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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

At AAPA Meeting, a Fossil Show-and-Tell

The annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Portland last week featured an exhibition of plaster casts of skulls, bones and teeth of important members of the human family. The fossils included the partial skeletons of Lucy from Ethiopia; Australopithecus sediba from South Africa; and the fingernail-size sliver of bone of a new type of archaic human from Siberia.

In other news of the ancient past, some 400 million years ago, nautiluslike creatures known as ammonites may have been far more sedentary than once believed, spending most of their lives at spots where methane bubbled up from the sea floor.

The way dinosaurs reproduced probably had something to do with their success. They grew fast, started mating before they hit skeletal maturity and laid clutches of multiple eggs--a life history that may have allowed dinosaurs to proliferate and diversify rapidly.

Researchers have concluded that 1.5 million-year-old footprints excavated in Africa, initially thought to reflect a thoroughly modern walking style, were instead made by individuals that walked differently than people today do.


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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events

Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.

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