Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Dutch ‘living coffin’ aims to provide source for life after death
A Dutch start-up has created a biodegradable “living coffin” made of a fungus, instead of wood, which it says can convert a decomposing human body into key nutrients for plants. The company, Loop, says its casket is made of mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms, and filled with a bed of moss to stimulate decomposition.
Colombian miners strike fossilized gold: a mastodon
Fossils of a mastodon, a giant prehistoric relative of today’s elephants, have been discovered at an artisanal gold mine in central Colombia in a find which researchers say could herald a trove of similar specimens. Gold miners working a tunnel near the town of Quinchia, in Risaralda province, came across what they soon realized were bones on Tuesday.
Remains of Jurassic sea predator found in Chile’s Atacama desert
Scientists have unearthed the remains of Jurassic sea predators resembling killer whales in the world’s driest desert in Chile. Pliosaurs were reptiles from about 160 million years ago with a more powerful bite than Tyrannosaurus rex, according to University of Chile researchers. The fossils are the second oldest record of this species in the Southern Hemisphere.
SpaceX handed loss in challenge over Air Force contract
A federal judge plans to deny SpaceX’s challenge to U.S. Air Force contracts awarded to its rivals, writing in a Thursday court filing that the Pentagon properly assessed the development of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Starship rocket system as “too risky and expensive.” Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp in its year-long lawsuit had accused the Air Force of unfairly awarding development contracts to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and other competitors for new rocket systems in 2018.