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A previously unknown, large impact basin has been discovered by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft during its second flyby of Mercury in October 2008. The impact basin, now named Rembrandt, more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) in diameter.

If the Rembrandt basin had formed on the east coast of the United States, it would span the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

Did ancestors of Native Americans migrate to the New World in one wave or successive waves, from one ancestral Asian population or a number of different populations?   The topic has been debated for decades but after comparing DNA samples from people in dozens of modern-day Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of scientists thinks it can put the matter to rest: Virtually without exception the new evidence supports the single ancestral population theory, according to the study  published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

A French study of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, which analysed mortality rates in approximately three-quarters of the European population, has concluded that it is unlikely that the virus, often described as Spanish Flu, originated in Europe.

Published in the May issue of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, the research shows a high degree of synchronicity in the 14 countries studied, including Spain, with the flu peaking in October to November 1918.

The study, carried out by a team from INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, provides invaluable background briefing for clinicians and media during the current pandemic alert.

Key facts highlighted by the research – which can be viewed free online - include:

People aren't the only ones who've got rhythm. Two reports published online on April 30th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal that birds – and parrots in particular – can also bob their heads, tap their feet, and sway their bodies along to a musical beat. The findings show that a very basic aspect of the human response to music is shared with other species, according to the researchers. 
A disease spread simulation has emphasized that flu interventions must be imposed quickly, if they are to be effective. Researchers writing in BMC Public Health have shown that staying at home, closing schools and isolating infected people within the home should reduce infection, but only if they are used in combination, activated without delay and maintained for a relatively long period.
An extremely deep Chandra X-ray Observatory image of a region near the center of our Galaxy has resolved a long-standing mystery about an X-ray glow along the plane of the Galaxy. The glow in the region covered by the Chandra image was discovered to be caused by hundreds of point-like X- ray sources, implying that the glow along the plane of the Galaxy is due to millions of such sources.

This image shows an infrared view from the Spitzer Space Telescope of the central region of the Milky Way, with a pullout showing a Chandra image of a region located only 1.4 degrees away from the center of the Galaxy.