Each week we find the most interesting and informative articles we can and along the way we uncover amazing and cool images. Here you'll discover incredible photos and the stories behind them.
In October 2019, two huge cracks split across the edge of Pine Island Glacier — one of the fastest-shrinking glaciers in Antarctica (seen here). Earlier this week, those cracks finally met. A chunk of ice with twice the area of Washington, D.C., split off of the glacier and spilled into the sea. The city-sized slab won’t raise sea levels (it was already floating in the water to begin with), but it does continue an alarming trend at Pine Island Glacier, which is seeing its edges retreat much faster than fresh ice can form. Scientists worry the whole glacier could collapse, and the neighboring Thwaites glacier could be close behind. The two regions hold enough ice to raise the ocean by 4 feet (1.2 meters).
Epic mouse battle
Two mice dance the tango after a romantic night out in London… is what we wish this photo was about. Actually, this incredible action shot taken by UK-based photographer Sam Rowley shows two of the London Underground's 500,000 resident mice fighting over a scrap of food on a subway platform. Earlier this week, the photo won the people’s choice award for the London Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Hopefully that’s just desserts for Rowley; to get the shot, he spent a week’s-worth of nights scouting around various subway platforms — on his stomach.
The surreal-looking brown and green spheres flowing around Mars in this image depict particles from a projectile’s core and mantle, respectively. These particles would have assimilated into the Martian mantle.
A new computer simulation suggests that planetesimals (projectiles) likely slammed into Mars as the Red Planet was just forming. These impacts would have carried “iron-loving” elements — such as tungsten, platinum and gold — to Mars, something that would have influenced how fast the planet matured into the chilly, terrestrial orb we know and love today. From this simulation, the researchers at the Southwest Research Institute think Mars formed more slowly than was previously thought.
Jaguar duo snag anaconda
Lebanon-based photographer Michel Zoghzoghi was filming jaguars in Brazil when he saw an unexpected case of cross-species coordination. Two jaguars — a mother and her baby — stepped out of a nearby river carrying a large, spotted anaconda between their teeth. Because the snake's pattern closely matched the jaguars', Zoghzoghi titled this photo "Matching outfits." The photo was selected as a runner-up in the people's choice award category of the London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.
The largest complete turtle shell on record belongs to Stupendemys geographicus, a beast that lived 8 million years ago. The shell is nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) long, meaning its owner weighed an estimated 2,500 lbs. (1,145 kilograms), twice that of the largest living turtle, the marine leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea). A new look at S. geographicus revealed that the males had pointed horns near their necks, which likely helped them in combat.
[Read full story: This may be the biggest turtle that ever lived]
A primitive female bee got trapped in sticky resin some 100 million years ago. That resin hardened into an amber tomb that preserved the bee’s last moments as if frozen in time. Several pollen grains are still clinging to the bee’s body, indicating the insect had likely just visited one or more flowers, the researchers who identified the bee said. This mid-Cretaceous fossil, which was discovered in Myanmar, is considered the oldest record of a bee with pollen, said George Poinar Jr. of Oregon State University. Poinar found that the bee fits into a new family, genus and species, he reported in the journal BioOne Complete. Attached to the bee are four beetle parasites, which plague bees to this day.
Scientists finally discovered the source of mysterious "stinging water" that zaps the skin of people swimming in tropical lagoons around the world: A mix of jellyfish mucus and venom-filled "bombs." The upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana) rests top-down on the ocean floor and secretes viscous mucus into the water above. When researchers examined the snot under the microscope, they saw tiny spheres spinning around in the fluid. Stinging cells coat the spheres and deposit venom on creatures that run into them. Unwary swimmers develop an irritating itch after touching the toxin, while tiny animals like brine shrimp perish on contact.
[Read full story: Upside-down jellyfish release venom-filled 'bombs' in their snot]
At first glance, this image might look more psychedelic than scientific, but take a closer look and you’ll see: Two millipedes are mating under UV light. The millipedes, in the Pseudopolydesmus genus, don’t have an affinity to ultraviolet light. Rather, scientists wanted to understand details of the millipedes’ genitals, which start glowing under black light. With that imaging combined with other techniques such as CT scanning, the researchers were able to see, for the first time, pairs’ sexual organs interact. They described the findings in the journal Arthropod Structure and Development.
[Read full press release on the Field Museum in Chicago site]
Coronavirus images released
This is one of the first-ever images of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that has sickened tens of thousands of people and killed over 1,000 in an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) imaged samples of the virus and cells taken from a U.S. patient infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.
[Read full story: Images of new coronavirus just released]
Reaper of death
The infamous Tyrannosaurus rex has a new cousin! And this beast may have been just as fierce. Partial skulls and jaws of the 79.5-million-year-old species were discovered in Alberta, Canada. From those bones, paleontologists think the beast would have sported a monstrous face with a mouthful of serrated teeth, each more than 2.7 inches (7 centimeters) long. They named the tyrannosaur Thanatotheristes degrootorum, or “reaper of death” — "Thanatos" is the Greek god of death and "theristes" is Greek for "reaper." When alive, the dinosaur would have been quite a sight, measuring 26 feet (8 meters) long from snout to tail, the researchers estimated.
[Read full story: 'Reaper of death,' newfound cousin of T. rex, discovered in Canada]
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- From Big Bang to Present: Snapshots of Our Universe Through Time
- 25 Strangest Sights on Google Earth
Originally published on Live Science.