​Chernobyl mutant wolves have become resistant to cancer ● A mineral completely unknown on Earth was found on the Moon ● The teeth of Komodo dragons are strikingly similar to the teeth of theropod dinosaurs

gray wolvesPhoto: – / Ardea / Profimedia

Mutant wolves from Chernobyl became resistant to cancer

It is common knowledge that after the evacuation of the population from the accident zone around the Chornobyl NPP, this region became a nature reserve. Radioactive, it’s true. But surprisingly, many wild species seem to thrive there, away from humans.

Little is known there about the effects of radioactivity on life forms, and this is for the simple reason that not many researchers dare to study them. The exception is two American biologists, Shane Campbell-Stayton and Cara Love, both from Princeton University, USA, who as early as 2014 began taking blood samples from wolves and wild dogs living in this area.

And the results are more than amazing. Last year, for example, a study published in the journal Science Advances found that wild dogs there are genetically different from dogs anywhere else in the world. Simply put, their genome has been altered.

No less interesting is the fact that wolves have developed an unusual resistance to cancer. The information was presented this year at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in the USA by the two mentioned biologists.

From the data they collected, it appears that the wolves were exposed to six times the amount of radiation that is considered safe every day. And yet, instead of being harmed, their genomes have undergone mutations that provide resistance to cancer. The same was observed in some dogs. Basically, their immune system is similar to the immune system of a person who has undergone radiation therapy.

The discovery could be significant because it could provide information about mutations that can increase people’s resistance to different types of cancer. But against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, no researcher can enter the protected zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

A mineral completely unknown on Earth was discovered on the Moon

One of the goals of China’s Chang’e-5 space mission, which took place in 2020, was to collect rocks and regolith samples to return to Earth. Such a mission took place for the first time in 45 years. And the results seem to exceed all expectations.

The collected samples once again proved the presence of water on the Moon. They also found traces of rust on the surface of some rocks, indicating that the oxidation process had also taken place there. Recently, however, Chinese experts have turned their attention to minerals created or modified under enormous pressure, as a result of the collision of various celestial bodies (asteroids or comets) with the surface of the Moon.

Thus, in a recent study published in the journal Matter and Radiation at Extremes, a group of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced the discovery of a completely unknown mineral, which they named Changesite-(Y).

The authors of the study say that this is a late stage of basalt crystallization. The transparent and colorless mineral was formed under the influence of enormous pressure and high temperature. This hypothesis seems to be supported by the discovery of two other types of rare minerals, this time known from both Earth and the Moon, seyfertite and stischovite. Both minerals also occur under the mentioned conditions.

Chinese experts believe the samples came from the Aristarchus Crater, located near the landing site of the Chang’e-5 probe, and that they were thrown there after the impact that caused the crater.

The teeth of Komodo dragons are remarkably similar to the teeth of theropod dinosaurs

Two researchers from the University of Toronto, Thea Maho and Robert Reiss, recently published a study in the journal Plos ONE in which they point to a previously unseen aspect. The fact is that the teeth of Komodo dragons are very similar to the teeth of predatory dinosaurs of the order Therapoda (two-legged, three-toed dinosaurs).

Although this seems surprising, the research carried out so far has focused more on the diet of dragons than on the morphology of the teeth. Thus, two Canadian researchers noticed that their curved teeth, with jagged edges, strengthened by dentin, are almost identical to the teeth of bipedal carnivores of the Mesozoic.

They also discovered that this set of teeth appears only in adulthood, when the feeding regime changes dramatically. Young individuals have a weak dental system, which is not characteristic of carnivorous animals. They live mainly in trees, away from adults, and feed mainly on insects and small vertebrates. When they reach maturity, their teeth change so they can hunt larger animals.

It is also important that Komodo dragons change their teeth during their lifetime. Basically every 40 days they get a new set of teeth. The authors of the study believe that the information can be extrapolated to Mesozoic theropods, given the morphological similarity of the teeth. And based on that, I believe they could show how such animals were hunted and fed.

Follow our Facebook page, HotNews Science, to be able to receive live information and curiosities from the world of science in real time!

Photo source: profimediaimages.ro