The simplest approach is usually the best, whether you’re talking about writing a news story, building an airplane or, in the case of one of this week’s discoveries, turning deserts green.
Bunding, an ancient and low-tech building technique, is having a profound impact on degraded land in two disparate places.
In Tanzania, farmers using bunds — barriers that, at their most basic level, are simply mounds of earth — have taken parched, overgrazed and eroded land and turned it green. The barriers trap water running off the ground and allow it to penetrate the earth.
Similar techniques are restoring peatlands, waterlogged landscapes that hold vast stores of carbon in the soil, in Northern Ireland, potentially improving the quality of drinking water there.
Lost cities can have a powerful pull on the imagination, and archaeologists working in Iraqi Kurdistan believe they may have identified the location of one.
Excavations of a 2,000-year-old fortress in the Zagros Mountains revealed fortifications nearly 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, two smaller settlements, carved rock reliefs and a religious complex.
The city is known only because of scant details gleaned from rare coins, but the archaeologists carefully pieced together clues found during their digs at the ancient site.
The Patagonian ice dragon is what scientists call an extremophile, or an organism that can live in extreme environments.
Across the universe
Black holes are powerful cosmic phenomena, but they don’t emit any light. This means finding one can involve several years of detective work for astronomers.
Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy, the newly detected space object is at least nine times the mass of our sun. Called VFTS 243, it orbits a hot, blue star weighing 25 times the sun’s mass, making it part of a binary system.
The astronomers said they are confident their discovery is watertight.
The prints in the restaurant courtyard belonged to two sauropods — plant-eating dinosaurs known for a long neck and tail, according to paleontologist Lida Xing of China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, who was contacted by the diner.
In this case, he got lucky. The restaurant owner has fenced off the site to keep people from stepping on the pits and might build a shed to protect them.
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