Researchers discover 47-million-year-old fossil
A remarkably complete 47-million-year-old skeleton of a creature the size of a small cat found in Germany was unveiled yesterday at New York’s Museum of Natural History.
The specimen, which has four legs and a long tail, is not thought to be a direct ancestor of monkeys, though scientists expect it to provide good indication of what their ancestors may have looked like. The animal was a juvenile female about 9 to 10 months old. She has been named Ida, after a researcher’s 6-year-old daughter.
Ida is expected to provide valuable information about the evolution of primates because the skeleton is so complete. The History Channel is chronicling the story of the fossil and a book is also in the works.
Mars rover stuck on surface
NASA’s Mars rover, the Spirit, is stuck in soft patch of ground hidden under normal looking soil.
The project manager called the situation “quite serious.” Scientists say the soft patch appears to be ferric sulfate, a substance with very few cohesive properties that is difficult for the rover’s wheels to grip. Five of its six wheels are halfway embedded in the ground and the sixth hasn’t worked since 2006. NASA also fears that the rover may be so deeply sunken that its midsection is also dug in. It may be a few weeks before the rover can move again.
This isn’t the first problem for Spirit this year. It suffered a memory problem in January and several other unexplained problems last month. It’s possible the problems are due to age. The rover was designed for a three-month mission, but has been on the Martian surface since January 2004.
ALYSOUN BONDE compiles Science Scene and can be reached at email@example.com.