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2017 Year in Review - Science & Technology News

 

Top events for the nation and the world in 2017

Frog News
Rare Frog Species Captured and Another Species Discovered
Rare Frog Species
On February 4, researchers located and captured specimens of a very rare species of frog that had been feared extinct. The arthroleptis troglodytes, or cave squeaker, is critically endangered, and no specimens had been captured in the last five decades. Scientists announced that they plan to breed the frogs to repopulate them. Two weeks later, on February 21, a scientific survey team working in the Western Ghats mountain range discovered seven new species of frogs. Some are as small as .5 inches long, making them the smallest known species. Their size and insect-like chirps had helped them remain undiscovered. On July 3, Chinese and American Researchers published a discovery in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science about the origins of modern biodiversity. The researchers’ work found that frog species became significantly diverse during what should have been a stable (and thus less evolutionarily driving) period. They claim that the diversity of frog species comes from their ability to fill the void left by the extinction of the dinosaurs. (The New York Times/CNN/NPR)
Photo source: AP Photo/Francois Becker, File
Fossil Discoveries
Fossils Found Contain Earliest Evidence of Life
Fossil
On March 1, a team of scientists announced that they have found exceptionally old microfossils in Hudson Bay, in Quebec, Canada. These microfossils, identifiable as filaments within layers of jasper and hematite, are almost 4.3 billion years old. Most scientists agree on the age of the Earth as a little under 4.6 billion years old, meaning that life might have been around since almost the beginning. Later, on May 23, a team of anthropologists and archaeologists announced their rediscovery of a hominin fossil near the border of Bulgaria and Greece. The fossil itself was uncovered decades ago, but recent analysis suggests that it might have belonged to a human ancestor 7.2 million years ago. The team claimed that this suggests that humans originate from Europe rather than Africa, but the great majority of anthropologists still refute this claim. Most fossil evidence, as shown above, indicates that the human species diverged from apes in Africa. On June 7, archaeologists working in Morocco uncovered fossils of Homo sapiens that seem to far predate the previously accepted date for human evolution. Original estimates placed the evolution of Homo sapiens around 200,000 years ago. These newer fossils from Jebel Irhoud are dated somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 years old. This could mark a major shift in anthropology. (Reuters/Washington Post)
Photo source: Bigstock, File
Great Barrier Reef Threatened
Majority of the Great Barrier Reef Threatened by Bleaching
Great Barrier Reef
On April 10, members of the Australian Research Council issued a report on the declining health of the Great Barrier Reef. A full two thirds of the reef are affected severe coral bleaching, as rising ocean temperatures cause the coral to die off. This marks the second year in a row of serious bleaching. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Photo source: NOAA via AP/Bernardo Vargas-Angel, File
Return of Gray Wolf
Gray Wolves Return to Denmark After 200 Years
Gray Wolf Returns
On May 4, wildlife researchers confirm the presence of gray wolves in Denmark for the first time in two centuries. A lone male wolf was spotted five years ago, but it was uncertain if he would find a partner to reproduce with. Now he is seen with a full pack, raising hopes that the species can successfully breed in the region. The gray wolf was driven out by human development, and culled for the protection of livestock. (The Guardian)
Photo source: AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File
World Faces Mass Extinction
New Analysis Suggests World is Facing Mass Extinction
Mass Extinction
On July 10, scientists warned that the world is swiftly sliding into another mass extinction, the sixth such event since the Earth began. Within the last 115 years, nearly 200 species have seen their populations and geographical spread decrease by 80%. This population change is exacerbated by the widespread destruction of animal habitats and the increasing global temperatures. (CNN)
Photo source: AP Photo/Khaled Kazziha, File
Researchers Prevent Heart Disease
Researchers Successfully Edit Genes to Prevent Heart Disease
DNA
On August 2, U.S.-based research teams successfully use embryonic cells to fix a faulty gene sequence responsible for particular deadly heart diseases. The joint teams of American, Chinese, and South Korean scientists hope to expand the scope of the work, and create effective gene treatments for a wide range of dangerous and debilitating illnesses. Although research using embryonic cells is controversial, this marks a major breakthrough in medical science. (BBC)
Photo source: Bigstock, File
Snow Leopards
Snow Leopards no Longer Endangered
Snow Leopards
It was announced on September 14 that the snow leopard was no longer considered “endangered,” as its conservation status had been moved to “vulnerable.” (BBC)
Photo source: AP Photo/Richard Vogel
Apple Products
Apple Announces 3 New iPhones
Apple iPhone Announcement
Apple announced three new iPhones on September 12: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. (Apple)
Photo source: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Japan Launches Satellite
Fourth Satellite Launched by Japan
Japan Satellite
Japan launched its fourth satellite on October 10, 2017. The satellite is equipped with a high-precision GPS, and Japan hopes to launch three more by 2023. (Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo
Breeding Season Difficult for Penguins
Penguins Face Difficulties in Antarctic Breeding Season
Penguins
Unusually high amounts of ice this season in the Antarctic have resulted in the survival of only two Adelie penguins during this breeding season. On October 13, conservation groups urged for action to help the penguins during the next breeding season, creating a plan that will be go before the board on Monday.(BBC).
Photo source: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
New Species
New Orangutan Species Identified
New Species
On November 2, in Sumatra, a third species of orangutans was identified by scientists in the area. Though orangutans are equipped to live in their environment, scientists worry for the future of this new species. (Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana
Black Friday
Record High Online Sales for Black Friday
Black Friday
s Black Friday came to a close on November 25, it was reported that a total of $7.9 billion was spent online. Adobe Analytics reported that this was a 17.9% increase from the sales last year. (Reuters)
Photo source: Josh Reynolds/AP Images for BJ's Wholesale Club
YouTube Music
YouTube Announces Music Subscription
YouTube
As Black Friday came to a close on November 25, it was reported that a total of $7.9 billion was spent online. Adobe Analytics reported that this was a 17.9% increase from the sales last year. (Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

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