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Andean condor can fly for 100 miles without flapping wings – The Guardian

World’s largest soaring bird flaps wings only 1% of time in flight, study shows

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A study sheds light on just how efficiently the worlds largest soaring bird rides air currents to stay aloft for hours without flapping its wings.
The Andean condor has a 3-metre (10ft) wingspan and weighs up to 15kg (33lbs), making it the worlds heaviest soaring bird.
For the first time, a team of scientists strapped recording equipment they called daily diaries to eight condors in Patagonia to record each wingbeat over more than 250 hours of flight time.
Incredibly, the birds spent just 1% of their time aloft flapping their wings, mostly during takeoff. One bird flew more than five hours, covering more than 100 miles (160km), without flapping its wings.
Condors are expert pilots but we just had not expected they would be quite so expert, said Prof Emily Shepard, a study co-author and biologist at Swansea University in Wales.
The results were published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The finding that they basically almost never beat their wings and just soar is mind-blowing, said David Lentink, an expert in bird flight at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research.
To birds, the sky is not empty but a landscape of invisible features: wind gusts, currents of warm rising air and streams of air pushed upward by ground features such as mountains.
Learning to ride air currents allows some to travel long distances while minimising the exertion of beating their wings.
Scientists who study flying animals generally consider two types of flight: flapping flight and soaring flight. The difference can be likened to peddling a bicycle uphill versus coasting downhill, said Bret Tobalske, a bird flight expert at the University of Montana, who was not involved in the study.
Previous studies have shown that white storks and osprey flap for 17% and 25% of their overland migratory flights, respectively.
The Andean condors expertise at soaring is essential for its scavenger lifestyle, which requires hours a day of circling high mountains looking for a meal of carrion, said Sergio Lambertucci, a study co-author and biologist at the National University of Comahue in Argentina.
When you see condors circling, they are taking advantage of those thermal uplifts, or rising gusts of warm air, he said.
The recording devices were programmed to fall off the birds after about a week.
Retrieving them was not so easy. Sometimes the devices dropped off into nests on huge cliffs in the middle of the Andes mountains, and we needed three days just to get there, Lambertucci said.

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Dwarf planet Ceres is an ocean world: Study – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post

The dwarf planet Ceres — long believed to be a barren space rock — is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed Monday.

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The dwarf planet Ceres — long believed to be a barren space rock — is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed Monday.
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has its own gravity, enabling the NASA Dawn spacecraft to capture high-resolution images of its surface. 
Now a team of scientists from the United States and Europe have analysed images relayed from the orbiter, captured arou…

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The earth was once home to ‘terror crocodiles’ nearly the size of city buses – CNN

A new study has shed more light on gigantic “terror crocodiles,” that once roamed the world and preyed on dinosaurs with teeth “the size of bananas.”

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(CNN)A new study has shed more light on gigantic “terror crocodiles,” that once roamed the world and preyed on dinosaurs with teeth “the size of bananas.”
The research, which was conducted in 2018, published this week in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. It found that the Deinosuchus — a lineage of giant Late Cretacecous crocodylians from North America — were nearly as long as city buses, growing up to 33 feet in length, according to the study authors.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must h…

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Some Humans Are Carrying DNA From an Unknown Ancient Ancestor – ScienceAlert

A new analysis of the genomes of the most famous of ancient humans – Neanderthals and Denisovans – has revealed an as-yet-unidentified ancestor for our species – a branch of our distant family tree without any known label to put to it.

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A new analysis of the genomes of the most famous of ancient humans – Neanderthals and Denisovans – has revealed an as-yet-unidentified ancestor for our species a branch of our distant family tree without any known label to put to it.
The study also finds further evidence of interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals, but places it much earlier than we previously knew – some 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. This interbreeding would therefore add new insight into the increasingly complicated hist…

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