Trilobites: The Crystals That May Have Helped Vikings Navigate Northern Seas

The Crystals That May Have Helped Vikings Navigate Northern Seas Photo A depiction of Erik the Red arriving at Greenland in the 10th century. Researchers theorize that crystals called sunstones aided Viking navigation, even in overcast weather. Credit via Alamy When the Vikings left the familiar fjords of Norway for icy, uncharted territories, they were at the mercy of weather. They had no magnetic compasses, and no way to ward off stretches of heavy clouds or fog that made it difficult to navigate by sun. How the explorers traversed open ocean during these times is a mystery that has long captivated scholars.
Norse sagas refer to a sólarstein or “sunstone” that had special properties when held to the sky. In 1967, a Danish archaeologist named Thorkild Ramskou suggested these were crystals that revealed distinct patterns of light in the sky, caused by polarization, which exist even in overcast weather or when the sun dips below the horizon.
Multiple translucent crystals fit the bill, n..

Body of Missing C.D.C. Employee Found in Atlanta River

Body of Missing C.D.C. Employee Found in Atlanta River Photo Timothy J. Cunningham, whose body was found Tuesday. Credit via Terrell Cunningham The body of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee who went missing two months ago was found in a river in Atlanta on Tuesday, the authorities said on Thursday.
In February, the authorities announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the disappearance of Timothy J. Cunningham, 35. But on Thursday the authorities said there did not appear to be any signs of foul play in his death.
“Right now the preliminary cause of death is drowning, but the investigation is still open,” Dr. Jan Gorniak, the chief medical examiner of Fulton County, said at a news conference. “We do not have a manner of death or whether it is an accident or suicide or anything other than that.”
Mr. Cunningham was last seen leaving work on Feb. 12 after telling colleagues he did not feel well.
His body was spotted on Tuesday in..

California Family Gets $1.6 Million After 3-Year-Old Was Scarred by Bedbugs

California Family Gets $1.6 Million After 3-Year-Old Was Scarred by Bedbugs Photo Jorge Maravilla’s body was covered in bug bites as his parents battled an infestation that lasted for months. A civil jury awarded his family $1.6 million on Monday. Credit via Brian Virag A family in California whose son was permanently scarred by bedbug bites has been awarded nearly $1.6 million by a civil jury.
It was the highest amount ever paid to a single family in a bedbug case in the United States, according to the family’s lawyer.
Lilliana Martinez, 34, said that the problem began in 2012, two years after she and her husband moved into an apartment in Inglewood, Calif. They discovered that their 3-year-old son, Jorge Maravilla, had red spots all over his body, including on his face.
Concerned, they took him to the hospital. The diagnosis? Bug bites.
“As soon as I found out, I was horrified, because I had never seen something like that before,” she said.
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Trilobites: Baleen Whales Intermingled as They Evolved, and Share DNA With Distant Cousins

Baleen Whales Intermingled as They Evolved, and Share DNA With Distant Cousins Photo Fin whales differ in size, color and body shape from their cousins, the larger blue whale, but scientists decoding the genome of several baleen species say there was intermingling during the course of their evolution. Credit Florian Schulz For years, scientists have disagreed about which species of baleen whale came first, and how the toothless species were related.
Body structure suggested one set of relationships; molecular data suggested another.
Now, researchers in Germany and Sweden have sequenced the DNA of six of the living species, of which there are at least 10.
The relationships are so complicated, however, that senior researcher Axel Janke said that “family tree” is too simple a metaphor. Instead, the species, all part of a group called rorquals, have evolved more into a network, sharing large segments of DNA with even distant cousins. Scientists expressed surprise that there had been so muc..

Trilobites: The Isle of Skye Once Was a Dinosaur Playground

In Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, Signs of a Dinosaur Playground Photo A sauropod footprint found in Scotland was among several that included tracks left by smaller, two-legged meat-eaters. Their presence together upends a theory that the larger plant-eaters waded into shallow, muddy waters to evade predators. Credit University of Edinburgh Gigantic dinosaurs frolicked and splashed some 170 million years ago in the lagoons of what is now Scotland. That’s what a team of paleontologists has determined after discovering dozens of jumbo-sized footprints belonging to long-necked sauropods on the Isle of Skye. Mixed with the herbivores’ tracks were a few clawed impressions left behind by two-legged meat-eaters known as theropods.
The footprints present a snapshot of life during an important period in dinosaur history that has yielded relatively few fossil remains. In the mid-Jurassic, sauropods necks grew longer and the first birds were figuring out flight.
Photo Paige dePolo search..

Now Read This: Discussion Questions for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club’s April Pick: ‘The Death and Life of the Great Lakes’

Discussion Questions for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club’s April Pick: ‘The Death and Life of the Great Lakes’ Photo Our April pick for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club, “Now Read This” is Dan Egan’s “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.” It’s an epic and wonderfully told story of history, science and reportage about the largest source of freshwater in the world, and the threat to America’s waterways. Become a member of the book club by joining our Facebook group, or by signing up to our newsletter. Learn more about the book club here.
Below are questions to help guide your discussions as you read the book over the next month. You can also submit your own questions for Dan Egan on our Facebook page, which he will answer on the NewsHour broadcast at the end of the month.
1. The five great lakes — Lake Erie, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Ontario — make up the world’s largest freshwater system. Some 40 million people live near their shores, and many more of us depend ..

Now Read This: Discussion Questions for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club’s April Pick: ‘The Death and Life of the Great Lakes’

Discussion Questions for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club’s April Pick: ‘The Death and Life of the Great Lakes’ Photo Our April pick for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club, “Now Read This” is Dan Egan’s “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.” It’s an epic and wonderfully told story of history, science and reportage about the largest source of freshwater in the world, and the threat to America’s waterways. Become a member of the book club by joining our Facebook group, or by signing up to our newsletter. Learn more about the book club here.
Below are questions to help guide your discussions as you read the book over the next month. You can also submit your own questions for Dan Egan on our Facebook page, which he will answer on the NewsHour broadcast at the end of the month.
1. The five great lakes — Lake Erie, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Ontario — make up the world’s largest freshwater system. Some 40 million people live near their shores, and many more of us depend ..