In January 2016, Professor Mike Brown, the California Institute of Technology researcher who demoted Pluto to dwarf status, reported that he and some colleagues had discovered evidence of a ninth planet in our solar system. Dubbed Planet X, the gaseous giant believed to be two to three times the size of Earth, purportedly has a highly elliptical orbit and takes over 20,000 earth years to revolve around the sun. Though exciting, the find was based on computer simulations, which means that no one has ever seen this mysterious planet.
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The fact that the Dionaea muscipula, or Venus flytrap, feeds on unsuspecting insects by luring them into its jaw-like leaves with sweet-smelling nectar has been known for centuries. However, scientists thought the prey only provided the plant with essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous that are severely lacking in their native habitats – the subtropical wetlands of North and South Carolina. They had assumed that like other vegetation the carnivorous plants obtained their energy through photosynthesis – using light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. It turns out they were wrong.
A large otter the size of a wolf, roamed the wooded marshlands of China’s Yunnan Province about six million years ago. Xiaoming Wang, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California, and her team arrived at this conclusion after an extensive study of fossils found in the 6.2 million-year-old sediment of the Shuitangba coal mine in Yunnan, China in 2010 and 2015.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have tremendous potential to deliver emergency supplies to remote or disaster-struck regions. However, they are expensive to mass produce and often require special pads to launch and land safely. Additionally, the need for the aircraft to maintain enough battery life to return, cuts the delivery distance to half. But these issues may be history, thanks to an affordable and disposable drone that is designed for a one way journey.
Move over, Atlantis! A real lost continent has been discovered by a team of geologists led by Lewis D. Ashwal from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. The scientists, who have named it Mauritia, believe that the landmass was once part of Gondwana, the supercontinent that included most of the landmasses in the modern-day Southern Hemisphere, and the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent that are now part of the Northern Hemisphere.
On February 11, thousands of people, many dressed in costumes and masks, gathered at the Rio de Cannaregio in Venice to watch the spectacular water show that marked the opening of the Carnevale di Venezia, or Carnival of Venice. The brainchild of the creative minds at Corona Events artist company, it featured colorful floating structures and acrobatic performers, many of whom were dressed as sea creatures.
New Zealand is no stranger to beached whales. Every year, rescuers help refloat many disoriented mammals that get stuck in the coastal waters or sand during low tide. However, last week’s simultaneous stranding of two pods, totaling over 650 pilot whales, in the shallow muddy waters of Golden Bay at the northwest tip of South Island is almost unprecedented. Local marine experts say it is the largest known whale stranding since 1985 when 450 of the mammals were found beached in Auckland, and the third largest on record.