Science News Roundup: Ancient DNA solves mystery over origin of medieval Black Death; U.S. issues new warnings on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water and more

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Isolated Greenland polar bear population adapts to climate change

An isolated population of polar bears in Greenland has made a clever adaptation to the decline in the sea ice they depend upon as a platform for hunting seals, offering a ray of hope for this species in at least some locales in the warming Arctic. This population of several hundred bears, inhabiting part of Greenland’s southeast coast on the Denmark Strait, has survived with only abbreviated access to ice formed from frozen seawater by hunting instead from chunks of freshwater ice breaking off from the huge Greenland Ice Sheet, researchers said on Thursday.

U.S. issues new warnings on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released new warnings for synthetic pollutants in drinking water known as “forever chemicals” saying the toxins can still be harmful even at levels so low they are not detectable. The family of toxic chemicals known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been used for decades in household products such as non-stick cookware, stain- and water-resistant textiles and in firefighting foam and industrial products.

Prior infection plus 3 vaccine doses proves best vs Omicron; neurological COVID symptoms can last months

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Vaccination plus prior COVID best protects against Omicron

Ancient DNA solves mystery over origin of medieval Black Death

Ancient DNA from bubonic plague victims buried in cemeteries on the old Silk Road trade route in Central Asia has helped solve an enduring mystery, pinpointing an area in northern Kyrgyzstan as the launching point for the Black Death that killed tens of millions of people in the mid-14th century.

Researchers said on Wednesday they retrieved ancient DNA traces of the Yersinia pestis plague bacterium from the teeth of three women buried in a medieval Nestorian Christian community in the Chu Valley near Lake Issyk Kul in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains who perished in 1338-1339. The earliest deaths documented elsewhere in the pandemic were in 1346.

In Tarantula Nebula, a stunning view of stars being born

Astronomers have peered into a teeming stellar nursery in the Tarantula Nebula – a colossal cloud of gas and dust next door to our galaxy – gaining new understanding of the dynamics of star formation while obtaining a dazzling image of the cosmos. Researchers on Wednesday said their observations offered insight into the interplay between the irresistible force of gravity that drives star formation and the huge amounts of energy that massive young stars inject into their nearby environments that could inhibit stellar birth.

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