Science briefs: Ancient window into the future

  • Updated: July 19, 2014 - 3:00 PM

A model presents a long red dress designed by Lebanese Robert Abi Nader, 20 January 2003 in Paris for his Spring-Summer 2003 collection. The entire fashion world will join forces 22 January to support the fight against HIV-AIDS, with French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and former top model Ines de la Fressange set to host a charity dinner to benefit research and AIDS prevention programs. AFP PHOTO/Martin BUREAU

ancient Window Into the Future

The fossil of an ancient hedgehog 2 inches long — no bigger than a shrew — was found in British Columbia.

When Jaelyn Eberle, a paleontologist at the University of Colorado, first examined the fossil, she was not sure what it was. “One of its molars is a millimeter long,” she said. “I’m thinking, ‘What has a millimeter-long tooth?’ ”

She found that it belonged to the hedgehog and moon rat family. She and her colleagues reported their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The animal, named Silvacola acares, lived 52 million years ago. It was found in British Columbia and lived at a time when temperatures were rising. Understanding the era’s fauna “could give us a better idea about what is happening today,” she said.

Recreating Mars in a Laboratory

In 2008, Nilton O. Renno, an astrobiologist at the University of Michigan, noticed small globules in pictures taken by the Mars lander Phoenix. Over time, the globules seemed to coalesce. “Could it be liquid water?” he wondered.

While researchers have found promising signs of liquid water on Mars, there is no evidence of its existence.

By recreating Martian conditions, Renno has demonstrated that the globules could have been water. He and his colleagues reported their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Wardrobe colors send a message

Wearing red doesn’t only draw attention from members of the opposite sex, it can provoke sexual rivalry in women, researchers say.

A new study claims that a woman is less likely to introduce a woman wearing red to her boyfriend or spouse.

“Certain colors may affect how people perceive us,” said Adam Pazda, a researcher at the University of Rochester, who collaborated with researchers from Trnava University in Slovakia and the Slovak Academy of Sciences on the study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. “It’s very useful to know what messages you’re sending.”

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  • In an artist's rendering, a tiny hedgehog, right, previously unknown to science, that lived in British Columbia some 50 million years ago. A two two-inch fossil was found in the Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park in north-central British Columbia, Canada -- a region that was a cool, upland rain forest in the Eocene epoch. (Julius Csotonyi via The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH STORY SLUGGED SCI-WATCH BY BHANOO. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. ORG XMIT: XNYT56

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