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Hank reveals the latest discoveries, including a way to make new, beating heart cells, ancient Egyptian jewelry made from meteorites, and the first mammal to be discovered in the Americas in 35 years, the adorable olinguito.

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Sources for this episode:
http://www.eurekalert.org/emb_releases/2013-08/gi-gst081313.php
http://gladstoneinstitutes.org/
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-08/ucl-eki081613.php
http://www.si.edu/

 Introduction


Amazing and sometimes adorable secrets are hidden everywhere around us, and this week, we've found some of them: in museums, in cloud forests, and the human heart. I'm Hank Green, and welcome to SciShow News.

[intro plays]

 Transforming Heart Cells (0:16


Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death, killing about 7 million people a year, but cardiologists from San Fransisco's Gladstone Institutes, writing this week in the journal 'Stem Cell Reports' say that they might change that statistic. They have figured out how to coax cells in the human heart to turn into new, beating cells.

After a heart attack, many crucial cells in the heart die. These beating cells are called myocardiocytes, and, without them, your heart can't do its job. But the scientists found a way to reprogram other heart cells, called fibroblasts: they form scar tissue around damaged cells and make up about half your heart's mass. While experimenting on mice, the cardiologists first added a mix of three genes to fibroblasts and found that they soon started acting like beating cells, but when they tried to the same thing to human cells in the petri dish, it didn't work. So, they turned to the human genome, and identified 16 genes that are important to the development of myocardiocytes at the embryonic stage. They went ahead and added all of those genes to the fibroblasts in a petri dish, and, sure enough, almost all of the cells were able to transform into beating cells.

The cardiologists say gene treatments like this could completely change how people recover from heart attacks. For now, though, they just want to test the procedure on live, large mammals, like pigs.

 Ancient Space Beads (1:30


Another great discovery this week: Ancient Egyptians were using iron thousands of years before the Iron Age, thanks to space.

This story starts in 1911, where 9 iron beads were discovered in a 5,000 year-old cemetery predating iron smelting by 2,000 years. But only recently did scientists from the University College of London study the beads closely using x-ray scans to determine that they were an alloy of iron, nickel, cobalt, phosphorous, and germanium; a unique combination only found in meteorite iron.

And, after analyzing the beads further, they found that ancient Egyptians actually seemed pretty handy at meteorite smithing. Turns out, Egyptians were familiar enough with the exotic metal that they had a special process for turning it into jewelry: hammering it into thin sheets and rolling it into tubes. So, while it would take about 2,000 more years before they figured out how to make their own iron, when they did, they were ready for it. So thanks space, for helping us get ready for the Iron Age.

What's most surprising about this is that the beads have been in a London museum for 100 years. Until now, nobody thought to ask how 5,000 year old Egyptians were using iron.

 Meet The Olinguito (2:35)


The discovery was hiding in plain sight, much like the Olinguito. You've probably heard about these little guys by now. It's the first mammal to be discovered in the Americas in 35 years, and it, too, has been hanging around in museums for the past century. The whole time, it turns out, scientists were mistaking it for its larger relative, the Olingo.

A Smithsonian biologist studying olingos came across a pelt and skeleton at the Chicago Field museum, filed away as olingo stuff, and thought, "This looks... weird!" A DNA analysis, along with anecdotes about strange little olingos acting weird in various zoos confirmed that this was, in fact, a different species!

Zoologists trace olinguitos to their habitat in Ecuadorean and Colombian cloud forests, a different habitat from the olingos, and had no trouble finding them in the wild. The one-kilogram, mostly nocturnal animal lives in treetops, and eats fruit, nectar, and insects. Even though it has been reported as a carnivore, it is, in fact an omnivore. The confusion comes from it being a member of the order 'Carnivora', much like the mostly-vegetarian giant panda.

However, the main thing being reported about the olinguito, and this part is true, is that it is cute. So whether it's hiding in the cloud forests of South America, or a museum exhibit, there's still plenty out there to discover.

 Closing Notes (3:43)


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