The lowly appendix may play a surprising role in the development of Parkinson’s disease

latimes.com – The appendix has long been dismissed as an organ that has outlived its usefulness in human evolution. But new research suggests it may play an active — and detrimental — role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Bryan A. Killinger, et al. The vermiform appendix impacts the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Science Translational Medicine, 2018.

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

digitaltrends.com – A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across, and is the first to be found beneath the Greenland ice sheet.

Source: Kurt H. Kjær, et al. A large impact crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwest Greenland. Science Advances, 2018.

This cold, ancient 'super-Earth' is just six light years from our solar system

latimes.com – An international team of astronomers has detected evidence of a cold planet at least three times the size of Earth orbiting an ancient red dwarf star, right in our stellar neighborhood. If you were traveling at the speed of light, it would take you just six years to reach it.

Source: I. Ribas, et al. A candidate super-Earth planet orbiting near the snow line of Barnard’s star. Nature, 2018.

4,000-year-old termite mounds found in Brazil are visible from space

sciencedaily.com – Researchers have found that a vast array of regularly spaced, still-inhabited termite mounds in northeastern Brazil--covering an area the size of Great Britain -- are up to about 4,000 years old.

Source: Stephen J. Martin, Roy R. Funch, Paul R. Hanson, Eun-Hye Yoo. A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. Current Biology, 2018.

Scientists discover new 'pinwheel' star system

sciencedaily.com – An international team of scientists has discovered a new, massive star system -- one that also challenges existing theories of how large stars eventually die.

Source: J. R. Callingham, et al. Anisotropic winds in a Wolf–Rayet binary identify a potential gamma-ray burst progenitor. Nature Astronomy, 2018.

Ecstacy Ingredient May Promote Cooperation

rdmag.com – NewsThe drug is currently being assessed as a supplemental treatment for PTSD.Contributed Author: Society for NeuroscienceTopics: Neurological Disease

Source: Anthony S Gabay, Matthew J Kempton, James Gilleen, Mitul A Mehta. MDMA increases cooperation and recruitment of social brain areas when playing trustworthy players in an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2018.

Cat’s tongues are surprisingly complex — and better at cleaning than any brush we have

zmescience.com – Fur lickin' findings.

Source: Alexis C. Noel, David L. Hu. Cats use hollow papillae to wick saliva into fur. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018.

Houston’s cityscape squeezed extra rain out of Hurricane Harvey

arstechnica.com – Even beyond climate change, human activities raised the rainfall total.

Source: Wei Zhang, Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel A. Vecchi, James A. Smith. Urbanization exacerbated the rainfall and flooding caused by hurricane Harvey in Houston. Nature, 2018.

Adaptation to starchy diet, high altitudes helped ancient settlers survive

scienceblog.com – A multi-center study of the genetic remains of people who settled thousands of years ago in the Andes Mountains of South America reveals a complex picture

Source: John Lindo, et al. The genetic prehistory of the Andean highlands 7000 years BP though European contact. Science Advances, 2018.

First Americans “Leap-Frogged” Continents to Settle the Americas

discovermagazine.com – Native Americans' ancestors spread quickly through the Americas once they arrived, reaching South America's tip within a few thousand years.

Source: J. Víctor Moreno-Mayar, et al. Early human dispersals within the Americas. Science, 2018.