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Sahara desert

RAIN OUT  Rainier conditions than previously thought turned the Sahara Desert into grasslands, lakes and rivers from 11,000 to 5,000 years ago, a new study finds. A brief return to aridity around 8,000 years ago set the stage for cattle herders to spread across North Africa, researchers suspect.

RECORD BREAKER  Climate change and remnant warming from the 2015–2016 El Niño helped make 2016 the hottest year on record. Blue areas were cooler than their long-term average temperature; red areas were warmer.

fossil eukaryote

OXYGEN OASIS  Oxygen was abundant enough for complex life-forms such as this 1.4-billion-year-old fossilized eukaryote to thrive around 2.3 billion years ago, new research suggests. The expansion and diversification of eukaryotes nevertheless only came hundreds of millions of years later.

Earth & Environment

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