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(Left to right): MANON BRUININGA; NASA/JPL-CALTECH; D. OLMSTEAD/CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Top stories: Doggerland’s ‘lost world,’ star-swallowing black holes, and engineering killer moths

Lost world revealed by human, Neanderthal relics washed up on North Sea beaches

Fifty thousand years ago, a rich territory named Doggerland stretched all the way from Great Britain to the Netherlands, under what is now the North Sea. But as glaciers melted 8500 years ago, that land was lost—as was evidence of the Neanderthals, modern humans, and other hominin species that occupied it. Now, thanks to a €70 million coastal protection project to shield the Dutch coast from sea-level rise, soil from the Stone Age is once again accessible—and it’s turning up ancient artifacts, from a woolly mammoth tooth to the bones and tools of ancient Europeans.

Black holes caught in the act of swallowing stars

At the center of nearly every galaxy lies a monster, a giant black hole millions or even billions of times heavier than the Sun. Most are dormant, lurking invisibly for thousands of years—until a star passes too close and is ripped to shreds. That triggers a monthslong tidal disruption event (TDE), which can shine as brightly as a supernova. Until a few years ago, astronomers had spotted only a handful of TDEs. But now, a new generation of wide-field surveys is catching more of them soon after they start—yielding new insights into the violent events and the hidden population of black holes that drives them.

Genetically engineered moths can knock down crop pests, but will they take off?

Diamondback moths love broccoli. They’re also fond of cabbage, cauliflower, and related crops. And they quickly evolve resistance to insecticides and crops genetically modified to kill them. But frustrated farmers might get a new weapon against them: genetically engineered versions of the moths that mate with wild pests and cause half their offspring to die.

Outbreak of virus from China declared global emergency

In a move that some critics say should have happened 1 week ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China a global health emergency. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the move at a press conference on Thursday evening in Geneva. The new disease, first made public by China on 31 December 2019, has already spread to 18 countries; 7834 people have been infected and 170 of them, all in China, have died.

Underwater robot reveals hidden base of Antarctica’s ‘doomsday’ glacier

Using a robot dropped through a 700-meter hole in the ice, scientists stationed on Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier have captured the first video of the glacier’s grounding line, the mysterious boundary where ice meets land and where warm ocean water could be slowly melting the glacier’s base—putting it at risk of collapse.