Sci/Tech briefs

Scientists find old fossil of skeleton

A fossil of the skeleton of a human ancestor, nearly 4.4 million years old, was found in Africa recently. The skeleton belongs to the species Ardipithecus ramidus and has replaced the famous skeleton Lucy as the oldest known human ancestor.

The fossil was of an adult female weighing around 120 pounds and standing four feet tall. The feet of the specimen had not developed the curved arch found in humans, and the length of the arms and legs resembled that of primitive apes or even monkeys. Scientists believe that this new Ardipithecus genus has helped clarify many doubts regarding the evolution of humans.

Source: The New York Times

Telescope uses infrared light

The Herschel Space Telescope, launched by the European Space Agency, has captured images of the Milky Way galaxy using infrared light. The telescope was able to sense the small amount of heat radiating from some of the coldest objects in the galaxy, using infrared light.

The telescope was able to obtain images from a region of the galaxy that is usually obscured in normal light. The images revealed that a number of stars are being born in this region and that this region contains a large amount of cold and unstable material. The images have shown that gas is constantly condensing in this region and that young stars in all stages of development are interspersed throughout the region.


Scientists find dinosaur eggs

Scientists have found fossils of dinosaur eggs in a village in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The eggs have been estimated to be around 65 million years old. Many layers containing clusters of eggs and dinosaur body parts were found by the researchers. The eggs have a diameter of around five to eight inches and were found in a four-foot-wide nest.
The nest was found in a sandy region along the banks of the river Cauvery.

Scientists believe that this finding reveals that the dinosaurs came back to the same nesting ground frequently to lay eggs. The study was conducted by researchers from Periyar University.

Source: Reuters

Fungus may have wiped out forests

Recent findings published in the journal Geology have shown that an ancient fungus that lived off of dead wood covered most of the planet nearly 250 million years ago. Scientists believe that the fungus, known as Reduviasporonites, thrived during this period because most of the world’s forests had been destroyed.

During this period, the Earth had only one continent, known as Pangaea, and the findings reveal that there was little or no vegetation across the continent during this period. Basalt lava flowed across the region in that period, causing up to 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species to become extinct.

Source: ScienceDaily