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Record-size sex chromosome found in two bird species

Researchers in Sweden and the UK have discovered the largest known avian sex chromosome. The giant chromosome was created when four chromosomes fused together into one, and has been found in two species of lark.

Atlantic haven is a test bed for planet's sickly oceans

Clad in diving gear or oilskins and gumboots, a team of scientists and activists spent weeks in the South Atlantic, enduring storms and choppy seas to check up on a place almost no-one has heard of.

Mapping our galaxy's magnetic field

Astronomers from CSIRO and Curtin University have used pulsars to probe the Milky Way's magnetic field. Working with colleagues in Europe, Canada, and South Africa, they have published the most precise catalogue of measurements ...

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Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area. With a billion people (as of 2009, see table) in 61 territories, it accounts for about 14.8% of the World's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Not counting the disputed territory of Western Sahara, there are 53 countries, including Madagascar and various island groups, associated with the continent.

Africa, particularly central eastern Africa, is widely regarded within the scientific community to be the origin of humans and the Hominidae tree (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (human) found in Ethiopia being dated to ca. 200,000 years ago.

Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

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