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This edition of SciShow News really is full of "news." Scientists have discovered a new moon orbiting Neptune, a new tick-borne virus threatening the United States, and a new species of shrew who is a real hero. Let's get to it!

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(SciShow Intro plays)

Hi! I'm Hank Green, welcome back to SciShow news.

 Neptune's New Moon

First of all, as an enthusiastic internet space buff, I'm excited to tell you that, much like Britain's royal family, our solar system has a new member. Neptune has had a moon. Ok, the moon itself isn't new, obviously. We just now found it though! It doesn't have a name yet and as heavenly bodies go, it is really a baby, only 20 km across. But it's  number 14 in Neptune's satellite family and part of what's interesting about it is how it was discovered.

Neptune itself was discovered using math, not telescopes. In 1846, French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, or something like that, noticed aberrations in the orbit of Uranus and applying what he knew about physics, concluded that there had to be another planet nearby that was changing its path. When astronomers pointed their telescopes to where Le Verrier predicted, there it was. But Neptune's new moon, even though it's 1/2500th the size of the planet, was found using even more traditional astronomical devices: eyeballs.

Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, found it while reviewing archival photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. So yes, his eyes did have the help of the most powerful telescope known to humanity and also some computer software. But while studying the images of Neptune taken between 2004 and 2009, Showalter noticed a bright spot that occurred periodically far outside the planet's rings. After plotting out the path of the spot, he found that it made a circular orbit around Neptune once every 23 hours.

This isn't Showalter's first discovery either. He's found moons around Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto. He's also become an expert at naming these things. As discoverer of the new body, he gets to submit possible names to the International Astronomical Union, which will decide its official moniker. Since the parent planet is Neptune, the name has to relate to the Greek or Roman gods of the sea, and Showalter says he already has a couple of nominees: Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon who guest starred as the Cyclops in Homer's The Odyssey or Lamia, Poseidon's daughter who was busted for having an affair with Zeus and was punished by being turned into a monster that feeds on children. Or you could try to name it, in the comments. They won't take those into consideration though.

 America's New Disease

Here's another thing that doesn't get discovered every day, thankfully: new diseases. This week biologists in Missouri announced that a new illness is making its rounds through the United States, although slowly, and it's being spread by ticks. The malady first appeared in two separate incidents in northwestern Missouri in 2009 when a pair of men were hospitalized with fever, diarrhea, and other flu-like symptoms. Confused doctors sent their blood samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and they were found to be hosting a virus that had never been seen before.

Since both patients had reported being bitten by lone star ticks, epidemiologists went to the home of one of the men and collected ticks from his property. They found that all ten of them were carrying the virus. Fortunately, the disease doesn't seem severe. Both men recovered after a few days, but experts warn that since the illness is virus-borne, antibiotics can't help and biologists haven't figured out which host animals, like deer or foxes, are carrying the virus and passing it along to the ticks in the first place. Scientists have named the condition Heartland Disease or HRTV which I guess is better than being named after a witch that eats kids.

 The World's Newest Hero!

One more discovery this week is of an amazing little creature whose name I will really enjoy saying. Scientists from the Chicago Field Museum have discovered a new species of rodent called a Hero Shrew.

What makes it heroic is a feature that no other mammal can claim. A spine made of interlocking vertebrae which makes its backbone four times stronger than any other vertebrate. When the first, and only other species of hero shrew was discovered in 1910, scientists were so flummoxed by its strength that some researchers actually stood on it to see if it would support them, and the shrew just scampered off unharmed. Locals are even known to wear parts of the animal in hope of deriving some of its apparent invincibility.

Now, reporting in the latest issue of Biology Letters, the scientists say that they found a second species in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And while it has a smaller head and shorter hair, it has the same heroic backbone. Even after extensive study of the animal's structure, experts say they can't figure out what evolutionary purpose the interlocking spine might serve, other than general Iron-Man-like awesomeness. Fittingly, they've named the animal S. Thori after Thor, the Norse god of thunder and strength. Boom! So I guess I know what I'm gonna cosplay as for next year's Comic-Con.

SciShow News will be taking a break next week when Michael Aranda will be sitting in for me until I return in late August. And thanks for watching this episode of SciShow News. If you have any questions or comments or suggestions we're on Facebook and Twitter or down in the comments below, and if you want to keep getting smarter with us here at SciShow you can go to and subscribe. (ending music plays)