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SCIENCE Smokey the Beetle GIESSEN, GERMANY - If the United States Forest Service ever replaced Smokey the Bear as its mascot, Jewel beetles (Melanophila acuminata) would make good stand-ins. Their grubs develop only in the wood of trees freshly killed by fire. They can detect the smell of burning wood from 50 kilometers (31 miles) away.

The beetles are thought to detect forest fires at such distances with a pair of highly sensitive infrared receptors. Their antennae can also detect volatile substances in smoke at concentrations as low as a few parts per billion, say scientists in this week's Scientific Correspondence.

Captain Hook's nightmare

LONDON - American scientists have solved the mystery of how a gigantic prehistoric crocodile, capable of seizing dinosaurs in one snap of its jaw, got so big: It never stopped growing.

The giant deinosuchus crocodiles grew at similar rates to other creatures for their first five to 10 years, but when the others stopped growing, they did not, growing continuously for more than 35 years, reports Nature magazine.

The huge crocodiles lived in Montana and Texas about 70 million years ago. They have been measured up to 32 feet and weigh as much as 11,020 pounds, or five times more than the biggest crocodile today. An unearthed skull of the creature measured 6.6 feet long, which would have allowed it to easily consume a medium-size dinosaur.

Cosmic tennis balls

Buenos Aires - Four telescopes and 1,600 particle detectors will be placed over 1,200 square miles of central Argentina's Mendoza Province to study mysterious high-power cosmic rays.

Scientists have been baffled by particles that bombard Earth from space with the power of a well-hit tennis ball, even though they are only 100 trillion-trillionth of the size. They suspect the rays have something to do with the sparking of lightning bolts and occasionally cause mutations in living organisms.

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