In December 2010, the discovery of a bacterium called GFAJ-1 in Mono Lake in California caused quite a sensation. The scientists who studied it declared that it was capable of using arsenic instead of phosphorus among the basic elements of its biochemistry. Now two new studies disprove that this bacterium uses arsenic in its DNA.

The Viking 2 on Mars at Utopia Planitia in 1976 (Image JPL/NASA)

In 1976, the Viking 1 and 2 landers carried out an experiment on Mars that aimed to test the possibility that there was life on the red planet. Some chemical reactions revealed were unexpected but they weren’t regarded as evidence of the existance of life forms. The issue remained controversial and now an international team of scientists who conducted new analysis on the data from that time concluded that probably there’s life on Mars.

Renato Dulbecco in 1966

Italian biologist, doctor and geneticist Renato Dulbecco died of a heart attack. With Howard Termin and David Baltimore in 1975 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell.

Trilobite fossile from the Burgess Shale

The Royal Ontario Museum and Parks Canada, the national agency that has the mandate to protect Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, opened a new site which is an online museum of the Burgess Shale, a unique field of fossils from the Middle Cambrian, about five hundred million years ago.