Science News Briefs from around the World: December 2023

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The explosive secret behind Saturn’s rings, a Scandinavian arrow frozen for 4,000 years, the world’s deepest-known virus, and much more in this month’s Quick Hits


Scientists discovered a previously unknown ninth species of pangolin by using contraband bits of the animals’ natural armor confiscated in Hong Kong and Yunnan. The anteaterlike creatures are among the world’s most trafficked animals, prized for meat and distinctive scales that some believe have medicinal properties.


Melting ice in Norway has revealed a 4,000-year-old arrow, probably shot by a hunter pursuing reindeer. A team of glacial archaeologists, racing against climate change to save thawing artifacts, stumbled on the weapon in the Jotunheimen mountain range.


A virus was discovered in the Mariana Trench almost 30,000 feet below the surface, the deepest a virus has been detected in the ocean. It infects bacteria found in deep-sea sediments and hydrothermal vents.


A collision between two moons a few hundred million years ago may have formed Saturn’s most famous feature. Simulations show how the crash scattered rock and ice, with some of the debris forming the present-day rings.


A conservation group named African Parks will rewild 2,000 Southern White Rhinoceroses to protected areas across the continent over the next 10 years. The rhinos were purchased this year from a controversial captive-rhino breeding project.


A previously unknown Indo-European language, spoken 3,000 years ago, was discovered on a clay tablet at Boğazköy-Hattusa, the site of the ancient capital of the Hittite Empire. Researchers believe the text documents a foreign religious ritual of interest to Hittite scribes.


Two 476,000-year-old logs uncovered in a riverbed near Kalambo Falls, along with several wood tools, may be the oldest example to date of early humans using wood to build. The water-preserved logs were found fitted together with a carved notch.

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