The Week In Science: Bat Crooners, King David's Palace, Ape Memory

on July 20 2013 8:00 AM
freetailbat
Shown is a Mexican free-tailed bat. Flickr via Creative Commons/USFWS Headquarters

This week, science has pulled back the curtain on some wondrous and important things: a budding solar system with carbon monoxide frost lines; long-buried evidence that Tyrannosaurus rex chased down and hunted its prey; and the possibility that binary star systems are the ideal celestial melting pots for extraterrestrial life.

But there are still so many other exciting developments happening all the time! So here’s a list of the stuff we didn’t get to cover:

One of the most seductive crooners in Texas isn’t Houston native Beyonce: It’s the male Mexican free-tailed bat. Texas A&M University biologists led a team of researchers who recorded bat songs for three years, and found that the free-tailed bat’s secret to romantic success is in his song. The free-tailed bat has only a fraction of a second to grab a lady bat’s attention, so his pitch has to be near-perfect. [Houston Chronicle]

Chimpanzees and orangutans can remember things if you jog their memory with sensory cues. In experiments, the apes were able to find the right tool for a task three years after they had initially been introduced to the new tool. [BBC News]

The biggest virus ever seen has just been discovered by French scientists. Pandoravirus is 1,000 times larger than an average influenza virus and carries 200 times the number of genes as the flu. Just six percent of the pandoravirus genes are ones scientists have already encountered -- the rest are still a mystery. The gargantuan viruses were found in ocean sediment off the coast of Chile. [New York Times]

Scientists and science enthusiasts alike are very excited about the tar pitch drop that has just, uh, dropped, over at Trinity College. Although pitch is solid stuff, it has some viscous properties, a fact that led a researcher at the Dublin college to put some pitch into a funnel and stand it over a jar, then wait to see how it would flow. That was in 1944. Other pitch-drop experiments show that a drop falls about once every 8 years, but the Trinity pitch drop had not been caught on camera, until last week. [The Atlantic]

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Chairman and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos said he’s found the rocket engines that powered the Apollo 11 moon mission. The rocket engines were found in the Atlantic Ocean, under 14,000 feet of water off the Florida coast. [CNN]

Eight people were arrested in Puerto Rico Friday on charges of illegally trading in endangered sea turtles. The suspects are alleged to have sold meat from 15 hawksbill sea turtles and seven green sea turtles, both endangered. [Associated Press]

Archaeologists in Israel claim to have found the remains of King David’s palace, along with the storeroom that was used for holding taxes. Olive seeds found at the site were carbon-dated back to the biblical king’s era, and the site has two gates, seemingly matching its Hebrew name Shaarayim (literally “two gates”). [FoxNews.com]

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