Chile’s first complete ichthyosaur fossil Earth’s only pregnant female discovered 129-139 million years ago


New Delhi: Researchers from the University of Magallanes have unearthed the fossilized remains of a four-meter-long pregnant female ichthyosaur, nicknamed “Fiona”, in Chile.

It is Chile’s first complete ichthyosaur fossil, and it was unearthed from a melting glacier deep in the country’s Patagonia region. The intact remains were recovered using a helicopter.

Ichthyosaur fossil contains multiple embryos and was first discovered in 2009, but now mined. The expedition to recover the fossil lasted 31 intense days.

The exceptional ichthyosaur is the only pregnant female from the era – between 129 and 139 million years ago – found and mined on the planet.

The dig will help provide information about his species, the paleobiology of embryonic development, and any illnesses that affected him during his lifetime. Read more.

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NASA’s InSight lander records the largest earthquake on Mars

NASA’s InSight Mars lander has detected the largest earthquake ever seen on another planet. An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 5 occurred on May 4, the 1,222nd Martian day of the mission.

This adds to the catalog of more than 1,313 earthquakes InSight has detected since landing on Mars in November 2018. The largest earthquake previously recorded had an estimated magnitude of 4.2, detected on August 25 last year. .

InSight was sent to Mars with a highly sensitive seismometer to study the planet’s deep interior. When seismic waves pass through or reflect material in the crust, mantle and core of Mars, they change in ways that seismologists can study to determine the depth and composition of these layers.

What scientists learn about the structure of Mars can help them better understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including Earth and its Moon.

A magnitude 5 quake is an average-sized quake compared to those felt on Earth, but it’s near the upper limit of what scientists had hoped to see on Mars during the InSight mission. Read more.

Water may have been on Mars longer than expected

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence that water has been present on Mars more recently than previously thought.

Previous studies have suggested that parts of the Martian surface were covered in water until around three billion years ago. The time since the water on Mars dried up is known as the Amazon period. Data from China’s Zhurong rover indicate that water on Mars may have persisted longer than previously thought.

Zhurong traveled in an impact crater on the Martian surface for about a year, analyzing rocks.

The researchers compared data found in rocks on Mars with rocks on Earth and found that some of the rocks are hydrated minerals, that is, minerals that contain water.

They also found cases of duricrust layers – made up of a hardened buildup of silica (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3) and iron oxide – which would have required a large amount of water rising either from below the surface, or a large amount of melting ice.

The researchers suggest that water must have persisted on Mars longer than previously thought to explain the hydrated minerals on its surface – possibly much longer. They also suggest that the existence of such rocks on the surface suggests the possibility of ground ice. Read more.

Scientists jump-start light-sensitive neurons

Scientists have succeeded in reviving light-sensitive neuron cells in the eyes of organ donors and restoring communication between them.

Neurons in the central nervous system transmit sensory information in the form of electrical signals. In the eye, specialized neurons called photoreceptors detect light.

Researchers from the University of Utah and Scripps Research have used the retina as a model of the central nervous system to study the death of neurons and have found new ways to revive them.

They were able to wake up photoreceptor cells in the human macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for our central vision and our ability to see fine detail and color.

In eyes obtained up to five hours after the death of an organ donor, these cells responded to bright light, colored lights, and even very faint flashes of light.

While the first experiments revived the photoreceptors, the cells seemed to have lost their ability to communicate with other cells in the retina. The team identified oxygen deprivation as the critical factor leading to this loss of communication.

To meet the challenge, the team procured eyes from organ donors within 20 minutes of death and designed a special transport unit to restore oxygenation and other nutrients to donor eyes. of organs.

They also built a device to stimulate the retina and measure the electrical activity of its cells. With this approach, the team was able to restore a specific electrical signal seen in living eyes known as a ‘b wave’. This is the first b-wave recording made from the central retina of post-mortem human eyes. Read more.

Six new species of frog discovered in Mexico

Scientists from the University of Cambridge, the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Texas at Arlington have discovered six new species of thumbnail-sized frogs in the forests of Mexico, one of them deserving of the distinction of smallest frog in Mexico.

All six species are about 15mm long at maturity. Adult males of the smallest of these species measure only 13 mm.

The newly discovered species are known as “direct development” frogs – rather than hatching from eggs into tadpoles like most frogs, they emerge from eggs as perfect miniature frogs. And they are so small that they are at the very bottom of the forest food chain.

These frogs live in dark, moist forest litter, so there is still much to learn about how they socialize or reproduce.

The study involved bringing together nearly 500 frog specimens from museums around the world, which had been collected in Mexico, and using new methods to categorize the relationships between them.

Using DNA sequencing, the team sorted the frogs into groups based on the similarity of their genes. Next, CT scans were used to create 3D models of the frogs’ skeletons, so physical details could be compared. These two very different lines of evidence revealed six new species of frogs. Read more.

(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)

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