5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including a Mars probe missing since 2003 and a 'sinister dolphin' found in Scotland
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2015 5:31 AM CST
We welcome our droid dealer overlords.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A Scottish sea monster and a poker-playing bot that most people will never beat make the list:

  • Mars Probe Lost for a Decade Shows Up: The Beagle 2 began its fall to Mars on Dec. 19, 2003, with a scheduled Christmas Day landing—but it was never heard from again. Now images snapped over the last two years by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the probe within 3 miles of its target landing location, and it appears intact. What the heck's been going on for the past 11 years?
  • The Secret to How Babies Form Memories: Using animal puppets, tiny mittens, and 216 infants, researchers think they've hit on another clue to how babies remember things: naps. When the baby naps, however, seems to play an especially important part in memory formation.

  • It's Wild Where This 132-Year-Old Rifle Was Found: Visitors to Nevada's Great Basin National Park expect to spot plenty of plants and wildlife, but firearms probably aren't on their scavenger-hunt list. In November, an archaeological crew at the park spotted a Winchester Model 1873 leaning up against a tree in the woods. Fun fact: This model was featured in almost every movie starring a famous Western icon.
  • Competition for the Loch Ness Monster?: The discovery of an "ichthyosaur" or "marine lizard" may not sound incredibly fascinating to non-paleontologists. But "motorboat-sized sinister dolphin"? Tell us more! Prehistoric bones discovered on the Isle of Skye in 1959 have recently been identified as an entirely new species of prehistoric reptile that lived about 170 million years ago. The creature's fin bone reveals attributes about it that make it different from other ichthyosaurs.
  • This Bot Can Beat Everyone at Texas Hold 'Em: A robot has gotten pretty darn good at poker after playing trillions of hands. The program reportedly learns from its mistakes, experiencing what might be called electronic "regret" over moves that don't work out. Don't give up completely: The bot does appear to have one weakness.
Click to read about more discoveries.
 

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