October’s Spooky Science Pictures

This month in disquieting science.
A fractal design shaped like a spider web.

A spooky fractal design used for 3D imaging.

Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

(Inside Science) -- Scientific discoveries can dazzle with wonder, make your skin crawl with their weirdness, or sometimes do both. This month, we'll explore a few spooky and otherworldly revelations, including newly discovered creepy crawlies and unearthed old bones.

A close-up of the Darwin wasp named after the COVID-19 pandemic

While the first Asian giant hornet’s nest found in the U.S. was exterminated this month, scientists identified another terrifying stinging insect -- this one named after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stethantyx covida is a new species of Darwin wasp from Mexico, discovered by zoologists Audrey I. Khalaim and Enrique Ruíz Cancino during quarantine. These close-up pictures above give a detailed view of the wasp’s obsidian armor and strange yellow hair.

A fractal design shaped like a spider web.

Researchers from Purdue University drew inspiration from a spider’s web to develop a fractal design for 3D photodetectors used in biomedical imaging. The spooky but sturdy architecture was chosen for its adaptability and tolerance to external pressures such as high winds and storms that natural webs endure. The innovative shape helps the photodetector effortlessly interface with any 3D rounded surface.

The remains of a young person buried in a Los Sapos sweat bath

The remains of a young person buried at a Mayan temple tell interesting tales about the region’s culture and history. This skeleton was found in the Los Sapos sweat bath in Xultun, Guatemala. Female figurines, toad bones, and a representation of a goddess responsible for gestation were also found at the bath, suggesting to archaeologists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute that these remains point to the use of the temple as a place of birth and creation.

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OSIRIS-Rex TAG event on Bennu asteroid

This is the surface of Bennu -- a very dark and very old asteroid larger in diameter than the height of the Empire State Building. Above is an image taken just after NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft touched down on the asteroid. It was a “Touch-And-Go” event where the spacecraft connected with the asteroid for a mere six seconds to collect samples. Scientists hope the mysterious celestial body could give hints about the origin of life.

Skeleton of a warlord in Berkshire, U.K.

The skeleton pictured above was discovered by metal detector enthusiasts at a burial site in Berkshire, U.K. Its location on a hilltop overlooking the Thames suggests the remains belong to a high-statue warlord from around A.D. 500. Measuring 6 feet tall, and buried with expensive weapons, he lay in the ground undisturbed for 1,400 years.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Abigail Malate is a graphic designer at the American Institute of Physics, which produces the editorially independent news service Inside Science.