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Science Is Nifty

A newly unearthed fossil is the missing link between land and marine mammals: Standing two to three feet tall on legs adapted to wade through shallow water, the 48-million-year-old Indohyus is the missing link between modern-day whales and their land-lubbing ancestors. Hans Thewissen of the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy recovered the skeleton in rocks from Kashmir, a disputed region between India and Pakistan, where the deer-like herbivore lived during the Eocene epoch, 56 to 34 million years ago. The extreme thickness of its bones is a trait seen often in animals that are aquatic waders (thick, heavy bones counteract buoyancy and allow the animal to stay underwater more easily), and chemical traces in its teeth indicate that the animal ate plants in a freshwater environment. Scientists know that Indohyus belongs in the evolutionary path with whales because it has skeletal similarities to both modern whales and known primordial whale ancestors.


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A dead heart beats again, thanks to the efforts of scientists at the University of Minnesota. To rebuild and reanimate the organ, which was harvested from a rat, scientists first stripped the old heart cells away with a detergent typically found in shampoos. That left behind a collagen matrix—the protein fibers that hold groups of cells together and help give organs their overall shape—which they then reseeded with heart cells from a newborn rat. They attached the organ to electrodes and waited. Then it happened: The heart started to beat regularly. “We were all running around like crazy, scared that it would [just stop and] never beat again,” says team member Harald Ott, a surgical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The reanimation technique is now being tested on pig hearts, which are much closer in structure to human hearts than are rat hearts. Organs from built-to-order collagen matrices could help treat the five million Americans who suffer from heart failure and the some 2,600 patients currently waiting for transplant donors.


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These and 60 more really bad-ass images and accompanying descriptions available here.
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