Top stories: fresh-baked fossils, cloud-seeding algae, and how ancient farmers braved global cooling
These labmade fossils could reveal how dinosaurs really looked
By baking their own fossils with pressure, heat, and clay, scientists have now found a way to examine the changes soft tissues experience over millions of years of fossilization. This approach may allow researchers to “reverse engineer” what ancient animals looked like when they still roamed Earth.
This alga may be seeding the world’s skies with clouds
When one of the ocean’s most abundant microorganisms—the Emiliania huxleyi alga—dies, it sheds its tiny calcium carbonate shell. A new study reveals that bits of this shell are sometimes flung into the air by waves and become the kernel on which water vapor can condense to form droplets, which in turn become clouds.
Animal fat on ancient pottery reveals a nearly catastrophic period of human prehistory
Around 6200 B.C.E., climates suddenly cooled across the globe. The impact on early farmers was probably extreme, yet archaeologists know little about how they endured. Now, the remains of animal fat on broken pottery from the ancient Çatalhöyük site in Turkey has revealed that, in addition to cooling, local farmers faced a prolonged drought. To cope, they butchered their meat to consume every possible calorie, and replaced their cattle herds with more resilient goats.
When did a massive volcano blow this island to bits and rock the ancient world?
A battle has long waged over the timing of an explosion that blew the top off the volcanic island of Thera in the Aegean Sea—and rocked the ancient world. Now, a study measuring the radiocarbon stored in the rings of five trees could help nail down the date—and serve as a calibration tool for widely used radiocarbon dating methods.
Q&A: Doctoral students at Germany’s Max Planck Society say recent troubles highlight need for change
In the wake of two cases of alleged harassment and bullying at Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society, a network of roughly 5000 doctoral students working at its 84 institutes has issued a statement requesting stronger systems for preventing and resolving problems. Jana Lasser, a spokesperson for the students and a physicist and doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, Germany, says early career researchers need to feel safer to speak up about conflicts at work.