For nearly four decades, Amenhotep III and his great royal wife, Tiye—the grandparents of King Tut—ruled together over a time of peace and prosperity in ancient Egypt. This placid period is a gift for today's archaeologists and historians because of the wealth of records it left behind: from a series of soapstone scarabs documenting the king's early years, to the 250-some palaces, temples, and monuments decorated with works of art that tell the story of their reign.
More than 3,000 years ago, a government official took a roll of papyrus and sketched out the features of a valley in Egypt's Eastern Desert with astonishing detail and accuracy. It's so rare, in fact, the next known geologic map doesn't appear in the historical record for another 29 centuries.
About 250 million years ago, long before the reign of the dinosaurs began, something killed some 90 percent of the planet's species. Less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas survived. On land, less than a third of the large animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died. Scientists are still trying to identify the killer responsible.
They look like a mix of other animals—a horse's head, a chameleon's independent eyes and camo skills, a kangaroo's pouch, a monkey's prehensile tail—the males give birth, and we still have much to learn about them. Now these unique fish are threatened.
The elusive zone where these creatures thrive is called the Aurora hydrothermal vent field. It's one of the closest Earth-analogs to the seafloor vents that are thought to be erupting on faraway ocean worlds, including the ice-encrusted moons Europa and Enceladus, which are considered among the best places to look for existing extraterrestrials.