Old Trees Lost, Galaxy's Flavor Found

Discoveries and disappearances in the world of science

Return of the Mammal

Lemuroid ringtail possums like this one are at risk of extinction from global warming.Courtesy Mike Trenerry/Wet Tropics Management Authority

Lost: Old Trees

Yosemite National Park lost a quarter of its large trees over the past 60 years, according to a recent study that analyzed the park's meticulous records. Ecologists suspect warmer temperatures have cut the trees' water supply and that the trend could be just as bad around the world. Old trees survive forest fires and infection better than younger ones, and thus are critical for maintaining ecosystem health.

Found: Extinct Marsupial

This spring, a scientist spotted three lemuroid ringtail possums, which earlier this year had been reported as the first animal driven to extinction by climate change. The marsupial had not been seen since its northeast Australia rainforest home experienced a record hot summer in 2005. If warmer-than-normal conditions in the possum's restricted habitat persist, however, the animal could still earn the distinction of being global warming's first casualty.

A Ripe Universe

A heap of red raspberries, just waiting for some cream.iStock

Lost: The Farthest Star

In April, astronomers observed gamma rays from the farthest star ever found, which died 13 billion years ago. The radiation could yield clues about the early universe.

Found: The Galaxy's Flavor

Astronomers detected the chemical responsible for raspberries' flavor—and one of the largest molecules ever found in space—in a dust cloud at the center of the Milky Way.