Two amateur fossil hunters have discovered what is thought to be the world’s oldest recorded spider web encased in amber on an East Sussex beach in England. The amber was formed about 140 million years ago in the Cretaceous period. Jamie Hiscocks and his brother Jonathan also found fossilised remains of an Iguanodon jawbone on the coastline, and fossilised charcoal in the fossil beds close to the amber at low tide on the coast between Hastings and Cooden “They actually just lying there on the surface. You pick it up, just bend down and pick it up”, says Hiscocks. The spider web thread is now being studied in Oxford University.
A new species of fish has been discovered in the Antarctic Ocean. Gosztonyia Antarctica was found at a depth of 650 metres in the Bellingshausen Sea in the Antarctic Ocean, an area that has not been studied since 1904. “The study of the biodiversity of the Bellingshausen Sea has been systematically ignored by international projects because it is quite inaccessible and its beds are not mapped”, says Jesús Matallanas, the researcher from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain – the man behind the breakthrough. He collected four specimens of the new species, and before confirming it as a new species, he carried out a worldwide review of all articles published to date. Hmm… discoveries are a lote of hard work!
Cancer may now be controlled! Because scientists say they have identified an enzyme that will prevent cancer spread around the body. Cancer metastasis, where the cancer spreads from its original location, leads to almost 90 per cent of cancer-related deaths. Scientists of the Institute of Cancer Research, a constituent college of the University of London, UK, have found that an enzyme called LOX (lysyl oxidase) sends out signals to prepare a new area of the body for the disease to spread to. Without this preparation process the new environment would be too hostile for the cells to grow. “This new discovery provides real hope that we can develop a drug which will fight the spread of cancer”, says lead researcher Dr Janine Erler.
Arsenic is the most common toxic substance in the environment. And scientists have found its “killer” at the Yellowstone National Park, US – an alga called Cyanidioschyzon. This unicellular alga thrives in extremely toxic conditions and chemically modifies arsenic that occurs naturally around hot springs. “Cyanidioschyzon could someday help reclaim arsenic-laden mine waste and aid in everything from space exploration to creating safer foods and herbicides”, says Tim McDermott, professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University, US. Another lead author, Barry Rosen of Florida International University, US, adds, “It gives us insight into how life adapts to extreme environments. If cells can grow at high temperatures and high concentrations of heavy metals like arsenic, life might be able to evolve on other planets or moons such as Titan or Enceladus”.