Mars Landing, Scientists Clone First Endangered Species and More News

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NASA announced that the Mars Perseverance Rover has made a successful landing on the red planet and is in “great shape,” US scientists clone first endangered species, and never-before-seen yellow penguin photographed.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover makes successful landing on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover made a successful landing on Mars on Thursday, with the agency reporting that the craft is in “great shape.” The car-sized robotic explorer begins a two-year mission roaming the red planet searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will collect rocky samples from the Martian surface, which will be sent back to Earth. Perseverance is now NASA’s fifth Rover to land on Mars, NBC reported. Scientists hope this latest mission could provide answers to key questions about the history and evolution of Mars. The mission marks another step toward NASA’s goal of sending humans to explore the red planet.

Perseverance became the third spacecraft to arrive at Mars in February. Earlier this month, two other spacecraft, one launched by China and another by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reached Mars and went into orbit around the red planet.

Scientists clone first US endangered species

American scientists have successfully cloned the first US endangered species, a black-footed ferret, which they duplicated using the genes of an animal that perished over 30 years ago, NBC reported.

Scientists announced that a cloned ferret, named Elizabeth Ann, was born on December 10. The successful cloning occurred at a Fish and Wildlife Service black-footed ferret breeding facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the animal is also being raised.

According to scientists, the black-footed ferret is a genetic copy of a ferret named Willa who died in 1988. Scientists kept the remains of the ferret frozen in the early days of DNA technology.

Even before cloning, black-footed ferrets were a conservation success story. They were believed to have gone extinct through habitat loss, with ranchers shooting and poisoning prairie dog colonies in order to make rangelands more suitable for cattle. However, in 1981, in Wyoming, a ranch dog brought a dead black-footed ferret home. Scientists quickly took action, gathering the remaining population and protecting them under a captive breeding program. Eventually, beginning in the 1990s, scientists were able to release thousands of ferrets at dozens of sites in the western U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Scientists hope that cloning can eventually bring back other extinct species, such as the passenger pigeon.

However, for now, the cloning technique, as successfully demonstrated with the black-footed ferret, holds promise of helping other endangered species. Last summer, a scientist cloned a Mongolian wild horse at a Texas facility.

Never before seen yellow penguin photographed

Over a year after capturing what is being called a once-in-a-lifetime photo , a Belgian wildlife photographer has finally revealed a photograph of what he believes is a “never before seen” yellow penguin.

Back in December 2019, photographer Yves Adams was leading a two-month photo exhibition in the South Atlantic. The expeditionary group stopped on an island n South Georgia to photograph a colony of over 120,000 king penguins, PetaPixel reported.

Adams was unloading some safety equipment when something unusual caught his eye: a penguin with bright yellow plumage. The photographer had never seen anything like it.

“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” the photographer told Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”

In a bit of luck, the Penguin was close to where the photographers had made their stop on the beach. They had a perfect, unobstructed view of the Penguins.

“We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were,” Adam said. “Our view wasn’t blocked by a sea of massive animals. Normally it’s almost impossible to move on this beach because of them all.”

According to scientists, the unusual yellow coloring of the unique Penguin is due to a condition called eucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.

This is a leucistic penguin,” Adams explained. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore, so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”

Scientists have discovered that the yellow pigment in penguin feathers is chemically distinct from all other molecules that are known to give color to feathers, according to reports by the Royal Society Publishing and the Smithsonian Insider.