Scientific discoveries this week: 2-2-11

Various Villages, Burkina Faso – The common belief that malaria is spread by mosquitoes indoors may be proven wrong by a team of researchers in Burkina Faso, a small country in western Africa. Termed the “outdoor Mosquito,” this species is roughly 70% more likely to carry the malaria virus and, as its name suggests, spends it’s life outdoors. The common belief that malaria is spread by “indoor” mosquitoes may have come from the fact that mosquitoes are much easier to catch inside a house. Further study will hopefully show how much these mosquitoes actually contribute to malaria.

Indianapolis, Indiana – One of the worlds smallest organisms, the water flea, has had its genome sequenced. The water flea, Daphia Pulex, has many unique abilities that have puzzled scientists and researchers for years. The water flea has the ability to grow teeth on its neck, survive being frozen on the bottom of a lake, and is extremely sensitive to toxins. Researchers working in conjunction with Indiana University have successfully sequenced the water flea’s genome, which will allow scientists to determine which genes give the water flea it’s unique abilities.

Morrisville, North Carolina – Hospital patients in need of a new blood vessel may not have to scavenge their own good veins any longer. A group of tissue engineers and bio-engineers are currently working on a new method for growing blood vessels from human cells. This new method leaves perfectly clean, natural blood vessels that appear to work perfectly in the human body. Previously, if a patient needed a new blood vessel, doctors would have to take a vessel from the patient’s own body. With this new technology, doctors could store blood vessels for up to 12 months and transplant them as needed.

Kamil Crater, Egypt – Earthlings may be in more danger than previously understood. Geologists studying a meteor impact in Egypt have estimated that the crater was caused by a 9 metric-ton iron meteorite, which has lead them to postulate that many more meteorites that plummet toward Earth actually reach their mark in one piece. Often, smaller meteorites break apart and are consumed in the atmosphere before reaching Earth, but that may not be as true as we thought.

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