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‘Scrotum frogs’ found dead in South America

More than 10,000 Titicaca water frogs have been found dead in South America, most likely victims of pollution.

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One of the largest aquatic frogs in the world, the endangered species goes by a unique nickname. It has “amazingly baggy skin, which gives it the common name scrotum frog,” says National Geographic explorer Jonathan Kolby, a PhD student who studies frogs in Latin America

The deaths occurred along a 30-mile stretch of the Coata River, according to members of the Committee Against the Pollution of the Coata River. The river is a tributary of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes Mountains. 

Authorities said raw sewage was found near the lake. 

Although the frogs were found dead on the Peruvian side of the lake, similar events also have occurred on the Bolivian side

The IUCN Red List declares this species as “critically endangered” and it’s believed the highly fragmented populations are all in decline. 

When Jacques Cousteau studied the Titicaca frogs in the 1970s it was common. He found individuals that stretched out to 20 inches long and weighed 2.2 pounds, National Geographic reported.

Super hunter's moon to delight skygazers

Get those telescopes ready, skygazers. The 2016 hunter’s moon also happens to be a supermoon, making it extra special.

An autumn phenomenon, the hunter’s moon is the full moon after the harvest moon. This year, the full moon is particularly close to the Earth’s orbit, according to EarthSky. During this time, the moon may look larger and be brighter, with a yellow, orange or red hue.

>> Read more trending stories 

For those who want to set their watches, the hunter’s moon will be best seen on Oct. 16 at 12:23 a.m. EDT. If you miss it, don’t fret, as National Geographic says the full moons in November and December will also be supermoons.

Government spends $700K on missing letter ‘A’

It’s one of the most famous quotes in human history: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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The words that Neil Armstrong spoke while taking his first steps on the moon are ingrained in the minds of generations of Americans, but is the quote accurate? The astronaut contends that history misquoted him, claiming that he said: “That’s one small step for "a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The National Science Foundation used portions of two taxpayer-funded grants to try to settle the dispute once and for all. The grants, totaling more than $700,000, were distributed to improve and understand communications for people with conditions that may affect speech, like autism and Parkinson’s disease. One of the grants came through money provided by the 2009 American and Recovery Reinvestment Act. The NSF acknowledges that a portion of the money was used to try to find the missing “a," but it was also used to research how the brain understands speech. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., calls the study an “egregious” waste of taxpayer dollars and profiled it in a monthly “Waste Report." The report provided no conclusions on whether Armstrong did include the “a” in his memorable quote, saying: "These results demonstrate that substantial ambiguity exists in the original quote from Armstrong."

Have we reached the limit of human life expectancy?

How old will you be when you die? Sorry to be so grim, but you probably won't outlive Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 back in 1997.

Fourscore and 42 is likely out of the question, and a new study says exceeding that age limit is, too.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine professor Jan Vijg and colleagues examined at least two international databases on longevity and found the age of the oldest person to die every year had plateaued. Vijg says the ceiling is at 115 years.

Part of his reasoning is that if there weren't a ceiling, we'd see more Calments — but we haven't.

What about technology and better nutrition? Vijg says it's unlikely those developments will increase our average lifespan. Many others say that's where he's wrong.

There's nothing to account for what future medicine will do for us, and maximum age hasn't plateaued in every country. One of those countries is Japan, which has the world's highest life expectancy.

Ultimately, researchers will have to continue documenting when we drop off to see if this study holds up. Fortunately for us, we won't have to wait around to find out.

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Bees placed on endangered species list for first time in US

For the first time in U.S. history, bees will receive protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Seven yellow-faced bee species, Hawaii's only native bees, are now considered endangered after years of extensive research, according to The Associated Press.

>> Read more trending stories 

The yellow-faced bees pollinate plant species indigenous to the Hawaiian islands, some of which are also endangered. In addition, these bees favor heavy shrubs and trees, supporting the health of forest regions, which provides a habitat for other animals.

>>Millions of bees died from Zika pesticide

The bees face threats from "feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas," Sarina Jepson, director of the Xerces Society, told The Associated Press.

The protection goes into effect Oct. 31, according to CNN.

'Just get it out of the food': Senator wants chemical banned

The controversial chemical Bisphenonal A, commonly called BPA, is in food and metal food containers like baby bottles and cans of soup.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, says the substance should be banned, even as scientists disagree on whether small amounts of BPA leaching into food and drink is a health concern.

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This week Markey introduced a bill called the "Ban Poisonous Additives Act," a prohibition on BPAs. 

"We just have to finally say there is no role for BPA in anything that is connected to any food product in the United States," Markey said. 

The National Institutes of Health says it has "some concern" about the impact of BPA on the brain and other organs of infants and children.

Twelve states have taken steps to ban or restrict the chemical.

But the FDA has said it is safe, especially given the relatively minor amount that might be exposed in food and drink.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Food Safety Authority and other government agencies around the globe have found no public health risk associated with BPA in any food or beverage," reads a statement on the American Beverage Association's website.

Earth's carbon dioxide levels reach record highs

The Earth has reached a global warming milestone it may never recover from. Climate scientists say carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million this month.

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That's 50 parts per million more than what most experts consider "safe." And there's little hope that we will ever get our planet's levels back to that number again.

The last time Earth consistently saw CO2 levels like these was millions of years ago, so humans have likely never experienced something like this before.

And that means scientists aren't entirely sure what's going to happen next.

But we do know CO2 emissions have been one of the main sources of climate change since the Industrial Revolution, and it has caused the Earth's temperature to rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since then.

That's already led to record-breaking global temperatures, extreme weather and other effects.

Experts say we might see small dips in atmospheric CO2 levels in the near future, but it won't be enough to make a difference.

Still, scientists are urging people to take this news as a wake-up call to get serious about reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

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NASA doesn't care about your zodiac sign

The zodiac has been around for thousands of years and has always contained 12 signs — until recently. NASA pointed out there's actually a 13th constellation within it. 

Cue a bunch of people having a crisis on Twitter about their astrological signs possibly changing. 

>> Read more trending stories

But NASA doesn't care whether you're a Leo or a Sagittarius. It just wants the zodiac to be factually accurate. 

In a recent Tumblr post, NASA reported the ancient Babylonians originally started out with 13 constellations that the sun appeared to pass through. 

But in order to make their zodiac fit within their 12-month calendar, one of the constellations had to be left out. So Ophiuchus got the ax. 

NASA also pointed out that the Babylonian's zodiac doesn't exactly work as intended anymore, since the Earth's axis has shifted slightly in the last 3,000 years. 

So astrology might not be that scientific, but NASA's not trying to change it. Just know that if you're a die-hard Scorpio, you could've just as easily been an Ophiuchus. Doesn't that roll off the tongue?

Stephen Hawking: Be wary of answering if space aliens come calling

Physicist Stephen Hawking said he is convinced that humans are not the only intelligent life form in the universe.

In a newly released 25-minute film from Curiosity Stream — an online video on demand site — Hawking discusses his quest to find alien life.

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In “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places,” Hawking told USA Today that scientists have found thousands of planets outside our solar system in recent years. 

“Some are burning hells, gates of fire and lava, others are solid diamond made in deadly X-rays from a dying star, but some are more like home,” he said. 

Hawking takes viewers to Gliese 832c, which could be one of the closest habitable planets discovered so far.

He said one day we might receive a signal back from a planet like Gliese 832c.

“We should be wary of answering back,” he said.  “Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus — that didn’t turn out so well.”

Hawking said the discovery of intelligent life would be the greatest scientific discovery in history.

“It would force us to change,” he said. “We would have to give up the idea that we are unique and start acting with more compassion and humility."

Autumn equinox 2016: What is it; when is it?

If you are going to enjoy summer 2016, you better hurry.

It’s over on Thursday at 10:21 a.m. (ET). That’s when the autumn equinox happens.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

What's an equinox? The equinox triggers autumn on calendars in the northern hemisphere and marks the day when the sun will shine, almost directly, over the Earth’s equator.

What does that mean? Here are a few autumnal equinox facts:

1. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin word meaning “equal night.” It refers to the roughly equal amounts of daylight and night time that happens on Thursday.

2. An equinox happens when there is an alignment between the sun and Earth in which the sun appears positioned directly above the Earth’s equator.  During the autumn equinox – and the spring one – the sun rises due east and sets due west.

3. There is ancient Maya step pyramid – El Castillo at Chichén Itzá in Mexico – where at sunset on the equinox sunlight hits the building’s staircase and creates a snake-like shape that appears to slither up the stairs.

4. From Sept. 22 onward, the days will get shorter until the Winter Solstice in December (less sunlight each day).

5. As far as meteorologists are concerned, the first day of autumn was Sept. 1. They mark meteorological seasons on Sept. 1, Dec. 1, March 1 and June 1. 

Sources: National Geographic; Encyclopedia Britannia; The Weather Channel

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