It’s Shark Week – a time to celebrate and learn about these wonderful animals – and here at The Conversation, we’ve marked it in our own way: with really cool science.

Sora Kim, a professor of paleoecology at the University of California Merced, shares her research on ancient shark teeth in Antarctica, where sand tiger sharks once roamed. By studying the chemistry of those teeth, she and her colleagues were able to gain insights into a major climatic change in Earth’s history. The fossils are “helping solve the mystery of why the Earth, some 50 million years ago, began shifting from a ‘greenhouse’ climate that was warmer than today toward cooler ‘icehouse’ conditions,” she writes.

The delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for more than half of the case in the U.S. and is rapidly spreading in other countries. If a person had been infected by a different variant months ago, will that person have immunity? And how effective are current vaccines? We asked immunologist Jennifer Grier from the University of South Carolina to survey the latest research and answer these questions. Her article is worth a read to understand the details of how immunity works, but her bottom line is simple: If you’ve already been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine to be protected.

When The Conversation U.S. first launched, we were housed at Boston University in a cramped basement room. So when we began thinking about doing stories on the so-called lab leak hypothesis – the notion that the coronavirus escaped from a lab that researches pathogens – a few editors suggested hearing from the people who run BU’s biocontainment lab. Ronald Corley, director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories in Boston, provides an inside view of how these secure facilities operate and the work they do.

Here are some other science stories from the past week:

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Sharks’ teeth carry clues about the oceans they swam in. Christina Spence Morgan

Sharks that hunted near Antarctica millions of years ago recorded Earth’s climate history in their teeth

Sora Kim, University of California, Merced

These giant predators are helping solve the mystery of Earth's cooling shift some 50 million years ago.

Infection from the coronavirus can produce weaker immunity than vaccination. Wenmei Zhou/ DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

Delta variant makes it even more important to get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve already had the coronavirus

Jennifer T. Grier, University of South Carolina

COVID-19 vaccination produces a more consistent immune response than a past infection. With the delta variant, the difference in protection may be even greater.

Security precautions, thoughtful facilities design, careful training and safe lab practices help keep pathogens isolated. Boston University Photography

We work with dangerous pathogens in a downtown Boston biocontainment lab – here’s why you can feel safe about our research

Ronald Corley, Boston University

The microbiologist who directs the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at Boston University explains all the biosafety precautions in place that help him feel safer in the lab than out.

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