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Cool Things! (Vol 2.1)

Cool Things! (Vol 2.1)


Hello, everyone! 

In 2021, we're reviving Cool Things, our monthly newsletter about new science, interesting history, and all sorts of other fun stuff! We'll be keeping you up to date on all sorts of topics and if you hear some news that you'd like for us to share then please send us a message at!


This month we launched a whole bunch of cool new specimens for you to check out, like the fang of the fearsome Enchodus fish, the stunning Brazilian Amethyst, and our new Gibeon meteorite pendant! Take a look at the site to learn more!

We also announced something we've been very excited to share with you: The Mini Museum Charm Bracelet! This sterling silver chain bracelet can be outfitted with 7 different charms to become a personalized museum on your wrist! You can find details about each charm on the product page and stay tuned for new charms coming out in the future!


Snowball Mars? How an Antarctic discovery connects to the red planet.

Above: Artist's conception of a wintery mix on the Martian surface. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/Scott Sutherland

A new find in Antarctica may help prove a theory about Martian ice. A brittle yellow-brown mineral called jarosite has recently been discovered in an Antarctic ice core, though it has already been found in massive quantities on the surface of the red planet. Its Martian occurrence caused quite a stir due to the necessity for water in the minerals creation. 

One theory suggested that Mars was once covered in massive ice sheets and that dust from the surface became trapped within the icy layers, eventually transforming into jarosite. With the discovery of trace amounts of the mineral in ice sheets here on Earth, this theory just got a whole lot more plausible. Learn more about the discovery here.


What Did it Mean to be a Woman in the Neanderthal World?

Above: A young neanderthal woman lies in animal skins. Credit: Tom Björklund

What was life like for a neanderthal woman? Combining archaeology, anthropology, and genetic science, Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes answers the questions of childhood, raising a family, and navigating the early human world as a woman. Not only were neanderthal women mothers and caretakers, but hunters and crafters who took a very active role in their community. You can read Sykes' fantastic piece here and if you want to get a closer look at the tools of neanderthal communities you can find handaxe fragments on our site!


2 Million Years of Thumbs Up!

Above: Thumb-tacular!  A digital reconstruction of ancient thumb muscles. Credit: Katerina Havarti; Alexandros Karakostis; Daniel Haeufle

We use our thumbs for almost everything, in fact, you're probably using yours to read this email right now! The opposable digits are crucial to human civilization, but have you ever wondered when our ancestors were able to use them? A new study has made digital reconstructions of hand bones and muscle tissue and has been able to date the earliest occurrences of thumbs to 2 million years ago! Find out more here!


A Really Gassy Giant: Discovery of a new "cotton candy" planet.

Above: Illustration of WASP-107b, a strangely lightweight gas giant. Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, M. Kornmesser

Studies of a gas giant exoplanet with an incredibly low density have left scientists puzzled. WASP-107b is comparable in size to Jupiter but with 10 times less mass. This "cotton candy" planet throws a serious wrench into previous understandings about gas giant formations and has forced researchers to change their view on the required conditions for planetary formation. Find out more about the study and how the planet might have formed here.


Prehistoric Killer Worms!

Above: Monster worms catch a snack! Credit: Sassa Chen

Here's something to keep you on your toes: fossilized tunnels have been identified as burrows belonging to 6 foot long killer sea worms, who dragged fish into the seafloor over 20 million years ago. You can read more about those nightmare worms here.


That's it for now, but we'll leave you with photo from a winner of our #mymuseum contest. Erik used his graphic design skills to make this amazing Krayt Dragon display case! If you haven't submitted a pic already, check out the details here! We just announced a one month extension to the contest, so get your submissions in before March 5th for a chance to win one of many $30 gift codes!


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