Science News Briefs from around the world: December 2022

Science News Briefs from around the world: December 2022

  • Science
  • December 18, 2022
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Lightning-resistant trees in Panama, an Australian bird arms race, hydrogen-powered trains in Germany and more in this month’s Quick Hits

Photo credit: NASA advertisement

AUSTRALIA

An ‘innovation arms race’ may be brewing in the Sydney suburbs between people and rubbish-picking cockatoos. Humans keep trying new defenses, like placing bricks or rubber snakes on their trash can lids, but the birds continue to develop strategies to pry them open.

BRAZIL

Fossil teeth revealed Brasilodon, a rodent-like animal that lived 225 million years ago, as the oldest known mammal. Sparse fossil evidence made it difficult to classify the animal, but new analysis suggests its teeth are mammalian rather than reptilian.

DENMARK

Denmark is the first United Nations member state to pay for “losses and damage” caused by its greenhouse gas emissions. His $13 million donation will support recovery efforts in countries hardest hit by climate change.

GERMANY

The world’s first S-Bahn line to be operated entirely with hydrogen is being built in the federal state of Lower Saxony. The trains emit only water and steam and offer an environmentally friendly alternative to diesel fuel.

INDONESIA

Skeletal analysis revealed the earliest known limb amputation: 31,000 years ago, a child on the island of Borneo had the lower part of his leg surgically removed. The bone shows signs of healing, indicating the child survived the procedure.

PANAMA

A multi-year study along the Panama Canal shows that lightning affects forest composition by killing some tree species more often than others. Species with dense wood and large aquifers can thrive despite lightning strikes, while palm trees (which lack these traits) almost always die when struck.

This article was originally published under the title “Quick Hits” in Scientific American 327, 6, 22 (December 2022).

doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1222-22a

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