Prehistoric snakes had limbs for 70M years, new study shows

An ancient snake’s cheekbone sheds light on evolution of modern snake skulls. (Credit: RAÚL ORENCIO GÓMEZ) FOSSIL HUNTER FINDS 1185M-YEAR-OLD ‘GOLDEN SNITCH’ WITH ANCIENT SEA CREATURE INSIDE Michael Caldwell, one of the study’s co-authors, added that researchers have not been able to gather any significant information about the early evolution of snakes, due to a lack of fossils. “This research revolutionizes our understanding of the jugal bone in snake and non-snake lizards,” Caldwell, a professor at the University of Alberta, added. “After 160 years of getting it wrong, this paper corrects this very important feature based not on guesswork, but on empirical evidence.” The researchers performed CT scans to visualize the skull structures inside the specimen, looking at pathways for …

Cigarette use among US adults hits record low while vaping rates rise: CDC

Cigarette smoking rates among US adults have dropped to an all-time low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (iStock) NEW YORK RAISES AGE TO PURCHASE TOBACCO AND E-CIGARETTE PRODUCTS TO 21 The health agency has named vitamin E acetate, which is found in THC-containing vape products, as the possible culprit in the outbreak. The CDC said earlier this week the chemical compound, which is typically used as a nutritional supplement, was found in lung fluid from 29 patients tested in a government lab. CDC Director Robert R. Redfield called the “marked decline” in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults an “achievement of a consistent and coordinated effort by the public health community and our many partners.” “Yet, …

NASA renames mysterious Ultima Thule after Nazi controversy arises

Composite image of primordial contact binary Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 from New Horizons Spacecraft Data. (Credit: NASA) NASA EYES PLUTO MISSION  “The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies, and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, in a statement. “That desire to learn is at the heart of the New Horizons mission, and we’re honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery.” Stern did not reference the link to the Thule Society as a reason for the new name, but did mention it during a press conference. “Just because some bad guys once liked that …

PM quizzed on Russia, flooding and his children

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionBoris Johnson on Russian donations and alleged interference in UK politics. Boris Johnson has been quizzed on Russia, flooding and his children by members of the public during a BBC Radio 5 Live and News Channel phone-in. During the programme, the PM said there was “no evidence” of Russian interference in UK politics, amid calls for the government to release a report on the subject before the election. He also said there were “big plans” for investing in flood defences. And he said claims none of his children went to state school were “wrong”. He also denied reports that Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had been offered a peerage in return for …

PM vows to close ‘opportunity gap’ after Brexit

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionBoris Johnson: “Our ambition is unlock the whole nation’s potential” Delivering Brexit would help the UK close the “opportunity gap between rich and poor”, Boris Johnson has said. In his first big speech of the election campaign, he promised to boost regional industry and drive a “clean energy revolution” after the UK leaves the EU. He said a future Tory government would double investment in high-tech research and development to £18bn. But earlier former Tory David Gauke said Mr Johnson’s plan will lead to a “bad outcome for the country”. And Labour said Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal was flawed and another referendum was needed. Image copyright PA Media Image caption Mr Johnson …

‘The Report’ presents a heavy-handed look at the CIA torture program

(CNN)“The Report” tackles a serious topic — the CIA’s use of torture after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the heroic attempt to make those practices public — and turns it into a rather heavy-handed movie, one that nearly buckles under the weight of its own self-importance. Adam Driver leads the cast, in an Amazon release most notable for the flashbacks to what happened under the mandate to protect America. That included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other methods shown not to work, despite the masterminds’ insistence that they were based on science, and their argument that the subjects’ continued lying meant the tactics were actually effective. “We don’t do this,” FBI agent Ali Soufan (Faher Kaisi) says, a rare voice of …

China’s Mars ambitions one step closer after successful test of lander

Huailai, China (CNN)China has completed its first public test of a Mars lander, keeping the country on track for an unmanned exploration mission to the red planet in 2020. According to officials, the trial was designed to test the lander’s ability to hover and avoid obstacles, as well as monitoring how well it operated in a similar environment to Mars, where the pull of gravity is one-third of the Earth’s gravitational force. China invited diplomats and international media, including CNN, to witness the test. Beijing has pushed for more inclusion in international space projects but the US tightly restricts the ways NASA can work with China’s space program. The Chinese government told the dozens of watching journalists that the test …

Tory plan to attract more NHS staff from abroad

The party would introduce a “points-based system” for migrant workers from EU and non-EU countries. It has yet to spell out in detail how this will work – but it has announced that extra points will be awarded for coming to work in the NHS. The cost of applying for a visa would also be reduced from £928 to £464 for medical professionals, and they would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks, under Tory plans. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “From its inception the NHS has recruited globally. This new visa will make it easier for us to hire the finest doctors and nurses from other nations to come and work in the NHS – so that patients can …

How much will this be a climate change election?

But this year something has shifted dramatically, according to YouGov. Chris Curtis, one of its researchers, says that in the most recent poll 27% of voters cited the environment as one of three top issues – behind Brexit and health. That puts it on par with crime and the economy. Image copyright Getty Images The past summer saw record-breaking heatwaves and scientists making it clear that rising temperatures are not a problem for the distant future, but something that’s threatening now. And on top of it all, the revered tones of Sir David Attenborough have been heard by millions, including right now with his new series ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’, warning that the threat of climate change is real and …

Greta Thunberg, teen climate activist, is getting a huge mural in downtown San Francisco

(CNN)The Bay Area has many murals, with images of everyone from Robin Williams to Nipsey Hussle gracing its buildings. It’s enough to make anyone stop and consider their environmental impact. And that’s kind of the point, said Paul Scott, executive director of OneAtmosphere.org — the nonprofit that’s funding the project. The organization wanted to focus on art celebrating climate activists, Scott told CNN. When brainstorming people to feature, Thunberg was the first person that came to mind. “If we can amplify her message and get more people involved and listening to what she’s saying, then we’re doing some good,” he said. The overall feedback has been incredibly positive, he said. But the most critical reactions have been from those who …

A teenager won a $25,000 award for inventing a solution to eliminate blind spots for cars

(CNN)A 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania, won a $25,000 prize for creating a prototype designed to eliminate a car’s blind spots. Gassler’s project uses a webcam, projector, 3D printed adapter and retroreflective fabric to make a car’s A-pillars invisible by displaying the image of the blind spot behind them onto the pillar. First, a webcam is attached to the car onto the A-pillar. Then, a projector mounted on the roof inside the car is used to display the images from the webcam. Gassler also 3D printed a special piece to allow the projector to focus at close range. The teen used retroreflective fabric to cover the A-pillar to allow light from the projector to reflect back onto the light source, …

Tiny deer-like animal thought lost to science photographed for first time in 30 years

(CNN)A tiny deer-like creature about the size of a rabbit has been photographed in the wild for the first time in three decades in southern Vietnam, delighting conservationists who feared the species was extinct. Scientists had thought the tiny creature, which had been among a list of 25 “most wanted” lost species compiled by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), had fallen victim to habitat loss and intensive hunting for the illegal wildlife trade. Wire snares are widely used in the region. Details of the rediscovery were published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. After interviewing villagers and forest rangers near the beach city of Nha Trang, the team of scientists set camera traps for five months in areas …

Corporate America is quietly working to suppress the voices of small investors

Emily Cunningham, a user experience designer, is just one of 750,000 people who work for Amazon. Like most rank-and-file employees in corporate America, she doesn’t have a direct line to the CEO; nor does she usually have much sway over what the company does. Since the 1940s, shareholders have had the right to pose questions and propose changes to the directors of public companies, and to put those proposals up for a vote by their fellow investors. And the bar to propose a resolution has been relatively low. Since 1998, it’s been set at just $2,000 in stock or 1% of a company’s shares — whichever is lower. (For most publicly-traded companies, $2,000 is, by far, the lower threshold.) Currently, …

Russian professor found with severed arms in his bag appears in court

Moscow (CNN)A prominent Russian historian appeared in court in St. Petersburg on Monday in a grisly murder case that has grabbed headlines across the country. In court on Monday, Sokolov told the judge, “I repent deeply,” according to local media news outlet fontanka.ru. He said he had lived with the victim for five years. “I considered her a bride and told my friends that I was going to marry her,” Sokolov said, according to fontanka.ru. He described in court how the pair had got into an argument over his children. Sokolov has been sent to Kresty, a pre-trial detention center, for two months. Yeshchenko came from the southern Russian city of Krasnodar to study in St. Petersburg and had continued …

Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly two decades

(CNN)For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has detected a new strain of HIV. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said current treatments for HIV are effective against this strain and others. However, identifying a new strain provides a more complete map of how HIV evolves. “There’s no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit,” Fauci said. “Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier.” For scientists to be able to declare that this was a new subtype, three cases of it must be detected independently. The first two were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the …

DIY alternative to smear test ‘promising’

However, larger trials may still be needed before the NHS could decide whether to offer it to patients, say experts. Even then, it would only be one option for women – as the researchers believe smear tests would continue in their current form. But the researchers say that in the future, some women could order the test kits online, use them at home and then send their sample by post to be analysed. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionChloe Delevingne had a smear test live on the Victoria Derbyshire programme The 25% who do not attend Screening aims to pick up early warning signs of cancer – known as pre-cancers – that can be treated to prevent …