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3 Kids Dumped in Scorching Desert as Punishment: Cops

California mom Mary Bell, boyfriend Gary Cassle arrested on felony child abuse charges

(Newser) - San Bernardino County deputies received a disturbing call Wednesday: Three young children were wandering around a Twentynine Palms-area desert. When they arrived on the scene around 11:30am, one of the hottest parts of the day ( KESQ notes it was around 94 degrees; the New York Daily News says... More »

Water Once Flowed Across the Sahara—and Might Again

New images reveal an ancient river system running through the desert

(Newser) - The Sahara wasn't much of a desert a while back. Satellite images have confirmed the existence of a river network that spanned hundreds of miles and made the region habitable for plants, animals, and humans as recently as 5,000 years ago, according to a French study in Nature... More »

Cops: Man Left Granddaughter, 5, in Desert With Loaded Gun

He reportedly told her to 'shoot any bad guys'

(Newser) - After downing a cheeseburger and a handful of drinks Sunday evening, Paul Rater called home and ordered his wife to come get him, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says, per the Arizona Republic . But instead of his wife showing up at the South Buckeye Equestrian Center, the cops did—... More »

One of the Driest Places on Earth Is Covered in Flowers

The Atacama Desert is blooming thanks to record rainfall

(Newser) - One of the driest, harshest landscapes in the world has been transformed into a psychedelic canvas of reds, purples, and greens after record-setting rain. Live Science reports that Chile's Atacama Desert averages just over half an inch of rain a year, with some parts of the desert getting even... More »

Rockhound Finds WWII Bomb in Utah Desert

He was disappointed when the Air Force blew it up

(Newser) - Ex-Marine Craig Alvord calls it a "once-in-a-lifetime" find after more than 50 years of rockhounding: a 500-pound unexploded WWII-era bomb. According to the Desert News , Alvord found the 6-foot-long bomb while hunting rocks in Utah's West Desert Monday. He tells KSL he was nervous finding the bomb, so... More »

Couple Who Died in NM Desert Used Water to Save Son

French family wasn't prepared for the White Sands heat

(Newser) - Tragedy at White Sands: A French couple who disastrously underestimated the power of the New Mexico desert died in the heat but used what little water they had to keep their son alive, the Guardian reports. From what investigators can piece together, Ornella and David Steiner and their 9-year-old son,... More »

Scientists Make Amazing 'Fairy Circle' Finding

The circles' layout matches those of skin cells

(Newser) - The Namibian desert is home to what are called " fairy circles ": strange formations of grassless earth surrounded by grass. Almost perfect circles, they're the subject of local myths, the BBC reports. Researchers still don't know what causes them, but new findings could help them figure it... More »

25% of India Turning to Desert

Desertification, degradation could threaten food security

(Newser) - Nearly a quarter of India's land is turning to desert thanks to over-use of land, heavy grazing, and changing rainfall patterns, says the country's environment minister. He warns "land is becoming barren," and notes that could threaten food security in a country that houses 17% of... More »

How Maine Got Its Desert

40-acre phenomenon is Ice Age leftover

(Newser) - If you're ever in Maine, it might not hurt to bring a camel. Sure, the state has its forests and coastline, but it's also home to a 47-acre desert. Well, not technically a desert, thanks to the amount of precipitation it gets. Still, "walking to the middle... More »

How Did 'White Gold' End Up in Chile's Desert?

Scientists think nitrates came from ancient groundwater, not evaporation from the sea

(Newser) - Chile's Atacama Desert—the world's highest and driest—is packed with what's been called "white gold": nitrate deposits that have been historically important. The nitrates found there were key to World War I bombs and battling iodine deficiency, LiveScience reports. But until now, just how the... More »

72 Women, Kids Rescued in Sahara

Group was stranded when truck broke down

(Newser) - A delegation on its way to visit the burial place of 92 migrants who died of thirst in northern Niger saved 72 women and children from dying in the same unforgiving part of the Sahara. The group, 20 women and 52 children, were on their way back from Algeria when... More »

Desert Yields Bodies of 92 Thirst Victims

Thousands try cross-Sahara journey seeking work

(Newser) - Earlier reports suggested that about 35 people , apparently migrants seeking work, had died of thirst in a Niger desert—but the remains of more than double that number have been discovered by rescue teams, reports the AP . The 92 highly decomposed bodies appeared to have been scavenged by jackals, rescue... More »

Dozens Die of Thirst After Desert Stranding

5 bodies discovered following vehicle's breakdown near Sahara

(Newser) - Statements don't get much bleaker than this: "About 40 Niger people, including numerous children and women, who were attempting to emigrate to Algeria, died of thirst in mid-October." That's what the mayor of Agadez, Niger, tells the AFP , which reports that one of two vehicles carrying... More »

Couple Die of Thirst in Desert

They were trying to get across Saudi Arabia's 'Empty Quarter'

(Newser) - A Qatari couple trying to drive across the biggest desert in the world has been found dead, reports the BBC . The couple apparently had car trouble in the middle of what's aptly called the Empty Quarter, a desolate stretch of sand more than 600 miles wide where temperatures top... More »

Once-Green Sahara Turned to Dust Quickly

Change occurred 5K years ago, over a century or two

(Newser) - You wouldn't know it from looking around today, but the Sahara desert was once a lush, green wonderland of lakes, vegetation, and animals. And then poof, relatively speaking, it turned into the desert we know today. Researchers studying 30,000 years of dust sediment off the coast of Africa... More »

Desert 'Fairy Circles' Made by ... Termites?

German scientist thinks he's solved the mystery

(Newser) - It's kind of a let-down, if true. A German scientist says the mysterious "fairy circles" that have long cropped up in the desert of southwest Africa are caused by humble sand termites, reports Global Post . The critters live beneath the soil and thrive on grass roots, explains Norbert... More »

Halliburton Finds Radioactive Rod Lost in Texas

Crew used it to find fracking sites in the desert

(Newser) - Halliburton finally tracked down the radioactive rod it lost in Texas about a month ago, ending fears that someone might discover it and suffer permanent injury, the Guardian reports. A three-man company crew lost the rod while identifying possible fracking sites between Pecos and Odessa on Sept. 11. Since then,... More »

Autistic Man Survives 3-Week, 40-Mile Desert Ordeal

William LaFever ran out of food, ate frogs and roots

(Newser) - An autistic man lived on a few frogs he caught and roots as he wandered for weeks in the remote Escalante Desert of southern Utah until being rescued, emaciated but alive. William Martin LaFever, 28, of Colorado Springs, told rescuers that in addition to the bits of food he scavenged,... More »

Death in Desert Leads to Shadowy, Silent Yoga Retreat

Ian Thorson succumbed to dehydration in Arizona

(Newser) - How Ian Thorson died isn't really up for debate: exposure and dehydration. Rescuers found his body in the Arizona desert in April next to that of his delirious wife and a container with but an inch of brown water in it. What came before the 38-year-old's death is... More »

Injured Hiker Survives 4 Days in Desert

North Carolina man inspired by '127 Hours'

(Newser) - Maybe the sequel will be called 100 Hours? Inspired by the cringe-inducing James Franco film 127 Hours, a North Carolina man went hiking in the Utah desert, broke his leg, and crawled toward his parked car for 4 days, the AP reports. Amos Wayne Richards, 64, is now recuperating at... More »

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