Intriguing Headlines of January 2008

When looking for intriguing headlines to study for the month of January 2008, consider the life of a naked mole rat and what makes them so special, as well as another exciting fossil discovery.

Odd Immunity to Pain

It’s not everyday that you find a creature that possesses an odd immunity to pain. This is the case with the naked mole rat, which is hairless with an unattractive set of bucked teeth. These rodents are oblivious to the pain caused by acid or other hot sources, such as chili peppers. Scientists are rather interested in this feat, as it could reveal important information on pain resistance , quite promising when it comes to discovering new drugs to cure people suffering chronic pain.

The skin of the mole rats lacks a chemical called Substance P, which is linked to the reason why mammals are able to feel the sting of burning pain. In case you didn’t know, mole rats live in burrows situated about 6 feet under the ground in the central part of East Africa. These unusually cold-blooded creatures provide insight to one of the most unique animals in the world.

Oldest Horseshoe Crab Fossil Uncovered

In the past (like almost ½ billion years ago), tiny horseshoe crabs lived about shorelines much in the same manner as the larger versions. This is the latest to come after new fossil proof has surfaced. In Canada, two almost complete fossil specimens have been found, which allow researchers to study a new genus of horseshoe crab that could push back their origins at least another 100 million years earlier than what everyone first thought. The fossil has already been dubbed “Lunataspis aurora.”

This ancient find measures about 1.5 inches (approximately four centimeters) when taking a ruler to the head and ending at the tip of the tail. It is clear to see that the ancient relatives of the crab today was much smaller, as modern crabs can reach 20 inches (or 50 centimeters).

Future Space Rocket Already a Bust Before Take-Off

A NASA moon rocket in the works may never lift off because a potential issue may cause a danger-filled problem within the spacecraft. Engineers have been brainstorming on a way to create a new rocket that could replace the space shuttle already in use. They want to send a couple of astronauts into the sky using this rocket, but fear it could shake so violently during the first couple of minutes that the entire vessel could become destroyed. In order to solve the issue , they engineers have to get to the bottom of the ‘shaking’ dilemma. The correction is very much needed, as it could pose a serious problem for those involved in the Ares I rocket that will propel the Orion crew capsule into orbit.