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Michael Aranda relays the latest in science news, including an archaeological discovery about the earliest days of Buddhism, a new species of Brazilian wildcat, and new insights into the effects of fecal transplants.
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Michael Aranda: Archaeologists have unearthed one of the oldest sites from one of the world’s most influential religions, biologists have discovered new species of cat, and poop transplants really happen, and they really work. Stick around for all the solid details, I'm Michael Aranda in for Hank Green. Welcome to SciShow News.

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It's long been debated by religious scholars: When did the man known as the Buddha live? Some hold that he lived around the 3rd century BCE, while others contend that he lived and died much earlier. According to new discoveries described in the journal Antiquity, archaeologists have un-earthed evidence that may resolve this age old question. Working alongside praying monks and nuns at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal, an international team of archaeologists uncovered the ruins of an ancient structure buried deep beneath that temple. Maya Devi has been used for thousands of years to mark the place where the Buddha was supposedly born under a tree. The oldest known landmark on the site, a ruin consisting mainly of a sandstone pillar has been dated to the 3rd century BCE, leading some to conclude the man known as Buddha, born as Siddhartha Gautama, lived around that time. But, after burrowing even further down under the site, the team found a series of even older ruins, built one on top of the other. At the bottom was an open, roofless structure made of wood. Using radiocarbon dating, and a technique called "Optically Stimulated Luminescence," which can reveal when certain minerals were last exposed to light, the archaeologists dated the structure to the 6th century BCE. That's 300 years earlier than the sandstone pillar. In the center of the wooden structure's open space, archaeologists found the roots of an ancient tree, further suggesting it may be Gautama's birthplace.  The director general of UNESCO, the UN agency that took part in the research, called it "an important discovery and one of the most holy places for one of the world's oldest religions."

Now, get ready for your weekly dose of adorable, because we're talking a whole new species of cute.  In Wednesday's issue of the journal Current Biology, Brazilian geneticists introduced the world to a new species of wildcat.  Much like the olinguito, which we told you about a few weeks ago, the new species was hiding in plain sight, mistakenly lumped in with a different one.  This is something biologists sometimes called a "cryptic species".  

The house cat-sized wildcat known as Leopardus tigrinus, or oncilla, lives throughout Central and South America, but biologists have disagreed about whether there are actually multiple species of them.  Various populations of the cat have lots of physical differences, and they also seem to prefer different habitats.  So biologists sequenced the DNA of two oncilla populations, and compared them to two different species of Brazilian wildcats: The Pampas cat and Geoffroy's cat.  They found that the two ocelot groups shared more genetic markers with those other cats than they did with each other.  This suggests that there's no gene flow between the two populations, and that they're actually two distinct species.  The new species in the south of Brazil is now recognized as Leopardus guttulus, guttulus, something.  

And now the part you've all been waiting for, let's talk about poop.  A study released this week in the journal PLOS One indicates that fecal transplants work.  Whew.  You know, fecal transplants, where you take poop from a healthy person's gut and put it into an unhealthy gut.  There's a lot of evidence that actually says this is a good way to restore a healthy bacterial community in your bowels, but the scientific world still isn't sure what the long-term effects are, because, you know, it's poop.  

So biologists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine followed a large number of patients being treated in a Maryland hospital for Clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection that commonly causes diarrhea after using antibiotics.  The patients were treated with fecal transplants, i.e. given healthy fecal matter in the form of enemas.  After a year, the fecal transplants appeared to have resolved the infections and restored healthy bacterial communities to the patients.  Thank goodness.  If you wanna learn more about fecal transplants, check out our infusion about obesity and some of its treatments.  Just don't try this at home please.

Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow News, and an extra special thank you to our Subbable subscribers for supporting the show.  To learn how you can subscribe and also get awesome perks like a personalized lab coat, you can go to Subbable.com.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and don't forget to go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe. 

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