Science News Update: February 15th

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Science News for the Science Classroom

This week’s  science news update focuses on origins – the origins of Native Americans, early stars, multicellular life, and a possible pushback on the origins of vertebrates. We haven’t forgotten the Olympics ! Check out the videos at the end from ASAPscience.

Ancient Native American Genome Sequenced

Human specimens of ancient Native Americans are incredibly rare, leaving scientists to forgo genetic sequencing in favor of more abundant archaeological evidence to determine Native American origins.  While most scientists agree that humans crossed into America through a land bridge in the Bering Strait, it is unknown if said migrants originated from Western Europe or Eastern Asia.

The genetic sequencing of a 12,000-year-old infant in central Montana, first uncovered in 1968, has recently shed better light on this issue. Named “Anzick-1”, the ancient Native American once belonged to the Clovis people, believed to be one of the earliest human populations in the New World. By analyzing Anzick’s genome, scientists discovered that his genes were more similar to Eastern Asians than Western Europeans, suggesting that the first humans in the Americas came north out of Asia instead of East out of Europe.


The Origins of Multicellularity

If you are looking for a great article on not only the evolution of multicellularity, but also the history of how scientists have studied this process, then the article below is what you are looking for. A great resource for any biology class.


Oldest Star Discovered

6,000 light years away lies a star that is 13.7 billion years old- nearly as old as the universe itself. Currently the oldest discovered star in the universe, the star likely formed following the collapse of an ancient primordial star that was nearly 50 times the size of our sun.  By investigating the composition of this star, scientists can further determine the chemical makeup of the early universe.

The discovery was made possible by the ANU SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, which is currently in a five-year process of digitally mapping the sky of the southern hemisphere.


New Technology Lets Surgeons See Cancer Cells

Cancer cells are notoriously difficult to discern by the naked eye. Traditionally practice has surgeons remove both observable tumors and surrounding tissue, which may or may not be cancerous. This tissue is then sent to a laboratory where the tissue is determined to be or not to be cancerous. If it is, patients are required to return for repeat surgery- something about 20% of all cancer surgery patients must undergo.

A new technology developed by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis could reduce or even eliminate the need for repeat surgery. By developing special glasses that cause cancerous cells to glow blue, Washington University’s scientists have created a way for surgeons to potentially remove all cancerous material in the first surgery, saving resources and even lives in the process.


Vertebrates May Be Older Than We Thought

Fossils of a mother Ichthyosaur giving birth to three children over 248 million years ago were recently found! One offspring was already out just a few feet away, one was halfway out, and one was still inside the mother.

This evidence proves that vertebrae were around over 10 million years longer than originally thought!



The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are well underway and this is a great time to integrate athletic performance into the science classroom. The team at ASAPScience has been developing a series of great videos on Olympic performance, the diet of athletes, and even whether you should have sex before an Olympic event!

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