Mars Study Yields Clues to Possible Cradle of Life

The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.

A recent report examines observations of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago according to Science daily.

"Even if we never find evidence that there's been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth," said Paul Niles. "Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time -- when early life was evolving here."

Monstrous crocodile fossil points to early rise of ancient reptiles

A newly identified prehistoric marine predator has shed light on the origins of the distant relatives of modern crocodiles.

The discovery reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was previously thought, researchers say.

The new species was a 10-foot-long animal that lived in the warm, shallow seas that covered much of what is now Europe. Powerful jaws and big, serrated teeth allowed it to feed on large prey, such as prehistoric squid.

Mars once retained water with help of explosive methane gas bursts – study

A theory as to how Mars managed to sustain water-friendly climate during the beginning of its drying out period some 3.6 billion years ago has emerged through a new scientific study.

It is believed that Mars may have kept liquid water on its surface “for at least several thousand years” because of conditions set by explosive bursts of methane gas, according to RT.

The theory could explain how the red planet managed to sustain its various lakes and rivers in a climate that ordinarily would be too cold and arid to have done so.

Cosmic cancer threatens manned Mars mission

Exploring deep space or colonizing Mars could be far more difficult than previously believed, according to new research looking at cancer-causing cosmic rays.
Health scientist Frank Cucinotta teamed up with Eliedonna Cacaoat, of the University of Las Vegas, to investigate the effect of cosmic rays. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the team examined results of previous studies into tumors in mice and found that the animals were twice as susceptible to cancer in deep space than previously thought, according to RT.

After 15 years in a vegetative state, nerve stimulation restores consciousness

A 35-year-old man who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years after a car accident has shown signs of consciousness after neurosurgeons implanted a vagus nerve stimulator into his chest. The findings reported show that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) -- a treatment already in use for epilepsy and depression -- can help to restore consciousness even after many years in a vegetative state according to Science daily .

 The outcome challenges the general belief that disorders of consciousness that persist for longer than 12 months are irreversible, the researchers say.

By stimulating the vagus nerve, we show that "it is possible to improve a patient's presence in the world," says Angela Sirigu.

The vagus nerve connects the brain to many other parts of the body, including the gut. It's known to be important in waking, alertness, and many other essential functions. To test the ability of VNS to restore consciousness, the researchers, led by Sirigu and clinicians lead by Jacques Luauté, wanted to select a difficult case to ensure that any improvements couldn't be explained by chance. They looked to a patient who had been lying in a vegetative state for more than a decade with no sign of improvement.