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The Simple Technique That Can Make Deserts Green

The simplest approach is usually the best, whether it’s writing a story, building a plane or, in the case of one of this week’s discoveries, turning the deserts green.

Dyking, an old and rudimentary construction technique, is having a profound impact on degraded lands in two disparate locations.

In Tanzania, farmers using bunds – barriers which, at their most basic level, are simply mounds of earth – have taken parched, overgrazed and eroded land and made it green again. Barriers trap water flowing from the ground and allow it to enter the earth.

Grass seeds sown inside the bunds grow, and over time the greenery spreads beyond, dramatically transforming the landscape.

Similar techniques restore peatlands, waterlogged landscapes that contain vast stores of carbon in the soil in Northern Ireland, potentially improving the quality of drinking water.

Dig it

Lost cities can exert a strong influence on the imagination, and archaeologists working in Iraqi Kurdistan believe they may have identified their location.

Excavations of a 2,000-year-old fortress in the Zagros Mountains have revealed fortifications almost 4 kilometers long, two smaller settlements, carved rock reliefs and a religious complex.

The team believe the ruins could have been part of a lost royal city called Natounia. The community was part of Adiabene, a minor kingdom that paid homage to the neighboring Parthian Empire, which spanned parts of Iran and Mesopotamia.

The city is only known because of the few details gleaned from rare pieces, but archaeologists have carefully pieced together the clues found during their excavations at the ancient site.

savage kingdom

The Patagonian ice dragon is what scientists call an extremophile, or an organism that can live in extreme environments.

It’s an apt name for an insect that lives on the ice of the Andes. in South America. The tiny insect is rare because the glaciers it inhabits are rapidly melting due to global warming. Entomologist Isaí Madríz struggles to learn all about the mysterious inner workings of the endangered species, including why you’re highly unlikely to spot a young ice dragon.
His quest is featured in CNN’s new docuseries “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World,” which explores one of the wildest places on Earth. Watch the final episode at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday. Each new episode of the six-part series will be available on CNNgo the day after it airs on television. You can also access CNNgo in our CNN app.

across the universe

Black holes are powerful cosmic phenomena, but they emit no light. That means finding one can take astronomers years of detective work.

Researchers known as the “black hole police” after debunking previous findings say they’ve found a particularly elusive type of black hole outside our galaxy for the first time.

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy, the newly detected space object is at least nine times the mass of our sun. Called VFTS 243, it orbits a hot blue star weighing 25 times the mass of the sun, making it part of a binary system.

The astronomers said they were confident their discovery was watertight.


The Simple Technique That Can Make Deserts Green
A sharp-eyed diner at a restaurant in China’s Sichuan province has discovered 100 million-year-old dinosaur footprints.

The footprints in the restaurant’s courtyard belonged to two sauropods, herbivorous dinosaurs known for a long neck and tail, according to paleontologist Lida Xing from China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, who was contacted by the restaurant.

Rapidly developing China is enjoying a golden age of dinosaur discoveries, but Xing said paleontologists like him had to be quick. It tries to verify all potential finds spotted by the public within 48 hours lest they be destroyed by construction work.

In this case, he was lucky. The restaurant owner has fenced off the site to prevent people walking on the stalls and may be building a shed to protect them.


Enjoy these outstanding reads:

— Prepare for liftoff to the moon. NASA has announced a launch window for the Artemis I mega lunar rocket.
— The James Webb Space Telescope has shone a spectacular spotlight on one of our cosmic planets backyard.
— Martian litter? NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a photo of a small bundle of string while exploring an ancient delta called the Jezero Crater.
Do you like what you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here to get the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by the editors of CNN Space and Science, delivered to your inbox Ashley Strickland and Katie Huntwho marvel at the planets beyond our solar system and the discoveries of the ancient world.


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