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THE DRY VALLEYS are home to some of the unfriendliest terrain that humans could contemplate setting foot on. It’s frigidly cold, incredibly dry, and its rust-colored soil is practically lifeless. Yet, despite all appearances to the contrary, these valleys are not 33 million miles away on Mars. They’re right here on Earth—and they’re facing down…

MEXICO CITY — The international oil industry on Monday agreed to pay billions of dollars to the Mexican government for rights to drill in the country’s portions of the Gulf of Mexico. The companies made a big bet that oil and natural gas prices would eventually rebound enough to make additional exploration and drilling profitable….

An ice sheet with more water than Lake Superior may slake the thirst of future astronauts living on Mars. Using radar soundings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiterspacecraft, scientists probed what lies in Utopia Planitia, a 2,000-mile-wide basin within an ancient impact crater. For decades, the region looked intriguing because of polygonal cracking and scalloped depressions…

Some 66 million years ago an asteroid crashed into the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, triggering the extinction event that obliterated the dinosaurs and nearly extinguished all life on Earth. It struck with the same energy as 100 million atomic bombs, and left behind a 100-mile-wide scar known today as the Chicxulub crater. Now, a team…

Scientists have analyzed a strange depression on the surface Mars, and say it could be the perfect place to search for signs of life, because it could contain three key ingredients for life: water, heat, and nutrients. The funnel-shaped structure looks like the ancient ‘ice cauldrons’ we have on Earth, that formed when volcanoes erupted…

The Oldest Bird Voice Box Ever Found

The Jurassic Park movies portrayed a prehistoric soundscape filled with brachiosaurus bellows, velociraptor shrieks and Tyrannosaurus rex roars. But because paleontologists have never found fossilized vocal organs from any of those dinosaurs, we don’t really know what their world sounded like. A new study of a 66-million-year-old bird may provide insight into some of the…

In 1974, the paleoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson led an expedition to Ethiopia to look for fossils of ancient human relatives. In an expanse of arid badlands, he spotted an arm bone. Then, in the area surrounding it, Dr. Johanson and his colleagues found hundreds of other skeletal fragments. The fossils turned out to have come…

 The once-mighty Eagle Ford Shale oil patch is on its heels, on track for the lowest amount of drilling activity in six years, and getting out-shined by another, bigger field — the Permian Basin in West Texas. But scientists Tuesday painted a vastly expanded picture of the Eagle Ford: as a place where at least…

AUSTIN – Harry Rowe has a ray gun. It’s small and gray and might, he thinks, change how companies dig for oil. Rowe is a research scientist at the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. For years, he’s been trying to figure out how to speed the analysis of core samples – cylinders of…

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