Death Valley National Park — famous for being the site of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth — is being honored with a new superlative after being named a dark sky park, the largest in the world.
The International Dark-Sky Association announced the designation of Death Valley as a "Gold Tier" International Dark Sky Park today (Feb. 20). That tier is the highest bestowed by the IDA and means that you can view night sky objects only visible in the darkest skies on the planet.
[Full Story: Death Valley Named Largest Dark Sky Park]
A group of Jurassic insects thought to have been parasites of feathered dinosaurs were falsely accused, new research finds. Instead, the tiny creatures were aquatic flies, similar to some still living today.
The findings don't change the reality that dinosaurs really did have lice and other parasites, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology researcher Diying Huang and his colleagues write in the Feb. 21 issue of the journal Nature. Huang and his colleagues had previously discovered dino-fleas 10 times the size of the ones that plague mammals today.
[Full Story: Jurassic Insects Wrongly Accused of Sucking Dino Blood ]
A colossal sunspot on the surface of the sun is large enough to swallow six Earths whole, and could trigger solar flares this week, NASA scientists say.
The giant sunspot was captured on camera by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory as it swelled to enormous proportions over the 48 hours spanning Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 19 and 20). SDO is one of several spacecraft that constantly monitor the sun's space weather environment.
[Full Story: NASA Sees Monster Sunspot Growing Fast, Solar Storms Possible ]
Those goodbye hugs at the train station or quick kisses in the park may have deep evolutionary roots. Such public displays of affection may help pair-bonded couples invest more in their children, boosting the offspring's survival odds, new research suggests.
The study, published today (Feb. 19) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds that when monogamous animals such as birds continue their displays after mating, they put more energy into parenting and can have more children than when they drop the displays.
[Full Story: Public Displays of Affection May Have Evolutionary Benefits ]
The strange creatures that thrive on the bottom of the chilly ocean surrounding Antarctica have been revealed in a comprehensive collection of snapshots and datasets now available online.
The database, published as part of a paper in the journal Nature Conservation, covers the frozen continent's macrobenthic organisms, creatures that live on the seafloor and are big enough to be seen by the naked eye.
[Full Story: Antarctica's Bizarre Creatures Come to Life Online ]
Loops of superheated plasma far larger than Earth rain down on the solar surface in a dazzling video captured by a NASA sun-watching spacecraft.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) watched as a medium-strength flare erupted from the sun on July 19, 2012. The blast also generated the enormous, shimmering plasma loops, which are an example of a phenomenon known as "coronal rain," agency officials said.
[Full Story: Super-Hot Plasma 'Rain' Falls on Sun in Amazing Video ]
Researchers are exploring the deepest known set of hydrothermal vents in the world, at a site in the Caribbean nearly 5 kilometers (3 miles) beneath the ocean surface.
They've discovered a new vent there that is deeper than any previously known, said Andrew Thaler, a researcher on the expedition. The group explores the area using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Isis, which just completed its first dive yesterday (Feb. 20), Thaler told OurAmazingPlanet.
[Full Story: Expedition Explores World's Deepest Hydrothermal Vents ]
Whitetip sharks may travel up to 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) during jaunts from their homes in the Bahamas, according to new research.
The data, which came from tracking sharks with satellite tags, revealed that the fish routinely cross international boundaries, which could make country-based conservation programs less effective.
[Full Story: Whitetip Sharks' Amazing Long-Distance Voyage Revealed ]
Fresh snow is a major event in a city where summer temperatures regularly soar above the sweltering level.
So even though the National Weather Service (NWS) officially reported only a trace desert snowfall in Tucson, Ariz., today (Feb. 20), residents still celebrated the powder (less than 0.1 inches, or 25 millimeters) clinging to palm trees and bougainvillea. The University of Arizona's Athletics Department already has a video online showing the campus under a flurry of flakes, set to cheery music.
[Full Story: Snow Carpets Arizona's Desert Cities ]
Cold weather in the Mexico mountaintops, where monarchs spend the winter, triggers the butterflies' migration northward, according to new research.
The finding raises troubling implications, researchers said, for how the approximately half-billion migratory butterflies will find their way if climate change unduly warms the mountains.
[Full Story: Cold Snaps Trigger Monarch Butterfly Migrations ]