Science News Update: June 13th

This week our Ricochet Science news update features the periodic table, evolution, the fossil record, frozen mosses, and medical advances in the production of synthetic blood.  If you are looking for a way to make the periodic table more interesting, then you definitely need to check out the video from asapScience. Another video that caught our attention was from Indiana University on the use of the junco to better understand the processes of evolution and speciation.

For science articles our attention turns to the fossil record. Over the past few weeks, new fossil evidence has been reported that is changing how we view the evolutionary history of both birds and primates. These articles will help you introduce Aurornis xui and Archicebus achilles to your classes. In addition, we have included an interesting article on how mosses have survived being frozen in glaciers for centuries, and medical advances that may make the production of synthetic blood a reality.


The New Periodic Table Song (asapScience)

Say Hello To The Junco (Indiana University)

News Articles:

Fossil Reshuffles Avian Family Tree (The Scientist; May 30, 2013)

What is claimed to be the earliest known bird species- Aurornis xui -has caused controversy within the scientific community following its discovery. Challenging the idea that flight evolved twice, one with Archaeopteryx and again with ancestors of modern birds, Aurornis suggest a completely different progression of the avian evolutionary tree. Why does this small, chicken-sized bird pose such a conflict in the scientific community? This article dives deeper into the controversy.

World’s Oldest Primate Fossil Discovered (PopSci; June 5, 2013)

“An animal unlike everything else we’ve ever seen,” is how Archicebus achilles, now the world’s oldest known primate, is being described. Found in a 55 million year old layer of sediment deep within an ancient Chinese lake bed, this 9 inch primate lies uniquely at the origin of both tarsiers, nocturnal primates found now in southeast Asia, and the anthropoid branch of monkeys, apes, and humans.

Ancient Plants Reawaken: Plants Exposed by Retreating Glaciers Regrowing After Centuries Entombed Under Ice (Science Daily; May 28, 2013)

Since the Little Ice Age 500 years ago, certain bryophyte seeds- a family of plants that includes mosses and liverworts- have been preserved in glacier ice. As these glaciers retreat, seeds that have remained dormant for centuries have begun to reawaken, and in some situations, grow and reproduce. Recent studies, preformed by Dr. Datherine La Farge, a researcher at the University of Alberta, show just how resilient these kinds of plants are, as well providing an even deeper glimpse into the nature of glacier ecosystems.

Go-ahead to develop synthetic human blood in Scotland (BBC News; May 30, 2013)

Even with modern screening and registration processes, tainted donated blood is a major problem in the medical field, to say nothing of the overall shortage of blood available for transfusion. Synthetic blood, created from stem cells, may solve both of these problems- and is now one step closer to becoming available in Hospitals, with a Scottish research center becoming the first establishment approved to begin testing and production of the synthetic liquid.


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