2014 discoveries

2014 Discoveries: Important Breakthroughs You Might Have Missed

As the year draws to a close with the next waiting around the corner, we take a look at the year’s most exciting discoveries.

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While it may be true that negative news trumped the positive in sheer popularity (thanks a lot, ISIS and Ebola), and many focus their frustration on a general lack of progress, this attitude is true of most years in spite of magnificent scientific advancements and breakthroughs.

2014 was no exception. Here are some of the year’s most significant scientific and historic discoveries that you may have missed.

1. The first earth-sized planet in a habitable zone (aka an Earth twin, or cousin) was discovered by NASA, called Kepler 186f.

2014 discoveries
Photo courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia Commons.

Looking out from Earth in order to gaze back upon its likeness: narcissism at its very spaciest.

2. The largest dinosaur known to man was discovered in Argentina: a plant-eating behemoth weighing more than seven T-rexes.

It’s name is dreadnoughtus (as in if you don’t dread donuts, it is what you may become.)

3. Various new species were discovered in 2014; among them are a new upside-down-growing species of anemone, a camouflaged gecko, and a raccoon relative.

2014 discoveries
Photo courtesy of Steve Begin via Flickr.

The racoon relative is called an olinguito. Having lived and been overlooked in zoos for years,  she’s presumably relieved about eschewing the reputation of her garbage-eating cousin.

4.The oldest engraving ever was discovered on a shell dating back 500,000 years.

The oldest yet wall engraving, dating 39,000 years, was also discovered. The grocery lists or diaries of our eldest ancestors? TBA.

5. Richard III’s body was found in 2012 beneath a parking lot and exhumed; 2014 DNA analysis confirms it was the almost certainly the long-lost British king.

2014 discoveries
Photo courtesy of University of Leicester via Flickr.

DNA suggests blue eyes, blonde hair, and shocking infidelity in his lineage. Cue the dramatic historical fanfiction.

6. An old neural brain path was rediscovered after a century of absence from scientific literature.

The prominent white matter tract, scientists say, plays an important and unique role in the processing of visual information.

No word yet on if “important and unique” corresponds with an increased intake of reality television.

7. An invisible force field was discovered around the earth.

2014 discoveries
Photo courtesy of the University of Alberta.

Located some 7,200 above the planet, the shield protects us all from “killer electrons,” the newest reason you should apologize to the planet for global warming.

8. A new gene editing enzyme, called CRISPR, promises a whole new world of genomics.

CRISPT has a much more terrifying and exciting definition for a name that sounds like a toaster app — Nobel Prize winner Craig Mellow says, “you can essentially change a genome at will to almost anything you want. The sky’s the limit.”

Know of any other important 2014 discoveried? Tweet us @Curiousmatic.

We measure success by the understanding we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much fresh understanding did we provide?
Jennifer Markert