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Long After Some Hominins were Bipedal, Others Stuck to the Trees

Africa contains many fossil remains of species that could be our ancestors -or could be evolutionary branches of ancestral species that didn't lead directly to Homo sapiens. The more species are found, the muddier the picture gets. Two-million-year-old fossils of Australopithecus africanus and another that could be Paranthropus robustus lived in the same area a few hundred thousand years apart. Both seem to have walked upright on two legs by their anatomy. But more recent tests show that the slightly older fossil did walk upright, while the newer one appears to have lived in trees, even though it was built for walking.   

It's hard to say exactly what that means, since we don't know the younger hominin's species for sure, or exactly where it fit into the family tree. However, it definitely spent some time in actual trees, hundreds of thousands of years after other hominins in the same area had taken up bipedalism. And two species which had clearly evolved for similar ways of life still practiced very different behavior. That means that our early cousins were a much more diverse group, both physically and behaviorally, than we've realized until fairly recently.

The researchers say they would like to CT scan the femurs of other early hominin specimens to help shed more light on how they moved in life. They also hope to study other bones, to better understand what their internal structure can tell us about what hominins did, rather than just what kinds of selective pressure their ancestors faced.

The real story here is how they determined the difference. While the fossil bones look alike, deep scans revealed where the hominin's lifestyle put stress on those bones. Read how they figured this out at Ars Technica. 

(Image credit: Georgiou et al. 2020)


Check Out This Blood Doping Fish!

Blood doping is a method which aims to boost a person’s athletic performance by increasing the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the bloodstream.

Athletes can use this technique to fuel their muscles with more oxygen-carrying red blood cells—for example, by receiving a transfusion.

While blood doping (which is banned in professional sports, by the way) is an artificial method in humans, there are many animals who can dope naturally.

… pigs, marine fish and diving seals can boost their blood oxygen levels by 40 to 60 percent in physically demanding situations…

While this is already an impressive feat, there is an animal who dopes on an entirely different level. Introducing the bald notothen, the Antarctic fish which can increase its blood oxygen levels by over 200 percent.

Like most fish native to Antarctica, the bald notothen’s blood contains antifreeze proteins that help it withstand extreme cold. Yet these proteins, along with red blood cells (RBCs), can make blood viscous and hard to circulate. Some Antarctic fish compensate by eliminating RBCs altogether, absorbing oxygen directly from the water via gills and skin as they passively await prey. Bald notothens, however, actively swim below surface ice to chase krill and other crustaceans while dodging predators such as penguins and seals. For this behavior, “you need to supply [more] oxygen to the muscles,” says Michael Axelsson, a cardiovascular physiologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and co-author of the new study, which was published in January in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Now that’s DOPE!

(Image Credit: Paulo Oliviera/ Alamy / Scientific American)


Man Breaks 256 Walnuts Using His Elbow

In just one minute, Pakistani martial artist Muhammad Rashid was able to break 256 walnuts using his elbow. In doing so, Rashid has successfully broken the previous Guinness World Record of 229 walnuts set by Prabhakar Reddy, an Indian martial artist.

Rashid is a multiple record-holder, having previously set Guinness records for breaking walnuts with his head, as well as smashing beverage cans with his elbow and coconuts with his head.

I’ll just use a hammer, thank you very much.

(Image Credit: Guinness World Records)


Man Proposes in Front Of Makeshift Eiffel Tower Because Paris Trip Was Canceled

What do you do when your perfect proposal is thwarted by world events? You bring Paris and the Eiffel Tower to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Erika said "Luke and I had a big trip planned for Paris to see my sister who lives there. We decided literally the day before our plane left to cancel the trip in order to keep ourselves and others safe."
So instead, Luke decided to bring Paris to Fredericksburg and continue with the engagement as planned.
He drew the Eiffel Tower and proposed underneath.
"He took me to the alley leading to Market Square where he had drawn a big picture of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in chalk," Erika explained.

Nice artwork Luke!

Many congratulations to the happy couple!  

Via - WJLA

Photo: Erika Diffendall and Luke McClung


Making Art at Home

The Getty Museum is challenging its Twitter followers to recreate famous artworks at home! Using just the objects around you and your imagination, see if you can bring a familiar painting to life. So far, quite a few folks have done it with results ranging from clever to hilarious to hilariously clever.

Add your creations to the Twitter thread here or just look through and see what others have done. See the top-ranked art so far at Bored Panda.


The Best TV Character of the Century Bracket

The Ringer came in just under the wire to launch a March Madness tournament, before having to call it an April Madness tournament. This one pits 64 television characters against each other for the title of Best TV Character of the Century. That means the 21st century, so it therefore only covers the past twenty years. Read an introduction for each of the characters in contention here, and vote in the first round today. The second round of voting will be Tuesday, up until the finals on Friday at the Ringer. -via Digg


Astrophysicist Gets Magnets Stuck up Nose While Trying to Developing Coronavirus Preventative

Dr. Daniel Reardon, an astrophysicist at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, was admitted into a local hospital after being unable to retrieve the magnets that he had stuck up his nose. He had placed them there in the hope of finding a way of reducing coronavirus infections.

How were nasal magnets supposed to help? The Guardian explains:

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets.
“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face. A bit of boredom in isolation made me think of that.”

During his experiments, Dr. Reardon a magnet up each nostril. These became stuck. So he decided to use the other two magnets in an attempt to retrieve the nasal magnets. These got stuck, too:

“After struggling for 20 minutes, I decided to Google the problem and found an article about an 11-year-old boy who had the same problem. The solution in that was more magnets. To put on the outside to offset the pull from the ones inside.
“As I was pulling downwards to try and remove the magnets, they clipped on to each other and I lost my grip. And those two magnets ended up in my left nostril while the other one was in my right. At this point I ran out of magnets.”

Fortunately, hospital staff were able to remove the magnets, although the Guardian article does not explain how. Presumably their method did not involve additional neodymium magnets.

-via Richard Hernandez | Photo: Daniel Reardon


World’s Largest Gem Show

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossils Showcase is a gem show that welcomes 65,000 visitors each winter. Held in Arizona, the show houses thousands of vendors with their new shiny pieces. With 50 separate shows around the city. There are also the oddballs that really catch attention, such as a $70,000 geode “the size of a Volkswagen Beetle,” as CNN details: 

While diamonds and precious stones hold a place of honor, there's no shortage of oddities for sale, from animal pelts and skulls to personalized rubber ducks. Over the course of a single day of this year's showcase, which ran from January 30 to February 14, photographer Daniel Arnold saw a $70,000 geode "the size of a Volkswagen Beetle," a baby goat being led around a parking lot by a cowboy, and enough tie-dye to rival a Grateful Dead concert.
"A proper, polished gem show takes over the convention center, and the rest of the city becomes Its swap meet parking lot," Arnold said. "It's an idyllic post-apocalyptic scene, like a very fun version of the end of the world."

image via CNN


Tardigrades Twitch Livestream

Tardigrades are microscopic, eight-legged micro-animals. They are also known as “water bears”. These water bears are something you wouldn’t normally see as a livestream on Twitch. Well, you can see these tardigrades live now on Twitch. Canadian artist Julie Laurin started a full, narrated hour about the micro-animals on Laurin's Twitch channel. The stream is part of a project called “A Tiny World”, as ScienceAlert detailed:

"By sharing this journey with you, my hope is that maybe you'll be inspired to get your own microscope, or to look closer at the little objects and creatures all around you!" Laurin's description of the project reads on an official website.
So where is Laurin finding all of these critters? In dirt found on her balcony.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of #Tardigrades that live on my balcony and I think they thrive in this brownish-greenish film and dirt that has formed over the years due to improper draining," Laurin wrote in a tweet.
First discovered by biologists in the late 1700s, tardigrades are tiny micro-animals that can be found in a huge variety of environments, from oceans to sand dunes.
They're also immensely resilient creatures: they can survive the vacuum of space, adapt to severe dehydration, and can even block intense blasts of radiation. But they might have an Achilles heel after all, according to recent research: global warming.

image via ScienceAlert



Lee Heng Swee, an artist in Kuala Lumpur, says that his motto is to "doodle with a smile." His goal is to make images that bring a grin to your face.

His cat-filled landscapes certainly do the job. You can see more on his Instagram page.

Continue reading


Play Cards Against Humanity Online

Do you miss playing card games with your friends? Virtual card table website now lets users play “Cards Against Humanity” with their friends online. Now you and your friends can laugh and be entertained even without playing the game in real life. The website allows everyone to see the game, while the players’ individual hand is only for them to see. 

(via Business Insider)

image via Business Insider


High School Robotics Team Makes Personal Protective Equipment

School may be out, but that hasn't stopped a high school robotics team in Camas, Washington from putting their skills to go use. Team Mean Machine has been busy designing and creating Personal Protective Equipment to donate to hospitals.

Students are working from home, using the team's laser cutters and 3D printers to create eye shields and face masks. So far, they've created and donated 550 eye shields to PeaceHealth and Legacy Health. They are finalizing their designs for face masks.
Students say this is what the robotics team has trained them for. Now, they're able to help in a time of crisis.

Team Mean Machine may not have been able to compete in the robotics competition this year, but they are 1st place winners in our book! Go Team Mean Machine!

Via - KATU

Photo: FRC Team 2471


The Global Haiku Project

Have you ever wanted to collaborate with other people to write poetry? If not, you might want to start thinking about it now. The Global Haiku Project invites you to write the first line of a haiku (five syllables), then the second line (seven syllables) to someone else's first line, and then the final line (five syllables) to complete a haiku in progress. When three strangers write a poem together the results can be beautiful, strangely disjointed, or downright funny, as you can see in the gallery.

The things you tell me
I’ve hidden in dreams and hopes
Will you choose to stay?

When things fall apart
I think about my mother
Also, Post Malone.

My nickname is Beans
They say I’m good for the heart
That smell is fine art

I just remembered
There's no T P in the house
Someone please help me

Can you do better? There's only one way to find out. Get started here. You can leave your email to be notified when your poems are completed. -via Metafilter


Are Shark-Toothed Dinosaurs The Largest Land-Dwelling Carnivore Of All Time?

The species Giganotosaurus were huge land-dwelling carnivores that roamed ancient Patagonia. They were the race of dinosaurs that ruled the land before tyrannosaurs took their throne. Recent finds from eastern Utah show that the shark-toothed dinosaurs actually held the tyrannosaurs back. For millions of years, it is thought that the tyrannosaurs were the largest-dwelling carnivores, but it seems Giganotosaurus were the more dominant species, as Discover magazine details: 

“There was nothing inevitable about the rise of tyrannosaurs,” Brusatte says. In fact, it seems that the carcharodontosaurs held them back.
“It seems like tyrannosaurs exploded to huge size only after the carcharodontosaurs went extinct, or became much less common,” Brusatte says.
The dominance of the carcharodontosaurs may have also limited the expansion of tyrannosaurs into the Southern Hemisphere. To date, the only evidence of these tyrants below the equator is a questionable fossil from Australia. It may be, Cuesta says, that carcharodontosaurs and other large predators — such as the strange, horned abelisaurids — may have prevented tyrannosaurs from gaining a claw hold. The picture may change with new finds. “The fossil record is annoyingly patchy and incomplete,” Cuesta says, but the current pattern indicates that tyrannosaurs required other large carnivores to get out of the way before they could take over that role between 80 million and 66 million years ago.

image via Discover magazine


Are We Saying Goodbye To Ice Fishing?

On the shores of St. Clair, Michigan, the ice season only lasts for a few weeks, unlike 30 years ago, when the ice would last for a month. The unpredictability of ice can be attributed to a trend (of less ice cover and shorter duration), or maybe  the seasons just go in cycles. However, the unpredictability does have a big effect on people’s livelihood. The ice season in the area was a “disaster”, according to bait shop owner Veronica Pinto. Due to the unpredictable ice last year, a lot of ice fishing events were cancelled. Bait and tackle sales were way down, as The Huffington Post detailed: 

“It’s been a terrible time to be trying to sell fishing tackle. Nothing is predictable,” she says. “We don’t have the seasons anymore like we used to.”
Pinto doesn’t think the lakeside economy here in St. Clair Shores can absorb another bad ice year.
Not everyone agrees that what’s happening this year is a trend. Tim Muir, president of the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association, which puts on the Cold as Ice festival, is one of them.
“I mean, it goes in cycles,” he says. “Some years you get a lot of ice and it’s all the way through March, and other years there’s no ice, sorta like this year.” 
It may be counterintuitive, but Sacka, Pinto and Muir are each correct, in their own ways. Long-term climate data show a definite trend toward less ice cover overall and a shorter duration of the ice on the Great Lakes since 1973. But year-to-year, the variability is so high you might miss it.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climatologist Jia Wang says maximum ice cover during the 2020 season was about 16% across the entire Great Lakes basin. The average since 1973 is 55.7%, ranging as low as 11.9% in 2012 and as high as 80.9% in 2019. 

image via The Huffington Post

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