Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Mar 5 2017, 7:09am CST | by , Updated: Mar 5 2017, 7:24am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Top Science Stories This Week
Chalconatronite, a mineral result of quarrying. Credit: RRUFF

Elephants Sleep Just Two Hours a Day – the least of any Mammal

Wild African elephants sleep less than any other mammal on Earth. These animals sleep just 2 hours a night and stay up for 49 hours straight despite traveling dozens of miles during a day.

Scientists already know a lot about the sleep patterns of captive elephants, but it is the first time they have tracked the sleep behavior of the wild elephants living in their natural habitats. For the study, researchers placed fitness trackers under the skin of two elephants from Botswana and monitored them for continuous 35 days. Researchers found that wild elephant’s two hour sleep pattern is the shortest known sleep time of any mammal as well as for those in the captivity. Captive elephants sleep five to six hours a day.

DNA Analysis Provides More Clues on Woolly Mammoth’s Extinction

In the last Ice Age, woolly mammoths were living throughout the Siberia and into the colder stretches of North America. But by about 4,000 years ago, mainland mammoths died out and only 300 remained on Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.

To find out more about the sudden disappearance of mainland woolly mammoths, researchers compared the genome of a mainland mammoth that lived about 45,000 years ago with that of a mammoth from Wrangel Island and found that drastic changes in genomes could be the reason behind the demise of mainland mammoths. The genetic mutations taking place in mainland woolly mammoths left the animal with poor sense of smell and caused to shut down its mating behavior, leading to its disappearance fromthe animal in mainland Serbia.

Human Activity has Created 208 New Mineral Speces on Earth

Humans are responsible for the formation of 208 new minerals on Earth and this is possibly the biggest such event in the history of our planet, according to a latest research on minerals.

Minerals usually form on their own after getting through geological processes. However, researchers have identified for the first time a group of 208 minerals that originated due to human activities. That accounts for almost 4 per cent of the 5200 minerals formally recognized by the International Mineralogical Association, supporting the scientific argument to officially designate a new geological time interval characterized by the pervasive impact of human activities: the Anthropocene Epoch.

NASA Spacecraft Narrowly Misses Mars Moon Phobos

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft performed an unscheduled maneuver this week to avoid a collision with Mars large moon Phobos.

MAVEN has been studying the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet for two years. On Feb. 28, the spacecraft burned its main rocket motor in order to change trajectories and to avoid crossing paths with Phobos. This is the first collision avoidance maneuver that the MAVEN spacecraft has performed at Mars to escape an encounter with Phobos. The orbital paths of MAVEN and Phobos reveal that they will not collide with each other.

A High-Resolution Map of Dark Matter Created

Dark matter is an invisible force that makes up most of the universe but we cannot observe it directly. Dark matter does not absorb, reflect or emit light which makes it impossible to spot. The only way we can infer its existence is from its gravitational effects on nearby visible matter.

Based on phenomenon called gravitational lensing, researchers from Yale University have created one of the highest-resolution maps of dark matter, which offers a detailed look into the presence of cold dark matter in the universe. The dark matter map is derived from Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields data.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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