Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Feb 5 2017, 6:16am CST | by , Updated: Feb 5 2017, 6:25am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Top Science Stories This Week
The location of Mauritius, a long-lost continent. Credit: Wits University
 

Oldest Human Ancestor Discovered 

Researchers have discovered the evidence of the oldest known human ancestor. Named Saccorhytu, the tiny, bag-like creature had a big mouth but no anus.  It lived around 540 million years ago while it fossil remains were discovered in China.

The strange creature was the common ancestor of a huge range of species, including the vertebrates. Researchers suggest that modern human were evolved from this creature which was about a millimeter in size and probably found in the grains of sand on the seafloor. 

Other ancient deuterostomes date back to around 520 million years ago, a time when they had already started to evolve into vertebrates, as well as sea squirts, star fish and sea urchins. New Saccorhytus fossils can help fill that evolutionary gap. 

Lost Continent Found Under Indian Ocean

While it may sound like something straight out of a treasure hunt movie but researchers have discovered the traces of what they believe an ancient “lost continent."

By studying the samples of volcanic rock zircon found on the island of Mauritius, researchers have found that those rocks are much older than the island itself. The analysis suggest that these unfamiliar rock might have originated from a continent that is now buried inside the Indian Ocean. 

The continet which geologists call "Mauritia” seems to be a tiny piece of ancient supercontinent Gondwana. The supercontinent existed around 200 million years ago and eventually split into what is now Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia.

Moon may be Covered with Oxygen from Earth’s Atmosphere 

A new study from Japanese researchers reveals that Earth’s oxygen may be traveling all the way to the Moon’s surface for the past 2.4 billion years and this certain type of oxygen has been found trapped inside the lunar soil. 

Researchers reached this conclusion after examining data taken from moon-orbiting Kaguya spacecraft. Researchers found that approximately 26,000 oxygen ions per second bombard every square centimeter of the moon's surface for a few days every month. 

Prior researches have also shown that lunar soil samples contain some degree of oxygen-17 and oxygen-18 isotopes, which are not usually found in space, but exist in the ozone layer or Earth’s upper atmosphere. 

Milky Way is being Pushed by an Enormous Extragalactic Void

Our galaxy Milky Way is moving across the universe at an incredible speed of 2 million km per hour.  But what is propelling the Milky Way’s race through space?

It has been generally assumed that cosmic dense regions are pulling Milky Way towards the universe. This is similar to Newton’s law of universal gravitation.  However, a new research suggests that our galaxy is not only being pulled, but also pushed. A very large region in our extragalactic void is exerting a repelling force on our Local Group of galaxies and is pushing Milky Way through the Universe.

Twin Study reveals how One-year Mission Affects an Astronaut's Health

The first results of a study focusing on the impact space travel on a person's body were released last week and they reveal that one year stay in space may cause significant changes in human genes.

The study compares the data from before, during and after astronaut Scott Kelly's one-year long mission in space with those of his identical twin brother. His brother Mark was on Earth throughout that time. 

The findings offer new insight into the effects of microgravity conditions on human body and could help astronauts prepare for long-term space missions in future.

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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