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Frogs and Toads
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Tree Frogs
The Littlest Lemurs
Gliders in the Family
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
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A Meal Plan for Birds
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Sticky Silky Feet
Cold, colder and coldest ice
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Music of the Future
Galaxies on the go
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Saving Wetlands
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A Change in Climate
Finding the Past
Stonehenge Settlement
Oldest Writing in the New World
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Freshwater Fish
Food and Nutrition
Sponges' secret weapon
The Essence of Celery
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Human Body
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Nature's Medicines
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Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Einstein's Skateboard
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A Giant Flower's New Family
The algae invasion
Snapping Turtles
Space and Astronomy
An Earthlike Planet
Planet Hunters Nab Three More
A Dusty Birthplace
Technology and Engineering
Slip Sliming Away
Shape Shifting
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
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Digging for Ancient DNA

In the movie Jurassic Park, scientists discover fossilized insects that had eaten dinosaur blood just before they died. The dino blood is full of DNA—the instruction manual of life—and the scientists use some of those tiny molecules to bring dinosaurs back to life. One of the reasons this could never really happen is that DNA is incredibly fragile. Every speck of dino DNA has probably broken down during the 65 million years since the giant reptiles disappeared. But now, new DNA discoveries are opening windows into ancient worlds. In tiny samples of soil from New Zealand and Siberia, molecular biologist Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues have found the oldest bits of identifiable DNA ever. In Siberia, the researchers drilled into ice and dirt dating back 2 million years. In sediment that was 30,000 years old, they found DNA from eight animal species, including horses, reindeer, bison, and woolly mammoths. In DNA extracted from 400,000-year-old soil, the researchers found at least 28 species of trees, shrubs, herbs, and mosses. Willerslev guesses that the DNA made its way into the soil through animal poop. He hopes the new findings will help reveal what life was like long ago. Unfortunately, the chances of any DNA in dinosaur poop lasting that long are pretty slim.—E. Sohn

Digging for Ancient DNA
Digging for Ancient DNA

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