Planet Earth

Elsewhere on DISCOVER: Seal Whiskers, Sea Monsters, and a Baby Exoplanet

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanJun 11, 2010 9:59 PM


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80beats aims to bring you all the science news that's fit to turn into bytes of digital information, but sometimes DISCOVER's other bloggers get to the juicy news stories first. To make sure you don't miss anything, here are a couple of links:

  • Supersenses! Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science covers two journal articles in which scientists investigated the amazing sense of touch in seal whiskers and sharks' equally astounding sense of smell in the water. To test the sensitivity of seal whiskers, researchers blindfolded a seal and had him “read” the turbulence of a wake.

  • For the first time, scientists get to watch as an exoplanet orbits its star—63 light years away. Check out Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy post for the must-see image. Elsewhere on the Web, National Geographic notes that this planet, Beta Pictoris b, is just a baby. According to the paper published in Science, Beta Pictoris appears to be only a few million years old, yet it's fully formed--which surprised astronomers who thought that planets take much longer to come into their own.

  • Finally, a look back to the marine reptiles that ruled the prehistoric seas. A new study suggests that unlike most reptiles, these mighty sea monsters may have been able to regulate their body temperatures, reports Ed Yong. That ability could have allowed these top-of-the-food-chain hunters to swim fast and dive deep, regardless of ocean temperatures.

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