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'Largest Orchid in the World' Growing in Brazil

Brazil's environmental agency announced Tuesday the "largest orchid in the world" was growing in a botanic garden in the capital, at a height of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) and some stems measuring as long as 9.8 feet (three meters).

Displayed at the Brazilian Orchids Project garden in Brasilia, the flower -- part of the Grammatophyllum genus -- has been growing for five years and already has 19 long stems, on which 400 flowers bloom, said the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).

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Humans May Have Left Africa Earlier than Thought

Modern humans may have left Africa thousands of years earlier than previously thought, turning right and heading across the Red Sea into Arabia rather than following the Nile to a northern exit, an international team of researchers says.

Stone tools discovered in the United Arab Emirates indicate the presence of modern humans between 100,000 and 125,000 years ago, the researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

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Distant Galaxy Born in the Dawn of Time

Astronomers on Wednesday said they had snared an image of what may be the oldest galaxy ever seen, a starry cluster that came into being when the Universe was still a baby.

The tiny smudge of light captured by the orbiting Hubble telescope took 13.2 thousand million years to reach Earth, which means the galaxy was born some 480 million years after the "Big Bang" that created the cosmos.

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Study Says Orangutan DNA Boosts Survival Chances

Orangutans are far more genetically diverse than thought, a finding that could help their survival, say scientists delivering their first full DNA analysis of the critically-endangered ape.

The study, published Thursday in the science journal Nature, also reveals that the orangutan -- "the man of the forest" -- has hardly evolved over the last 15 million years, in sharp contrast to Homo sapiens and

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US Doctors Turn X-Box Game into PTSD Therapy

U.S. doctors are treating soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by plunging them back into combat using a virtual reality game that simulates scenes from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The therapeutic game, called Virtual Iraq or Virtual Afghanistan, was developed from the X-Box game Full Spectrum Warrior, a combat tactical simulation game launched with funding from the U.S. Army.

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Amnesty Slams Shell Over Oil Spills in Nigeria

Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth Tuesday said they had filed an official complaint against Anglo-Dutch firm Shell for shirking responsibility for oil spills in Nigeria and wreaking havoc on the environment.

A joint statement said Shell's operations in the southern oil-rich Niger Delta breached the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s guidelines for responsible business.

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Study Shows Memories Take Hold Better During Sleep

The best way to not forget a newly learned poem, card trick or algebra equation may be to take a quick nap, scientists surprised by their own findings reported.

In experiments, researchers in Germany showed that the brain is better during sleep than during wakefulness at resisting attempts to scramble or corrupt a recent memory.

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Scientists Try to Mate Galapagos Tortoise — Again

Will Lonesome George ever become a dad?

Scientists are still hoping to mate the near century-old giant tortoise from the Galapagos — even though efforts over the past two decades have failed.

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Chess Experts Use Brain Differently than Amateurs

Experts use different parts of their brains than amateurs, maximizing intuition, goal-seeking and pattern-recognition, said a study out Thursday that examined players of shogi, or Japanese chess.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to compare the brain activity of amateurs and professionals who were presented with various shogi board patterns and were told to think of their next move.

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UN Weather Agency Says 2010 Warmest Year Ever

The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that 2010 was the warmest year on record, confirming a "significant" long-term trend of global warming.

The trend also helped to melt Arctic sea ice cover to a record low for December last month, the WMO said in a statement.

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