Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Scientific Discoveries of 2011, Pictures

Top Ten Discoveries of 2011

Lost Mayan City Discovered

Archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich crouches near a looters' tunnel inside the pyramid at the Head of Stone, an ancient Maya city that's finally coming into focus.

Three-dimensional mapping "erased" centuries of Guatemalan jungle growth, revealing the rough contours of nearly a hundred buildings, according to research presented in April. (See National Geographic pictures of excavated Maya cities.)

Using GPS and electronic distance-measurement technology, the researchers plotted the locations and elevations of a seven-story-tall pyramid, an astronomical observatory, a ritual ball court, several stone residences, and other structures.

Full story >>

Largest Great White Shark Discovered and Released

Talk about a big fish: An expedition crew hauled up—and released—the biggestgreat white shark yet caught, a team said in May.The 17.9-foot-long (5.5-meter-long) male behemoth was found off Mexico'sGuadalupe Island (map) in fall 2009.

The animal breaks the team's previous record of 16.8 feet (5.1 meters), set when they caught a female great white named Kimel. (Both records are unofficial and not maintained by a formal organization.)

Full story >>

Yellowstone Super-volcano Bulge Discovered

Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano recently took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists reported in January.

The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions—each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption—three times in the past 2.1 million years.

Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25-by-37-mile (40-by-60-kilometer) swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago. (See "When Yellowstone Explodes" in National Geographicmagazine.)

Full story >>

Fungi Discovered that Creates Zombies

A stalk of the newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzanigrows out of a "zombie" ant's head in a Brazilian rain forest.

Originally thought to be a single species, called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the fungus is actually four distinct species—all of which can "mind control" ants—scientists announced in March.

The fungus species can infect an ant, take over its brain, and then kill the insect once it moves to a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores.

Full story >>
Rare Cyclops Shark Discovered

An extremely rare cyclops shark has been confirmed in Mexico, scientists announced in October.

The 22-inch-long (56-centimeter-long) fetus has a single, functioning eye at the front of its head. The eye is a hallmark of a congenital condition called cyclopia, which occurs in several animal species, including humans. (See "Cyclops Myth Spurred by 'One-Eyed' Fossils?")

Scientists have documented cyclops shark embryos a few times before, saidJim Gelsleichter, a shark biologist at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The fact that none have been caught outside the womb suggests cyclops sharks don't survive long in the wild.

Full story >>

Area 51 Crash Discovered

Suspended upside down, a titanium A-12 spy-plane prototype is prepped for radar testing at Area 51 in the late 1950s.

After a rash of declassifications, details of Cold War workings at the Nevada base, which to this day does not officially exist, are coming to light—including never before released images of an A-12 crash and its cover-up, National Geographic News reported in May.

(Also see "Revealed: How Area 51 Hid Secret Craft.")

Area 51 was created so that U.S. Cold Warriors with the highest security clearances could pursue cutting-edge aeronautical projects away from prying eyes. During the 1950s and '60s, Area 51's top-secret OXCART program developed the A-12 as the successor to the U-2 spy plane.

Full story >>

Largest Crocodile Discovered and Caught

Caught alive after a three-week hunt, a roughly 21-foot-long (6.4-meter-long)saltwater crocodile caught in the Philippines may be the largest crocodile yet captured, officials said in September.

The 2,369-pound (1,075-kilogram) crocodile is suspected of attacking several people and killing two. The animal, named Lolong, survived capture and was held in a temporary enclosure near Bunawan township (map).

Guinness World Records in September listed a 17.97-foot-long (5.48-meter-long), Australian-caught saltwater crocodile as the largest in captivity. According to zoologist Adam Britton, Guinness rules specify that Lolong will need to wait till at least March 2012 for a shot at the "official" record.

Full story >>

Blackbeard's Sword Discovered

Could this partly gilded hilt have held Blackbeard's sword? There's no way to know for sure, though it was found amid the North Carolina wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the infamous 18th-century pirate.

Since 1997, archaeologists have been excavating the Queen Anne's Revenge. The sword hilt—found in pieces but reassembled for this picture—was among the latest finds revealed to the public in January. (Related: exclusive pictures of Blackbeard pirate relics and gold.)

Full story >>

Earth-like Planet Discovered

A new planet found about 36 light-years away could be one of the most Earthlike worlds yet—if it has enough clouds. The rocky planet's discovery became the tenth most visited National Geographic News story of 2011.

The unpoetically named HD85512b was discovered orbiting in the habitable zone of an orange dwarf star in the constellation Vela, according to an August study.

Astronomers found the planet using the European Southern Observatory's High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, instrument in Chile.

Full story >>
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Subscribe to Educating Humanity

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner