From dinosaur embryos to the oldest Homo erectus skull found to date, 2020 brought quite a few discoveries in the world of science. In case you missed it, here are five of the incredible finds.
The InSight lander spacecraft arrived on Mars in November 2018. Two years later, findings reported back to Earth indicated a Martian hum on the planet: a quiet but constant drone that pulses along with quakes on Mars. It is still unknown why the hum occurs.
Betelgeuse was one of the brightest stars in the sky until it suddenly dimmed in December 2019. Scientists wondered if Betelguese was dying and would explode. But in 2020, NASA found an explanation for the change: the star burped! It probably let out a superhot jet of plasma, resulting in a cloud of stardust temporarily blocking Betelgeuse's light.
Scientists found hints of the first dinosaur DNA as they studied 70 million-year-old fossils. The researchers saw the outlines of cells, potential chromosomes, and possible nuclei. While it's not yet possible to confirm whether the material is DNA, "The possibilities are absolutely thrilling," paleontologist David Evans said.
2020 also brought the discovery of tyrannosaur embryos. Researchers found remains of this dinosaur so young that they were still inside shells. Scientists estimate the findings to be between 71 and 75 million years old. The analysis further revealed that baby tyrannosaurs measured about three feet long.
Earlier this year, ancient skull pieces were extracted from rocks near Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the first braincase of Homo erectus found in the region. At about two million years old, it's also the earliest remains of this ancestor found to date.