10 Stories

First Mass Extinction Likely Caused by 'Utterly Weird' Animals

Animals shaped like 'Frisbees and lumpy mattresses' may have killed early Ediacarans

(Newser) - New fossil evidence dug up in Namibia lends credence to the theory that we should blame "ecosystem engineers" for the world's first mass extinction, and that's not a euphemism for man, asteroids, or aliens. Instead, per a Vanderbilt University study published in the October issue of the... More »

Scientists Find Life Half a Mile Below Antarctic Ice

The active ecosystem is below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

(Newser) - A half a mile below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, in a lake that hasn’t been touched by sunshine or wind in millions of years, life goes on. A large US expedition called WISSARD , led by a professor at Montana State University, has unearthed a thriving... More »

Ocean Expedition Finds 1M New Species

And reveals that there's a lot of plastic threatening them

(Newser) - Researchers will today present the fruits of a two-year 70,000-mile journey: up to 1 million previously undocumented species found living in the world's deep oceans, reports The Independent . The research ship Tara collected thousands of samples from depths of up to 2,000 meters, yielding more than 1.... More »

World's Hardiest Creatures Survive 'Martian Soil'

Researchers seek to keep Earth stowaways away from Mars

(Newser) - A tiny but incredibly tough creature called the tardigrade has been identified as the Earth-dweller most likely to hitch a ride to Mars and survive once there—indicating that our methods for sterilizing Mars rovers may not be up to snuff. The millimeter-long creature, also known as the water bear,... More »

Spooky Universal Pattern Captivates Math Experts

Academics ponder similarities between cities and organisms

(Newser) - A fascinating mathematical similarity between infrastructure requirements of cities and the nutritional needs of different-sized animals has energized a field of study that is enthralling academics. Researchers have discovered that any measure of a city's infrastructure—from number of gas stations to miles of roadway—grows only in proportion to... More »

Under Antarctic Glacier, Life Exists Without Light, Oxygen

(Newser) - Scientists have discovered an Antarctic ecosystem of microorganisms cut off from light and oxygen for as many as 2 million years, the Guardian reports. The microbes, living under one-third of a mile of ice, in a 14-degree lake four times as salty as seawater, give researchers clues to how life... More »

Biogas-Farting Bugs Can Aid Green Power

(Newser) - Single-celled organisms that absorb electricity and emit methane can help people store energy from green power sources, New Scientist reports. Researchers have found that certain microorganisms, when fed surplus power, mix it with carbon dioxide to create methane, which can be saved and burned any time—perfect for storing power... More »

Asteroids Could Reseed a Devastated Earth

Rock-dwelling microorganisms would make it back from space

(Newser) - If a comet ever obliterates life on Earth, don't worry—space rocks could later fall in and reseed a few basic life forms. A new study shows that organisms can survive being hit by a meteor, ejected into space, and hurtled back to Earth on the face of a rock—... More »

Gene Tweaking Dramatically Extends Life

Altered yeast microbes live 10 times longer than control group

(Newser) - In a breakthrough that may have implications for humans, researchers have made the lifespan of yeast 10 times longer, doubling the previous record for life expansion, LiveScience reports. Genetic alteration and a low-calorie diet prolonged the microbe's existence from the typical 1 week to 10 weeks. The scientists involved have... More »

Frozen DNA Survives After 8 Million Years

Microorganisms from Antarctica look like Martian data

(Newser) - Scientists have nixed the notion that glaciers are lifeless blocks of ice by thawing chunks containing Antarctic organisms and watching them successfully divide on their own, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study suggests that these microorganisms, ranging from 100,000 to 8 million years old, could yield DNA and... More »

10 Stories