A Mighty Otter: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Also, a surprise insight about running's effect on the knees
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2017 5:34 AM CST
Artist's rendering of Siamogale melilutra.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – An ancient otter of surprising size and an intriguing find about "dead" bodies were among the discoveries making headlines this week:

  • Giant Preshistoric Otter Found—but Why So Big? Picture an otter, then envision it ballooning to twice—or triple, or quadruple—its size until it's a 110-pound creature: It's not a journey into the imagination, but to yesteryear. An international team of scientists has announced news of the largest otter ever found, one that lived some 6.2 million years ago. It feasted on mollusks, which raises a whole other set of interesting questions.

  • 2 Days After Death, Some Life Remains in Body: Death is more like the slow shutdown of a computer than the flipping off of a light switch, says a scientist, explaining a new study that shows genes in the body remain alive for about two days after the heart stops. It's possible they're trying, in vain, to repair damage. The study involved mice and zebrafish, but researchers think it's true of humans, too. If so, it could turn out to be useful for crime investigators.
  • Cervical Cancer Deaths Show a Huge Racial Gap: Many more American women are dying from cervical cancer than previously thought, with black women in particular dying at rates akin to those in developing countries. The study found that 10.1 per 100,000 black women die of the disease, compared to 4.7 for white women. More screening could help.
  • Running May Actually Benefit Your Knees: Conventional wisdom says running is hard on the knees, but a new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology may upend that. The research suggests that running may actually change the biochemistry of the knee to protect against inflammation and arthritis—and you wouldn't have to be a marathon runner to benefit.
  • PG-13 Films More Violent Than R-Rated Movies: If you thought PG-13 movies were less violent than R-rated flicks, think again. More gun violence plays out on the big screen in movies open to all ages than in R-rated ones. Writing in the journal Pediatrics, researchers say the rate of gun violence in PG-13 movies in 2012 equaled that of R-rated films but has since outpaced them. They criticize another component of the violence, too.
Click to read about more discoveries.

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