Coffee Delays Diabetes; Dinosaur Tracks Found; Exiled Exoplanet

Posted December 2nd, 2015 at 6:35 pm (UTC-4)

A cup of coffee on a bean background (Public Domain)

A cup of coffee on a bean background (Public Domain)

Coffee May Prevent Onset of Type 2 Diabetes

A new Danish study finds that drinking between three and four cups of coffee a day can reduce the onset of type 2 or early onset diabetes.

Researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital say two compounds found in coffee, cafestol and caffeic acid, can help prevent diabetes.

Scientists had thought caffeine was the key ingredient that helped avert this now common and increasingly widespread illness, but recent research has shown it only provided a small effect.

People who develop type 2 diabetes have higher than normal blood glucose or sugar levels due to a decreased ability to properly use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that keeps those levels under control.

Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as blindness, nerve damage as well as increased risk of heart and kidney disease.

Writing in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, the scientists say their findings could lead to new medications that prevent and treat the disease.

Tracks were made by sauropod dinosaurs on the Scottish Isle of Skye 170 million years ago. (Steve Brusatte)

Sauropod dinosaur tracks on the Isle of Skye. (Steve Brusatte)

Scottish Paleontologists Find Huge Collection of Dinosaur Tracks

Paleontologists have recently discovered one of the biggest collection of dinosaur tracks on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Made by some of biggest land animals to ever walk the earth, the assortment of tracks include hundreds of footprints made by Sauropod dinosaurs, the giant plant-eating ancestors of the brontosaurus and diplodocus.

The dinosaur tracks, which are thought to be around 170 million years old, were found by the scientists in layers of rock, which they say was once the bottom of a shallow, salt water lagoon.

Based on the size of the footprints, one as large as 70 cm in diameter, the researchers determined that the dinosaurs probably grew to at least 15 meters in length and weighed more than 10 metric tons.

The discovery of the Skye dinosaur tracks along with findings made in other parts of the world suggest that the animals, who were thought to be mostly land-dwellers, actually spent much of their life along coastal areas in shallow water.

The star HD 106906 and the planet HD 106906 b, with Neptune's orbit for comparison (Vanessa Bailey/Creative Commons)

The star HD 106906 and the planet HD 106906 b, with Neptune’s orbit for comparison (Vanessa Bailey/Creative Commons)

Exoplanet May Have Been Exiled to Outer Reaches of its Solar System

Astronomers say an exoplanet found orbiting its star at an incredibly great distance may have been booted from its original closer location in a way similar to what some think took place in our own solar system’s early history.

Studying images from the Gemini Planet Imager and Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers noticed a possible ring of debris around the planet and an oddly shaped comet belt in its solar system.

The scientists said both of these anomalies suggest a violent gravitational disturbance may have been behind the exoplanet’s exile to a location some sixteen times the distance between Pluto and the Sun.

The powerful disturbance is thought to have been possibly caused by another massive planet or a passing star that upset the solar system’s inner planets.

A study released by Canadian researchers in November suggested we may have had an additional gas giant in our solar system around 4 billion years ago until Jupiter pushed it out.

Homo erectus, a long-extinct hominid species, may have enjoyed peaches much like those we eat today. (Rebecca Wilf)

Homo erectus, a long-extinct hominid species, may have enjoyed peaches much like those we eat today. (Rebecca Wilf)

Peaches Have Been Enjoyed Long Before Modern Humans Arrived

To many of us, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as biting into a nice, ripe, juicy peach.

According to a new study by US and Chinese scientists, peaches have been enjoyed by our ancient ancestors long before the arrival of modern humans.

Eight well-preserved fossilized peach pits from more than two and half million years were found for the first time in southwest China.

Peaches are thought to have originated in China.

The researchers say the ancient peach pits appear to be nearly identical to those from modern peach.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study suggests peaches evolved through natural selection long before modern humans domesticated the fruit.

While new and larger sized varieties have been developed over the years, the study shows animals and ultimately early hominids ate the ancient wild peaches and played important role in its evolution.

After comparing the ancient peach pits with their modern counterparts, the scientists estimated the late Pliocene epoch fruit was approximately 5 cm in diameter.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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