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Weird stories for dinner conversation

Japan lands rovers on moving asteroid

Japan has successfully become the first nation to land rovers on an asteroid. On Sept. 21, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency landed two rovers on a space rock dubbed Ryugu. On Sept. 23, footage was captured by Rover-1B, showing the Sun move across the asteroid’s sky. While there, the rovers will collect temperature samples and take pictures of the asteroid. 

Photo courtesy of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

The rovers trekked across the “dumpling-shaped” asteroid and measured the 2,953 feet diameter. Both rovers are barely three pounds and can bounce up to 49 feet into the air due to weak gravity.

The rovers’ mother ship, Hayabusa 2, will later release a larger rover and lander as part of the mission. Hayabusa 2 aims to make three touch-and-go landings to gather samples of the rock for research purposes. The first landing is scheduled to take place in October.

Hayabusa 2 was launched on Dec. 3, 2014 and traveled almost 2 billion miles to land on June 27, 2018. It is expected to leave in 2019 and arrive to Earth towards the end of 2020.

26,000-pound dinosaur found in South Africa

A fossil belonging to a 26,000-pound relative of the brontosaurus has been discovered in South Africa. Researchers have named the beast Ledumahadi mafube, meaning “a giant thunderclap” in Sesotho, a South African dialect native to where the dinosaur fossil was found.

“The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of sauropod dinosaurs,” said Jonah Choiniere, study author and paleontology professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It honors both the recent and ancient heritage of southern Africa.”

In 2012, Blair McPhee, a graduate student, uncovered the bones. Over the course of several years, the team worked on uncovering the bones of the adult dinosaur. The Ledumahadi was most likely related to the sauropod and walked on four legs and ate plants like the brontosaurus.

The Ledumahadi was one of many dinosaur species in that area and Choiniere and his team are continuing their search for fossils from the Triassic and Jurassic periods in South Africa.

Extinct animals are predicted to walk the earth again in 10 years

Science hopes to clone certain extinct species from preserved DNA and eventually reintroduce them to a remote area in Russia. The DNA was found preserved in permafrost in Yakutia.

“Today, technology is developing at an explosive pace, and what yesterday seemed to be scientific nonsense, today is an absolutely clear prospect for scientists,” said Aisen Nikolaev, regional leader of Yakutia.

After Vladimir Putin hosts an investment meeting next month, more information will be released about the “world class paleo-genetic scientific center.”

The center will “aim to study extinct animals from living cells — and to restore such creatures as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion and breeds of long-gone horses,” reported The Siberian Times.

The preserved DNA will be merged with mammals such as elephants in an attempt to bring them back to life.

Harvard geneticist George Church and his team use a genetic engineering technique where they can “cut and paste” DNA into the elephant cells to create a mammoth embryo. They will grow the embryo in an artificial womb instead of a surrogate mother.

“We are focusing on reviving mammoth genes and making a mammoth/elephant hybrid and help them spread to vast wild, arctic climates,” said Church to Sun Online