5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including a find from one of our Founding Fathers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2015 5:45 AM CDT
The remains of a mid-16th-century church known as the Temple of Santiago is visible from the surface of the Grijalva River near the town of Nueva Quechula, in Chiapas state, Mexico, Oct. 16, 2015.   (AP Photo/David von Blohn)

(Newser) – A shocking discovery in a Mexican reservoir and history-changing crystals make the list:

  • Thomas Jefferson's Lost Chemistry Lab Found: A worker renovating the rotunda at the University of Virginia made an unexpected discovery when he crawled through a hole in the wall: part of a chemistry lab partly designed by Thomas Jefferson nearly 200 years ago. How did it survive all these years? By accident.
  • Plague Older Than We Thought: Scientists have found evidence of the plague in European skeletons dating back 5,000 years. The reason that's so surprising? It pushes back the origin of the disease about 3,000 years. It also may explain a massive migration in the Bronze Age.

  • Bet You Didn't Expect That to Come Out of the Water: A recent drought has caused the water level to fall 82 feet in Mexico's Nezahualcoyotl reservoir, and something unusual has arisen from the receding waters. The Temple of Santiago, a 16th-century church that was flooded during construction of a dam nearly 40 years ago. It's got a riveting backstory.
  • To Cut Your Brain's Age, Eat Mediterranean: Hoping to avoid brain shrinkage, cognitive impairment, and dementia? Gobble up lots of fish, veggies, and nuts. A study shows those who follow the Mediterranean diet have less brain atrophy than those who don't. Study participants who ate Mediterranean-style had larger brain volume than others—and that difference may add a not-insignificant amount of time to your life.
  • Ancient Crystals Rewrite 300M Years of History: Life has existed on this planet for 300 million years longer than thought, say researchers. Scientists say zircon crystals from 4.1 billion years ago, unearthed in Australia, contain a telltale carbon deposit that appears to have come from something organic, which gets closer to the origin of the planet itself, roughly 4.5 billion years ago. That throws a wrench in the existing hellish origin story we've been going by.
Click to read about more discoveries.