Weekly News Bites: Scientific discoveries at local fish markets, escape from extinction, and a hidden planet

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a new species of fish that was spotted being sold at local markets, how humans almost went extinct, and an Earth-like planet that may be lurking in our solar system.

A new species of fish was discovered by University of the Philippines Los Baños scientists after spotting the distinctive specimen at local fish markets. The Iniistius bakunawa appears to be a type of razor wrasse but has distinctive coloration and an eyespot on its fin. It was named after a snake-like figure from Visayan mythology.

Rates of cancer cases in people under 50 have grown by almost 80% from 1990 to 2019 says research by Zhejiang University School of Medicine and the University of Edinburgh. While genetics play a part, smoking, alcohol, and diet also greatly contribute to this upward trend. All cancers were not equally represented, some types increased (e.g. prostate cancer) while other decreased (e.g. early-onset liver cancer).

Stress, poor nutrition, and financial burdens can affect how children perform academically. Different socioeconomic statuses can affect the types of pressure that children are under e.g. taking care of younger siblings or working outside of school hours. The University of Cambridge and Fudan University found that reading for fun in early childhood can help counteract the effects of poverty and improve mental health and brain development.

Humans may have had a lucky escape from extinction caused by drastic climate changes. A team of scientist, including East China Normal University, found that at one point the entire reproducing population on Earth was less than 1,300 people. This “population bottleneck” lasted for more than 100,000 years.

There may be a planet that resembles ours hiding in our solar system. Researchers from Kindai University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan have started to investigate strange clusters which could be a hiding place for this new planet. The researchers predict the presence of this planet which could be up to three times larger than Earth… now they have to find it!