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There's good news if you're into weird things happening on moons. Bad news if you were a big fan of the Larsen C ice shelf.

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1. Gold is made when two neutron stars collide.

2. There's a star with seven Earth-size planets orbiting it, 40 light years away.

3. The genes of human embryos were edited in Britain for the first time, scientists revealed this year, to remove a gene in very early embryos.

4. A new type of cloud that looks a bit like a rough sea has been officially recognised. It's called asperitas.

5. 2016 was officially the hottest year on record. (We'll find out about 2017 next year.)

6. Humans have made over 8,300 million tonnes (and counting) of plastic since the 1950s – and thrown most of it out.

7. A huge chunk of the Larsen C ice shelf finally broke off western Antarctica this year. Scientists first noticed a crack in the ice shelf in 2011.

8. The first space rock confirmed to have originated from outside the solar system flew past the sun in September. Astronomers named the interstellar object ’Oumuamua.


9. A potato-shaped dwarf planet called Haumea that orbits past Neptune has got a ring around it.

10. Saturn's moon Enceladus probably has hydrothermal activity going on at the bottom of its ocean, meaning it has all the ingredients for ~some sort of~ life.

11. And Enceladus might have got its tiger stripes after a giant rock crashed into it, punching through the 20km-thick layer of ice over its ocean.

12. Saturn's other moon, Titan, might be covered in electrified sand dunes.

13. And Saturn's rings might contain millions of "moonlets" that have cleared gaps in the rings.

14. There's a bunch of streams, rivers, ponds, and waterfalls all over Antarctica that we didn't know about before.

15. Britain separated, geologically, from Europe 450,000 years ago in a process involving a vast flood separating Kent from northern France.

16. A group of scientists investigating part of Earth's crust under New Zealand and the surrounding area think it is actually a submerged continent. The idea was first proposed in 1995, when the term "Zealandia" was coined.

17. It looks like life on Earth existed in deep sea thermal vents as far back as 3.77 billion years ago.

18. People have been getting poisoned by lead for at least 2,000 years, according to a new study of glacier ice in the Swiss Alps.

19. Our own moon is probably slightly older than we previously thought. At 4.51 billion years old, it formed just 60 million years after the solar system itself.

20. And it turns out we've been showering the moon in oxygen from Earth for billions of years.

21. The two moons of Mars – Phobos and Deimos – might have formed when something big collided with the planet.

22. There might be "stardust" – aka tiny, tiny meteorites – collecting on your rooftop.

23. There's a less than 1 in 10 million chance per billion years that life on Earth would be completely wiped out by an astrophysical event like an asteroid or nearby supernova.


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

25. A fish-eating reptile that lived 245 million years ago during the Triassic period gave birth to live babies instead of laying eggs.

26. Tyrannosaurus rex couldn't actually run. According to a new computer model, if it had tried sprinting its legs would have broken.

27. Wolf-sized otters lived on Earth 62 million years ago.

28. Some dinosaur eggs took six months, and possibly even longer, to hatch after the dinosaur laid them.

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

30. Upside-down jellyfish, known as Cassiopea jellyfish, don't have brains, but they do need sleep.

31. Red pandas and giant pandas evolved the ability to digest bamboo separately, but it left a similar mark on their genomes.

32. There's a caterpillar called Galleria mellonella (commonly known as the wax moth) that can break down plastic.

33. There's a newly discovered species of crab in Hong Kong that can climb trees.

34. Naked mole rats can survive for up to 18 minutes without oxygen by using fructose, instead of glucose, to make energy.

35. When tardigrades go into suspended animation, they fill their body with a glasslike substance.

36. Bees can learn to use a tool if they see other bees using it.

37. There's a species of beetle that lives among colonies of ants by riding on the ants' backs.

38. Spiders eat between 400 and 800 million tons of insects per year.

39. Humpback whale calves talk really quietly to their mums so other nearby whales can't hear them.

40. The sex of a type of fish called a sea lamprey might be determined based on how fast it grows when it's a larva.

41. Laughter appears to be contagious in parrots.

42. A species of frog in Brazil called a pumpkin toadlet has lost the ability to hear its own mating calls.

43. Ravens can plan ahead and exert self-control.

45. Puppies respond better when you talk to them like you would a baby.

46. It's not just you – even people trained in neuroscience believe some brain myths.

47. Sperm counts in Western men seem to have decreased about 50% in the last 40 years.

48. Despite the hype over cyberbullying, children are still far more likely to be bullied IRL than online.

49. It turns out that the Zika virus can infect cells that line blood vessel walls, which is how it crosses the placenta from a mother to her foetus.

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

51. Traces of wine residue found in terracotta pots in a cave in Sicily suggest the people of Italy may have been drinking wine for 6,000 years.

52. 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.

53. Between 2012 and 2016, Earth's artificially lit outdoor area grew by over 2% each year and also got brighter.

54. This year scientists announced that they've been able to keep premature lambs alive for four weeks in an artificial womb.

55. Scientists made an adhesive inspired by slug slime that can glue pig hearts back together again and could help mend wounds.

56. It's possible to store images and video in the DNA of bacteria using a system called CRISPR.

57. We've finally figured out how to heat up (a very small amount of) cryogenically frozen tissue.

58. And it turns out that it is scientifically possible to make a wine bottle that doesn't drip.


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

Contact Kelly Oakes at

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