Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planet of the black leaves and setting sights on Phobos and Deimos

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - According to a new study, Earth-like alien planets with multiple suns may host trees and shrubs that are black or gray instead of the more familiar green. See article.
g Life - Paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the Chinese Academy of Sciences announce the discovery of Liaoconodon hui, a complete fossil mammal from the Mesozoic found in China that includes the long-sought transitional middle ear. The specimen shows the bones associated with hearing in mammals -- the malleus, incus, and ectotympanic -- decoupled from the lower jaw, as had been predicted, but were held in place by an ossified cartilage that rested in a groove on the lower jaw. The new research, published in Nature this week, also suggests that the middle ear evolved at least twice in mammals, for monotremes and for the marsupial-placental group. See article.
g Intelligence - Scientists seeking to understand the origin of the human mind may want to look to honeybees - not ancestral apes - for at least some of the answers, according to a University of Colorado Boulder archaeologist. See article.
g Message - Recent discussions within the SETI community have thoroughly explored the issue of whether people with access to radio telescopes should send powerful signals to alien civilizations without some process of prior international consultation. In particular, those exchanges have focused on the question of "Active SETI." See editorial. This piece is from 2005.
g Cosmicus - The two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, are in the sights of planners of both human and robotic spaceflights. See article.

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