A surprise discovery of water vapor in deep space and some clever detective work about a Monet painting make the list:
1. Sign of life? Vapor rises on dwarf planet:There may be a new contender for the likeliest place to host life elsewhere in our solar system — and it's not a planet or a moon. Astronomers have spotted water vapor from Ceres, classed as both the smallest dwarf planet and largest asteroid. In fact, it may have more fresh water than Earth.
2. Scientists determine exact minute Monet made painting:That Claude Monet painted his classic Étretat: Sunset in 1883 is old news. That he painted it at precisely 4:53 p.m. on Feb. 5 of that year is what's new — the result of a nifty bit of sleuthing by researchers at Texas State.
3. Archaeologists unearth unknown pharaoh in Egypt: Scholars of ancient Egypt have a new pharaoh and thus a new dynasty to study, thanks to archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Museum. Meet Woseribre Senebkay, who ruled from about 1650BC to 1600BC, lived into his mid- to late-40s, and stood about 5-foot-10. He also seemed to have some money trouble, relatively speaking.
4. DNA tests clear up Titanic's 'last mystery': The family of Loraine Allison always said the 2-year-old went down with the Titanic, though her body was never found. Nearly 30 years after the sinking, however, a woman emerged to say that she was Allison. Decades later, DNA suggests her claim was a hoax.
5. The world has a new toad: Scientists have discovered a new species of toad, but there's a good reason it took so long to find — from above, this one looks for all the world like a dead leaf. Still, it's the lack of eardrums that really sets it apart. (For that matter, the world has a new river dolphin, too.)
For more incredible discoveries, including a milestone look at dark matter, visitNewser, a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the Web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.