Thursday Science

One of the great tag lines for a movie was for the movie Alien:   “In space, no one can hear you scream.”    Well, scientists being the curious type, have decided to test that hypothesis.

A smartphone has been blasted into orbit from India by a team of researchers from the University of Surrey.

They hope to use a purpose-built app to test the theory, immortalised in the film Alien, that “in space no-one can hear you scream”.

The phone will play out several of the screams submitted by people online.

Hey, who knows, maybe you can hear a scream in space!

One of the strangest fish fossils is  called Helicoprion.   Why is it strange?  Because it had a set of spiral teeth.   It looked like this:

Over the century since that was discovered, paleontologists have been trying to figure out exactly how they “fit” into the fish, and just what they were doing.  The assumption was that it was some sort of shark.    Finally, it seems to have been solved:

Contrary to the popular long-jaw restorations, the tooth whorl of Helicoprion totally filled the lower jaw. The jaw joint sat right behind the weapon, and the spiral dentition was buttressed by jaw cartilage on either side. And, even stranger, Helicoprion didn’t have any upper teeth to speak of. The spiral of continually-added teeth was the creature’s entire dental armament.

Scraps of Helicoprion skull indicate that the fish wasn’t really a shark, either.

It was a ratfish.   Apparently it ate squid (or something like it), and this was part of the lower jaw.  Click on the link to see the reconstruction, as well as some of the “ideas” that were bandied about.

One of America’s contributions to the world’s crop plants is maize, or as we call it corn.  There’s now evidence that it was being grown over 5000 years ago.

After years of study, Haas and his colleagues have concluded that during the Late Archaic, maize (Zea mays, or corn) was indeed a primary component in the diet of people living in the Norte Chico region of Peru, an area of remarkable cultural florescence in 3rd millennium B.C. Their research is the subject of a paper that appears in the online Early Edition issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of February 25, 2013..

“This new body of evidence demonstrates quite clearly that the very earliest emergence of civilization in South America was indeed based on agriculture as in the other great civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China,” said Haas.

Up until now, it was thought that the abundance of seafood was the primary driver.

Oh, another funny dinosaur, a dancing machine:

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