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Lasers reveal ancient urban sprawl hidden in the Amazon

Lasers reveal ancient urban sprawl hidden in the Amazon

A massive urban landscape that contained interconnected campsites, villages, towns and monumental centers thrived in the Amazon rainforest more than 600 years ago. In what is now Bolivia, members of the Casarabe culture built an urban system that included straight, raised causeways running for several kilometers, canals and reservoirs, researchers report May 25 in Nature. …

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Biocrusts reduce global dust emissions by 60 percent

Biocrusts reduce global dust emissions by 60 percent

In the unceasing battle against dust, humans possess a deep arsenal of weaponry, from microfiber cloths to feather dusters to vacuum cleaners. But new research suggests that none of that technology can compare to nature’s secret weapon — biological soil crusts. These biocrusts are thin, cohesive layers of soil, glued together by dirt-dwelling organisms, that …

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‘Wandering’ salamanders glide like skydivers from the world’s tallest trees

‘Wandering’ salamanders glide like skydivers from the world’s tallest trees

In one of the tallest trees on Earth, a tan, mottled salamander ventures out on a fern growing high up on the trunk. Reaching the edge, the amphibian leaps, like a skydiver exiting a plane.  The salamander’s confidence, it seems, is well-earned. The bold amphibians can expertly control their descent, gliding while maintaining a skydiver’s …

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A century ago, Alexander Friedmann envisioned the universe’s expansion

A century ago, Alexander Friedmann envisioned the universe’s expansion

For millennia, the universe did a pretty good job of keeping its secrets from science. Ancient Greeks thought the universe was a sphere of fixed stars surrounding smaller spheres carrying planets around the central Earth. Even Copernicus, who in the 16th century correctly replaced the Earth with the sun, viewed the universe as a single …

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Why some scientists want serious research into UFOs

Why some scientists want serious research into UFOs

The U.S. defense and intelligence communities are taking unidentified flying objects, officially known as unidentified aerial phenomena, seriously. And some researchers think the scientific community should too. On May 17, the U.S. Congress held its first public hearing about these objects in decades (SN: 6/26/71). Two Pentagon officials described efforts to catalog and analyze sightings, …

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These dolphins may turn to corals for skin care

These dolphins may turn to corals for skin care

On her deep-sea dives, wildlife biologist Angela Ziltener of the University of Zurich often noticed Indo-Pacific bottlenosed dolphins doing something intriguing. The dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) would line up to take turns brushing their bodies against corals or sea sponges lining the seafloor. After more than a decade as an “adopted” member of the pod — …

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Unexplained hepatitis cases in kids offer more questions than answers

Unexplained hepatitis cases in kids offer more questions than answers

As health officials continue their investigation of unexplained cases of liver inflammation in children, what is known is still outpaced by what isn’t. At least 500 cases of hepatitis from an unknown cause have been reported in children in roughly 30 countries, according to health agencies in Europe and the United States. As of May …

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