Best of Last Week – Biggest dinosaur ever, rewriting human evolution and brain damage caused by playing video games

August 14, 2017 by Bob Yirka recap
Reconstruction of Patagotitan mayorum. Credit: Jorge Gonzalez

It was a big week for biological history as a team with members from several institutions in Argentina and one in the U.S. reported on their new study that investigated the biggest dinosaur ever: Patagotitan mayorum. When alive, the creature would have stood six meters at the shoulder, measured 37 meters long, and weighed approximately 69 metric tons. Also, a team at the University of Utah came up with a new way to analyze DNA sequences to learn more about early human populations; in the process, they found themselves rewriting the human evolution story. And a combined team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Beijing Museum of Natural History reported that they had discovered the first winged mammals from the Jurassic period in China. Also, an international team found that the modern domestic dog has a single geographic origin in what is now modern Germany, and that it got its start approximately 15,000 years ago.

It was also a big week for technology as an international team of researchers announced that they achieved the first data transmission through a terahertz multiplexer, possibly paving the way for the next generation of ultra-high bandwidth networks. Also, a small team with members from the U.S. and China demonstrated graphene electronic tattoos that can be applied to the skin with water. They are similar to traditional temporary tattoos, but can function as wearable electronic devices. And Elon Musk announced that the maiden Falcon Heavy rocket is to launch in November, while also acknowledging the high risk involved. The rocket will have a main center engine and two side boosters, all three of which have been designed to return to predesignated spots, allowing for reuse.

In other news, a team of Japanese scientists created ice cream that doesn't melt by adding an extract found in strawberries. And a team at Ohio State University announced a breakthrough device that heals organs with a single touch by generating any cell type of interest for treatment within the patient's own body.

And finally, if you like to play action-based video games, you might be interested in a study conducted by a team led by Greg West of the University of Montreal. They found that playing action video games can actually harm your brain—dong so regularly, they discovered, can lead to less grey matter in the hippocampus.

Explore further: Patagotitan mayorum: New study describes the biggest dinosaur ever