More than two years since the virus emerged in China, we still don’t know how it spilled over into the human population or which animal or animals hosted the virus before that pivotal event.
This is Katie Hunt, standing in for Ashley Strickland, in this edition of Wonder Theory.
The Black Death was the world’s most devastating plague outbreak. It is estimated to have killed half of Europe’s population in the space of just seven years during the Middle Ages.
Historians and archaeologists have for centuries tried to pinpoint the source of this pandemic, and now science has stepped up and provided an answer.
Traces of diseases that made our ancestors sick — including the plague pathogen — can be found hidden in ancient DNA from human remains.
The life of a mastodon, an elephantine creature that roamed across North America 13,000 years ago, has been illuminated by a study of its tusks.
For the first few years of its life, it was a mama’s boy — staying close to home with a female-led herd in what’s now central Indiana before venturing out on its own. The Mastodon died at the ripe age of 34, when the tusk tip of another male mastodon punctured the right side of its skull.
Across the universe
We now have the most complete map to date of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, and it’s showing us some pretty cool things.
Hubble, another space telescope that is scanning the heavens, discovered an equally intriguing cosmic phenomenon.
The dichotomy of dominant male and docile female animals is among nature’s most enduring gender stereotypes. A new book titled “Bitch: On the Female of the Species” debunks this sexist misconception and tells a more complete story about the role of females in the wild.
Female creatures are just as promiscuous, competitive, aggressive and dynamic as their male counterparts and play an equal role in driving evolutionary change, according to author Lucy Cooke.
Unlike most polar bears, which hunt seals on sea ice and roam far, this distinct population has adapted to living in a smaller habitat and hunting on freshwater glacier ice.
“If you’re concerned about preserving the species, then yes, our findings are hopeful,” said Kristin Laidre, a polar research scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “But I don’t think glacier habitat is going to support huge numbers of polar bears. There’s just not enough of it.”
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