Shantaram Naik, Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress from Goa, on Wednesday demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss “increasing judicial activism”.In a statement, the former chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Personnel Public Grievances, Law and Justice, alleged interference of the judiciary in matters ranging from issuing licences to dance bars to appointing administrators to run the BCCI. He expressed concern over “judiciary crossing the Laxman Rekha” and said “step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of Indian Legislature is being destroyed”.In a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley — a copy of which was also sent to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — Mr. Naik said with the recent ban on liquor along national highways, the Supreme Court may have “interfered” with the job of the legislature and the executive. Mr. Naik said in his statement, “In the letter I have demanded that the government convene a special session of Parliament to discuss the increasing judicial activism. The apex court has now gone on to decide on liquor bans and dance bar licences, which are subjects that come under the domain of State governments.” He suggested that the government convene a three-day special session of Parliament to discuss these issues. He said, “The Supreme Court has obviously not taken into consideration that lakhs of people will be unemployed as a result of its liquor ban order. If the courts are going to delve into such administrative aspects, what role will the Parliament, the State Assemblies and State governments perform?”‘Going too far’Just as the Prime Minister cannot decide on judicial matters, the judges cannot interfere in matters allotted to the legislature and the executive on the grounds that they have failed to discharge their responsibilities, said Mr. Naik in his letter.“It is now the Supreme Court which decides how cricket should be played and managed in India, who should be the office-bearers and who should not be on the Board of the Control of Cricket in India.”
As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opposed talks with separatists, despite having agreeing on it in the Agenda of Alliance, coalition partner Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Sartaj Madni on Wednesday said “any dialogue without the Hurriyat will be meaningless”.BJP’s State vice-president Sat Sharma had said on Tuesday that New Delhi would only talk to those who accepted the Indian Constitution. He claimed that the decision was taken at the highest level in the Centre.Undermines process“The very idea of closing the doors of reconciliation and understanding on vital political issues undermines the process of peace, which doesn’t serve people’s interest. Several unwarranted postures have contributed to trust-deficit and alienation, leading to confrontation and acrimony at various levels,” said Mr. Madni, PDP’s vice-president.Referring to the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) between the PDP and the BJP, Mr. Madni said: “The common minimum programme envisaged an agenda of hope and promise to reach out to everyone, including separatists and Pakistan. No one can afford a volte-face on this.”Mr. Madni called upon the BJP leaders “to draw a leaf from former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and “strengthen the process of mutual reconciliation and dialogue.”“I hope Prime Minister Narendra Modi will use his massive mandate and influence to set in a discourse of peace so that Jammu and Kashmir is brought out from the present morass and people of the region are given a participatory role to prosper,” he said.Mr. Madni said PDP holds ‘agenda of peace’ as a ‘sacred trust’ and reiterates its resolve to work with fidelity to have it accomplished.
After a long flight of thousands of miles, not often punctuated by breaks, lakhs of migratory birds have made their way to the Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.Major bird congregations have been spotted in the wetlands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside Chilika and Mangalajodi, a major village on the banks of the lake.“Usually, congregation of migratory birds are noticed from the second week of October. By this time, Nalabana alone would have hosted more than 4 lakh birds. But brewing of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal and heavy rain experienced for four days during the second week of November delayed the arrival of birds,” said Sushant Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority.Mr. Nanda said several portions of the vast mudflats are still under water. “As of now about 2 lakh birds have arrived. Most of these bird species can adapt to watery areas,” he said.Nalabana with a 15.59-sq.-km area is hosting the highest number of migratory birds this time round. Similarly, the wetlands of Mangalajodi have begun to fill up with lakhs of ruffs, godwits, plovers, sandpipers and migratory ducks. With 11.59 sq km of mudflats, Mangalajodi receives about 3 lakh birds during winter.Better facilities “This year, tourists would experience better facilities as boats have been equipped with facilities for drinking water and toilets,” said Mr. Nanda, who dedicated the Mangalajodi Bird Interpretation Centre to the public on Wednesday.Only 30 boats carrying tourists would be allowed in the Chilika Lake near Mangalajodi to savour the beauty of bird congregation.This year, Chilika has witnessed the arrival of 9,47,119 birds compared with 8,58,855 in 2016. As per bird census, 167 species of bird had arrived in Chilika in January 2017.Migratory birds fly across continents from Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake and remote parts of Russia, Mongolia and Siberia and flock to the marshy lands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside the Chilika Lake, which is spread across over 1000 sq. km.The Odisha government has announced a bird festival for the first time in January, showcasing the diversity of migratory birds and their numbers.
Amra Bangali (We the Bengali) on Thursday announced its decision to contest the coming Assembly elections in Tripura and to ‘expose’ the anti-Bengali stance of the BJP and the CPI(M), and to end the relentless sufferings of Bengali population in the State.The party accused of fomenting ethnic tension and trouble in the past to counter tribal insurgency, held a rally here to protest against what it called the atrocities on ‘indigenous Bengali people in Assam’ and condemned attempts to create ‘Tipraland’’ “BJP is trying to forgealliance with the tribal parties mainly the IPFT to win the election. Bengalis will face an existence crisis if BJP accepts the demand for Tipraland in form of separate state or state council”, said Harigopal Debnath, State Secretary of Amra Bangali. “IPFT had demanded the transformation of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) into a separate state named Tipraland. BJP was trying to placate the tribal party by upgrading the council into a ‘state council, ’’ Mr. Harigopal Debnath said.Harigopal Debnath also denounced the ‘state council’ proposal suggesting the it would be first step towards creating a full-fledged state. .Amra Bangali alleged that BJP and RSS had masterminded enforcement of NRC in Assam and the same ‘game plan’ would be extended to Tripura. He said that his party had vowed to defeat the ‘anti people’ CPI(M) and ‘communal’ BJP in the assembly polls.
Three doctors of the Emergency Medicine department of AIIMS, Delhi, were killed in an accident on the Yamuna Expressway, early on Sunday, near milestone 88 in the Surir police station area of Mathura district. Four others were critically injured, said the Uttar Pradesh police.The victims are Dr. Harshad Wankhade (34), Dr. Yashpreet Singh (25) and Dr. Hembala (24). The bodies were taken to a government hospital for post-mortem. The injured — Dr. Catherin Halam, Dr. Mahesh Kumar, Dr. Jitender Mourya and Dr. Abhinava Singh — are under treatment.Deputy Superintendent of Police Vijay Shankar Mishra told The Hindu that the accident occurred around 2.30 a.m. when the group of doctors of AIIMS were headed to Agra to celebrate their senior colleague Dr. Harshad Wankhade’s birthday. “Dr. Harshad was driving the vehicle at the time of incident. The speeding car rammed into the rear of a truck,” the DSP said.Police sources said the incident occurred when the SUV was trying to overtake the truck. It took almost an hour to take the victims out of the vehicle.According to the police, Dr. Catherin suffered a head injury, while the rest have fractured limbs.The victims were later shifted to Delhi AIIMS.
Panaji: Goa Minister for Water Resources, Vinod Palyekar on Saturday apologised for his comments on the Mahadayi inter-state Water Dispute Tribunal. Mr. Palyekar had on Thursday said that ‘retired judges heading the tribunal had a “soft corner” for Goa. “I only spoke about the good of Goa, but still irrespective of that, if Karnataka government believes it is improper, then I apologise to the judiciary,” Mr. Palyekar told presspersons here. Speaking at a function on Water Day, organised by the State Water Resources department, the Minister had said: “May God give us success in this case. The judges also know what the matter is about and they have a soft corner for Goa. We are dependent on the Mahadayi river, not just us but also for wildlife”. Goa and Karnataka along with Maharashtra are currently locked in a dispute in the tribunal over controversial Kalsa-Bhandura dam project across Mahadayi river. Goa has opposed Karnataka’s plans to divert water from the Mahadayi basin to the basin on the Malaprabha river. The tribunal hearing the dispute is expected to deliver a verdict in a few months.
Assam government on Wednesday said it would introduce a stringent anti-rape law in the next session of the state Assembly, and recruit women sub-inspectors through a special drive to fulfil the aim of 30 per cent women in the police force.“Please give me all your suggestions in writing. We will discuss these with legal experts to frame a stringent law against rape. We will place the bill in the next Assembly session,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in the House.Taking part in a Zero Hour discussion in the Assembly, he said rising cases of rapes were of serious concern. “It is a big challenge and we all must work together. Swami Vivekananda had said that unless women are safe, the society cannot be safe. Such miscreants cannot be allowed to stay in the society…The people of the state want a strict law and exemplary punishment in such crimes,” Mr. Sonowal said.Talking about women in the police force, he said that at present, the number of women are less in number compared to men.“We have decided to have 30 per cent women in the police force. We will have a special drive to recruit women sub-inspectors to achieve this goal,” Mr. Sonowal said. He said the State government has arrested almost all the culprits behind recent rape cases, asked police to prepare error-free chargesheets to convict the guilty, set up fast-track courts for day-to-day hearings, formed a women’s cell at the DGP office and rolled out a toll-free helpline for women.Earlier, in a special gesture, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami allowed only women members to speak on the issue, and unanimously they demanded provision of death penalty in the anti-rape law that the state government proposed to bring in.“The recent gang rape of a minor girl and her killing by burning her alive shook the entire State. Rapes are happening serially in the state and it is rising in Assam. The culprits have no age, caste, religion, language,” BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka said.Because of the loopholes in the current laws, the accused persons get free easily and commit such crimes again, she added. Congress MLA Nandia Das cited government data to highlight that crime against women in Assam are on the rise over the last two years, while the rate of conviction is low.“Out of the 3,009 rapes that took place in in the last two years, only 1,786 persons have been arrested. Out of which, a mere 76 were punished after filing chargesheets against 1,697 accused,” Ms. Das said.BPF Kamali Basumatary said: “We are forced to think that women are not safe in India. We have laws, but still culprits get free. So, is the public punishment solution? Handover the culprits to women…,”.Congress MLAs Ajanta Neog and Roselina Tirkey demanded death penalty for rape accused, while AGP legislator Renupoma Rajkhowa spoke about strengthening the Women’s Commission in the state.As there are no women MLA from AIUDF, MLA Aminul Islam spoke on behalf of his party and requested the CM to have provision of death sentence in the anti-rape law. The entire issue was raised and discussed in the backdrop of the March 23 gang rape and killing of a minor girl at Dhaniabheti Lalung Gaon in Nagaon district.
Several prominents citizens, including retired civil servants, filmmakers, historians, labour rights activists and Muslim leaders, on Tuesday called upon Divisional Commissioner (Gurugram) D.Suresh seeking an amicable solution to the situation arising out of the opposition to offering of namaz in open spaces and making a few suggestions.A two-page memorandum bearing the names of over a hundred citizens was also submitted to Mr. Suresh expressing concerns and raising four demands including the need to strengthen bonds between residents and provide adequate space for offering namaz, especially with Ramzan round the corner. They also demanded that the administration protect offering of namaz at current locations.Ishrat Thameem, a management consultant, said that reclaiming Waqf Board properties was a long and tedious process and as a short-term solution the administration must ensure peaceful offering of namaz at current locations which are over hundred in number. “Gradually, the administration can reduce it to lesser number of bigger grounds to avoid inconvenience to locals and commuters,” said Mr. Thameem.Independent filmmaker Rahul Roy, who was also part of the group, suggested that there was a need to build more mosques with the increase in Muslim population, and not allow the anti-social elements to disrupt prayer congregations. “The locals are anguished and disturbed over the turn of events in the past few days and want the administration to resolve it amicably. The administration is duty bound to do so,” said Mr. Roy.During the meeting, the citizens raised the issue of insufficient mosques and the sense of fear among the Muslim community. Mr. Suresh said that the administration would be more vigilant and firm on troublemakers. Making an appeal to Muslims to show restraint, Mr. Suresh said that those suspected to create trouble were being identified and educated on the laws on freedom of religion.
In a first of its kind initiative, Maharashtra’s prison eduction system offers inmates the opportunity to trade education for time in jail. According to the new policy, inmates completing a Secondary School Certification (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) will earn a five-day waiver in jail time; this will be enhanced to eight days for those achieving an A grade.Inmates who complete a degree course will have the opportunity to leave home 15 days early. A First Class in the degree course will ensure a 20-day concession. The policy has been approved by the State Home Department, and will be implemented by Maharashtra Prisons Department in 54 prisons, including nine high-security central jails.On completion of a post graduate (PG) course, the jail time will be reduced by 20 days and another five days will be added as bonus on clearing the course with the highest honours. An M.Phil or Ph.D will help strike off another 20 days of jail time.“We have come up with this unique policy to encourage prisoners to take up education. The idea is to reform not only the jail system but even the mindset of the prisoners,” said Dr. Bhushan Upadhyay, Additional Director General (prisons), Maharashtra. The policy is not open for convicts of major crimes.The department has already tied up with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOUC) and Industrial Training Institutes. Varsha Kainikdale, director of the Prisoners Welfare and Rehabilitation Project, said the project has all the ingredients to succeed in the long run with an all-round solution to the issue of crime and criminals. “Not only are the prisoners getting good education to be able to reform themselves, we believe the impact of this policy will be felt on their extended families too,” she said.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s move to withdraw the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot cases has hit a roadblock with the local district administration opposing it on administrative grounds. The government, which had elicited the views of the administration on the riot cases, has been told by Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Rajiv Sharma that it was not right on administrative grounds. “We have probed all aspects of the cases and have sent a report to the government… We have also given our views on the basis of the police and prosecution reports that withdrawal of cases would not be right from the administrative point of view,” Mr. Sharma said. Some senior BJP lawmakers, among others, have been named in several cases related to the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. The move to withdraw the cases was set in motion in February last year after a BJP delegation met U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath. BJP MLA Sangeet Som, also named in the case, said that justice would be done. “The fake cases framed during the then Samajwadi Party government will be withdrawn.” The Adityanath government had written to the district officials, asking them for a detailed report on the status of cases against BJP leaders accused of making provocative speeches and inciting riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013. The lawmakers have been accused of violating prohibitory orders and stopping public servants from doing their duties.
Three Congress workers were on Tuesday arrested for allegedly blackening the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mhow town in the district during the ‘Bharat bandh’ called by the party on Monday, the police said.The Congress workers had allegedly blackened Mr. Modi’s image on a hoarding put up at a petrol pump in Mhow, the police said.The Congress had called a nationwide ‘bandh’ against the rising fuel prices. Those arrested have been identified as Pappu Khan, Ankit Dholi and Saurabh Borasi, Additional Superintendent of Police Nagendra Singh said.“These Congress workers were part of the protesters, who created a ruckus at a petrol pump in RCM area of Mhow town, 25 km from the district headquarters, during the bandh,” he said.The protesters climbed a ladder and blackened the picture of the Prime Minister on a hoarding at the petrol pump, Mr. Singh added.“The protesters are accused of trying to damage the property of the petrol pump owner during their attempts to forcibly shut the establishment. They also tried to hurt the dignity of the constitutional post of the PM,” he said.
Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane on Tuesday ordered a crackdown on non-licenced businesses run by foreign nationals in Goa, alleging that many such establishments were being used as narcotic havens along the coastline. Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the minister said that clubs along the tourism-centric coastal belt in Goa would be raided by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for inspection of food safety and hygiene standards.Mr. Rane said that the Health Act was also in the process of being modified to give it more teeth. He disclosed that the FDA had drawn up a list of businesses operated by foreign nationals, which would be raided and examined for food and safety standards as well as for inspection of their respective licences. “We have already formed a list of foreigners doing business in different parts of Goa in North and South. We will ensure that these foreigners who are doing business in Goa without licences will not continue. Most of these outlets, according to the reports that we are getting, are nothing but drug paradises. We do not want people of this type in Goa and we will take steps in that direction,” Mr. Rane said.The Goa coastline has several small outlets run by foreigners, many of them in partnership with local businesses selling hand-tooled goods, cafes, restaurants, alternative health facilities, trinkets, etc. Mr. Rane had written to the Goa Police for the use of dedicated teams of police personnel to accompany the FDA while raiding parties, fearing the possibility of harm to FDA officials.
The West Bengal unit of the BJP on Sunday said the party will move the Supreme Court to seek permission for its proposed ‘rath yatra’ in the State. The party’s ambitious roadshow in West Bengal had hit a roadblock again on Friday, with a division bench of the Calcutta High Court quashing a single Bench order that had given a go-ahead to the event. “We have decided to move the Supreme Court. We have full faith in the judiciary, and will fight till the end,” West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. The TMC government is trying to stop the BJP event on the basis of only assumptions that it might create problems, Mr. Ghosh said. According to BJP sources, the party will for now organise rallies in various parts of the State against the government’s decision to disallow the yatra.After hearing an appeal by the BJP, a single-judge bench of the High Court had on Thursday allowed the mega event, to be flagged off by the party’s national President Amit Shah under a re-scheduled programme from December 28 to 31.However, after Friday’s order, there is uncertainty once again over the programme that was to cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State ahead of the 2019 General Elections.Hearing a plea by the State government that there are apprehensions of communal unrest due to the roadshow, the division bench of Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar had on Friday asked the single judge bench to pass a fresh order.
Over a decade since The Goa Children’s Act, 2003 came into force, the legislation may be in for amendments to make it more effective and curb its misuse.Chairperson of the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Advocate Sushma Mandrekar, will bring together various stakeholders on February 9, including representatives of government agencies, children’s court judges, lawyers and children’s rights groups, to debate their proposals for amendments that would maintain uniformity with other contemporary child rights legislations, and to tackle the concerns of children’s homes and child care institutions.“We have done a comprehensive exercise, digging out all past suggestions and recommendations, and have received fresh inputs from non governmental organisations and others. The idea is to update the Act to tackle diverse issues related to the rights and concerns of all children and adolescents,” Ms. Mandrekar said.A few judges with experience in dealing with cases in the Goa Children’s Court and police officials have indicated that some of the provisions of the Act pertaining to rape, which are prone to misuse, need a re-look.While the definition of ‘child’ under the Act is universal (below the age of 18), some stakeholders have suggested deleting a proviso to the Section 2(d), which says, “In so far as a victim in the offence of rape in concerned, ‘child’ shall mean any person who has not completed 16 years of age.”“From the definition of ‘child’ in the section, the age of consent is deduced to be 18, whereas the police and courts have brought to the notice of the Commission that this provision becomes a problem when dealing with statutory rape cases, which are often clear cases of elopement,” said Ms. Mandrekar. “Judges often grapple with cases of love affairs and elopements, which often do not stand court scrutiny,” she said. This either amounts to fictitious cases, or nobody is interested in pursuing them as they are registered in a fit of anger.Judges and police have also complained of parents misusing the Act to file cases of sexual abuse of minors against neighbours or rivals as a way to get them arrested.In the context of the recent controversy over child care institutions across the country, the amendments are poised to bring all institutions like children’s homes, childcare institutions, and day care centres under the Act’s purview. Their registration and monitoring will be mandatory so that children in need of care and protection, juveniles in conflict with law, vulnerable children, and children from the marginalised sections get full protection.Child rights groups want the children’s court provision to be amended from a State-level court as of now to have district children’s courts functioning in a child-friendly manner, which will be designated as special courts under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.There is also a proposal for broadening of the definition of “incest” and increase the penal provisions to bring them on par with other Acts. Incest will include commission of a sex offence by an adult on a child who is a relative “or is related by ties of adoption through blood or on adoption or marriage or guardianship or in foster care or having a domestic relationship with a parent of the child, or living in the same or shared household with the child.”As for children with disabilities, the amendments cover learning difficulties, intellectual disability and autism, with terminology amended to comply with the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.The proposed amendments also include provisions to deal with child sexual abuse through digital, internet and social media platforms by making the State Directorate of Education responsible for sensitising teachers about the Goa Child Rights Act, particularly Section 4, which deals with education. The amendments propose to ensure that the department adopts zero rejection of children during admissions and inclusive education. The department will be accountable to ensure admission of children without documents, no refusal of admission for children who do not have their fathers’ names, or those suffering from HIV and AIDS, besides those belonging to marginalised communities.It proposes to include gender justice and online safety issues into school curriculums.The Act will also fix responsibility on the State tourism authority to frame a child-friendly tourism code.
A woman delivered a baby while waiting for her turn to submit citizenship papers outside a National Register of Citizens (NRC) seva kendra at South Salmara in Assam.The woman had visited the centre for a scheduled hearing on Thursday. A group of women helped her deliver the baby in a room at the centre, reports said.“We have appealed the NRC authorities to re-schedule the hearing date for her family,” the South Salmara unit of All Assam Students’ Union said in a statement.More than 36 lakh out of the 40.07 lakh people who were left out of the updated NRC published on July 30 last year had reapplied for inclusion in the list. They are being called to the nearest NSK for the revised list that, as per the Supreme Court’s deadline, is to be completed by July 31.There had been reports of shortage of staff at the NSKs because of election duty of government employees, leading to long hours of wait for people seeking to be included in the updated NRC.
BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha seat candidate Pragya Singh Thakur, who recently kicked up a row with some of her remarks, on Monday apologised for it and said she is observing “silence” for 63 hours as a mark of penance.Ms. Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, said she felt it was now time for some “soul searching”. The BJP leader last week courted controversy by calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “patriot”.Prior to it, she claimed that the then Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks due to her “curse”. Taking a dim view of her remarks on Godse, the BJP said it did not agree with her. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will never forgive Ms. Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi. An aide of Mr. Thakur told PTI that she began observing a ‘21 prahar maun’ (63 hours silence) from Monday morning.Ms. Thakur, in a tweet, also apologised for her remarks. “After the poll process, time has arrived for soul searching. During this period, if my words have hurt the patriots, I apologise for it. As per the decorum of public life and to repent, I am observing a 21-prahar silence and will undergo hard penance,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. Following some of Ms. Thakur’s controversial statements, the Election Commission of India had imposed a 72-hour ban on her from campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls.
Two District Reserve Guard (DRG) personnel were injured on Tuesday when Naxals detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, police said. The incident took place near Gogunda village when a joint team of security men was out on an anti-Naxal operation, a senior police official told PTI. The patrolling team, comprising personnel from the DRG and the Special Task Force, was cordoning off a forest at a hill near Gogunda, when the ultras triggered the IED blast, he said. This led to an exchange of fire between the two sides, he said. “Two DRG jawans were injured in the blast,” the official said. Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the injured personnel were evacuated from the forest, he said, adding they will be be airlifted to Raipur for treatment.
BADIA POZZEVERI CHURCHYARD, ALTOPASCIO, ITALY—On a hot afternoon in July 2012, Giuseppe Vercellotti was digging up bones near the wall of an abandoned medieval church here, thinking about getting a cold drink, when he heard his students call his name. Faces glistening with sweat, they told him that they had found something strange buried half a meter down. Vercellotti took a look and saw a layer of lime, used in ancient times to squelch the stench of rotting corpses. When he tapped the hard layer with his trowel, it sounded hollow. “We immediately thought it was a mass grave,” says Vercellotti, a biological anthropologist at Ohio State University, Columbus, who co-leads a field school here. “We instructors were all excited and hopeful.”But the students were apprehensive: “They all started talking about possible contagion,” Vercellotti says. Unconcerned, he leaned deep into the trench, where he got a whiff of a pungent odor and spotted an elbow bone poking out of the lime that had sealed it like a cast. The layer spoke of bodies tossed into a pit and hastily covered with lime. Could this trench hold victims of the Black Death, the plague that killed half of Europe in the Middle Ages?It was the end of the summer field season. So the team carefully covered the trench with tarps and went home, hoping that excavations in 2013 would show that they had struck gold. They had come to expect extraordinary finds in the graveyard of the now decrepit Abbey of St. Peter, where a bountiful store of ancient skeletons was laid to rest in a single place over 1000 years, from the 11th to the 19th centuries. The goal of the ongoing project is to read the history written in these bones: when and where these people were born, what they ate, what diseases they suffered and died from, and how their health varied by social class and over time. “This is a superb opportunity to learn about life in the medieval period and how it evolved and changed over that time and into the Renaissance and Industrial era,” says project co-leader Clark Spencer Larsen, a biological anthropologist at Ohio State.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Helped by locals who house and feed 30 students for 6 weeks each summer, the interdisciplinary team of 12 researchers is now in its third year of excavations. Their work is set apart not just by the extraordinary site but also by the variety of tools used to learn the secrets of the bones, from scanning them with 3D computed tomography to extracting isotopes from the teeth. In an unusual collaboration, this year the team brought along an ancient DNA expert to sample for ancient pathogens.Because the abbey stood beside an ancient pilgrimage route, the results could help track the spread of disease through Europe. DNA from ancient microbes could also help today’s medical researchers keep one step ahead of fast-evolving diseases like cholera and influenza. “What you’re seeing at Badia Pozzeveri is hypothesis testing not only on bones, but also using pathogens and cultural factors,” says bioarchaeologist George Armelagos of Emory University in Atlanta, who is not part of the project. “It’s going to be the poster child for future work in bioarchaeology.”The burials begin (1039 to 1300 C.E.) One afternoon while the students ate lunch, University of Pisa archaeologist Antonio Fornaciari gave a tour of the trenches, pointing to a freshly excavated stone wall beneath an asphalt parking lot in area 4000 (see graphic). In the 12th and 13th centuries, this wall ran along the inner sanctum of the monastery (see video of church). Monks of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine order lived here, surrounded by a tall wall and moat, at the edge of marshes and oak woods, according to the town’s official history.In this courtyard, the team found two partial skeletons, buried between 1200 C.E. and 1300 C.E. in a place of honor that suggests they were monks. The anthropologists are now examining their remains to answer a key question: Did monks have better health than farmers or peasants?Stature is one clue to health, and most medieval Europeans were short. European men averaged 167 centimeters in the Middle Ages (compared with 178 cm today), and shrank by 5.4 cm by the end of the period. The team thinks that with the rise in population, more people competed for food and resources. The bones at Badia Pozzeveri could confirm a trend toward scarcer food and worse health as the Middle Ages progressed.The bones could also show whether monks were exceptions. Historical records suggest that monks did eat better than peasants—and that both had poorer diets than nobles. To begin the analysis, Vercellotti laid out the leg bones of one monk on a table in the makeshift lab inside the church, below a ceiling covered with faded frescoes. He measured the lengths of thighbone and shinbone and made a “very preliminary” height estimate of 165 to 170 cm. A better estimate might give him a clue to the monks’ status: High-status medieval men buried in one churchyard in northern Italy averaged 171 cm, while lower status men averaged 164 cm, according to a study he published in 2011 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The team has also dug up the likely remains of peasants, probably dating from the 11th century—two poorly preserved skeletons found outside the wall—and they’re hoping for more.Pilgrims also passed right by the church as they followed the main highway of the Middle Ages, the Via Francigena or “road that comes from France.” Knights, clerics, and peasants all traveled this route (see locator map), leaving traces such as two rare Islamic jugs from North Arabia, found in the cloister this summer. With the travelers came new diseases. Leprosy, for example, may have arrived from the Middle East with the Crusaders. It swept into Tuscany in the 12th century, when four leprosariums sprang up in the area, including one run by the monks. The pilgrims probably also spread many diseases including smallpox, measles, tuberculosis (TB), and typhus.Those are just the sort of infectious company that Hendrik Poinar seeks. An ancient DNA expert at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, he jumped at the rare chance get DNA from pathogens over time in a single location. He wants to see how many diseases people of each period had to combat and how fast pathogens evolved in different conditions, such as famine and war.One morning, as Poinar watched, Vercellotti and a graduate student laid out one skull after another on a long table. Poinar looked at the excellently preserved teeth in a freshly excavated jaw. Teeth are a promising source of ancient DNA. “This is it—this is what we came for,” he said.“Dig in,” said Vercellotti, holding a skull steady. Poinar adjusted his facemask, pulled up his rubber gloves, and yanked a tooth out of a jaw with pliers. “Skilled dentistry,” he joked. If he does get DNA from these teeth, he’ll test it for everything from leprosy to plague to TB.The worst century (1300 to 1400 C.E.)The next day, Poinar knelt head down over a trench in area 2000, trying to excavate a jaw with teeth protruding from the wall of the pit. The team hadn’t yet gotten radiocarbon dates from this trench, but they thought it might be from the 14th century, a time of devastating infections including the Black Death, which killed half of Europe from 1348 to 1350. The teeth glistened in the dirt wall, but the jaw was firmly embedded. “I’ve been drooling over them for 4 days,” Poinar said.Earlier that week, he had explained why. He gave a presentation in the church and flashed a slide about a news story about a plague-infected squirrel that closed campgrounds near Los Angeles. “Killer squirrels are coming!” he joked.But it’s no joke to ask if killer strains of plague could return. In 2011, Poinar was part of a team that gathered ancient DNA from people who died in London between 1348 to 1349, apparently of plague. The scientists identified the cause of the Black Death as the bacterium Yersinia pestis, rather than anthrax or a mix of pathogens, as some had suspected. This ancient strain was almost identical to a Y. pestis strain that still circulates in small rodents in the southwestern United States, Africa, and Asia. But today, Y. pestis, although still deadly, infects only about 1000 to 3000 people annually and is transmitted slowly from person to person.Why is this Y. pestis strain so much less virulent today, and why does it only rarely move from rodents to humans? Poinar is one of several geneticists in a neck-to-neck race to find out. They’re trying to learn when and why the Black Death strain jumped from rodents to humans, and what made it spread so rapidly. Was it mutations in the genome of Y. pestis or changes in the susceptibility of animal or human hosts—or both? “If we study humans before, during, and after the plague, we should see how the human genome responded to these repeated outbreaks and the response in bacteria,” Poinar says.That’s why he is seeking the Black Death in Badia Pozzeveri, where cases were recorded in 1348 before the epidemic reached northern Europe. He’ll compare that strain—newly arrived from Asia—with that of the London victims to see if the plague evolved as it tore through Europe. He also can see if plague victims suffered from TB or other infections, to test the idea that 14th century people harbored so many pathogens that they were more susceptible to plague.Another theory behind the deadliness of plague is that it was hard for anyone in Europe to survive that terrible century. Before the plague hit, the continent had been pounded by bad weather, failing crops, famine, and war. Torrential rains in 1315 and 1316 flooded crops and caused the Great Famine. The Little Ice Age had begun, triggering frigid winters that destroyed more crops. In England, between 1348 and 1375, life expectancy at birth was only 17 years, according to parish records. Overall health, as shown by seven indicators in teeth and bones, plummeted to an all-time low in the 14th century, according to a study of 17,250 individuals from 100 locations in Europe by Ohio State economic historian Richard Steckel, Larsen, and their colleagues in the Global History of Health Project (Science, 1 May 2009, p. 588).Disease may even have influenced the outcome of battles among the Italian city-states, which came right to the doorstep of the church at Pozzeveri. In September 1325, Florence’s commander Ramon de Cardona camped at the abbey with most of his 3000 cavalry and 15,000 infantry. The nobles moved into the monastery itself, while the troops probably camped in a field west of the church, near what was then a large lake and swamp. Many got sick.That may be why Cardona made a move that still puzzles historians: He lingered at Badia Pozzeveri for two long weeks while his rival, the legendary Castruccio Castracani from Lucca, recruited reinforcements. Castracani had far fewer troops at first. But by the time Cardona advanced on 23 September, Castracani’s army outnumbered the Florentines, many of who retreated before the battle had even begun. It was a rout, and Castracani became a hero whose military victories were immortalized by Machiavelli.Just what sickened Cardona’s men? Fornaciari suspects malaria because they complained of mala ariae, or bad air. He convinced Poinar to test for that disease, too. “One of our hopes is to discover if malaria is present in the medieval period,” Fornaciari says, because it is not clear when the illness first reached Tuscany.Another hope is to find the remains of those who died in that famous battle, because relatively few groups of soldiers killed in war have been found in Europe, Larsen says. Three spearheads have turned up so far in area 4000. Human remains would provide the first good physical “record of injuries from the kinds of weapons available in 1325,” Larsen says. “They were doing some really horrible things to each other. They had this square hammer-headed mace for bashing in skulls.”Noble secrets (1400 to 1600 C.E.) One July morning, project co-director Gino Fornaciari dropped by the church. There he found his former student, Vercellotti, examining teeth with Poinar. “Why are the teeth so good?” Poinar asked. Fornaciari replied: “They’re young. The teeth are good because the normal age of death was 40.” He pointed out that the tooth wear can also reveal whether someone ate many tough grains such as coarse millet, or a more refined, soft diet. When it comes to reading the signature of disease and foul play in the bones of ancient people, Fornaciari is the master. A professor in the medical school at the University of Pisa and the father of team member Antonio Fornaciari, he’s famous for investigating the lives and deaths of the ancient nobility of Italy, including the Medici of Florence, who lived just 60 km from Badia Pozzeveri.This site offers him and the others a rare chance to examine the health of commoners as well as nobles during the Renaissance. They have already found people of various social classes, buried in area 3000 from 1500 to 1700. One woman was buried with her spectacles—an expensive and treasured accessory—and several skeletons were interred in a costly stone-lined vault inside the ancient church. But most of the bones were buried in wooden coffins outside the churchyard and probably were those of poorer rural people, whose daily lives are less well known than the nobility of cities.Commoners’ bones will provide a counterpoint to Fornaciari’s work elsewhere revealing the woeful condition of the well-fed nobility. In Naples, he examined the mummy of Maria d’Aragona, a noblewoman who lived from 1503 to 1568 and was a famed beauty in her youth—but was obese at death. That fits with what he has learned about her fellow nobles’ diet. In 2008, Fornaciari analyzed carbon and nitrogen ratios in bone collagen from other princes of Naples and the Medici of Florence, and found that they had as much nitrogen in their diet as carnivorous mammals. Clearly, Renaissance royalty ate unhealthy quantities of meat at a time when many rural people struggled to get enough calories.Nor was rank a protection against horrific infectious diseases. When Fornaciari cut off a linen bandage from Maria d’Aragona’s arm, he discovered a large ulcer. He examined the tissue with a scanning electron microscope and rinsed it with antibodies that fluoresce in the presence of the bacteria that cause syphilis, Treponema pallidum. The tissue was so well preserved that he could detect the spiral shape of the bacteria; he sent tissue to Poinar to confirm the diagnosis. Poor Maria also harbored human papillomavirus in a venereal wart—the first diagnosis of this sexually transmitted, cancer-causing disease in the tissue of a mummy, Fornaciari reported in a 2006 paper.Sexually transmitted diseases were common in Renaissance Italy. Syphilis raced through the country in the 1500s, possibly after Spanish sailors brought a new venereal form from the New World. Fornaciari also examined Maria’s distant relative, Isabella d’Aragona, who was also buried in Naples. She was married to the Duke of Milan and is thought by many to be the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When Fornaciari looked closely at this lady’s teeth, he found that they had been abraded to remove most of the enamel. The remaining enamel traces were black, a sign that she had taken mercury, which was then used—ineffectively—to treat syphilis. Lab tests confirmed that the black patina had a high level of mercury and that Isabella d’Aragona was poisoned by her own medicine, dying at age 54 in 1524.By comparing the teeth and bones of urban nobles with those of Pozzeveri peasants, the team hopes to see how social rank affected health. The teeth of the noblewomen are less worn, because they ate a softer diet with meat, whereas poorer women and children often ate coarse millet. Vercellotti and Larsen expect to see more disruptions in tooth growth caused by lack of food during childhood in the peasants. With the graveyard’s large sample sizes, they hope to compare the men and women of Badia Pozzeveri to see who was better fed.The mass grave Almost a year after Vercellotti first tapped his trowel on the bed of lime, he and a crowd of students set to the task of systemically uncovering the entombed skeletons in area 1000. They chipped away the cementlike lime and tried to avoid inhaling the powdery white dust. Once they broke through the shell in early July, they brushed and scooped away the soil, sometimes with teaspoons. They found that each skeleton was buried separately, but all were blanketed in lime.One skeleton clutched a cross, head to the side, jaw agape. Another had a twisted spine, likely evidence of scoliosis. All had been buried in shrouds and were lying in unusual positions as though they had been dumped hurriedly. Everything fit the hypothesis that they were victims of an epidemic.The researchers carefully uncovered another exceptionally complete skeleton—an older woman, as shown by her frail bones and worn teeth. She was lying on her side, probably in the same position in which she died. In the soil beneath her, they could see the impression of her fingers and ear, and the lines left by her bodice’s laces. “I loved excavating her,” Vercellotti said. “She was beautiful,” Gino Fornaciari agreed. Beneath her skull, they found a single, golden hoop earring, and they began to call her the Lady with the Gold Earring.That earring was a clue: This was no medieval matron. The hoop style, as well as buttons and fasteners for clothing found with other skeletons, showed that these people died in the mid-1800s—too late to be victims of the Black Death. So what did kill them?To find out, Poinar and Vercellotti pulled teeth from their skulls and scooped soil from where their stomachs once lay, seeking to sample and identify the pathogen’s DNA. They already have a working hypothesis: cholera.In 1855, this terrible diarrheal disease, transmitted by the waterborne bacterium Vibrio cholerae, swept through Italy, part of a worldwide pandemic. Poinar is just as eager to find DNA from V. cholerae as from plague, because tracing the evolution of cholera is still urgent today.Like other pathogens, V. cholerae keeps evolving into new forms, and it continues to erupt into worldwide pandemics. Since the 1960s, the seventh known pandemic has infected 3 million to 4 million people and killed nearly 100,000 every year, with a new strain causing particular devastation in Haiti recently. If researchers can trace the bacterium’s evolutionary history, they might be able to identify the key mutations that trigger virulence or adaptation to different habitats, for example. This could help them design better vaccines or medicines.Poinar has already sequenced a sample of mid-19th century cholera from the United States. The researchers gathered DNA from a cholera victim’s intestines, which in 1849 were preserved in jars in the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Their unpublished results match that strain with those that caused pandemics from 1899 to 1923; all these strains differ from the El Tor strain that swept Haiti last year. If Poinar gets cholera DNA from Pozzeveri, it will let him compare the Philadelphia V. cholerae genome with one from the same time but a different place.After extracting DNA from many of the 40 teeth he gathered at the site, Poinar sent samples to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. There, the DNA is being scanned with a new microarray that can detect DNA from 3000 different pathogens, including the microbes that cause plague, TB, malaria, syphilis, Lyme disease, and cholera.Despite the unexpected bonus of a probable cholera epidemic, Poinar was still intent on finding plague victims. On his last day at the site, he kept going back to the medieval trench, where the teeth peeped tantalizingly from the wall. Vercellotti gently brushed dirt off the jaw and sprayed it with water, hoping to loosen the sediment. But the jaw wouldn’t budge. He finally gave up. “Next year,” he promised. Poinar left Italy still haunted by hopes of a plague sample.Two weeks later, when he returned to his lab in Canada, he got a tiny package from Vercellotti. It held the tooth he had wanted so badly. Vercellotti had managed to excavate it in the season’s final week, and its DNA is now being analyzed.
BERLIN—Former German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan is giving up her fight to keep her Ph.D. title, she announced today on her website. It marks the end of one of the most hotly debated plagiarism cases here in recent years.Schavan was awarded the degree in educational science at the University of Düsseldorf after completing her dissertation in 1980. More than 30 years later, Schavan, by then the nation’s education and research minister, was charged with plagiarism by an anonymous accuser who posted an analysis of the dissertation online. The University of Düsseldorf investigated and in February 2013 revoked the degree. Just 4 days later, Schavan resigned.But the wrangling continued even after her resignation. Although Schavan acknowledged mistakes in her dissertation, she denied any intent to mislead and took her case to court. Last month, the Düsseldorf Administrative Court ruled that the university’s action “was taken in compliance with the law.” Schavan had taken several passages from secondary sources without citing them correctly, the court found. “After being able to think about the judgment … for a few days, I have decided not to appeal and to end the legal fighting,” Schavan wrote in the statement on her home page. “Now I am preparing for new challenges and am looking forward to them.” Schavan, a devout Catholic, has been tapped as Germany’s ambassador to the Vatican.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)By tomorrow, however, Schavan will be able to claim another advanced degree: The University of Lübeck, which Schavan helped rescue from recent financial woes, is bestowing on her an honorary doctorate.
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA—Pinkish and transparent, hadal snailfish (Notoliparis kermadecensis, video above) look nothing like most of their fellow deep-sea dwellers, which tend to be dark, with big, sharp teeth and odd body shapes. What’s even more puzzling is that under their skin, the snailfish—which live in the world’s deepest trenches—have either a layer or pouch of gelatinous material that pours out if the skin gets punctured. Researchers had thought that perhaps the fish stored nutrients there, but in the eight snailfish species analyzed, the fluid is almost 98% water, researchers reported here this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Instead, they noticed that with the fluid sac deflated, 17-centimeter-long snailfish looked more like tadpoles than fish, a body type that’s not very efficient in water. So the team used a 3D printer to make a snailfish model and outfitted it with a silicone tail, batteries, and a program to make it swim. Without the fluid-filled sac at the base of the tail, the robot could barely swim forward, but it did just fine with the sac attached, as the sac helped fill out and streamline the body so it tapered smoothly to the tail, they report. Food is scarce at 7000 meters where hadal snailfish live, so the researchers suspect that they evolved the fluid-filled sacs to replace otherwise energetically costly muscle that typically gives fish their svelte look.(Video credit: Alan Jamieson/University of Aberdeen, U.K.)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)