Monthly Archives: January 2020

New Coronavirus may have ‘jumped’ to humans from snakes, latest study concludes

Where did this virus come from? A new study points to a slithering suspect: Snakes…!!!

A new study suggests snakes may be the source of the new coronavirus causing an outbreak in China. Above, an image of Naja atra, a type of snake common in southeastern China.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Jan. 23 to include discussion of the controversy around the new study.

As an outbreak of a new coronavirus continues to grow in China and spread to other countries, one question remains: Where did the virus come from? Now, a controversial new study points to a slithering suspect: snakes.

The study analyzed the genetic sequence of the new virus, known as 2019-nCoV, and compared it with the genetic sequences of more than 200 other coronaviruses from around the world that infect various animals.

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Australian Hunters to Kill 10,000 Feral Camels from Helicopters Amid Worsening Drought

The dry season is turning the pest creatures into dangerous competitors for limited water supplies.

Camels are pictured on an Australian camel dairy farm in April 2016. Camels are not native to Australia, and thirsty feral camels have become a significant problem in recent months amid severe drought and fires.
(Image: © Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

A lot of camels are going to die this week, as Australian hunters mow them down from the air.

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Alien Plant Hunter Taking First Steps on Earth. Next Stop: Jupiter

The technology takes inspiration from Star Trek.

The science fiction of Star Trek has been inspiring scientists for generations in ways big and small. As mentioned in the opening credits of both the original series and The Next Generation, one focus for the ships in Star Trek‘s Federation is “to seek out new life,” which can be easily done thanks to technology capable of remotely scanning an area for life forms. Scientists have now made steps toward recreating that technology in the form of a specialized camera called a TreePol spectropolarimeter.

All living organisms have what are known as chiral molecules, which can reflect, refract, or diffract light. The TreePol spectropolarimeter has lenses and receptors able to detect rotating light reflected by plants. TreePol is specifically designed to detect circularly polarized light, a type of electromagnetic wave that rotates either clockwise or counterclockwise, reflected from foliage.

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11 Times Animals Got Stuck in Things in 2019

From raccoons in sewer grates to hedgehogs in cups, this was a sticky year for some unfortunate but lucky animals.

(Image: © Newton Fire Department/Twitter)

The domains of humans and wildlife frequently overlap; unfortunately, that often doesn’t work out so well for wildlife. Objects and infrastructure made for people can be hazardous to animals, and curious or unwary creatures — wild and domesticated alike — sometimes find themselves in predicaments that they can’t escape without help. Here are 11 times that animals got stuck in things in 2019.

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Giant, bee-eating hornets from Asia invade Washington State USA

We’re gonna need a bigger zapper to exterminate these mothers

A giant killer hornet from Asia that devours bees and dissolves human flesh with its sting has touched down in Washington State. This marks the first time the insect invader has been found in the region, according to a pest alert issued by the Washington State Department Of Agriculture last week.

The nearly 2-inch-long flying terror was spotted on Dec. 8 by a resident of Blaine, Washington, who says they saw the insect buzzing around a hummingbird-feeder, WSDA reports. Entomologists later found the Calico-colored specimen dead on the property, which they confirmed was an Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) — the largest of its kind.

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