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Hank is back in the studio and is very excited to be able again to share news of the universe with you, including his encounter with a giant squid, an English king discovered under a parking lot, new pyramids discovered in Africa, and how the compound that makes Viagra work might also help you live longer. It's good to be back!

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Watch the Discovery Channel's footage of the giant squid here:


I'm back! And it's so good to see you! Or to be seen by you or whatever. I had a great couple of weeks traveling around the UK and Ireland, and thank you so much to Michael and Emily for filling in while I was gone. But I missed you, and I missed sharing news of the universe with you.

So, I brought you back something nice from my trip: footage from my recent encounter with an actual giant squid. It's not Johnny Depp fighting the Kraken. In fact, it is a dead squid. But trust me. You want to see this.

Plus, I want to tell you about an English king discovered under a parking lot -- I was there when this happened -- new pyramids found in Africa, and the compound that makes Viagra work which might help you live longer.

Yeah, you heard me. It's good to be back.

 Intro music plays

 Digging Up Richard III

Last week was an exciting week for dead bodies, as archaeologists announced two unusual new burial discoveries. First, King Richard III's sloppy burial in an unmarked grave under what is now an English parking lot. And then 35 miniature pyramids dating back some 2,000 years discovered in northern Sudan.

Let's start with the figure known not only to historians and archaeologists, but also to students of literature. Shakespeare wrote one of his most famous plays about Richard III, the last Plantagenet king and the last English king to die in battle over 500 years ago, and the Bard was pretty biased in his portrayal because Shakespeare was loyal to the Tudor family, who defeated and killed Richard at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. And as we know, it is usually the victors who get to tell the story later on.

But thanks to a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester, we can corroborate parts of Shakespeare's version of history, like, for example, the king's twisted spine. Shakespeare depicted Richard as a cruel hunchback, and when the team found Richard's remains among the ruins of the church where he was buried -- now under a parking lot -- they found signs of severe scoliosis, a condition that curves the backbone, although its causes are still largely unknown.

Also, Richard appears to have died just the way Shakespeare described: with two injuries to the head apparently made by a sword and halberd, which is like a pike with a fearsome axe blade on it. So it appears Richard wasn't in the saddle when he received his fatal wounds, much as Shakespeare depicted him pleading, "My kingdom for a horse."

Some things, though, Shakespeare -- unsurprisingly -- appears to have exaggerated. On February 5, the Leicester team released a 3D reconstruction of the king's face based on the shape of his skull, and he looks pretty normal, not the villainous, deformed monster that Shakespeare described him as being.

So, thank you, science, for helping us double-check some history.

 New Pyramids! (02:44)

Also last week, another team of archaeologists challenged what we thought we knew with their findings from an excavation in northern Sudan.

Between 2009 and 2012, the team, led by Vincent Francigny of the American Natural History Museum, found 35 pyramids at a site near the Nile. The 2,000-year-old necropolis, called Sedeinga, was once part of the Kush Kingdom, which thrived in the shadow of ancient Egypt for much of its history.

Kush kings actually ruled Egypt for about 100 years in the 8th century BCE, but the rest of the time -- we think -- Kush was basically Egypt's frenemy, borrowing from its traditions and architectural styles.

So it may come as no surprise that there are actually lots of pyramids in modern-day Sudan. What's special about these pyramids is that there are so many of them and they're so not Egyptian. In one section of the new site -- roughly the size of a basketball court -- there are 13, ranging from just 76 centimeters wide, built for a child, to 6.7 meters.

Not only are they much smaller than the wonders of the world that you're familiar with. Each pyramid is built around a center circle called a tumulus, which is a Kush style of construction.

Only one such pyramid has been found outside of Sedeinga, so this discovery gives a little credit to Kush's architectural traditions and not Egypt's for once.

 No Equals Maybe? (03:55)

Okay. So, enough about dead people. How about some chemistry humor?

You want to hear a joke about nitric oxide? No. It's N-O. 'Cause N-O is the chemical formula for nitric oxide.

You may know it as a punchline, but nitric oxide has been found to be a possible key to longer life. Biologists have been studying the effects of nitric oxide on longevity for a long time now, often using tiny worms called C. Elegans because they have life spans of just a week or so, which makes them easy to experiment on. Studies have found that worms fed bacteria that produce nitric oxide live 50% longer than worms that eat other kinds of bacteria.

So, in a new study at NYU's medical school, biologists took a bacterium that produced nitric oxide and altered it so that it no longer did. They then fed both altered and unaltered bacteria into the worms, and sure enough, the worms that ate the normal, NO-producing bacteria lived longer than the ones that didn't -- about 15% longer.

So, how can this help you live to see the 22nd century? Well, one benefit of NO is that it stimulates blood flow by relaxing the muscles around your blood vessels. More blood not only means more oxygen. It means lower blood pressure and less stress on the heart. And for what it's worth, it also allows healthy sexual function in men. Viagra and all those other drugs you see advertised during football games work by stimulating the production of NO.

But the New York team found that in the worms, at least, NO also directly affected the regulatory genes that control longevity, so the compound may actually be giving their DNA instructions that ultimately prolong their lives.

Lucky for us, unlike C. Elegans, our bodies produce enzymes that manufacture nitric oxide on their own. The problem is that we lose this ability as we grow older, so researchers say that we may one day be able to extend our lives by eating bacteria that help make nitric oxide for us so that we can all live long enough to see rocket motorcycles and robots that were promised by Judge Dredd.

 Cute New Owl! (05:47)

Sticking with life science for another minute, scientists this week announced a new addition to the catalog of living things with the discovery of an owl that's found only on a small island in Indonesia. Given the name Otus Jolandae, this cute, little fellow makes its home on Lombok, which is about 70 kilometers across but has a human population of more than 3 million. The owl is the only bird known to be endemic to the island, and unlike other new species that are distinguished by their appearance or their genetics, O. Jolandae was discovered because of its song.

Even though there are lots of owls on other nearby islands that look much like it, the Lombok species was found to make a distinctive howl. Have a listen.

(Owl howling plays)

A single species can actually diverge into two when different populations become separated, like by living on different islands, and begin to communicate differently. When the two groups no longer understand each other's songs, they don't mate. And if they stop mating for long enough, they become genetically distinct, which may be what happened here.

You can learn all about the amazing phenomenon of speciation here.

 Hank Meets Squid

And speaking of exotic species, I know that you're dying to see my dead squid encounter. And since I recently learned that Japanese scientists have, for the first time, captured the elusive giant squid on film, I stopped by the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, to get a closer look at one myself.

In this tank here, we have a giant squid that was accidentally caught in 1999, and then it was given to the aquarium, and they have put it in alcohol, probably, on display for all of us to see. Now, this is exceptionally interesting right now because Japanese scientists in combination with American scientists have, for the first time ever, filmed a giant squid in its native habitat.

Of course, this was done in collaboration with the Discovery Channel, so we can't show you the footage, but you can see the documentary film that they're making out of this.

Now, previously, nobody had been able to film a giant squid because when you turn the light on, they just run away. But giant squid, it turned out, can't see in red wavelengths, so they just used a very bright red light to illuminate the squid and were able to get some amazing footage of a giant squid in its natural habitat. And at one point -- I have heard -- it actually attacked the camera, which is pretty freaking cool.

Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "What is there left to discover? Humans, we found it all!" well, that's not the case. The giant squid isn't even the largest squid in the ocean. It can get up to 600 pounds, but the colossal squid can reach up to 1,000 pounds or more. The largest one ever collected accidentally by fishermen was 1,061 pounds, found off the coast of New Zealand.

The scientists who observed the giant squid off the coast of Japan are now turning their attention to attempting to capture the colossal squid in its natural habitat.

 Outro and credits

Thanks always for watching SciShow News. If you have any ideas or tips or good science jokes, share them with us on Facebook or Twitter or, of course, down in the comments below. Thanks for sticking with us while I was out of town. Love you, guys.