Novel Metal Discovered Where Electrons Flow in the Same Way Water Flows in a Pipe

A team of researchers from Boston College has created a new metallic specimen where the motion of electrons flows in the same way water flows in a pipe — fundamentally changing from particle-like to fluid-like dynamics, the team reports in Nature Communications.

Working with colleagues from the University of Texas at Dallas and Florida State University, Boston College Assistant Professor of Physics Fazel Tafti found in the metal superconductor, a synthesis of Niobium and Germanium (NbGe2), that a strong interaction between electrons and phonons alters the transport of electrons from the diffusive, or particle-like, to hydrodynamic, or fluid-like, regime.

The findings mark the first discovery of an electron-phonon liquid inside NbGe2, Tafti said.

“We wanted to test a recent prediction of the ‘electron-phonon fluid’,” Tafti said, noting that phonons are the vibrations of a crystal structure. “Typically, electrons are scattered by phonons which leads to the usual diffusive motion of electrons in metals. A new theory shows that when electrons strongly interact with phonons, they will form a united electron-phonon liquid. This novel liquid will flow inside the metal exactly in the same way as water flows in a pipe.”

By confirming the predictions of theoreticians, the experimental physicist Tafti — working with his Boston College colleague Professor of Physics Kenneth Burch, Luis Balicas of FSU, and Julia Chan of UT-Dallas — says the discovery will spur further exploration of the material and its potential applications.

Tafti noted that our daily lives depend on the flow of water in pipes and electrons in wires. As similar as they may sound, the two phenomena are fundamentally different. Water molecules flow as a fluid continuum, not as individual molecules, obeying the laws of hydrodynamics. Electrons, however, flow as individual particles and diffuse inside metals as they get scattered by lattice vibrations.

The team’s investigation, with significant contributions from graduate student researcher Hung-Yu Yang, who earned his doctorate from BC in 2021, focused on the conduction of electricity in the new metal, NbGe2, Tafti said.

They applied three experimental methods: electrical resistivity measurements showed a higher-than-expected mass for electrons; Raman scattering showed a change of behavior in the vibration of the NbGe2 crystal due to the special flow of electrons; and X-ray diffraction revealed the crystal structure of the material.

By using a specific technique known as the “quantum oscillations” to evaluate the mass of electrons in the material, the researchers found that the mass of electrons in all trajectories was three times larger than the expected value, said Tafti, whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

“This was truly surprising because we did not expect such ‘heavy electrons’ in a seemingly simple metal,” Tafti said. “Eventually, we understood that the strong electron-phonon interaction was responsible for the heavy electron behavior. Because electrons interact with lattice vibrations, or phonons, strongly, they are ‘dragged’ by the lattice and it appears as if they have gained mass and become heavy.”

Tafti said the next step is to find other materials in this hydrodynamic regime by leveraging the electron-phonon interactions. His team will also focus on controlling the hydrodynamic fluid of electrons in such materials and engineering new electronic devices.

Reference: “Evidence of a coupled electron-phonon liquid in NbGe2” by Hung-Yu Yang, Xiaohan Yao, Vincent Plisson, Shirin Mozaffari, Jan P. Scheifers, Aikaterini Flessa Savvidou, Eun Sang Choi, Gregory T. McCandless, Mathieu F. Padlewski, Carsten Putzke, Philip J. W. Moll, Julia Y. Chan, Luis Balicas, Kenneth S. Burch and Fazel Tafti, 6 September 2021, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25547-x,49784793.html,49784799.html


Modern Activities Follow the Contours of Ancient Teotihuacan City

Lidar mapping study reveals vast landscape modifications that still influence construction and farming.

A lidar mapping study using a cutting-edge aerial mapping technology shows ancient residents of Teotihuacan moved astonishing quantities of soil and bedrock for construction and reshaped the landscape in a way that continues to influence the contours of modern activities in this part of Mexico. The work is published in the open-access journal, PLOS One.

The paper also shows how Teotihuacan’s engineers re-routed two rivers to align with points of astronomical significance, identified hundreds of previously unknown architectural features, and documented over 200 archaeological features that have been destroyed by mining and urbanization since the 1960s.

“We don’t live in the past, but we live with the legacies of past actions. In a monumental city like Teotihuacan, the consequences of those actions are still fresh on the landscape,” said first author Nawa Sugiyama, a professor of anthropology at UC Riverside.

Teotihuacan, about 25 miles northeast of modern Mexico City, was the largest city in the Americas and one of the largest anywhere in the ancient world. It existed from about 100 BCE-550 CE— about 1,000-2,000 years ago— and covered 8 square miles. At its height, it consisted of numerous pyramids, plazas, and well-designed residential and commercial neighborhoods housing a population of around 100,000. Some of the pyramids and other structures are visible above ground today, but most of the city’s remains lie buried beneath modern fields, buildings, and other activity areas.

To map the below-ground parts of Teotihuacan, Nawa Sugiyama and co-authors Saburo Sugiyama at Arizona State University; Tanya Catignani at George Mason University; Adrian S. Z. Chase at Claremont University; and Juan C. Fernandez-Diaz at Houston University used lidar, a mapping technology that measures the amount of time it takes light from a laser to bounce back from an object. Archaeologists often use lidar to discover buried features covered by dense forests or open fields but rarely deploy the technology where archaeological remains lie beneath urban areas.

“Lidar is often perceived as revolutionary tool to find ancient features hidden in plain sight, but we found the lidar map to be extremely messy and hard to interpret. Many of the features we identified were modern with ancient roots. But then we realized there is a far more interesting story behind this trend,” said Nawa Sugiyama.

Because the sheer scale of construction at Teotihuacan suggested massive modification of the ancient landscape, Sugiyama’s group thought that lidar could help elucidate the relationship between the layout of Teotihuacan and modern activities that overlay it. The researchers confirmed the lidar findings with surveys by foot and comparisons to previous mapping efforts.

They found that the builders of Teotihuacan leveled the ground down to the bedrock and, in some cases, quarried the bedrock itself to use as construction and fill material. In just one portion of the city, called the Plaza of the Columns Complex, the authors calculated that roughly 372,056 square meters of artificial ground accumulated over the course of roughly 300 years of construction that had been quarried elsewhere in the Teotihuacan Valley. In three of the main pyramid complexes, the authors estimate that 2,423,411 square meters of rock, dirt, and adobe had been used.

This major reshaping of the landscape affects the arrangement of modern construction and activities. The authors found that 65% of urban areas contained property or modern features that aligned orthogonally within 3 degrees of 15 degrees east of astronomical north— the same alignment as Teotihuacan. Rock fences were built along areas that lidar and excavation revealed to have underground ancient walls that made modern-day plowing difficult.

Teotihuacan engineers also rerouted the Rio San Juan and the San Lorenzo River, which cross the city. Rio San Juan follows the Teotihuacan orientation for 3 km as it traverses the city center while the San Lorenzo River has a very distinct orientation, 8 degrees south of astronomical east for 4.9 km. Previous research has interpreted them as major canals of symbolic and calendric significance.

The lidar map also showed that other sections of canals and rivers, many still actively used today, were altered at various points along its course, frequently coinciding with the Teotihuacan directionalities. A total of 16.9 km of the hydrological systems visible on the modern terrain had origins in the Early Classic Teotihuacan landscape.

On the lidar map, the group identified 298 features and 5,795 human-made terraces that had not been previously recorded. However, they also identified over 200 known features that have been destroyed by mining since 2015.

“We can’t fight modern urbanization. The lidar map provides a snapshot of these ancient features that are being abolished at an alarming rate that would otherwise go unnoticed. It’s one of many ways we can preserve our heritage landscape,” said Nawa Sugiyama.

The authors plan to use their lidar map to create a three-dimensional geospatial database that allows them to visualize stratigraphic and surface data, natural and artificial features, and to document the true extent of humans as geomorphic agents over long periods of time in the Teotihuacan Valley.,49781537.html,49781557.html


Watch here Ansu Fati scores on return as Barca cruise past Levante

Goals from Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong and the returning Ansu Fati helped Barcelona claim a much-needed 3-0 home victory over Levante in LaLiga on Sunday.

CAIRO : Egypt’s central bank has approved the granting of licences to allow merchants to accept contactless payments from their customers’ mobile phones, it said on Sunday.

It did not say how soon the new system would be in place or who would be eligible to receive the licences.

New legislation and regulatory changes in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, are helping to unleash a surge in new fintech investments and change the way the country’s largely unbanked citizens do business.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

The victory, Barca’s first in their last four games in all competitions, sees the Catalans climb to fifth in the table with 12 points from six games, five behind league leaders Real Madrid, who have played one more.


Having been held to frustrating draws by lowly opposition in their last two league games, Barca were quick out of the blocks and went ahead after six minutes as Depay converted a penalty.

They doubled their advantage just before the quarter-hour as De Jong latched on to a Sergino Dest through ball before finishing past Aitor Fernandez in the visitors’ goal.

Fernandez made a couple of smart stops to keep the scoreline respectable as a dominant Barca pushed on in search a third.

It finally came in the 91st minute as Fati capped his first appearance since last November following a serious knee injury with a wonderful strike from distance.


Chinese Pterodactyl Wings Its Way to England

The first ever specimen of a pterodactyl, more commonly found in China and Brazil, has been found in the United Kingdom.

A fossil hunter recently discovered a peculiar shaped fragment of fossil bone while out walking his dog in Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight.

Not sure what it was, he passed it to University of Portsmouth Palaeontology student Megan Jacobs, who thought it might be the jaw bone from a pterodactyl. Further research proved she was right.

However, this was no ordinary pterodactyl jaw. This one lacked teeth and was remarkably similar to a bizarre group of pterosaurs called ‘tapejarids’. They are better known from China and Brazil and have never previously been found in the UK.

Just last year a team from the University of Portsmouth discovered as similar specimen in North Africa (Morocco) which they named Afrotapejara.

The new specimen from the Isle of Wight has been named Wightia declivirostris.

Megan Jacobs said: “Although only a fragment of jaw, it has all the characteristic of a tapejarid jaw, including numerous tiny little holes that held minute sensory organs for detecting their food, and a downturned, finely pointed beak.

“Complete examples from Brazil and China show that they had large head crests, with the crest sometime being twice as big as the skull. The crests were probably used in sexual display and may have been brightly colored.”

The researchers determined that the Isle of Wight example seemed more closely related to the Chinese tapejarids rather than the Brazilian examples.

Co-author of the study Professor David Martill, a paleontologist from the University of Portsmouth, said: “This new species adds to the diversity of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles found on the Island, which is now one of the most important places for Cretaceous dinosaurs in the world.”

The finder has kindly donated the specimen to Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown, where it is hoped it will go on display in the future.

The new discovery is reported in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research.,49777739.html,49777747.html


Climate Change Likely To Abruptly Impact Algae in the Global Ocean

Global warming is likely to cause abrupt changes to important algal communities because of shifting biodiversity ‘break point’ boundaries in the oceans – according to research from the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute.

A new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, finds that as climate change extends the warm hemisphere, these boundaries are predicted to shift pole-wards over the next 100 years.

Instead of a gradual change in microbial diversity due to warming, the researchers suggest it will happen more abruptly at what they call ‘break points’ — wherever the upper ocean temperature is around 15 degrees on an annual average, separating cold and warm waters.

The UK is one of the areas most likely to be severely affected, and more suddenly than previously thought. But the team says that the changes could be stopped if we act swiftly to halt climate change.

Prof Thomas Mock, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Algae are essential in maintaining a healthy ecosystem to balance ocean life. By absorbing energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water, they produce organic compounds for marine life to live off.

“These organisms underpin some of the largest food webs on Earth and drive global biogeochemical cycles.

“Accountable for at least 20 percent of annual global carbon fixation, temperature changes could have a significant impact upon the algae that our marine systems, fisheries, and ocean biodiversity depend on.

“We wanted to better-understand how the climate crisis is impacting algae worldwide from the Arctic to the Antarctic.”

Algae Phaeocystis Bloom

Coloring the water, the algae Phaeocystis blooms off the side of the sampling vessel, Polarstern, in the temperate region of the North Atlantic. Credit: Katrin Schmidt

The research was led by scientists at UEA in collaboration with the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI, USA) and the Earlham Institute (UK).

The major study was conducted over more than 10 years by an international team of 32 researchers, from institutions including the University of Exeter in the UK and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

It involved the first pole-to-pole analysis of how algae (Eukaryotic phytoplankton) and their expressed genes are geographically distributed in the oceans. Thus, the team studied how their gene activity is changing due to environmental conditions in the upper ocean from pole to pole.

As the upper ocean is already experiencing significant warming due to rising CO2 levels, the researchers estimated how the distribution of these algal communities might change based on a model from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report.

Scientists Sampling Under Ice Phytoplankton Communities

Scientists sampling under-ice phytoplankton communities utilising a ‘mummy chair.’ Under-ice communities are vital for, for example, krill and other under-ice feeding organisms. Credit: Katrin Schmidt

The algal communities’ diversity and gene activity are shaped by interactions with microscopic single-celled organisms, or prokaryotes, as part of complex microbiomes.

The researchers found that these global communities can be split into two main clusters — organisms that mainly live in cold polar and warm non-polar waters.

The geographic patterns are best explained by the differences in the water’s physical structure (for example, seasonally mixed cold versus permanently stratified warm water) of the upper ocean caused by latitudinal gradients of temperature.

The organisms were analyzed through nucleic acids extraction and DNA and mRNA sequencing of samples collected during four research cruises in the Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, and Southern Ocean.

Prof Mock said: “Significant international efforts have provided insights into what drives the diversity of these organisms and their global biogeography in the global ocean, however, there is still limited understanding of environmental conditions responsible for differences between local species communities on a large scale from pole to pole.

“Our results provide new insights into how changing environmental conditions correlate with biodiversity changes subject to large-scale environmental fluctuation and disturbances. This knowledge is essential for predicting the consequences of global warming and therefore may guide environmental management.

“We can expect the marine systems around the UK and other countries on this latitude to be severely affected, and more suddenly than previously thought.

“The largest ecosystem change will occur when marine microalgal communities and their associated bacteria around the UK will be replaced by their warm-water counterparts.

“This is expected to be caused by the pole-ward shifting ecosystem boundary or ‘biodiversity break point’ separating both communities. For this to take place, the annual average upper ocean temperature needs to become warmer than 15C.

“It’s not irreversible though, if we can stop global warming,” he added.


Computer Science: How Quickly Do Algorithms Improve?

MIT scientists show how fast algorithms are improving across a broad range of examples, demonstrating their critical importance in advancing computing.

Algorithms are sort of like a parent to a computer. They tell the computer how to make sense of information so they can, in turn, make something useful out of it.

The more efficient the algorithm, the less work the computer has to do. For all of the technological progress in computing hardware, and the much debated lifespan of Moore’s Law, computer performance is only one side of the picture.

Behind the scenes a second trend is happening: Algorithms are being improved, so in turn less computing power is needed. While algorithmic efficiency may have less of a spotlight, you’d definitely notice if your trusty search engine suddenly became one-tenth as fast, or if moving through big datasets felt like wading through sludge.

This led scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) to ask: How quickly do algorithms improve?

Existing data on this question were largely anecdotal, consisting of case studies of particular algorithms that were assumed to be representative of the broader scope. Faced with this dearth of evidence, the team set off to crunch data from 57 textbooks and more than 1,110 research papers, to trace the history of when algorithms got better. Some of the research papers directly reported how good new algorithms were, and others needed to be reconstructed by the authors using “pseudocode,” shorthand versions of the algorithm that describe the basic details.

In total, the team looked at 113 “algorithm families,” sets of algorithms solving the same problem that had been highlighted as most important by computer science textbooks. For each of the 113, the team reconstructed its history, tracking each time a new algorithm was proposed for the problem and making special note of those that were more efficient. Ranging in performance and separated by decades, starting from the 1940s to now, the team found an average of eight algorithms per family, of which a couple improved its efficiency. To share this assembled database of knowledge, the team also created

The scientists charted how quickly these families had improved, focusing on the most-analyzed feature of the algorithms — how fast they could guarantee to solve the problem (in computer speak: “worst-case time complexity”). What emerged was enormous variability, but also important insights on how transformative algorithmic improvement has been for computer science.

For large computing problems, 43 percent of algorithm families had year-on-year improvements that were equal to or larger than the much-touted gains from Moore’s Law. In 14 percent of problems, the improvement to performance from algorithms vastly outpaced those that have come from improved hardware. The gains from algorithm improvement were particularly large for big-data problems, so the importance of those advancements has grown in recent decades.

The single biggest change that the authors observed came when an algorithm family transitioned from exponential to polynomial complexity. The amount of effort it takes to solve an exponential problem is like a person trying to guess a combination on a lock. If you only have a single 10-digit dial, the task is easy. With four dials like a bicycle lock, it’s hard enough that no one steals your bike, but still conceivable that you could try every combination. With 50, it’s almost impossible — it would take too many steps. Problems that have exponential complexity are like that for computers: As they get bigger they quickly outpace the ability of the computer to handle them. Finding a polynomial algorithm often solves that, making it possible to tackle problems in a way that no amount of hardware improvement can.

As rumblings of Moore’s Law coming to an end rapidly permeate global conversations, the researchers say that computing users will increasingly need to turn to areas like algorithms for performance improvements. The team says the findings confirm that historically, the gains from algorithms have been enormous, so the potential is there. But if gains come from algorithms instead of hardware, they’ll look different. Hardware improvement from Moore’s Law happens smoothly over time, and for algorithms the gains come in steps that are usually large but infrequent.

“This is the first paper to show how fast algorithms are improving across a broad range of examples,” says Neil Thompson, an MIT research scientist at CSAIL and the Sloan School of Management and senior author on the new paper. “Through our analysis, we were able to say how many more tasks could be done using the same amount of computing power after an algorithm improved. As problems increase to billions or trillions of data points, algorithmic improvement becomes substantially more important than hardware improvement. In an era where the environmental footprint of computing is increasingly worrisome, this is a way to improve businesses and other organizations without the downside.”

Reference: “How Fast Do Algorithms Improve?” by Yash Sherry and Neil C. Thompson, 20 September 2021, Proceedings of the IEEE.
DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2021.3107219

Thompson wrote the paper alongside MIT visiting student Yash Sherry. The paper is published in the Proceedings of the IEEE. The work was funded by the Tides foundation and the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.,49769213.html


Science Made Simple: What is Nanoscience?

Nanoscience is the study of matter at the nanoscale—dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers or 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. At these incredibly small scales, materials have unique phenomena that enable new applications. In 1959, the famed physicist Richard Feynman said in a prophetic lecture that there was “plenty of room at the bottom.” Feynman meant that exploring and manipulating materials almost atom by atom would create huge opportunities for new science and important new technologies. Today that “room at the bottom” is called nanoscience. It is an important part of research in physics, chemistry, materials science, and biology.

You can literally see the impact of this research on television. Some video screens today use a U.S.-developed nanotechnology called quantum dots. The technology creates televisions with very high-resolution and precise, vivid colors.

Nanoscience Facts

  • The word nano is from the Greek word ‘nanos,’ meaning dwarf. It is a prefix used to describe one billionth of something. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
  • The Department of Energy Office of Science has a key role in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a U.S. government research and development effort that envisions a future where nanotechnology leads to a revolution in technology and industry.

DOE Office of Science: Contributions to Nanoscience

Nanoscience is fundamental to progress in almost every area of technology. To meet this need, DOE Office of Science’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) established five Nanoscale Science Research Centers. These centers conduct interdisciplinary collaborative research at the nanoscale. They provide access to leading-edge synthesis, characterization, computational tools, and scientific expertise. Working with leading scientists, the centers create materials and structures with atomic-scale precision to characterize, understand, and predict their properties.

The centers are located near existing X-ray and neutron probes as well as advanced computing facilities so that researchers can use these tools in tandem. BES also supports a broad range of pioneering research in nanoscale science and engineering. This research supports the Department of Energy’s mission to advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States. Building on this foundation of discovery research, scientists supported by both the government and industry are pursuing applied nanotechnology research.


Maya Rulers Transformed Cities, Put Their Personal Stamp on Monumental Complexes

Early Maya cities featured monumental complexes, which centered on a shared form of religion but these complexes transformed radically once kingship emerged in 400 B.C. To solidify their power, rulers throughout the Maya lowlands would change these complexes, installing their mark on the landscape and reshaping how people remember it, according to a Dartmouth study published in Ancient Mesoamerica.

“Just as political leaders today often seek to brand themselves, so too did early Maya rulers,” says Ryan H. Collins, a postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth. “Maya rulers seemed to have real angst about the past world and think that it could interfere with their authority, so they would try to tweak it, or even erase it altogether. These rulers saw themselves as the embodiment of the Maya sun god and wanted to put their personal stamp on the city, so monuments and the ways people experienced the city were modified to reflect a ruler’s desires over his or her lifetime.”

Architectural Details and Artifacts From Yaxuná

(a) Circular building present on floor eight, just west of Str. 5E-6; (b) fragment of polished magnetite found alongside other artifacts cached in a pair of intentional cuts on floor seven; (c) circular incised line present on floor six; (d) complete ceramic redware vessel cached in floor four associated with two greenstone beads. Credit: Ryan H. Collins

Collins examined data from the Maya site, Yaxuná, located in central Yucatán, Mexico, and other pyramid plaza complexes or temples known as E groups in the Maya lowlands, including San Bartolo, Tikal, Ceibal in Guatemala, and Cahal Pech in Belize, which reflected observed astronomical alignments with the equinoxes and solstices.,49762423.html

In the E group, each monumental complex was built along an east-west axis and was characterized by a pyramid to the west and a long-raised platform to the east. Prior research has found that the astronomical alignments of Maya complexes were likely a reference to the sun god and maize (corn) god and the annual changes of the agricultural season.

According to archaeological data from Yaxuná and the other sites, Collins found that by 400 B.C., many Maya complexes in the E Group were either built on top of existing temples, dismantled, or abandoned altogether. In many cases, new architecture would be constructed right on top of everything that was there before, where there could five, six, or even seven pyramids preserved under the latest phase of construction.

Map of Maya Lowlands in Eastern Mesoamerica

Map of Maya lowlands in eastern Mesoamerica. Credit: Ryan H. Collins

“Over time, these temples became more about the rulers and less about the ritual and religion that once brought the communities together in the first place,” says Collins. At Yaxuná, in the original city center alone, there were 11 phases of construction between 900 B.C. and 100 B.C.

While new monuments within the E Group were created over old ones, some aspects were maintained through time. For example, the original eastern structure (Str. 5E-6) at Yaxuná contained a circular stone foundation on level eight, which was preserved and emphasized by later generations through a circular incised line on the floor of level six. Precious items were also found cached on levels seven and four, including a polished magnetite fragment and a ceramic vessel with greenware beads that were likely obtained through long-distance trade. “The Maya would go back and mark spaces of social significance generations later, not centuries later, illustrating how people were really emphasizing memory and continuity with things that they thought were important,” says Collins.

Other areas of the Yaxuná site and other E Group sites however, contained evidence of termination rituals. These rituals were used to destroy the energy or soul associated with a building, especially if it was sacred, such as by spreading the ash of burned incense over an area. In the eastern structure at Yaxuná, ash was found near a grinding stone, providing evidence that a former space for rituals was used to prepare food in later years.

“In archaeology, there has been the assumption that Maya kingship represented a continuity with the past but as Maya rulers altered peoples’ experience of where they lived, these rulers were actually breaking away from Mesoamerican building traditions and redefining the Maya city,” says Collins. “The first millennium of Maya culture for the E Group marks a period for not only new monuments but for the development of massive civic architecture, as large-scale roadways were built and districts began to emerge. These changes also may have driven Maya civilization’s shift from an egalitarian society to a more hierarchical structure.”



Potential Remnants of Original Dinosaur DNA Discovered in Exquisitely Preserved Dinosaur Cells

Organic molecule remnants found in nuclei of 125-million-year-old dinosaur cells.

A team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature (STM) has isolated exquisitely preserved cartilage cells in a 125-million-year-old dinosaur from Northeast China that contain nuclei with remnants of organic molecules and chromatin. The study was published in Communications Biology on September 24, 2021.

The dinosaur, called Caudipteryx, was a small peacock-sized omnivore with long tail feathers. It roamed the shores of the shallow lakes of the Jehol Biota in Liaoning province during the Early Cretaceous.

“Geological data has accumulated over the years and shown that fossil preservation in the Jehol Biota was exceptional due to fine volcanic ashes that entombed the carcasses and preserved them down to the cellular level,” said LI Zhiheng, Associate Professor at IVPP and a co-author of this study.

The scientists extracted a piece of distal articular cartilage from the right femur of this specimen, decalcified it, and used different microscopy and chemical methods to analyze it. They realized that all the cells had been mineralized by silicification after the death of the animal. This silicification is most likely what allowed the excellent preservation of these cells.

They also discovered two main types of cells: cells that were healthy at the time of fossilization, and not-so-healthy cells that were porous and fossilized while in the process of dying. “It is possible that these cells were already dying even before the animal died,” said Alida Bailleul, Associate Professor at IVPP and the corresponding author of this study.

Cell death is a process that occurs naturally throughout the lives of all animals. But being able to place a fossilized cell into a specific spot within the cell cycle is quite new in paleontology. This is one of the objectives of the IVPP scientists: to improve cellular imagery in fossils.

Furthermore, the team isolated some cells and stained them with a chemical used in biological laboratories worldwide. This purple chemical, called hematoxylin, is known to bind to the nuclei of cells. After staining the dinosaur material, one dinosaur cell showed a purple nucleus with some darker purple threads. This means the 125-million-year-old dinosaur cell has a nucleus so well-preserved that it retains some original biomolecules and threads of chromatin.

Chromatin within the cells of all living organisms on Earth is made of tightly packed DNA molecules. The results of this study thus provide preliminary data suggesting that remnants of original dinosaur DNA may still be preserved. But to precisely test this, the team needs to do a lot more work and use chemical methods that are much more refined than the staining they used here.

“Let’s be honest, we are obviously interested in fossilized cell nuclei because this is where most of the DNA should be if DNA was preserved,” said Alida Bailleul. Last year she published another study reporting exceptional nuclear and biomolecule preservation in the cartilage cells of a dinosaur from Montana.” So, we have good preliminary data, very exciting data, but we are just starting to understand cellular biochemistry in very old fossils. At this point, we need to work more.”

The team insists they need to do many more analyses and even develop new methods to understand the processes that may allow biomolecule preservation in dinosaur cells, because no one has ever successfully sequenced any dinosaur DNA. In the ancient DNA community, sequencing methods are used to confirm if ancient DNA is preserved in fossils. So far, these methods have only worked for young fossils (not much older than about one million years), but they have never worked for dinosaur material. Dinosaurs are considered way too old to retain any DNA. However, the chemical data collected by the scientists from IVPP and STM suggest otherwise.

Even though more data must be collected, this study definitely shows that 125-million-year old fossil dinosaur cells cannot be considered 100% rock. They are not completely “stonified.” Instead, they still contain remnants of organic molecules. Now, it is vital to figure out precisely what these molecules are, whether they retain any biological information and remnants of DNA.

Reference: “Nuclear preservation in the cartilage of the Jehol dinosaur Caudipteryx” by Xiaoting Zheng, Alida M. Bailleul, Zhiheng Li, Xiaoli Wang and Zhonghe Zhou, 24 September 2021, Communications Biology.
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02627-8,49759771.html


Afghanistan virtually missing from New York Times front

College football season is one of the most exciting in American sports. With top teams going head-to-head on the gridiron, we have an exciting season ahead! Whether you want to see the current top-ranked team claim the national championship or are cheering for an underdog, follow this updated guide to enjoying a favorite pastime at a fraction of the cost. If you want to watch college football without cable TV, here are your best options.

Another good app for budget-conscious sports fans is Paramount+ — especially if their team is part of the Southeastern Conference. Paramount+ has replaced CBS All Access, which was already on a lot of fans’ radar because it gave them a way to watch football, golf and basketball. For prices starting at $4.99 per month, with a free trial, college football fans can watch whatever SEC games are being broadcast on CBS that week.,49296889.html 

College Sports Live includes other sports like soccer, volleyball, and field hockey. You can also catch press conferences and similar events from many teams. Check out the full-lineup of upcoming programming here. You can watch games on your computer or through the College Sports Live Android, iOS, or Roku apps. And don’t forget the power of Chromecast, a favorite tool for cord cutters!college football on field depicted over a television set
Honorable Mention: Radio broadcasts online
You can always go old school. Hearing an audio feed of the big game is pretty simple. If you know the radio station that is affiliated with your team, you can probably put it into your Web browser and be presented with a play button immediately. If you don’t know what station airs your team’s games, then search for something like “ESPN Radio” “Boise State Football Radio Network” or “East Carolina Football Radio Network” and you can be listening over the Internet for free in a flash.