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19 Facts The World Found Out In August

Gene-editing, a new 69-ton dinosaur, and snakes losing their stripes.

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1. It looks surprisingly easy for scientists to tweak genes in human embryos using the CRISPR gene editing technique (although some scientists have now cast doubts on the study).

2. We know relatively little about life in the deep sea, and our ignorance is damaging it.

3. The largest dinosaur ever found, a 69-ton species of titanosaur discovered in 2014, has now been formally described and given the name Patagotitan mayorum.

University of Plymouth / University of Oxford, Hervé Sauquet & Jürg Schönenberger

4. The most recent common ancestor of all flowers probably looked a bit like a lily.

5. Some dinosaurs' spiky armour might have been for showing off to mates and rivals as much as it was for protection.

6. A type of sea snake in Australia might have lost its stripes to deal with pollution.

7. The recently spotted asteroid 2012 TC4 will fly by Earth on 12 October at a distance of 27,300 miles – about an eighth of the distance between us and the moon.

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8. You can only form new memories during certain phases of deep sleep.

9. Pregnant women with sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnoea might be twice as likely to have their babies more than six weeks before the due date.

10. Craving coffee might make you less likely to remember new information – so maybe don't skip that caffeine hit just before a lecture.

11. People who are depressed are more likely to post bluer, darker photos with fewer faces to Instagram, according to a small proof-of-concept study.

12. When you add water to whisky, it brings flavourful phenol molecules to the surface and makes the drink taste better.

13. The people of Italy may have been drinking wine for 6,000 years, after traces of wine residue were found in terracotta pots in a cave in Sicily.

14. Probiotic supplements might actually benefit our immune systems, according to a large-scale trial in India – but only if we choose the right strains of bacteria.

15. Chimpanzees can develop hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease similar to those in human brains – although we don't yet know if the animals actually develop dementia.

16. Scientists have simulated the conditions on icy giants like Neptune by shooting lasers at polystyrene, creating nanodiamonds just a few nanometres wide.

17. The sun's core is rotating four times faster than its surface.

18. Nearby red supergiant star Antares has been imaged by astronomers to give the most detailed ever picture of a star other than the sun.

19. The Curiosity rover doesn't actually sing "Happy Birthday" to itself once a year (sorry).

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Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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