*In many Asian cultures, each year is assigned to one of twelve animals according to their lunar calendar. We like this idea because it is a great excuse to tell a story about the new year. We were excited to learn that 2016 is the year of the monkey because monkeys are really fun to draw.
Dreamed up as a creative project, art professor Sam Van Aken has grafted 40 different species of stone fruit (Prunus genus) to one live tree that blooms in 40 colors and later bears ripe plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, almonds and nectarines. A springtime bouquet of every-shade-of-pink blossoms eventually turns to a juicy, rainbow-hued display of fruit.
Finally, your long-awaited personal jet pack is here. The JB-9 model runs two vectored jet engines on kerosene at high speeds and altitudes. Highly maneuverable and powerful, this jetpack is strong, lightweight and much easier to fly than earlier models. For the debut flight, aviator and co-developer, David Mayman lifted off a boat in New York Harbor and circumnavigated Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, complete with salute and pirouette.
Deep in the northern forests of Myanmar, scientists have discovered a new species of snub-nosed monkey. Although rare and confined to a small habitat range, this monkey is easy for local people to find, especially when it rains. An upturned nose with open nostrils collects water when it rains, causing the monkey to sneeze. During rain storms these monkeys sit with their heads tucked between their legs, safely turned away from the sneeze-inducing rain.
The first light-emitting turtle has been found near the Solomon Islands. Glowing shells reflect blue light and transform it into brilliant neon green, red and orange. This Eastern Pacific hawksbill turtle is the first reptile species to be found with biofluorescence.
A newly identified species of pufferfish builds elaborate circle patterns in the sand to attract a mate. By furiously flapping his fins, the white-spotted pufferfish creates ridges in the sand, one layer of the concentric circle at a time. When complete, he waits in the center and then greets his mate with a bite.
This year the NASA Kepler spacecraft discovered an older, slightly larger planet in the Goldilocks Zone of habitable temperatures as it orbits a star 1400 light years away. The planet named Kepler 452b very likely has an atmosphere and a rocky surface but its chemical composition is still unknown. This planet receives a similar amount of light from its star as the Earth receives sunshine, another factor in its most-like-Earth status.
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