A 30-ton meteor — believed to be the world’s second largest — was discovered in northern Argentina, the news agency Telam said. A team of experts found the nearly 68,000-pound meteorite buried in the province of Chaco, some 500 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires. The discovery was made in an area called Campo del Cielo, which lies in the municipality of Gancedo, where a meteor shower hit approximately 4,000 years ago. The world’s largest discovered meteor weighs over 50 tons and was found in Namibia.
Parasite named after President Obama
How does a scientist honor a president who happens to be a distant relative? By naming a turtle parasite after him. Baracktrema obamai isn’t just any parasite. It’s so distinctive that it represents not just a new species but an entirely new genus, according to a report in the Journal of Parasitology. B. obamai is a flatworm that infects black marsh turtles and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The newly discovered species was discovered by Thomas R. Platt, who spent decades studying turtle viruses before retiring recently. The idea of naming a parasite after the president came to Platt after he learned he was the fifth cousin, twice removed, of Barack Obama.
The new ghost snake of Madagascar
A new species of snake — pale gray, with white and black spots — was discovered in northern Madagascar. Researchers are calling it Madagoscarophis lolo, after the Malagasy word for “ghost.” The snakes of the Madagoscarophis genus, generally active at twilight and at night, are called “cat-eyed snakes” for their vertical pupils. The new 20-inch specimen was found during in 2014, and a DNA analysis confirms it is a new species.
Turns out there are four giraffe species
A new genetic analysis of giraffes, an animal once thought to represent a single species called Giraffa camelopardalis, has revealed that the genus Giraffa actually contains at least four distinct species. These three “new” species already existed. Until now, however, the southern giraffe, Masai giraffe and reticulated giraffe were classified as “subspecies” of the northern giraffe. The classic definition of a species is a group of animals that can reproduce with one another and whose offspring are fertile. Animals within a species, but of different subspecies, can reproduce from a purely genetic standpoint. But they generally don’t, usually because of geographic separation. After studying DNA, the researchers believe they’ve shown that the four distinct giraffe groups last shared a common ancestor some 1.5 million to 2 million years ago.