Feb 5, 2018

This 100-million-year-old fossil isn't a spider or a scorpion

This proto-spider was found preserved in amber. Photo: Bo Wang

Four specimens of a 100-million-year old spider-like arachnid were found preserved in amber, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why it matters: "It throws up a combination of characters that initially seems alien to an arachnologist," paleobiologist Greg Edgecombe told the New York Times' Nicholas St. Fleur. It shows how diverse arachnids once were, and "presents some intriguing hints at how they evolved," writes Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post.

The arachnid has the head of a spider, but the back-end looks like a scorpion's with legs. Like a scorpion, it has a long, whip-like tail. But the researchers think the tail didn't sting — it was probably more like an antenna. The not-spider also has spinerettes, similar to those modern spiders use to make silk.

Sound smart: The spiders' scientific name is Chimerarachne yingi. The chimera is a mythological monster with a lion's head, goat's body, and snake's tail. Arachne is the greek root for the word 'spider.' It's a fitting name for an animal that looks like a spiders' head with something else attached to the back.

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U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.

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U.S. sends Brazil 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators

President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: The situation in Brazil, which has reported over 498,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 28,000 deaths, is threatening to spiral out of control as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces mounting criticism for downplaying the severity of the virus.