Two million year-old DNA found in frozen soil has been sequenced, revealing a surprising picture of an ancient landscape. Extinct creatures including, unexpectedly, elephant-like mastadons turn out to be among the beasts roaming Greenland. Researcher Eske Willerslev explains how DNA found in the environment can be used to reconstruct the past as so-called ‘eDNA’ becomes a vital tool for palaeontologists.
“It’s Cretaceous crime scene work: We have a body — how did it get here?” Kelsie Abrams, Fossil Lab Manager for the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, left her climate-controlled lab to wield jackhammers and shovels on a dusty hillside of the Hell Creek Formation in remote eastern Montana, possibly the best place in the world to find fossils from the Late Cretaceous. In this short film, follow Abrams and the dig team from the field to the lab, as they unravel mysteries from the end of the age of dinosaurs.
Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Adrian Cho about a new measurement of the magnetism of the muon—an unstable cousin of the electron. This latest measurement and an earlier one both differ from predictions based on the standard model of particle physics. The increased certainty that there is a muon magnetism mismatch could be a field day for theoretical physicists looking to add new particles or forces to the standard model.
Also on this week’s show, Charles Marshall, director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and professor of integrative biology, joins Sarah to talk about his team’s calculation for the total number of Tyrannosaurus rex that ever lived. In a sponsored segment from the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office, Sean Sanders interviews Imre Berger, professor of biochemistry at the University of Bristol, about his Science paper on finding a druggable pocket on the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and how the work was accelerated by intensive cloud computing. This segment is sponsored by Oracle for Research.
Watch how we installed STAN — one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever found.
Unearthed in 1987, less than a century after the existence of Tyrannosaurus rex had first become known, STAN — named after his discoverer Stan Sacrison — represents one of the most complete fossil skeletons of the most famous dinosaur species ever to have lived.
Each individual fossil from STAN’s skeleton had to be prised carefully from the rock, then stored and recorded. Following more than 30,000 hours of labour, STAN was erected on a custom mount to reflect his former glory. He was given a public unveiling on Hill City’s Main Street in South Dakota, followed by his global ‘debut’ as the centrepiece of Japan’s T. rex World Exposition in 1995.