In terms of world events, 2017 is already a whirlwind year. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, a series of controversial executive orders have drawn many people’s attention to politics.
If you’ve been distracted by global events in the media, there’s a chance you’ve missed some fascinating discoveries and natural events.
So, here are ten things from news since 18 January that you may want to catch up on.
For the first time, Australian scientists recorded a shark switching from sexual to asexual reproduction. Although she hadn’t been around a male shark in three years, the captive zebra shark—named Leonie—laid eggs that hatched three viable pups. This happened at Reef HQ aquarium in Townsville, Queensland.
A new study on the strange desert circles put forward a theory on what’s really been going on in the Namib desert. These weird, bare patches of ground also occur in the Australian outback, and scientists have been feuding over explanations for years. Some say the latest theory isn’t the final word.
This one would have been hard to miss, but the World Meteorological Organisation basically confirmed what it had been predicting since November. The average global temperature last year reached about 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era, and we have no records of a hotter year, ever.
Cantsbee, one of the last two mountain gorillas named and studied by Dian Fossey, was presumed dead in October 2016. However, in January, trackers in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park confirmed that the great ape had rejoined his group; nobody knows where he’s been all this time.
The milky-yellow creature appears to spend much of its time hiding in the shadows, with the shrunken, immobile eyes and pale coloration characteristic of living in murky habitats. It’s scientific name contains two Harry Potter references, although according to the scientists who found it, one of the names stands for someone else.
Researchers have discovered four new 19th century shipwrecks in the Coral Sea. The area, known as Kenn Reefs, is notorious for wrecking many ships on the jagged underwater cliffs. At least one of the newfound wrecks is thought to have carried convicts and free settlers to Australia.
Also known as a fire whirl, the blazing scene was caught on video in Western Australia, and it was insanely tall. This "gob-smacking vision of an incredible natural phenomenon" was made on a camera mounted on a Department of Parks and Wildlife fire truck at Watheroo.
The reef was found in an unlikely place after scientists chased a rumour that it might exist. The region where they found it is so murky, it was a real surprise to find anything there. Images of this new coral reef were released by the environmental advocacy organisation Greenpeace, who launched a submarine to go looking.
Scientists have discovered traces of an ancient continent underneath Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island nation with idyllic beaches. Clues of a 3-billion-year-old continental mass were found right there in the volcanic sand.
NASA’s Cassini mission has collected many spectacular Saturn photos over its 13-year-mission. As it starts its final suicide dive towards the planet, a series of new orbits have given us a close-up of Saturn’s rings in more detail than than ever before, allowing a look at previously unstudied features.
Header image: Entomologist Vazrick Nazari found a new moth specimen in a collection borrowed from UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology, and named it Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, honouring the new U.S. President Donald Trump. One of the inspirations were the pale yellow scales on the moth's head.