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Giant camels roamed the Arctic

By Daniel Smith on Mar 5, 13 04:00 PM

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Camels might be known as ships of the desert but they had giant ancestors that once roamed the Arctic.

Bone fragments belonging to a camel almost a third larger than any now living have been recovered from a remote site in the far north of Canada.

The animal lived 3.5 million years ago, when the High Arctic was warmer than it is today and covered in forest.

Rare comet makes Earth fly-by

By Daniel Smith on Mar 4, 13 11:40 AM

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A comet with a glowing tail makes a once-in-a-lifetime appearance in the evening sky this month.

Comet 2011 L4 Panstarrs has taken millions of years to travel out from the Oort cloud - a huge colony of icy objects at the edge of the Solar System.

Throughout the month Panstarrs will be visible low in the west.

One million Romans in Britain

By Daniel Smith on Feb 26, 13 01:12 PM

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Around one million men in the UK can claim to be direct descendants of the Romans, scientists have revealed.

The Roman army invaded Britain in 43 AD and left around 400 years later, in the early 5th century.

But historians and scientists claim that the legions left behind their legacy in the genes of many Britons.

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British conservationists are tracking endangered red-breasted geese to solve the mystery of thousands of birds lost in migration.

More than 90 birds were caught and tagged in Bulgaria to try to find out what happened to more than 50,000 geese which disappeared from their wintering grounds along the Black Sea coast about 10 years ago.

British conservationists from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) are working with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) to identify whether the birds found a new site in Asia or fell victim to hunting, development or changes in farming along their 6,000km migration to breeding grounds in Arctic Russia.

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A weird "slime" is baffling boffins at a nature reserve.

The jelly-like substance has been found at the RSPB Ham Wall Nature reserve in Somerset.

As yet the mystery slime has not been identified.

Dogs understand the human mind

By Daniel Smith on Feb 12, 13 03:13 PM

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Pet dogs may understand a human's point of view, according to new research which suggests they are more likely to steal food when they think nobody can see them.

Dr Juliane Kaminski, of the University of Portsmouth's department of psychology, found that when a human forbids a dog from taking food, dogs are four times more likely to disobey in a dark room than a lit room, suggesting they take into account what the human can or cannot see.

Dr Kaminski said: "That's incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can't see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective."

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Earth-like planets could be all around us - and some may harbour life more advanced than on Earth, astronomers believe.

A space telescope has found that 6% of red dwarf stars are circled by potentially habitable worlds.

Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light years away.

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A new finding has cast doubt on the theory that ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals over thousands of years.

Scientists have re-dated fossil bones from two sites in southern Spain and discovered they are much older than previously thought.

According to the new evidence, it is unlikely Neanderthals and modern humans ever lived together in the region. Researchers now think the Neanderthals had long gone before the arrival of the first Homo sapiens.

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A DNA study has begun to unravel the mysterious mating habits of an endangered sea turtle.

Scientists hope the research will aid conservation efforts to protect the hawksbill turtle, a victim of the tortoiseshell trade.

The findings show that female turtles store sperm for up to 75 days after mating before laying multiple beach nests.

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Acting the part of a superhero can make you start to behave like one in real life, a study has found.

Scientists created a virtual reality environment in which volunteers had the ability to fly through the air like Superman or rode as passengers in a helicopter.

Using their alter egos, both groups were then assigned one of two tasks - either helping to find a missing diabetic child, or exploring a virtual city.

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A girl rotating her head 360 degrees was one of the scariest moments in the horror movie The Exorcist.

But owls are capable of performing virtually the same feat without any help from a possessing demon.

Now scientists have solved the mystery of how the birds can swivel their heads almost in a complete circle without suffering serious injury.

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Model husbands who cook, clean and generally help around the house may be missing out in bed, according to researchers.

Married men are likely to have less sex if they do a lot of housework, a study found.

But they could improve their sex lives by easing off the washing-up and chopping wood instead.

Bacteria love the high life

By Daniel Smith on Jan 29, 13 01:44 PM

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Bacteria get everywhere - even nine miles high among the clouds, a study has found.

Scientists discovered "significant" numbers of living bugs in the middle and upper troposphere, the airy layer five to nine miles above the Earth's surface.

The microbes could have a previously unrecognised impact on cloud formation, according to the research.

Experts identify 'crocodolphin'

By Daniel Smith on Jan 29, 13 01:40 PM

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A creature resembling a hybrid dolphin and crocodile has been identified by scientists examining fossil remains discovered more than a century ago.

The new species, named Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos, was a marine "super-predator" that lived 163 million years ago.

It belonged to a group of ancient crocodiles with dolphin-like features.

Use Your Optical Illusion

By Daniel Smith on Jan 28, 13 11:47 AM

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Click to embiggen this trippy, psychedelic vortex.

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Here's a rare lenticular cloud over Mt. Fuji, Japan.

Altocumulus lenticularis often form above or near mountains, as moist air flows rapidly over a rise in elevation.

Click to embiggen.

Weird Science Friday Links

By Daniel Smith on Jan 18, 13 08:33 AM

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Bored at work? Counting down the hours to the weekend?

Then Weird Science can help (as long as the boss doesn't spot ya!).

Weird Science Friday Links give you a nudge towards stuff you'll hopefully find more diverting than the stack of papers in front of you!


Five innocent things that science says make people hate you

How was the Moon formed?

Imitation Apple: Hardware knockoffs through the years.

Why did Vikings abandon Greenland?

Nearby star is almost as old as the Universe.

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Shell-shocked crabs feel pain and scuttle out of their way to avoid it, research suggests.
The study involved exposing crabs to mild electric shocks.

Scientists say it raises ethical implications for the food industry, and whether we should be kinder to crustaceans.

The team from Queen's University in Belfast devised an experiment designed to distinguish between pain and unconscious reflex action.

Astronomers now estimate that 17 per cent of stars in the Milky Way galaxy have planets about the size of Earth.

As there are about 100 billion stars in the galaxy, there are at least 17 billion Earth-size worlds in this galaxy alone.

Click to embiggen

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Scientists find leadership gene

By Daniel Smith on Jan 16, 13 08:17 AM

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A gene has been uncovered that may help to create born leaders.

The leadership gene, known as rs4950, is an inherited DNA sequence associated with people taking charge.

Scientists accept that leadership skills are also learned. But the gene may provide the vital push needed to make someone into a manager rather than a minion.

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Authors

Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith - a long time ago, in a galaxy far away just north of Watford, Daniel fancied himself as a scientist but turned out to be the worst scientist since that bloke who mapped out all those canals on Mars that turned out to be scratches on his telescope's lens. Luckily, he is now not working on the Large Hadron Collider inadvertently creating a black hole that would swallow the world but is safely behind a desk writing this blog, bringing you the fantastical underbelly of nature... weird science.

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