Whole-DNA study traces origins of the Irish | New species of lantern shark has ninja-like qualities | 2,000-year-old Florida cypress may live on through cloning
December 29, 2015
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Whole-DNA study traces origins of the Irish
Ancient people from the Middle East and what's now Eastern Europe are the early ancestors of the Irish, according to a whole-genome analysis. Scientists used DNA from a 5,000-year-old woman found near Belfast and a trio of men between 3,000 and 4,000 years old buried on an offshore Irish island. "It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish," said Eileen Murphy, co-author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Guardian (London) (12/28)
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Science in the News
New species of lantern shark has ninja-like qualities
A new species of lanternshark, dubbed the ninja lanternshark, has been discovered in the deep ocean waters off Central America. The bioluminescent creature glows due to photophores, but it has fewer of them than other lanternsharks do and uses them as camouflage. The Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation published the findings. The Huffington Post (12/24)
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2,000-year-old Florida cypress may live on through cloning
Preservationists hope to give new life to an ancient Florida cypress by cloning it. Climbers will ascend the 2,000-year-old Lady Liberty cypress in Seminole County's Big Tree Park to gather new growth to use as fodder for cloning. The nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, which aims to preserve forests with clones of the oldest and largest trees, is behind the project. WFTV-TV (Orlando, Fla.) (12/28)
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Lasers, satellite data show drought's effect on Calif. trees
Laser-imaging technology combined with satellite data has shown new detail of years of drought on nearly 900 million trees in California. "We've never before had this kind of in-depth individual tree-level analysis done in California," said Ashley Conrad-Saydah of the state's Environmental Protection Agency. The information could help analyze which areas are most susceptible to wildfires or storm damage. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (12/28)
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New video shows Pluto in a rainbow of colors
A NASA video shows Pluto in a rainbow of colors and has helped scientists learn more about the dwarf planet. The video was shot by the New Horizons space probe's infrared imaging spectrometer, then translated by NASA scientists into the colors. "The discovery of water ice on Pluto was made using the data in this movie," noted NASA's Alex Parker. United Press International (12/28)
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Syrian architectural prize destroyed by ISIS to rise again thanks to 3D tech
Syria's 2,000-year-old Arch of the Temple of Bel, recently almost destroyed by ISIS, will get a second life thanks to a giant 3D printer. The 48-foot-by-23-foot reproduction to be displayed next year in London and New York is made possible by 3D camera documentation of at-risk sites in the Middle East carried out by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. New York Post (12/29)
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Funding Watch
U. of Wyo. awarded $600,000 to study rare earth elements recovery
The US Department of Energy has awarded a $600,000 grant to the University of Wyoming to study ways to recover rare earth elements from coal ash in the Powder River Basin. The project is one of 10 throughout the nation chosen to receive DoE funding. "The values of all the elements in coal and coal ash can be significantly elevated with new technologies," project leader Maohong Fan said. KOWB-AM (Laramie, Wyo.) (12/28)
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Foundation awards grant to support Babesia blood screening
The Rhode Island Blood Center has received a $225,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations to support the center's initiative in detecting the tick-borne disease Babesia in blood donations. The center will work with Massachusetts-based Imugen to equip its laboratory with screening equipment. The Providence Journal (R.I.) (free registration) (12/28)
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