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Secret to Shark Health Could Fight Human Viruses

Sharks are primitive creatures but their bodies produce a sophisticated substance that shows promise in fighting a range of human viruses from hepatitis to yellow fever, researchers said Monday.

The compound, called squalamine, was discovered in 1993 but the study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences is the first to explore its potential use against human viruses.

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China to Launch Space Station's First Module

China said Tuesday it will launch its Tiangong-1 space module later this month, marking its first step towards building a Chinese space station.

The Asian giant sees its space program as a symbol of its global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the formerly poverty-stricken nation.

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Growing Concern Over Drugs Fed to Animals

Drugs fed to animals to promote growth and prevent diseases may play a key role in the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, microbiologists said.

The practice of administering large quantities of antimicrobial drugs "favors the emergence of drug resistant bacteria that can spread to humans through the consumption of contaminated food, from direct contact with animals or by environmental spread," said Awa Aidara-Kane of the World Health Organization.

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Officials Say Beaver Teeth are 7 Million Years Old

The Bureau of Land Management says a fossil found by employees on federal land represents the earliest record of living beavers in North America.

The pair of teeth was found on BLM land in northeast Oregon.

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U.S. Says Five Sea Turtle Populations are Endangered

The United States issued a ruling on Friday saying that five world populations of loggerhead sea turtles are endangered species but four are only "threatened."

The decision to split up loggerhead turtles into nine separate populations for conservation efforts was detailed in a 331-page document by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Feathers in Amber Reveal Dinosaur Diversity

In science fiction, amber preserved the DNA that allowed rebirth of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. In real life, amber preserved feathers that provide a new image of what dinosaurs looked like.

"Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy colored past," reports Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

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Scientists Shocked by Behavior of Rare Gray Whale

Scientists tracking a rare western Pacific gray whale were shocked last winter when the endangered animal left the Asian coast, crossed the Bering Sea and swam south along Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest coasts.

Researchers are back in Russia to see whether the feat will be repeated by other Pacific gray whales.

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Scientists Say Arctic Ice Cover Hits Historic Low

The area covered by Arctic sea ice reached its lowest point this week since the start of satellite observations in 1972, German researchers announced on Saturday.

"On September 8, the extent of the Arctic sea ice was 4.240 million square kilometers (1.637 million square miles). This is a new historic minimum," said Georg Heygster, head of the Physical Analysis of Remote Sensing Images unit at the University of Bremen's Institute of Environmental Physics.

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Dead NASA Satellite will Soon Plummet to Earth

A dead NASA satellite will soon fall to Earth, but the space agency says there is very little chance that a piece of it will hit someone.

NASA says the 20-year-old satellite will probably fall sometime between late September and October. Pieces of it could land anywhere in the six inhabited continents in a worldwide swath from south of Juneau, Alaska, to just north of the tip of South America. NASA scientists estimate a 1-in-3,200 chance a satellite part could hit someone. Most of it will burn up after entering Earth's atmosphere.

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And The Heavens Showered Earth with Gold

Were it not for meteorites striking Earth some four billion years ago, humans would never have laid eyes on the gold that has raised and ruined civilizations, according to a study published Thursday.

Two hundred million years earlier, during the violent throes of planetary formation, Earth was a mass of molten minerals set afire by collisions with planet-sized heavenly bodies.

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