Treading On Eggshell

Remarkably well preserved genetic information has been found in the fossilised eggshells of an extinct species of elephant bird from Madagascar, the biggest bird ever to walk this earth.

Remarkably well preserved genetic information has been found in the fossilised eggshells of an extinct species of elephant bird from Madagascar, the biggest bird ever to walk this earth – or at least known to have existed. Resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street, the creature’s DNA was discovered by Mike Parker Pearson, professor of archaeology at the University of Sheffield in the UK. He made the discovery while on a dig in Madagascar. He says the 19,000-year-old eggs provide "an excellent source of DNA". The technical name for the species is ‘Aepynornis’ and it is estimated to have weighted about half a ton and would have resembled an overgrown ostrich. "Parker Pearson found many of the bird’s nesting sites and some of the human settlements where the giant eggs were re-used as containers for liquids in the coastal dunes of southern Madagascar. The team radiocarbon dated the fossil eggshells and say their chemical composition can be used to shed light on past environments. This new study will enable a DNA profile to be produced, Parker Pearson says. Most of the birds appear to have died out before AD 1000, when a lost civilization emerged in the south of Madagascar, with long-distance trade contacts to Africa’s Swahili coast, the Persian Gulf and China."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less
Promotional photo of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones
Surprising Science
  • It's commonly thought that the suppression of female sexuality is perpetuated by either men or women.
  • In a new study, researchers used economics games to observe how both genders treat sexually-available women.
  • The results suggests that both sexes punish female promiscuity, though for different reasons and different levels of intensity.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less