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Soldiers in Jinan, Shandong province, enjoy a makeshift bowling break during China’s seven-day national holiday. (CHINA DAILY/REUTERS)
Soldiers in Jinan, Shandong province, enjoy a makeshift bowling break during China’s seven-day national holiday. (CHINA DAILY/REUTERS)

Talking points: Under the supervolcano, why bugs hate storms and a new kind of anthropoid Add to ...

UNDER THE SUPERVOLCANO

How did the climate of Mars become so unpredictable? Blame supervolcanoes. CBC.ca reports that scientists have discovered evidence that explosive ancient volcanoes played a role in the barren planet’s current climate conditions. Researchers from NASA and the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., analyzed craters on a highland area called Arabia Terra once believed to be the result of meteors striking the Mars surface. Closer inspection suggested the craters are actually the remnants of supervolcanoes active more than 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists now believe volcanic sulphur could have generated compounds similar to those that cause acid rain on Earth, sending the planet into prolonged periods of warming or cooling.

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WHY BUGS HATE STORMS

Nothing dampens the amorous activity of insects like a thunderstorm. The Los Angeles Times reports on a recent study by the University of Western Ontario and the University of Sao Paulo that tested the impact of shifting atmospheric conditions on three species – the potato aphid, the true armyworm and the cucurbit beetle. Researchers noted that when barometric pressure dropped, so did any mating inclinations in all three of the insects, which unfailingly scurried for cover. Conclusion: Bugs will always opt for safety over sex. “The loss of interest is an adaptation that reduces the probability of injury and death of insects, which makes sense if you consider that high winds and rainstorms are life-threatening for them,” said researcher Jose Mauricio Simoes Bento.

NEW KIND OF ANTHROPOID

Scientists have unearthed the fossilized jaw of a tiny primate that lived more than 35 million years ago. As reported by Livescience.com, the new species, dubbed Krabia minuta, was discovered in a Thai coal mine. An excavation team found part of a jaw and teeth from a small primate estimated to have weighed half a pound and concluded the creature was definitely an anthropoid, albeit a very different sort of anthropoid. “The molar teeth of Krabia are very peculiar and indicate a diversified food made of soft fruits and or gum,” said paleontologist Jean-Jacques Jaeger. “This diet is very different from the other known southeast Asian anthropoids.”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world.

Karl Kraus, Austrian writer (1874-1936)

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