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Science News Roundup: Coronavirus deals blow to NASA's 2024 return-to-moon plan; Fins of prehistoric fish reveal origins of the human hand and more

Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 20-03-2020 19:18 IST | Created: 20-03-2020 18:29 IST
Science News Roundup: Coronavirus deals blow to NASA's 2024 return-to-moon plan; Fins of prehistoric fish reveal origins of the human hand and more

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

'Wonderchicken' fossil from Belgium reveals dawn of modern birds

A fossil unearthed in Belgium dubbed the "Wonderchicken" is providing a rare glimpse into the early evolution of modern birds at the twilight of the age of dinosaurs, right before an asteroid impact altered the course of life on Earth. Researchers on Wednesday described a partridge-sized bird named Asteriornis maastrichtensis that inhabited a seashore environment 66.7 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. It represents the oldest-known anatomically modern bird, sharing skull traits with today's landfowl like chickens, turkeys, quail, and pheasants as well as waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swans.

Coronavirus deals blow to NASA's 2024 return-to-moon plan

The coronavirus has dealt a blow to NASA's plan to return Americans to the moon by 2024, as the space agency chief on Thursday ordered the temporary closure of two rocket production facilities after an employee tested positive for the illness. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement he was shutting down the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center in nearby Hancock County, Mississippi, due to a rise in coronavirus cases in the region.

Fins of prehistoric fish reveal origins of the human hand

Inside the stout fins of a fish that prowled the shallow waters of an estuary in what is now eastern Canada about 380 million years ago, scientists have found what they call the evolutionary origins of the human hand. The researchers examined a remarkably complete fossil of a fish called Elpistostege watsoni that represents a pivotal stage in a landmark event in the history of life on Earth - the transition of fish to land vertebrates.


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