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Climate probably stopped Mongols cold in Hungary

microscopic image of tree rings

Oak tree ring data suggest that Hungary experienced a minor climate shift from 1242 to 1246, which may have hampered Mongol efforts to invade and control the region. 

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Bad weather may have driven the mighty Mongols from Hungary. The Mongols' retreat shows that small climate changes can influence historical events,  researchers argue May 26 in Scientific Reports

In the early 1200s, the Mongol empire had expanded across Eurasia into Russia and Eastern Europe. But when the Mongols got to Hungary in 1241, they invaded and then suddenly retreated back to Russia in 1242. Though theories abound, historians have never found a clear reason for the abrupt exit.

Now, Ulf Büntgen of the Swiss Federal Research Institute in Birmensdorf and Nicola Di Cosmo of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., think they may have an explanation. Weather data preserved in tree rings points to a series of warm, dry summers in the region until 1242, when temperatures dropped and rainfall increased. The shift to a wet, cold climate caused flooding and created marshy terrain. That would have been less than ideal for the nomadic Mongol cavalry, reducing their mobility and pastureland.

Animals,, Microbes,, Climate

Antibiotics in cattle leave their mark in dung

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Treating cattle with antibiotics may have side effects for dung beetles, microbes and greenhouse gases.
Animals,, Biophysics

Snot could be crucial to dolphin echolocation

By Helen Thompson 5:17pm, May 24, 2016
An acoustic model reveals that echolocation relies on mucus lined tissue lumps in the animal’s nasal passage.
Archaeology

Evidence of 5,000-year-old beer recipe found in China

By Helen Thompson 4:47pm, May 23, 2016
Ancient brewer’s toolkits put barley on tap in China as early as 3400 B.C.
Health,, Microbiology

CDC tracking 279 U.S. pregnant women with possible Zika infections

By Meghan Rosen 1:10pm, May 20, 2016
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Genetics,, Anthropology

Some Stone Age humans returned to Africa

By Bruce Bower 9:00am, May 19, 2016
DNA from an ancient woman suggests some humans trekked back to Africa.
Animals,, Physiology

Hornbills join toucans in the cool beak club

By Helen Thompson 4:56pm, May 18, 2016
Like toucans, southern yellow-billed hornbills keep things chill with cool beaks.
Agriculture,, Genetics,, Science & Society

New analysis: Genetically engineered foods not a health risk

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No real evidence for health or environmental dangers of GE crops.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: First mouse study proof that Zika causes microcephaly

By Meghan Rosen 1:00pm, May 11, 2016
Three new studies in mice shore up the link between microcephaly and Zika virus infection.
Neuroscience

Social area of the brain sets threat level of animals

By Laura Sanders 5:00pm, May 10, 2016
How people perceive an animal’s danger level is encoded in a particular wrinkle of cortex, a brain scan study suggests.
Particle Physics

Large Hadron Collider starts its 2016 physics run

By Emily Conover 4:14pm, May 9, 2016
Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider are taking data for the first time in 2016.
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