu LiveScience fnc/science fnc article 64907c0d-03df-552f-8847-9897e4f5da09

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The voracious and invasive lionfish is taking over the Atlantic. Here’s why.

One of the most notorious invasive species around, the lionfish, is known for its voracious appetite and can literally eat its competitors out of an ecosystem. And that’s what the striking fish is doing, feasting its way through waters that stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern Seaboard.

Now, scientists and startups are crafting methods for capturing and killing the hungry invaders. But while these new ideas show promise, tried-and-true spearfishing seems to be the most effective way to eradicate lionfish, scientists told Live Science.

“It’s actually hard to describe how a lionfish eats because they do it in a split second,” said Kristen Dahl, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida. Lionfish use a complex series of tactics that no other fish in the world is known to employ. In the blink of an eye, a lionfish goes from silently hovering above its prey to flaring its fins, firing a disorienting jet of water from its mouth, unhinging its jaw and swallowing its meal whole, scientists reported in a study published in 2012 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The attacks happen so quickly that nearby fish don’t seem to notice.

“It’s actually nice when I’m looking at gut contents,” Dahl said, “because if something has been freshly eaten, it’s in immaculate condition.”

New fish on the block

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are one of the most notorious invasive species in the United States. Their bold colors and frilly fins make lionfish popular in the aquarium trade; over the past 25 years or so, it seems aquarium fish owners have sometimes dumped unwanted lionfish — which are native to the Indo-Pacific region — into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their popularity in the aquarium trade has also spurred several breeding programs.

Lionfish are fast and powerful, but their biggest advantage is novelty. Atlantic prey fish simply don’t know what’s going on. Biologists call this phenomenon prey naivete, and they believe it is largely responsible for the lionfish’s dramatic success as an invader.

Since the first breeding populations were spotted off the coast of North Carolina in 2000, lionfish have rapidly overtaken coastal environments in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

“Sightings increased rapidly in 2004 along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States,” according to Pam Schofield, research fishery biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Lionfish sightings quickly spread throughout the Caribbean and then the Gulf of Mexico,” Schofield, who tracks non-native marine fish in U.S. waters, told Live Science. There are now breeding populations in the coastal waters of Venezuela, throughout the coastal Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. On the Eastern Seaboard, breeding populations extend into North Carolina, and stray individuals are seen as far north as Massachusetts, Schofield said. Reports of lionfish sightings have tapered off since their peak in 2010, but that’s probably not because their populations have decreased — lionfish are so pervasive that spotting one is no longer noteworthy.

Managing an invasion

Lionfish aren’t easily caught when traditional fishing techniques are used, so a number of research groups and startup companies are developing novel tools for managing the invasion. These include specially designed traps that lure in lionfish while sparing native species, remotely operated vehicles that allow a human pilot to remotely spear lionfish and autonomous hunting vehicles that use artificial intelligence to find the fish themselves. While some progress has been made in new technologies, spear guns used by scuba divers still seem to be the tool that’s most effective tool at killing them, Dahl said.

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a leader in lionfish management, has a number of incentive programs to entice recreational and commercial scuba divers to harvest lionfish, according to the FWC. The lionfish derby is one of the most successful management tools being used today. At a derby, spearfishing divers spend a day working together to remove as many lionfish as they can. At the larger derbies, organizers award prizes to the teams or individuals who catch the biggest, smallest or most lionfish. “The derbies are a good opportunity to educate people about the lionfish and about the danger of releasing aquarium fish into the wild,” Dahl said. She’s worked and volunteered at dozens of derbies. “If enough people learn about this invasion, maybe there won’t be another ‘lionfish.'”

Culling lionfish one by one will never eliminate the species from the Atlantic, but it can help mitigate their effects. While a single lionfish can eat a lot of native fauna, lionfish wreak havoc on a reef only after their populations reach a certain density, researchers reported in 2014 in the journal Ecological Applications. And the incentives seem to be working. At a handful of popular dive sites in the Florida Keys, recreational divers are so diligent in culling invasive lionfish that it is unusual to see a single one, according to several dive tour operators.

Scientists knew from the start that population growth would eventually taper off as lionfish populations reach the point at which there’s no more food or habitat to support additional individuals. But the number of lionfish in parts of the Gulf of Mexico where Dahl and her colleagues have tracked their populations for several years have actually declined. It’s too early to say what’s behind the change, but Dahl points to a poorly understood parasitic skin lesion that “has put a dent in their population.”

Now, less than two decades since the invasion began, ecologists are still trying to learn enough about lionfish to manage the new invasion.


”We’re not sure if [the population decline] is going to last or if it’s a boom-bust population cycle,” Dahl said. “It could be a little bit of both. We aren’t really sure.”

Originally published on Live Science

Westlake Legal Group lionfish-shutterstock The voracious and invasive lionfish is taking over the Atlantic. Here's why. LiveScience Grant Currin fox-news/science/wild-nature/fish fnc/science fnc cbe02811-3939-50e0-9e8b-15d6ef3eb2ed article   Westlake Legal Group lionfish-shutterstock The voracious and invasive lionfish is taking over the Atlantic. Here's why. LiveScience Grant Currin fox-news/science/wild-nature/fish fnc/science fnc cbe02811-3939-50e0-9e8b-15d6ef3eb2ed article

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2 giant blobs at the core of our galaxy are spewing radiation. Scientists don’t know how they got there.

In 2010, astronomers working with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope announced the discovery of two giant blobs. These blobs were centered on the core of the Milky Way galaxy, but they extended above and below the plane of our galactic home for over 25,000 light-years. Their origins are still a mystery, but however they got there, they are emitting copious amounts of high-energy radiation.

More recently, the IceCube array in Antarctica has reported 10 super-duper-high-energy neutrinos sourced from the bubbles, leading some astrophysicists to speculate that some crazy subatomic interactions are afoot. The end result: The Fermi Bubbles are even more mysterious than we thought.

Related: Huge Milky Way Gas Bubbles Clocked at 2 Million Mph

Two giant blobs of hot gas

It’s not easy to make big balls of hot gas. For starters, you need energy, and a lot of it. The kind of energy that can spread hot gas to a distance of over 25,000 light-years doesn’t come easily to a typical galaxy. However, the peculiar orientation of the Fermi Bubbles — extending evenly above and below our galactic center — is a strong clue that they might be tied our central supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*.

Perhaps millions of years ago, Sag A* (the more common name for our giant black hole, because who wants to keep typing or saying “Sagittarius” all the time?) ate a giant meal and got a bad case of indigestion, with the infalling material heating up, twisting around in a complicated dance of electric and magnetic forces, and managing to escape the clutches of the event horizon before falling in. That material, energized beyond belief, raced away from the center of the galaxy, riding on jets of particles accelerated to nearly the speed of light. As they fled to safety, these particles spread and thinned out, but maintained their energetic state to the present day.

Or perhaps a star wandered too close to Sag A* and was ripped to shreds, releasing all that potent gravitational energy in a single violent episode, leading to the formation of the bubbles. Or maybe it had nothing to do with Sag A* itself, but the multitude of stars in the core — perhaps dozens or hundreds of those densely packed stars went supernova at around the same time, ejecting these plumes of gas beyond the confines of the galactic more.

Or maybe none of the above.

No matter what, the bubbles are here, they’re big, and we don’t understand them.

Related: 8 Baffling Astronomy Mysteries

Gamma and the neutrino

You can’t see the Fermi Bubbles with your naked eye. Despite their high temperatures, the gas inside them is incredibly thin, rendering them all but invisible. But something within them is capable of making the highest-energy kind of light there is: gamma rays, which is how the Fermi team spotted them.

We think that the gamma rays are produced within the bubbles by cosmic rays, which themselves are high-energy particles (do you get the overall “high energy” theme here?). Those particles, mostly electrons but probably some heavier fellas too, knock about, emitting the distinctive gamma rays.

But gamma rays aren’t the only things that high-energy particles can produce. Sometimes the cosmic rays interact with each other, perform some complicated subatomic dance of matter and energy, and release a neutrino, an almost-massless particle that only interacts with other particles via the weak nuclear force (which means it hardly ever interacts with normal matter at all).

The IceCube Observatory, situated at the geographic south pole, uses a cubic kilometer of pure Antarctic water ice as a neutrino detector: every once in a rare while, a high-energy neutrino passing through the ice interacts with a water molecule, setting up a domino-like chain reaction that leads to a shower of more familiar particles and a telltale flash of light.

Due to the nature of its detectors, IceCube isn’t the greatest when it comes to pinpointing the exact origin location for a neutrino. But to date, it has found 10 of these little ghosts coming from roughly the direction of the two Fermi Bubbles.

Is this coincidence, or conspiracy?

A subatomic puzzle

So something could be producing these extremely exotic neutrinos inside the Fermi Bubbles. Or not — it could just be a coincidence, and the neutrinos are really coming from some distant part of the universe behind the Bubbles.

What’s more, somehow the cosmic rays are producing all the gamma rays, though we’re not exactly sure how. Perhaps we might get lucky: maybe there’s a single set of interactions inside the Bubbles that produces both gamma rays and the right kind of neutrinos that can be detected by IceCube. That would be a big step up in explaining the physics of the Bubbles themselves, and give us a huge clue as to their origins.

Recently, a team of researchers pored through the available data, even adding results from the newly operational High Altitude Water Cherenkov detector (a super-awesome ground-based gamma ray telescope), and combined that information with various theoretical models for the Bubbles, searching for just the right combo.

In one possible scenario, protons inside the Bubbles occasionally slam into each other and produce pions, which are exotic particles that quickly decay into gamma rays. In another one, the flood of high-energy electrons in the Bubbles interacts with the ever-present radiation of the cosmic microwave background, boosting some lucky photons into the gamma regime. In a third, shock waves at the outer edges of the Bubbles use magnetic fields to drive local but lethargic particles to high velocities, which then begin emitting cosmic rays.

But try as they might, the authors of this study couldn’t find any of the scenarios (or any combination of these scenarios) to fit all the data. In short, we still don’t know what drives the gamma ray emission from the Bubbles, whether the Bubbles also produce neutrinos, or what made the Bubbles in the first place. But this is exactly how science is done: collecting data, ruling out hypotheses, and forging onward.

Read more: “Correlation of high energy neutrinos and gamma rays on the direction of Fermi Bubbles

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University, host of Ask a Spaceman and Space Radio, and author of “Your Place in the Universe.” Sutter contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Westlake Legal Group giant-blobs-of-gas 2 giant blobs at the core of our galaxy are spewing radiation. Scientists don't know how they got there. Paul M. Sutter  LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article 765ad8b2-4aba-5216-bff7-1aec35834cca   Westlake Legal Group giant-blobs-of-gas 2 giant blobs at the core of our galaxy are spewing radiation. Scientists don't know how they got there. Paul M. Sutter  LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article 765ad8b2-4aba-5216-bff7-1aec35834cca

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Meet the ‘giant elephant trunks,’ mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the ‘pillars of creation’

Ursa Major, the Tadpole Galaxy, the Crab Nebula — when it comes to naming objects in space, it sometimes seems like astronomers wish they’d gone into zoology. Continuing in this long tradition, a researcher has recently identified mammoth column-shaped structures carved from gas and dust that he has called Giant Elephant’s Trunks.

Regular-size astronomical Elephant’s Trunks are well-studied entities. When newborn stars are young, they emit colossal amounts of radiation, which can erode nearby interstellar gas and dust. Dense pockets of material are more resistant to this erosion, protecting downstream gas and dust from the radiation pressure and creating long filaments that resemble pachyderm proboscises, according to NASA.

Related: 10 Interesting Places in the Solar System We’d Like to Visit

Famous examples of such structures include the Horsehead Nebula and the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula, as well as the highly photogenic Pillars of Creation found in the Eagle Nebula. Researchers often investigate Elephant’s Trunks because they are the sites of star birth and early evolution.

Using the Nobeyama 45-meter Radio Telescope in Japan, astronomer Yoshiaki Sofue of the University of Tokyo recently conducted a survey of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. In two minor spiral arms 15,000 to 22,000 light-years away, known as the Scutum and Norma arms, he spotted three Elephant’s Trunks, except that they were at least an order of magnitude greater in size and mass than previously seen entities.

Ordinary Elephant’s Trunks are generally a few light-years across and perhaps 10 times the mass of our sun. Sofue observed three objects between 65 and 160 light-years long, each weighing around 1,000 to 10,000 times the mass of the sun. A paper describing the discoveries is set to appear in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

Because the smaller column-shaped structures are cradles for newborn stars, Sofue told Live Science that the Giant Elephant’s Trunks could be created by large-scale star formation activity in the galaxy. Perhaps they are regions from which low-mass globular clusters — spherical collections of small stars — arise, he suggested.

Now that he has trumpeted these findings, Sofue said he would like to conduct a systematic inspection of his data in the hopes of uncovering more Giant Elephant’s Trunks and listing them in an astronomical atlas for other researchers to study.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group pillars-of-creation Meet the 'giant elephant trunks,' mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the 'pillars of creation' LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article Adam Mann, Live Science Contributor aa9321f2-7ef4-5d89-9827-8fd37a8853cd   Westlake Legal Group pillars-of-creation Meet the 'giant elephant trunks,' mysterious cosmic structures 10 times bigger than the 'pillars of creation' LiveScience fox-news/science/air-and-space/astronomy fnc/science fnc article Adam Mann, Live Science Contributor aa9321f2-7ef4-5d89-9827-8fd37a8853cd

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Did a Jurassic magma plume burst through the Earth?

About 180 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the planet, a giant plume of molten rock may have punched its way through Earth, knocking the continents aside and incinerating everything in its path.

That’s the secret that may lurk in a set of strange stones from Mozambique. The new findings could settle a longstanding debate about what caused the ancient volcanic cataclysm. .

There are scars all over our planet from enormous and deadly volcanic eruptions like this Jurassic period disaster. Many of these epic eruptions may have been responsible for mass extinctions hundreds of millions of years ago. But, geologists couldn’t agree on what causes any of these calamities; scientists have proposed two possible explanations, and until now, neither one has been proven.

One possibility is that tectonic plates were simply ripped apart: One continent drifted north, another, south. Through the gash that opened between them there burbled a great flow of lava that scorched the land.

Related: Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions

The other possibility is that lava is the cause of the whole disaster: A plume of magma rose from deep inside the planet and burst through to the surface.

Early evidence from these Mozambique stones supports the second theory, according to a new paper to be published in the December issue of the journal Lithos.

The stones were found in a region formed from that ancient lava flow, which rolled over present-day Africa and Antarctica back when both landmasses were part of the supercontinent Pangea. It’s called the Karoo magma province. Much of the rock in that area formed during the Jurassic eruption, the researchers said. But these stones, known as the Luenha picrites, might be the first ones discovered that come from the upwelling plume itself.

A chemical analysis of the picrites found signatures (low levels of titanium dioxide, for example) suggesting that they’re uncontaminated by elements from Earth’s crust, the researchers wrote. That suggests that they come from deeper in the planet, within the mantle, where plumes originate.

However, not all the volcanic rock in this region is from the mantle plume.”It is very important to realise that in huge and complex volcanic systems, such as the Karoo province, large amounts of magmas may be produced from several magma sources,” Daúd Jamal, a researcher at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique and co-author of the paper, said in a statement.

So, even if a plume did cause this eruption, most of the magma would have come from near the surface, the researchers wrote. That makes rock formed from the plume itself a rare and valuable find.

“To our knowledge, the Luenha picrites are the first lava samples that could originate from the plume source,” said Sanni Turunen, lead author and a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki.

A lot more study is needed, they wrote, before anyone can confirm that the picrites were part of a magma plume, the researchers wrote. But the early analysis is exciting, and reason to go back for more.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group jurassic-africa Did a Jurassic magma plume burst through the Earth? Rafi Letzter LiveScience fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc article 0cb05cb1-3c2b-54aa-bfcc-40526f25b1bb   Westlake Legal Group jurassic-africa Did a Jurassic magma plume burst through the Earth? Rafi Letzter LiveScience fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc article 0cb05cb1-3c2b-54aa-bfcc-40526f25b1bb

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Optimism key to living longer? This study says so

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6004641431001_6004633367001-vs Optimism key to living longer? This study says so Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research fox-news/health/healthy-living/longevity fnc/health fnc c43aacac-430c-5982-b423-ce1d42c0e73b article

Think life is great and expect that to continue? You may have a good chance of living to a ripe old age, a new study suggests.

The study found that optimistic people tend to live longer than those with a less rosy view of the world.

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That conclusion comes from a study of more than 69,000 female health professionals ages 58 to 86, and more than 1,400 male veterans ages 41 to 90, who were followed for 10 to 30 years. At the start of the study, participants (who were all in the U.S.) answered questions to gauge how optimistic they were, such as “overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad.”

The study found that participants who reported the highest levels of optimism were 50 percent to 70 percent more likely to live to age 85 or beyond, compared with those who reported the lowest levels of optimism.

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What’s more, the most optimistic people had life spans that were about 11 percent to 15 percent longer, on average, than the least optimistic people.

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The findings held even after the researchers took into account factors that could affect the link, including whether participants had health conditions such as heart disease or cancer, or whether they experienced depression.

The results add to a growing body of evidence that certain psychological factors may predict a longer life span, the authors said. For example, previous studies have found that more optimistic people have a lower risk of developing chronic diseases, and a lower risk of early death. But the new study appears to be the first to directly look at the link between optimism and longevity.

The researchers note that the link found in the new study wasn’t as strong when they took into account certain health behaviors, including smoking habits, alcohol use, exercise levels and diet. This suggests that these behaviors may, in part, explain the link.

In other words “optimism may foster health-promoting habits and bolster resistance of unhealthy impulses,” the authors, from Boston University School of Medicine, wrote in their study, published Aug. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Optimistic people may also recover faster from sudden stressors, and may experience less extreme emotional responses following such stressors, they said.

Still, the study found only an association, and cannot prove for certain that optimism causes a longer life. The study mainly included white people with a high socioeconomic status, and so it’s unclear how well the findings apply to other populations, the authors noted. In addition, the study wasn’t able to take into account all factors that could affect a person’s optimism level, such as whether participants had lost a job or experienced the death of a loved one, which could also affect the results.

But if the findings are true, they suggest that optimism could serve as a psychological attribute that “promotes health and longevity,” the authors wrote in the paper.

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Some studies suggest that interventions such as brief writing exercises, meditation or some types of talk therapy could help enhance people’s optimism.

However, more studies are needed to look at whether improvements in optimism translate to better health over both the short and long term, the authors concluded.

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Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6004641431001_6004633367001-vs Optimism key to living longer? This study says so Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research fox-news/health/healthy-living/longevity fnc/health fnc c43aacac-430c-5982-b423-ce1d42c0e73b article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6004641431001_6004633367001-vs Optimism key to living longer? This study says so Rachael Rettner LiveScience fox-news/health/medical-research fox-news/health/healthy-living/longevity fnc/health fnc c43aacac-430c-5982-b423-ce1d42c0e73b article

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America’s largest asteroid impact left a trail of destruction across the eastern US

About 35 million years ago, an asteroid traveling nearly 144,000 mph (231,000  km/h) smashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the modern-day town of Cape Charles, Virginia. The space rock vaporized instantly, but its impact triggered a gargantuan tsunami, cast up a monsoon of shattered rocks and molten glass that spanned hundreds of miles and carved out the single largest crater in the United States — the so-called Chesapeake Bay impact structure.

Today, that 25-mile-wide (40 kilometers) crater is buried half a mile below the rocky basement of Chesapeake Bay — the 200-mile-long (320 km) estuary linking Virginia and Maryland on the East Coast. That hasn’t stopped scientists from trying to piece together the site’s mysterious history since it was first discovered during a drilling project in 1990.

In a recent study of ocean sediment cores taken almost 250 miles (400 km) northeast of the impact site, researchers found traces of radioactive debris dating to the time of the strike, providing fresh evidence of the impact’s age and destructive power.

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When the Chesapeake Bay impactor smashed into the Atlantic, it showered the surrounding land and water with shards of molten glass (known as “tektites”) for hundreds of miles in every direction. This rain of meteoric debris formed what scientists call the North American tektite strewn field, the study authors wrote, which stretches from Texas to Massachusetts to Barbados, covering about 4 million square miles (10 million square km) of terrain. By studying shards of meteoric rock buried deep within this sweeping field of impact wreckage, scientists can gather clues about the asteroid’s key characteristics, including its age.

In their recent study (published June 21 in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science), researchers from Arizona State University dated 21 microscopic shards of zircon — a durable gemstone that can survive underground for billions of years. These zircons were lodged in a sediment core taken from roughly 2,150 feet (655 meters) below the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is zircon commonly found in tektites, but it is also a choice mineral for radiometric dating, thanks to some of its radioactive elemental components.

In this case, the researchers used a dating technique called uranium–thorium–helium dating, which looks at how radioactive isotopes, or versions, of uranium and thorium decay into helium. By comparing the ratios of specific helium, thorium and uranium isotopes in each mineral sample, the researchers calculated approximately how long ago the zircon crystals solidified and started to decay.

The team found that the 21 crystals ranged widely in age, running the gamut from about 33 million to 300 million years old. The two youngest samples, which had an average age of about 35 million years old, fit in with previous studies’ estimates for the time of the Chesapeake Bay impact. A closer examination showed that the zircons also bore a cloudy appearance and deformed surface, two signs the minerals were kicked through the air and water by a great impact.

The team concluded that these two young crystals were part of the Chesapeake impact’s path of destruction, confirming that the impact occurred about 35 million years ago. Moreover, the researchers wrote, it showed that uranium–thorium–helium dating is a viable method for constraining the age of ancient impact events, giving scientists a fresh tool to reveal our planet’s long and violent past.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group asteroidistock America's largest asteroid impact left a trail of destruction across the eastern US LiveScience fox-news/science/planet-earth fox-news/science/air-and-space/asteroids fnc/science fnc eabca09c-da09-529c-b248-274f41eedd2b Brandon Specktor article   Westlake Legal Group asteroidistock America's largest asteroid impact left a trail of destruction across the eastern US LiveScience fox-news/science/planet-earth fox-news/science/air-and-space/asteroids fnc/science fnc eabca09c-da09-529c-b248-274f41eedd2b Brandon Specktor article

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This may be the face of a Pictish chieftain who was brutally murdered 1,400 years ago

A Pictish man with a rugged face who was brutally murdered 1,400 years ago may have been royalty, new research finds.

After his murder, the approximately 30-year-old man’s remains sat undisturbed in a cave on the Black Isle of the Scottish Highlands for more than a millennia. Archaeologists found the man’s skeleton in a strange position; rocks pinned down his arms and legs, his skull was fractured, and his legs were crossed. Forensic artists published a virtual reconstruction of his face in 2017, catapulting him into internet fame.

Now, a new analysis indicates that this fellow, known as Rosemarkie Man, was likely a prominent person in his community, perhaps a member of royalty or a chieftain, according to news sources. [Photos: See the Ancient Faces of a Man-Bun-Wearing Bloke and a Neanderthal Woman]

The Picts were a group of tribes that lived in what is now Scotland during the Iron Age and Medieval times. They routinely fought against the Romans, who dubbed these tribes “Picts,” likely from the Latin word “picti,” which means “painted ones,” as the Picts had distinctive tattoos and war paint.

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This particular Pict was well off, according to an analysis of his remains. “He was a big, strong fella — built like a rugby player — very heavily built above the waist,” Simon Gunn, a professor of urban history at the University of Leicester, who is studying the man’s remains, told The Scotsman.

The 5-foot-6-inch-tall (167 centimeters) man ate a high-protein diet (it’s almost like he was “eating nothing but suckling pigs,” Gunn said), which was rare for people in that region during that time, The Scotsman reported.

A radiocarbon-dated bone sample shows that the man died between A.D. 430 and 630, Gunn said. Moreover, piles of animal bones found near the man’s remains suggest that there was a celebration or ritual in honor of his passing, Gunn said.

There were other clues that Rosemarkie Man was royal. Besides his head wounds, there were no other injuries on his body, suggesting that he wasn’t a warrior or someone who labored for his livelihood. What’s more, his burial in the cave may have been purposeful; perhaps his undertakers placed him at a place they believed was an entrance to the underworld, Gunn said.

Gunn said he and his colleagues plan to continue looking for new finds, as part of the Rosemarkie Caves Project. So far, they have evidence that these caves were used as long as 2,300 years ago, he said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Westlake Legal Group pictish-man-hair This may be the face of a Pictish chieftain who was brutally murdered 1,400 years ago LiveScience Laura Geggel Associate Editor fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc e59215c7-6356-59f5-a04c-a7a8b555931b article   Westlake Legal Group pictish-man-hair This may be the face of a Pictish chieftain who was brutally murdered 1,400 years ago LiveScience Laura Geggel Associate Editor fox-news/columns/digging-history fnc/science fnc e59215c7-6356-59f5-a04c-a7a8b555931b article

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