Scientists discover 52-million-year-old tomatillo fossil

February 3, 2017 by  
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While not quite as charismatic as those of dinosaurs , vegetable fossils can provide game-changing insight into modern plants and their evolutionary process. A team of scientists led by paleobotanist Peter Wilf of Penn State University discovered fossils of tomatillos, that delicious relative of the tomato that is a key ingredient in salsa verde, in the Patagonia region of Argentina . Using atomic age dating techniques, the team determined that the newly discovered primordial tomatillos are about 52-million years old, at least 12 million years older than previously thought. Although the site where the fossils were found is now a cold and arid environment, the ancient tomatillos thrived in a very different climate. “The plants that generated these fossils were alive in a temperate rain forest next to a volcano,” said Richard Olmstead, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington. “When it finally snapped together [that] we were looking at a fossil tomatillo, it was quite shocking. It was disbelief. It was joy coupled with disbelief.” The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, and tobacco. The recently discovered fossils are the most intact and earliest examples of nightshade to date. “It’s a tremendous find. It provides insight totally absent from the fossil record and our understanding of the family prior to this,” said Olmstead. Related: Scientist finds dinosaur tail trapped in amber – and it’s covered with feathers Wilf and his team have given the species name  infinemundi,  Latin for “at the end of the world,” to its tomatillo specimen in reference to both where it was discovered and the era in which it lived. “It’s a nod to the modern and ancient location,” said Wilf “It’s at the edge of Argentina, so the end of the world that way. And it’s at the end of this time in Earth history.” This ancient tomatillo would have lived on the edge of major geologic and climatic changes , including the rise of the Ande s Mountains and the retreat of tropical biomes. These disruptions would have set the stage for the great diversity that emerged from the nightshade family, which includes over 2,400 extant species today. Via NPR Images via Flickr  and Killy Ridols

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Scientists discover 52-million-year-old tomatillo fossil

Renovated Vietnamese home ‘sewn’ together with intricate steel threads

February 3, 2017 by  
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Although most people probably wouldn’t like the idea of sewing their house together, Vietnam’s Block Architects have renovated a beautiful house inspired by the homeowner’s handcrafted leather goods business. The architects improved the narrow space by replacing unnecessary floors and walls with massive frames made out of small steel threads “sewn” into the structure, permitting optimal natural light and air ventilation. The entire renovation process was closely linked to the couple’s meticulous business process. “For a product to be accomplished, say a handbag, it takes many processes involving fastidious needlework,” they said. According to the architects, similar detail was essential to the project, “Like meticulous craftsmen, we carefully joined up every part of the house: old ones and new ones, separate ones and shared ones, together with wood, brick, concrete, metal and trees.” Related: Modular renovation in Vietnam makes 107 square feet feel livable Although the white frames might be seen as nothing more than a sentimental nod to the homeowners’ profession, they were actually chosen to let air and natural light penetrate the interior. The structure is quite narrow, so along with removing walls and floors, this feature was strategic to opening up the space. Additionally, the steel frames serve as a nice support for green climbing vines , adding a touch of nature throughout the home. On the brick-walled interior, an old concrete staircase was also removed to let in light. The new staircase was constructed out of floating wooden pieces held together with white rods. Once a dark, crapped space, the home is now illuminated from the roof to the bottom floor, which houses the kitchen and a vertical garden . + Block Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Quang Dam

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Renovated Vietnamese home ‘sewn’ together with intricate steel threads

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