Even in absurdity, sacrament. Even in hardship, holiness. Even in doubt, faith. Even in chaos, realization. Even in paradox, blessedness
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"Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage." ~Anain Nin
Striking new bird discovered in South America
A brightly coloured bird has been discovered on a remote mountain range in South America. The previously unknown species, the Yariguies Brush Finch, has striking black, yellow and red plumage.
A British expert co-led the team which made the find during the first biological expedition to the Yariguies mountains in northern Colombia.
Ms Blanca Huertas, a curator at the Natural History Museum in London, said: "The description of a new bird is a rare event in modern times."
The bird, which has the Latin name Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum, differs from its closest relatives by having a black back and no white markings on its wings.
Thomas Donegan, from the Colombian bird conservation organisation Fundacion ProAves, said: "Before we began this study, no-one knew what species lived in the Yariguies mountains and whether they needed protecting.
"Now, we are beginning to describe new taxa (types) and a national park was established in the region. It is surprising that this new brush finch and the forests of the Yariguies mountains could remain unstudied, undescribed and unprotected for so long."
Origin of species mostly in the tropics
The tropics may be the cradle of much of the world's biodiversity, and where most species arise before they spread elsewhere, according to a new study.
Palaeontologists and biologists at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago showed that three-quarters of a large group of marine animals - including oysters, clams and other molluscs - first appeared in the tropics and later moved toward the poles.
Only the remaining quarter of this group emerged at higher latitudes, according to the scientists, whose study appears in the latest issue of the U.S. journal, Science.
James Valentine, biology professor at Berkeley and one of the co-authors of the study, said plants and other animal species probably originated in large part in the tropics.
Between 23.5 degrees latitude north and 23.5 degrees south of the equator, all land and waters of the tropics receive perpendicular sunlight at noon at lease once during the year. The warmer tropics are about 10 times as biodiverse as are the arctic regions, the researchers said.
One third of the planet will be desert by the year 2100
Drought threatening the lives of millions will spread across half the land surface of the Earth in the coming century because of global warming, according to new predictions from Britain's leading climate scientists.
Extreme drought, in which agriculture is in effect impossible, will affect about a third of the planet, according to the study from the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.
It is one of the most dire forecasts so far of the potential effects of rising temperatures around the world - yet it may be an underestimation, the scientists involved said yesterday.
The findings, released at the Climate Clinic at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, drew astonished and dismayed reactions from aid agencies and development specialists, who fear that the poor of developing countries will be worst hit.
"This is genuinely terrifying," said Andrew Pendleton of Christian Aid. "It is a death sentence for many millions of people. It will mean migration off the land at levels we have not seen before, and at levels poor countries cannot cope with."
One of Britain's leading experts on the effects of climate change on the developing countries, Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation, said: "There's almost no aspect of life in the developing countries that these predictions don't undermine - the ability to grow food, the ability to have a safe sanitation system, the availability of water. For hundreds of millions of people for whom getting through the day is already a struggle, this is going to push them over the precipice."
The findings represent the first time that the threat of increased drought from climate change has been quantified with a supercomputer climate model such as the one operated by the Hadley Centre.
Their impact is likely to even greater because the findings may be an underestimate. The study did not include potential effects on drought from global-warming-induced changes to the Earth's carbon cycle.
In one unpublished Met Office study, when the carbon cycle effects are included, future drought is even worse.
The Stinkbird Enigma
align="left">In South America, in the swamps of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, lives a very unusual bird.
The hoatzin is a pheasant-sized enigma. The official national bird of Guyana, the hoatzin has defied attempts of ornithologists to place it in its proper place among the families of birds. No matter where it is placed, the hoatzin simply does not appear to fit. The hoatzin was given its own family (Opisthocomidae), but since the original designation it has been moved around from being grouped with the game birds (the source of its other name, the Canje pheasant), to grouping it with the cuckoos, to its current, though still speculative placement with the seriema family (most closely related to rails and bustards).
The difficulty is the hoatzin itself. While bearing superficial resemblance to all of these other species in some way, it has many peculiarities that sets it apart from them all. These oddities Include some very primitive traits not seen in most birds since the Jurassic period, coexisting with characteristics which are otherwise unheard of among birds.
How parachute spiders invade new territory
By casting a thread of silk into the breeze spiders are able to ride wind currents away from danger or to parachute into new areas. Often they travel a few metres but some spiders have been discovered hundreds of miles out to sea. Researchers have now found that in turbulent air the spiders’ silk moulds to the eddies of the airflow to carry them further.
The team at Rothamsted Research, a sponsored institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), realised that the existing 20 year old models to explain this phenomenon – known as ‘ballooning’ – failed to adequately deal with anything other than perfectly still air. Called Humphrey’s model it made assumptions that the spider silk was rigid and straight and the spiders were just blobs hanging on the bottom. It could not explain why spiders were able to travel long distances over water, to colonise new volcanic islands or why they were found on ships. The new Rothamsted mathematical model allows for elasticity and flexibility of a ballooning spider’s dragline – and when a dragline is caught in turbulent air the model shows how it can become highly contorted, preventing the spider from controlling the distance it travels and propelling it over potentially epic distances.
To the bafflement of insect experts, gigantic yellow jacket nests have started turning up in old barns, unoccupied houses, cars and underground cavities across the southern two-thirds of Alabama.
Specialists say it could be the result of a mild winter and drought conditions, or multiple queens forcing worker yellow jackets to enlarge their quarters so the queens will be in separate areas. But experts haven't determined exactly what's behind the surprisingly large nests.
Auburn University entomologists, who say they've never seen the nests so large, have been fielding calls about the huge nests from property owners from Dothan up to Sylacauga and over into west-central Alabama's Black Belt.
At one site in Barbour County, the nest was as large as a Volkswagen Beetle, said Andy McLean, an Orkin pesticide service manager in Dothan who helped remove it from an abandoned barn about a month ago.
"It was one of the largest ones we've seen," McLean said.
Viddy Thursday: Sir David Attenborough
Dance of the Grebes
Viddy Thursday: Sir David Attenborough
Sounding The Alarm
Viddy Thursday: Sir David Attenborough
A funny thing happened on the way to lunch...
So, I'm gaily sauntering (as I'm prone to do) to lunch, and noticed a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail playing amongst the petunias. Then, the doubletake occured, time stopped, metaphors flew out the window, and all previous known quanities of the natural world were summoned into every neuron and pore as I noticed something unusual:
The butterfly had two different wing colorations. At first, I thought that a little insect piggy-backwas happening, or that some evil inventive child had superglued a different wing on to the poor critter. But no, this was one whole being supported through the air by two very different wings. A fantastic genetic anomaly, the audacious and upstart flutterby dazzled myself alone, as no one ventured out to investigate the little man eagerly taking pictures with a ubiquitous cellphone.
I immediately emailed the pics to Flickr, and by way of the comments, the science behind the event was revealed. What we have here is a Gynandromorph, as discerning readers of the Pharyngula Scienceblog discerned... "So, if you have a non-disjunction in an X chromosome in an XX individual during the first division of the zygote, then you will end up with an individual that appears half male (on one side) and half female (on the other side). This is called a bilateral gynandromorph. The non-disjunction can occur during later divisions, however, giving you a smaller portion of the body/wings that looks like one sex and a larger portion that looks like another. It can even happen more than once during development, so that you end up with patches of female and male scattered around on the individual, resulting in what is called a mosaic..."
Note this example of a gynandromorphic swallowtail. It's exactly what I saw, with a reversal of wing fortune. I'd love to write more, much more, on this, but I'm way late for the shower and the subsequent commute to the land of abberant animals: blue fireflies, white squirrels, wayward caymen, and now Papillon sent directly from the Divine Androgyne (or a whacked chromosome).
Greenland ice cap may be melting at triple speed
The world's second largest ice cap may be melting three times faster than indicated by previous measurements, according to newly released gravity data collected by satellites.
The Greenland Ice Sheet shrank at a rate of about 239 cubic kilometres per year from April 2002 to November 2005, a team from the University of Texas at Austin, US, found. In the last 18 months of the measurements, ice melting has appeared to accelerate, particularly in southeastern Greenland.
"This is a good study which confirms that indeed the Greenland ice sheet is losing a large amount of mass and that the mass loss is increasing with time," says Eric Rignot, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US, who led a separate study that reached a similar conclusion earlier in 2006. His team used satellites to measure the velocity of glacier movement and calculate net ice loss.
Yet another technique, which uses a laser to measure the altitude of the surface, determined that the ice sheet was losing about 80 cubic kilometres of ice annually between 1997 and 2003. The newer measurements suggest the ice loss is three times that.
"Acceleration of ice mass loss over Greenland, if confirmed, would be consistent with proposed increased global warming in recent years, and would indicate additional polar ice sheet contributions to global sea level rise," write the University of Texas researchers in the journal Science.
And then there's this: Taller mountains blamed on global warming
The mountains in Europe are growing taller and melting glaciers are partly responsible, scientists say.
Heavy glaciers cause the Earth's crust to flex inward slightly. When glaciers disappear, the crust springs back and the overlaying mountains are thrust skyward, albeit slowly.
The European Alps have been growing since the end of the last little Ice Age in 1850 when glaciers began shrinking as temperatures warmed, but the rate of uplift has accelerated in recent decades because global warming has sped up the rate of glacier melt, the researchers say.
The finding is detailed in the July Issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The conclusion is based on a new computer model that assumes that over timescales of a few years to thousands of years, the surface of the Earth behaves like a very thick fluid.
"Imagine honey or molasses, only a billion, billion times more viscous," said study leader Valentino Barletta of the University of Milan in Italy. If a heavy object is placed on the surface of such a fluid, it sinks until a balance is reached between the forces of gravity pulling it down and the buoyancy keeping it afloat.
"When you remove the weight, the viscous fluid takes some time to refill the depression that's left behind," Barletta told LiveScience.
This is happening in the Alps. As the glaciers melt and the mountains are freed of their heavy burdens, the surface of the Earth springs back very slowly. This effect is well studied and it occurs in North America, too.
Swiss mountain crumbles under hot climate
Sometimes, global warming can help put money in your pocket.
Hansruedi Burgener has welcomed up to 800 people a day -- twice the average number of visitors -- to his remote mountain hostel in the Alps this summer.
They all hope to watch a rock the size of two Empire State Buildings collapse onto the canyon floor nearly 700 feet below, as retreating glacier ice robs a cliff face on the eastern edge of the Eiger Mountain of its main support.
“We would also have made a living without the rock coming down. But it would have been a bit quieter,” Burgener said.
Accessible only by a steep hike of more than an hour, Burgener’s place offers a safe view of the crumbling rock right opposite, and refreshments like a cold beer.
Every few minutes or so, there is a surprisingly loud sound as a boulder comes thundering down, sending a cloud of dust into the air. The sharp crackle of smaller stones rolling down the cliff face is almost continuous.
The spectacle is a dramatic reminder that the Alps have been hit hard by warming temperatures, and underscore warnings from scientists that thawing permafrost -- the frozen soil that can glue mountains together -- will cause more havoc in the future.
Glaciers in the Alps may have lost up to a tenth of their volume in the hot 2003 summer alone, researchers at Zurich university have said, and the ice now only occupies between half and a third of its volume in 1850.
The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour.
When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."
As the weed blanketed miles of the bay over the last decade, it stained fishing nets a dark purple and left them coated with a powdery residue. When fishermen tried to shake it off the webbing, their throats constricted and they gasped for air.
After one man bit a fishing line in two, his mouth and tongue swelled so badly that he couldn't eat solid food for a week. Others made an even more painful mistake, neglecting to wash the residue from their hands before relieving themselves over the sides of their boats.
For a time, embarrassment kept them from talking publicly about their condition. When they finally did speak up, authorities dismissed their complaints — until a bucket of the hairy weed made it to the University of Queensland's marine botany lab.
Samples placed in a drying oven gave off fumes so strong that professors and students ran out of the building and into the street, choking and coughing.
Scientist Judith O'Neil put a tiny sample under a microscope and peered at the long black filaments. Consulting a botanical reference, she identified the weed as a strain of cyanobacteria, an ancestor of modern-day bacteria and algae that flourished 2.7 billion years ago.
O'Neil, a biological oceanographer, was familiar with these ancient life forms, but had never seen this particular kind before. What was it doing in Moreton Bay? Why was it so toxic? Why was it growing so fast?
Oceans a complex, diverse bug soup
The oceans are teeming with 10 to 100 more types of bacteria than previously believed, many of them unknown to science, according to a new study.
Using a new genetic mapping technique, US, Dutch and Spanish scientists say they found more than 20,000 different types of microbe in a single litre of water from deep sites in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
"These observations blow away all previous estimates of bacterial diversity in the ocean," says lead author Dr Mitchell Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
He says past studies have suggested that one litre of water would contain 1000 to 3000 types of microbe, the oldest form of life on the planet.
Microbes make up more than 90% of the total mass of life in the seas, from bacteria to whales.
"We've found 10 or maybe 100 times more diversity in sea water than anyone imagined was present," he says...
Sogin says the findings suggest there might be more than 10 million types of bacteria in the seas alone.
"If you're interested in new frontiers, things to discover, all you have to do is go to the ocean," Sogin says.
Until recent years, estimates of the total number of species on Earth were below a million.
Oceans in Distress
Pollution and overfishing are damaging the oceans, especially the deep oceans, the United Nations warns in a new report [1-3]. Time is running out to save them, and urgent legislation is required to halt this wanton destruction of the planet’s “cradle of life”.
More than 90 percent of the earth’s living biomass (weight of living matter) is found in the oceans, and 90 percent of that is made up of single cell and microbial species. With 90 percent of the oceans yet to be explored, the scale of devastation already happening has become all too obvious
In 2005, 84.5 million tonnes of fish were taken from the world’s oceans, 100 million sharks and related species were butchered for their fins, 250 000 turtles got tangled up in fishing gear and 300 000 seabirds including 100 000 albatrosses were killed by illegal long-line fishing. Nineteen out of 21 albatross species are now threatened with extinction.
During the same period, 6.4 million tonnes of litter was thrown into the oceans, and 38 000 pieces of discarded plastic float on every square kilometre. There are up to 6 kg of marine litter to every kg of plankton.
A Dying Planet (Can We Do Something About It Now, Please?)
Weather-related disasters like Hurricane Katrina—or the intense heat wave now hitting the United States—are on the rise. The toll of these catastrophes is exacerbated by growing ecological stresses and the future health of the global economy. The stability of nations will be shaped by our ability to address the huge imbalances in natural systems that now exist. While governments and businesses around the world are beginning to take action to stem the damage, our future demands more aggressive responses.
Earlier this month, we at the Worldwatch Institute released a new report, "Vital Signs 2006-2007," examining trends that point to unprecedented levels of commerce and consumption, set against a backdrop of ecological decline in a world powered overwhelmingly by fossil fuels. In 2005, the average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased 0.6 percent over the high in 2004, representing the largest annual increase ever recorded. The average global temperature reached 14.6 degrees Celsius, making 2005 the warmest year ever recorded on the Earth’s surface.
Our report shows that some 40 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been damaged or destroyed, water withdrawals from rivers and lakes have doubled since 1960, and species are becoming extinct at as much as 1,000 times the natural rate. While ecosystems can be overexploited for long periods of time with little visible effect, many ultimately reach a “tipping point” after which they begin to collapse rapidly, with far-reaching implications for all who depend on them.
Abrupt change was evident in southern Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. For decades, the flow of the Mississippi River had been altered, the wetlands at its mouth destroyed, and massive amounts of water and oil extracted from beneath the delta. Only an unheeded minority noticed that this gradual destruction of natural systems had left New Orleans as vulnerable as a sword-wielding soldier on today’s high-tech battlefields. Thanks to a combination of human and geological causes, a city that was at sea level when the first settlers arrived in the 18th century had sunk as much as a meter below that level when the hurricane season began in 2005.
Weather-related catastrophes have jumped from an average of 97 million a year in the early 1980s to 260 million a year since 2001. This mounting disaster toll has several causes, including rapid growth in the human population and the even more dramatic growth in human numbers and settlements along coastlines and in other vulnerable areas.
Climate change may be contributing to the rising tide of disasters as well, according to several scientific studies published in 2005. Three of the 10 strongest hurricanes ever recorded occurred last year, and the average intensity of hurricanes is increasing, recent research concludes.
This is not surprising, considering the main “fuel” driving hurricanes is warm water. Temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were at record-high levels in the summer of 2005, turning Hurricane Katrina in just over 48 hours from a low-level Category 1 hurricane to the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded. (In September 2005, Hurricanes Wilma and Rita each broke Katrina’s record as the strongest storm ever in that region.)
100º for the UK- get used to it
On this side of the pond, 100º is all the more reason to go shopping! Ya see, Republicans do have a plan- get into some air conditioning and consume!
They were the images that finally demonstrated the irreversible climate change now taking hold in Britain. Where green parklands once provided cool refuges in our cities, newspaper photographs last week showed them to be bleached, white landscapes. Reservoirs were revealed as cracked, arid deserts. And from Cornwall, pictures of the nation's first cage-diving trips for shark-watching tourists, an experience normally confined to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Amazon rainforest 'could become a desert'
The vast Amazon rainforest is on the brink of being turned into desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate, alarming research suggests. And the process, which would be irreversible, could begin as early as next year.
Studies by the blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without breaking down.
Scientists say that this would spread drought into the northern hemisphere, including Britain, and could massively accelerate global warming with incalculable consequences, spinning out of control, a process that might end in the world becoming uninhabitable.
The alarming news comes in the midst of a heatwave gripping Britain and much of Europe and the United States...
Watch out, AARP: Rare Whales Can Live to Nearly 200
Scientists have looked into the eyes of rare bowhead whales and learned that some of them can outlive humans by generations—with at least one male pushing 200 years old.
"About 5 percent of the population is over a hundred years old and in some cases 160 to 180 years old," said Jeffrey Bada, a marine chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.
"They are truly aged animals, perhaps the most aged animals on Earth," he continued.
Bowheads, also known as Greenland right whales, are baleen whales, meaning that instead of teeth they have bonelike plates that they use to strain food from gulps of water.
The whales live in the Arctic (virtual world: Arctic interactive feature). Adults can reach 60 feet (18 meters) long and weigh more than a hundred tons (89 metric tons).
Bees: The Vanishing
The domesticated European honeybee was introduced to North America 400 years ago by colonists at Jamestown and Williamsburg to provide their settlements with honey; few bees native to the continent produced enough honey to make harvesting viable. Since then, the honeybee has spread into every farmable corner of North America. The cultivation of honey is an age-old pursuit: To maximize its production, beekeepers in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs floated their hives down the Nile to areas of abundant bloom, with some success. Early American beekeepers also transported their colonies -- on buckboard wagons, Mississippi River steamboats, and trains -- also with mixed results; the hives could not always be moved at the right times, the wax in the honeycombs often melted, the worker bees were sometimes left behind while their homes drifted downriver. In the 1940s, when new interstate highways and reliable long-haul trucks made it practical, beekeepers began regularly migrating long distances with their hives, following the flow of nectar as crops bloomed with the changing seasons.
In the boom years following World War II, large swaths of natural habitat across the United States were devoured by suburban development and agriculture. Patches of wild woodland, shrubs, and flowers that had supported native bees dwindled. The common practices of modern agriculture -- the widespread use of pesticides and the tendency to wipe out every wild flowering plant in sight -- began to destroy the pollinators that make farming possible. Beekeepers, accustomed to paying farmers for the privilege of stationing their beehives on land with blooming crops, started to receive payment from farmers for their pollination services. Today, migratory beekeepers follow this trail of money back and forth across the country as pollination fees continue to rise.
The United States and Canada are home to at least 4,500 species of native bee, from the sleek, iridescent blue mason to the plump, lemon-yellow bumblebee. All are at risk. "Where we live in Minnesota," says Anderson, "the local farmers will let their second cutting of alfalfa or red clover bloom, to feed the bees. A number of those people will tell you that the native bees just aren't there anymore."
Scientists sound alarm for world's amphibians
Fearing a mass extinction of the world's frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, 50 international amphibian experts are sending out an unprecedented SOS calling for an urgent global mission to avert a cataclysm.
The plea, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, is meant to be a wake-up call for a broader range of scientists and policymakers about threats to the earth's amphibians, considered canaries in the coal mine for all of nature.
"For the first time in modern history, because of the way that humans are impacting our natural world, we're facing the extinction of an entire class of organisms," said Claude Gascon of Conservation International. "This is not the extinction of just a panda or a rhino, it's a whole class of organisms."
Amphibians are more susceptible to changes in the environment than other animals because they have permeable skin that absorbs water and oxygen, and their lives depend on clean, fresh water. Almost a third of the 5,743 known amphibian species worldwide already are threatened by a combination of habitat loss, climate change, pollution, pesticides, ultraviolet radiation and invasive species, with up to 122 having become extinct since 1980. But scientists believe both figures could be underestimates because they cannot evaluate species quickly enough.
Rescuing a Planet Under Stress
Our global economy is outgrowing the capacity of the earth to support it, pushing our early twenty-first century civilization ever closer to decline and possible collapse. In our preoccupation with quarterly earnings reports and year-to-year economic growth, we have lost sight of how large the human enterprise has become relative to the earth’s resources.
A century ago, annual growth in the world economy was measured in billions of dollars. Today it is measured in trillions. As a result, we are consuming renewable resources faster than they can regenerate.
Forests are shrinking, grasslands are deteriorating, water tables are falling, fisheries are collapsing, and soils are eroding. We are using up oil at a pace that leaves little time to plan beyond peak oil, or the period during which demand for oil far exceeds all available supply. And we are discharging greenhouse gases into the atmosphere faster than nature can absorb them, setting the stage for a rise in the earth’s temperature well above any since agriculture began.
Fortunately, there is a consensus emerging among scientists on the broad outlines of the changes needed. If economic progress is to be sustained, we need to replace the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with a new economic model. Instead of being based on fossil fuels, the new economy will be powered by abundant sources of renewable energy: wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biofuels.
The throwaway economy will be replaced by a comprehensive reuse/recycle economy. Consumer products from cars to computers will be designed so that they can be disassembled into their component parts and completelyrecycled. Throwaway products such as single-use beverage containers will be phased out.
We can already see glimpses here and there of what this new economy looks like. We have the technologies to build it—including, for example, gas-electric hybrid cars, advanceddesign wind turbines, highly efficient refrigerators, and water-efficient irrigation systems.
With each wind farm, rooftop solar panel, paper-recycling facility, bicycle path, and reforestation program, we move closer to an economy that can sustain economic progress. But there is still a long way to go and a very short time to get there. Our success will depend on learning from the changing world around us and implementing those lessons we have already learned.
World's Rarest Animals
Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat, 113 left in existence.
MONKEYS MONITOR WEATHER, TOO
The Weather Channel reaches over more than 89 million households in the United States, but it might soon find its way to a whole new demographic: monkeys.
In an article published in the June 20th issue of Current Biology, a team of Scottish researchers reveal that monkeys may be able to remember past weather trends and act on this information when searching for food.
A team of researchers from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland monitored a group of gray-cheeked mangabeys (medium-sized monkeys that live in the rainforests of central Africa) over a period of 210 days, as the monkeys traveled from tree to tree in search of fruit.
A Mangabey's diet is high in figs, which ripen faster when the weather is warm. Since figs ripen intermittently, mangabeys will return to trees that previously held unripe fruit in order check on the fruit's progress.
"There is a lot of competition for fruit, so it would pay to be able to arrive first," said primate researcher Karline Janmaat, the study's lead author.
Janmaat and her fellow researchers discovered that after a period of warm and sunny days, monkeys were more likely to revisit trees where they'd previously found unripened fruit than after a stretch of cool and cloudy days. They also seemed to return sooner to the trees that had the most fruit if the weather since their last visit had been consistently warm.
"Doomsday vault" on Arctic isle would protect world's seeds
The high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the Arctic Circle. If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help.
The more than 100 nations that have collectively endorsed the vault's construction say it will be the most secure facility of its kind in the world. Given the stakes, they agree, nothing less would do.
Its precious contents? Seeds — millions and millions of them — from virtually every variety of food on the planet.
Crop seeds are the source of human sustenance, the product of 10,000 years of selective breeding dating from the dawn of agriculture.
The "doomsday vault," as some have come to call it, is to be the ultimate backup in the event of a global catastrophe — the go-to place after an asteroid hit or nuclear or biowarfare holocaust so that, difficult as those times would be, humankind would not have to start again from scratch.
Food for thought: Crop diversity is dying
José Esquinas-Alcázar regards the corn laid out in rows with the love and admiration that sommeliers reserve for bottles in a fine wine cellar. To the untrained eye, it is a collection of misshapen ears: Long, short, blue, yellow, white, spotted, covered in dirt.
Mysterious Arctic skull raises questions about what animals once roamed North
A mysterious skull discovered on the edge of the Arctic Circle has sparked interest in what creatures roamed Baffin Island in the distant past, and what life a warming climate may support in the future.
Andrew Dialla, a resident of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, says he found the skull protruding from the frozen tundra during a walk near the shore with his daughter about a month ago.
The horned skull is about the size of a man's fist. It resembles a baby caribou skull, except at that age, a caribou wouldn't have antlers, researchers and elders have pointed out.
Its discovery has caused a stir in Canada's Eastern Arctic. Pictures of the skull, sent over e-mail, have prompted residents to speculate whether the skull might belong to a long-extinct deer or sheep that inhabited the land millions of years ago when the climate was much warmer.
Ancient Ecosystem Found in Israel
Israeli scientists said on Wednesday they had discovered a prehistoric ecosystem dating back millions of years.
The discovery was made in a cave near the central Israeli city of Ramle during rock drilling at a quarry. Scientists were called in and soon found eight previously unknown species of crustaceans and invertebrates similar to scorpions.
"Until now eight species of animals were found in the cave, all of them unknown to science," said Dr Hanan Dimantman, a biologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He said the cave's ecosystem probably dates back around five million years when the Mediterranean Sea covered parts of Israel.
The cave was completely sealed off from the world, including from water and nutrients seeping through rock crevices above. Scientists who discovered the cave believe it has been intact for millions of years.
Greenhouse gas-temperature feedback mechanism may raise warming beyond previous estimates
...The authors focused especially on relatively recent climatic anomaly known as the "Little Ice Age." During this period (about 1550-1850), immortalized in many paintings of frozen landscapes in Northern Europe, Earth was substantially colder than it is now. This, scientists have concluded, was due largely to reduced solar activity, and just as during true ice ages, the atmospheric carbon level dropped during the Little Ice Age. The authors used this information to estimate how sensitive the carbon dioxide concentration is to temperature, which allowed them to calculate how much the climate-carbon dioxide feedbacks will affect future global warming.
As Marten Scheffer explains, "Although there are still significant uncertainties, our simple data-based approach is consistent with the latest climate-carbon cycle models, which suggest that global warming will be accelerated by the effects of climate change on the rate of carbon dioxide increase. In view of our findings, estimates of future warming that ignore these effects may have to be raised by about 50 percent. We have, in fact, been conservative on several points. For instance, we do not account for the greenhouse effect of methane, which is also known to increase in warm periods."
Shouting monkeys show surprising eloquence
It may not be exactly poetry, but a species of monkey has demonstrated an unsuspected level of articulacy. Researchers working in Nigeria have found that putty-nosed monkeys can use their two warning calls as 'building blocks' to create a third call with a different meaning. It's the first example of this outside humans, say the researchers.
Putty-nosed monkeys (Cercopithecus nictitans) live in family groups, usually led by a dominant male who keeps a wary eye out for their two main enemies — leopards and eagles. A circling eagle will cause a male to warn his troop by making a series of calls called 'hacks', whereas a lurking leopard will prompt him to shout out a string of 'pyow' sounds. Different predators require different warnings because the treetops are generally the safest place to hide from a leopard, but staying under cover is more advisable when an eagle is around.
These two calls seem to be the only sounds in the putty-nosed monkey's repertoire. Researchers had observed that the monkeys sometimes use these calls in an apparently non-meaningful way: to yell at a fellow monkey, for example, without communicating a specific message.
But now zoologists have realized that at least one combination of these sounds has its own distinct meaning: up to three pyows followed by up to four hacks seems to mean 'let's move on'. This call sequence is given both in response to the presence of predators or simply as a sign to head for new terrain.
CHERNOBYL: A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN AGAIN
A leading Russian scientist has claimed that the sarcophagus entombing Chernobyl's broken nuclear reactor is dangerously degraded and he warned that its collapse could cause a catastrophe on the same scale as the original accident 20 years ago, April 26th, 1986.
[via easy bake coven]
No, we can't: More species slide to extinction
The polar bear and hippopotamus are for the first time listed as species threatened with extinction by the world's biodiversity agency.
They are included in the Red List of Threatened Species published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which names more than 16,000 at-risk species.
Many sharks, and freshwater fish in Europe and Africa, are newly included.
The IUCN says loss of biodiversity is increasing despite a global convention committing governments to stem it.
"The 2006 Red List shows a clear trend; biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down," said IUCN director-general Achim Steiner.
"The implications of this trend for the productivity and resilience of ecosystems and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people who depend on them are far-reaching."
Overall, 16,119 species are included in this year's Red List, the most detailed and authoritative regular survey of the health of the plant and animal kingdoms.
Concerns about weather are part of what’s sending us to sea in the first place. By studying the ocean’s chemistry, which affects currents and, in turn, weather, Curry hopes to better understand how we humans might be affecting the critical elements of our own life-support system. Data from physical oceanography, marine biology, meteorology, fisheries science, glaciology, and other disciplines reveal that the ocean, for which our planet should be named, is changing in every parameter, in all dimensions, in every way we know how to measure it.
The 25 years I’ve spent at sea filming nature documentaries have provided a brief yet definitive window into these changes. Oceanic problems once encountered on a local scale have gone pandemic, and these pandemics now merge to birth new monsters. Tinkering with the atmosphere, we change the ocean’s chemistry radically enough to threaten life on earth as we know it. Making tens of thousands of chemical compounds each year, we poison marine creatures who sponge up plastics and PCBs, becoming toxic waste dumps in the process. Carrying everything from nuclear waste to running shoes across the world ocean, shipping fleets spew as much greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as the entire profligate United States. Protecting strawberry farmers and their pesticide methyl bromide, we guarantee that the ozone hole will persist at least until 2065, threatening the larval life of the sea. Fishing harder, faster, and more ruthlessly than ever before, we drive large predatory fish toward global extinction, even though fish is the primary source of protein for one in six people on earth. Filling, dredging, and polluting the coastal nurseries of the sea, we decimate coral reefs and kelp forests, while fostering dead zones.
I’m alarmed by what I’m seeing. Although we carry the ocean within ourselves, in our blood and in our eyes, so that we essentially see through seawater, we appear blind to its fate. Many scientists speak only to each other and studiously avoid educating the press. The media seems unwilling to report environmental news, and caters to a public stalled by sloth, fear, or greed and generally confused by science. Overall, we seem unable to recognize that the proofs so many politicians demand already exist in the form of hindsight. Written into the long history of our planet, in one form or another, is the record of what is coming our way.
Philippines: Two new species discovered
Scientists have discovered two new species -- a parrot and a mouse -- that live only on a small island in the Philippines. This island, Camiguin, is the smallest Philippine island, of which there are 7,000, known to support a bird or mammal species that is endemic... These new discoveries and the biological diversity they document strengthen the case for preserving the small area of natural rain forest still found on the island.
"Knowing that at least 54 species of birds and at least 24 species of mammals live on Camiguin, and that some of these animals are found nowhere else on earth, makes us realize how important this island is in terms of conservation," said Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals, at The Field Museum and a co-author of several of the reports in this publication. "For these animals to survive, we've got to save the dwindling forests where they live."
The island was once almost entirely covered by rain forest, but by 2001 only 18% was still forested, Heaney said. That amount has dropped since then, as logging, agriculture and human settlement have continued to erode the forests. In fact, almost half the island is now covered with coconut plantations.
Rupert Sheldrake, a London-based biologist, biochemist, philosopher and author, who trained at Cambridge and Harvard, researches unexplained perceptiveness in animals, such as telepathy, sense of direction and premonition.
He repeatedly tested N'kisi, a captive African Grey parrot who seemed to respond telepathically to the thoughts and intentions of his owner, Aimee Morgana. He wanted to find out whether the bird would use words matching randomly chosen pictures Morgana was looking at in another room.
"These findings are consistent with the hypotheses that N'kisi was reacting telepathically to Aimee's mental activity," Sheldrake reports on his website...
"The fact that these experiments statistically prove that N'kisi's use of speech is not random also give evidence of his sentience and intentional use of language."
We're in the big African Queen inflatable, cruising alongside an anchored trawler. It's more rust than metal - the ship is rotting away. The foredeck is covered in broken machinery. The fish deck is littered with frayed cables, and the mast lies horizontally, hanging over the starboard side. A large rusty Chinese character hangs on railings above the bridge, facing forward. It reads 'happiness'.
Zizi - our Chinese translator - shouts a greeting. A head pokes out from the accommodation, puzzled at this disturbance. A female voice, out here? He picks his way through the debris to the side of the ship. He's friendly, but a bit perplexed at our presence. Sarah asks questions - Zizi translates. He's the 2nd mate, and says that he's been sitting here on his own for five days, awaiting a new crew, He doesn't know when they'll arrive. The trawler itself has been anchored here, at this spot, for three months.
"Is this ship ready for fishing?" we ask. "Yes, of course", he looks around, gestures at the deck. He seems surprised that we would ask. We're amazed it's even floating.
Moff turns the boat, taking us to another of the rusting fishing vessels, 70 nautical miles (130km) off the coast of Guinea, West Africa. We had been told this was where old pirate fishing boats were left at anchor, abandoned. We didn't expect to find living people on board the dying ships.
Earlier, after leaving the Esperanza, we'd found a big red Russian tanker engaged in the refuelling of Chinese trawlers - with one alongside, the Zhang Yuan Yu 1 was practically falling apart at the seams. The skeleton crew were friendly enough - and told us that they awaiting a new crew, so that they could go fishing again. Except for some brief words with an engineer in overalls on the stern, the Russian crew on the tanker Wkotobo were unfriendly, and didn't even return our waves.
We head away, going with the current, which was purple and green with the dregs of spilled fuel. Throughout the afternoon, I keep noticing just how dirty the water is, with oil and fragments of plastic.
We arrive at Long way 08, which is in line for refuelling. This trawler is in a poor state, with the hull covered in masses of good-sized shellfish.
Four young Chinese crewman meet us with smiles and welcomes. They tell us that some of them have been on board for 2 years, non-stop. The trawler itself has been out here for eight years, and would probably be kept going for another six or so, or as long it lasted.
AFRICA'S NEW OCEAN: A Continent Splits Apart
Normally new rivers, seas and mountains are born in slow motion. The Afar Triangle near the Horn of Africa is another story. A new ocean is forming there with staggering speed -- at least by geological standards. Africa will eventually lose its horn.
Geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues from Addis Ababa University were amazed -- and frightened. They had only just stepped out of their helicopter onto the desert plains of central Ethiopia when the ground began to shake under their feet. The pilot shouted for the scientists to get back to the helicopter. And then it happened: the Earth split open. Crevices began racing toward the researchers like a zipper opening up. After a few seconds, the ground stopped moving, and after they had recovered from their shock, Ayalew and his colleagues realized they had just witnessed history. For the first time ever, human beings were able to witness the first stages in the birth of an ocean.
Normally changes to our geological environment take place almost imperceptibly. A life time is too short to see rivers changing course, mountains rising skywards or valleys opening up. In north-eastern Africa's Afar Triangle, though, recent months have seen hundreds of crevices splitting the desert floor and the ground has slumped by as much as 100 meters (328 feet). At the same time, scientists have observed magma rising from deep below as it begins to form what will eventually become a basalt ocean floor. Geologically speaking, it won't be long until the Red Sea floods the region. The ocean that will then be born will split Africa apart.
The Afar Triangle, which cuts across Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, is the largest construction site on the planet. Three tectonic plates meet there with the African and Arabian plates drifting apart along two separate fault lines by one centimeter a year. A team of scientists working with Christophe Vigny of the Paris Laboratory of Geology reported on the phenomenon in a 2006 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. While the two plates move apart, the ground sinks to make room for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Conservationists Vie To Buy Forest Habitat
A recent U.S. Forest Service study predicted that more than 44 million acres of private forest land, an area twice the size of Maine, will be sold over the next 25 years. The consulting firm U.S. Forest Capital estimates that half of all U.S. timberland has changed hands in the past decade. The Bush administration also wants to sell off forest land, by auctioning more than 300,000 acres of national forest to fund a rural school program.
"The nation has never seen anything like this," said Conservation Fund President Lawrence A. Selzer, whose 20-year-old group is hoping to raise $48 million in the coming months to buy the 16,000 acres that make up Big River and Salmon Creek. "It has the potential to permanently and profoundly change the landscape of America."
The United States still has large swaths of forest -- much of it private -- that provide critical habitat for large animals such as bears and cougars as well as recreational opportunities for the public. But if the selling spree continues, environmentalists fear, these areas could be cut up into much smaller parcels in which condominiums and trailer parks would replace soaring trees.
The sales have attracted limited national attention because they are mostly private transactions and involve local planning decisions, but the stakes are enormous. In the Pacific Northwest, New England, Southeast and parts of the upper Midwest, traditional timber companies or newly emerging timber investment management organizations, known as TIMOs, own vast stretches of forest that rival the national forest system.
Today, a third of the U.S. land mass is forest -- the same proportion as in 1907 but just 71 percent of what existed before settlement by Europeans -- and 57 percent of it is privately owned. But competition from cheap imported lumber, soaring land prices and pressure from Wall Street are now prompting timber companies to sell.
How many species inhabit the planet?
Scientists and policy makers who want to slow the rate at which species are being lost face a conundrum: No one knows how many different plants and animals there are.
"Some people who study insects think there may be as many as 100 million species out there... But if you took a poll of biologists, I think most would say there are somewhere around 15 million..."
The conundrum will hang over a U.N. conference in Brazil next week where experts will discuss ways to slow the loss of species. The United Nations agreed in 2002 to reduce the rate at which animals and plants are disappearing by 2010.
"The implication of not knowing exactly how many species there are is that we can't tell if we are actually making progress on the 2010 target..." What we know is that around 1.7 million plant and animal species have been identified and named by scientists.
Climate change 'irreversible' as Arctic sea ice fails to re-form
Sea ice in the Arctic has failed to re-form for the second consecutive winter, raising fears that global warming may have tipped the polar regions in to irreversible climate change far sooner than predicted.
Satellite measurements of the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice show that for every month this winter, the ice failed to return even to its long-term average rate of decline. It is the second consecutive winter that the sea ice has not managed to re-form enough to compensate for the unprecedented melting seen during the past few summers.
Scientists are now convinced that Arctic sea ice is showing signs of both a winter and a summer decline that could indicate a major acceleration in its long-term rate of disappearance. The greatest fear is that an environmental "positive feedback" has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice.
CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average. The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm. The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains. The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago. "We don't see any sign of a decrease; in fact, we're seeing the opposite, the rate of increase is accelerating," Dr Pieter Tans told the BBC. The precise level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of global concern because climate scientists fear certain thresholds may be "tipping points" that trigger sudden changes.
Return of the Squat
The long-whiskered rodent made international headlines last spring when biologists declared they'd discovered a new species, nicknamed the Laotian rock rat. It turns out the little guy isn't new after all, but a rare kind of survivor: a member of a group until now known only from fossils. Nor is it a rat. This species, called Diatomyidae, looks more like small squirrels or tree shrews, said paleontologist Mary Dawson of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Dawson, with colleagues in France and China, report the creature's new identity in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
The resemblance is "absolutely striking," Dawson said. As soon as her team spotted reports about the rodent's discovery, "we thought, 'My goodness, this is not a new family. We've known it from the fossil record."' They set out to prove that through meticulous comparisons between the bones of today's specimens and fossils found in China and elsewhere in Asia. To reappear after 11 million years is more exciting than if the rodent really had been a new species...
Preserving Biodiversity: Last Days of the Ark
There is a battle being fought. Although it rarely, if ever, has made the evening news, it is a war that all but a very few are guaranteed to lose. The battlefield? Look no further than your morning breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and glass of milk. The conflict rages around the newest eco-buzzword--biodiversity--and who owns God's handiwork. If biotechnical companies continue undeterred, our food sources will be neither God's nor nature's, but the property of Ciba-Geigy, Royal Dutch/Shell, Sandoz, or one of the other half-dozen multinational chemical corporations.
Welcome to the real One World Order.
New animal resembles furry lobster (or a Muppet Show reject)
Divers have discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, (Pun: a washed up celeb?) French researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it.
A team of American-led divers found the animal in waters 2,300 meters (7,540 feet) deep at a site 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) south of Easter Island last year... The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. The animal is white and 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) long -- about the size of a salad plate.
Successful monkey business: Chimpanzee cooperators
‘We’ve never seen this level of understanding during cooperation in any other animals except humans,’ says Melis. Cooperation happens all the time in the animal kingdom. A pride of lions cooperates to hunt down a gazelle. A herd of elephants band together to protect themselves from predators. But there may not be much thinking going on behind this kind of cooperation. It could be that by each animal wanting the same thing and working at the same time, success happens by accident.
[via vortex egg]
Himalayan melting risk surveyed
A new weather station is expected to show the extent of warming in the Himalayas, one of the world's biggest deposits of ice and a key source of fresh water. It has been installed on the longest Himalayan glacier, in the Everest region of Nepal.
There have been numerous reports of glacial retreats in the Himalayas over the years, but this weather station will be able to quantify changes to the local climate... Previous studies have shown temperatures in the Himalayas have been rising at a rate of 0.06C per year, fuelling fears that melting glaciers have been filling glacial lakes more rapidly. There are 3,250 glaciers in the Nepalese Himalayas, and 2,315 of them contain glacial lakes that are increasing in size at varying rates.
"While we do know that there is a lot of glacier melting due to global warming, we still need to know the exact causes and dynamics of such melting..."
Sobering, ain't it?
Mexican biologist discovers new shark species
A Mexican marine biologist has discovered a new shark species in the murky depths of Mexico's Sea of Cortez, the first new shark find in the wildlife-rich inlet in 34 years.
Postgraduate student Juan Carlos Perez was on a fishing boat in early 2003 studying sharks from the Mustelus family netted at depths of 660 feet when he noticed some of them had darker skin and white markings.
The sharks, slender, dark gray-brown and around 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, turned out to be a new species that Perez and his team have named "Mustelus hacat," after the word for shark in a local Indian dialect.
"What I first noticed was their color. They are dark in color, like dark coffee, and have white markings on the tips and edges of their fins and tails which jump out at you because they are so dark," Perez told Reuters on Thursday.
Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels
Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.
Another paradise found
You see those little shapes in the bottom left? Those are helicopters.
A cave so huge helicopters can fly into it has just been discovered deep in the hills of a South American jungle paradise. Actually, "Cueva del Fantasma"—Spanish for "Cave of the Ghost"—is so vast that two helicopters can comfortably fly into it and land next to a towering waterfall. It was found in the slopes of Aprada tepui in southern Venezuela, one of the most inaccessible and unexplored regions of the world. The area, known as the Venezuelan Guayana, is one of the most biologically rich, geologically ancient and unspoiled parts of the world.
This is the first geographic report and photographic evidence of such an immense cave. However, researchers say, it isn’t really a cave, but a huge, collapsed, steep gorge. As a bonus, researchers also discovered a new dendrobatid frog species...
Science team finds 'lost world'
An international team of scientists says it has found a "lost world" in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species. "It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler, co-leader of the group.
The team recorded new butterflies, frogs, and a series of remarkable plants that included five new palms and a giant rhododendron flower.The survey also found a honeyeater bird that was previously unknown to science. The research group - from the US, Indonesia and Australia - trekked through an area in the mist-shrouded Foja Mountains, located just north of the vast Mamberamo Basin of north-western (Indonesian) New Guinea.
The researchers spent nearly a month in the locality, detailing the wildlife and plant life from the lower hills to near the summit of the Foja range, which reaches more than 2,000m in elevation. "It's beautiful, untouched, unpopulated forest; there's no evidence of human impact or presence up in these mountains..."
The Mid-Apocalypse Review: 2005-2006 Winter
It's been an unseasonably warm winter so far, including the warmest January on record. According to NOAA's report, this past month saw "an average temperature of 39.5 degrees F, which is 8.5 degrees F (4.7 degrees C) above the 1895-2005 mean of 31.0 degrees F." Nor is this merely a stateside phenomenon; the Aussies are reporting the same thing down under. At the same time, Europeans are dying from the cold. The reasons for such enormous variability, from record highs to lethal cold, is not exactly mysterious--even a layman like myself was able to predict Europe's temperatures, back in September. Europe's lethal cold and last year's hurricanes are both part of the same phenomenon: the extinction of the Gulf Stream. Even that is a mere sideshow to the much bigger problem of global warming...
Because of polar amplification, we'd expect the first impacts of global warming to be seen at the poles; namely, the melting of the polar ice. It's already progressed far enough that even the Bush administration is considering taking steps to protect polar bears from falling right into the Arctic Ocean. It also inhibits things like the Odden ice shelf.
Though it's difficult to find up-to-date numbers, given that January set a new record for the warmest on record (beating the previous record of 1999), it doesn't seem very likely that we'll see significant ice this year, either, which should line us up for another yearly cycle of the same hurricane conditions, and the same lethal European cold.
It's capitalism or a habitable planet - you can't have both
There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won't do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth's life-support systems within the present economic system.
Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.
Honks, squeaks, and melodic syllables can all be scored into avian duets. In at least 222 bird species worldwide, or about 3 percent of those known, two or more individuals routinely coordinate their vocalizations.
Duetting shows up in a range of bird families and takes many forms, says Michelle Hall of the Australian National University in Canberra. Although members of a mated pair typically alternate as they sing their parts, duos within some species sing in unison. In a few cases, two males vocalize together, or several birds form an ensemble, as among the plain-tailed wrens.
An ornithological sorrow of life in northern temperate zones is the scarcity of duetting birds. The few nontropical birds that perform together generally do simple numbers.
Ornithologists have described male and female Canada geese alternating honks. And Lauryn Benedict of the University of California, Berkeley is studying a duet of California towhees where male and females produce simultaneous, near-identical, squeal-like vocalizations that are used only in duets and never alone.
This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news.
The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilisation are in grave danger.
Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics.
Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 per cent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves.
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter.
"It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun."
Shocked scientists find tsunami legacy: a dead sea
A "dead zone" devoid of life has been discovered at the epicentre of last year's tsunami four kilometres beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean. Scientists taking part in a worldwide marine survey made an 11-hour dive at the site five months after the disaster.
They were shocked to find no sign of life around the epicentre, which opened up a 1000-metre chasm on the ocean floor. Instead, there was nothing but eerie emptiness. The powerful lights of the scientists' submersible vehicle, piercing through the darkness, showed no trace of anything living.
A scientist working on the Census of Marine Life project, Ron O'Dor, of Dalhousie University in Canada, said: "You'd expect a site like this to be quickly recolonised, but that hasn't happened. It's unprecedented."
The Narwal: It's sensitive. Really.
Narwhal tusks, up to nine feet long, were sold as unicorn horns in ages past, often for many times their weight in gold since they were said to possess magic powers. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth received a tusk valued at £10,000 - the cost of a castle. Austrian lore holds that Kaiser Karl the Fifth paid off a large national debt with two tusks. In Vienna, the Hapsburgs had one made into a scepter heavy with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
Scientists have long tried to explain why a stocky whale that lives in arctic waters, feeding on cod and other creatures that flourish amid the pack ice, should wield such a long tusk. The theories about how the narwhal uses the tusk have included breaking ice, spearing fish, piercing ships, transmitting sound, shedding excess body heat, poking the seabed for food, wooing females, defending baby narwhals and establishing dominance in social hierarchies.
But a team of scientists from Harvard and the National Institute of Standards and Technology has now made a startling discovery: the tusk, it turns out, forms a sensory organ of exceptional size and sensitivity, making the living appendage one of the planet's most remarkable, and one that in some ways outdoes its own mythology.
Seeing is Beeing: Bees can recognize human faces
Honeybees may look pretty much all alike to us. But it seems we may not look all alike to them. A study has found that they can learn to recognize human faces in photos, and remember them for at least two days.
The findings toss new uncertainty into a long-studied question that some scientists considered largely settled, the researchers say: how humans themselves recognize faces.
The results also may help lead to better face-recognition software, developed through study of the insect brain, the scientists added.
Many researchers traditionally believed facial recognition required a large brain, and possibly a specialized area of that organ dedicated to processing face information. The bee finding casts doubt on that, said Adrian G. Dyer, the lead researcher in the study.
He recalls that when he made the discovery, it startled him so much that he called out to a colleague, telling her to come quickly because “no one’s going to believe it—and bring a camera!”
Researchers have compiled a global map of sites where animals and plants face imminent extinction. The list, drawn up by a coalition of conservation groups, covers almost 800 species which they say will disappear soon unless urgent measures are taken. Most of the 800 are now found only in one location, mainly in the tropics.
Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say protecting some of these sites would cost under $1,000 per year. "This is a whole suite of species threatened with extinction... Most of them are living on single sites and are therefore highly vulnerable to human impacts..."
Dolphin games: more than child’s play?
After years of studying dolphins at play, Kuczaj and his colleagues have reached some surprising conclusions: dolphin games show remarkable cooperation and creativity. Dolphins seem to deliberately make their games difficult, possibly in order to learn from them. And such pastimes may play a key role in the development of culture and in evolution—both among dolphins and other species, including humans.
Games “may help young animals learn their place in the social dynamics of the group,” wrote Kuczaj, a psychologist with the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., and colleagues in a paper to appear in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.
“The innovations produced during the interactions of young animals may be important sources for the evolution of animal traditions, as well as the adaptations that may lead to more successful individuals and species,” they added.
Symbiots Rising: Species Take Care Of Each Other In Ecological Communities
Species must meet certain conditions to live in a community. Understanding the rules that make up community assemblages is one of the most challenging scientific questions facing scientists today. Niche theory, which assumes species differ from one another in various aspects, has been traditionally used to explain community assemblages. However, this theory offers little to predict community assemblage patterns -- the way species share a limited space.
Dr. F. He's work attempts to address community assembly rules based on Hubbell's recently developed neutral theory. "The basic idea of the neutral theory is that community membership is determined by five fundamental processes: birth, death, immigration, speciation and random drift. Furthermore, the theory assumes that every individual in the community, regardless of species identity, has the same rates of birth, death, immigration and mutating into a new species," said He, who is a Canada Research Chair from the Department of Renewable Resources.
Another sign: Evidence of Slowing Ocean Currents Alarms Scientists
The powerful ocean currents that transport heat around the globe and keep northern Europe's weather relatively mild appear to be weakening, according to a new scientific report. A group of British oceanographers surveyed a section of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Africa to the Bahamas that has been studied periodically since 1957 and found the overall movement of water had slowed 30% in the past five decades. The report, published in the current issue of the journal Nature, is the first evidence of such a slowdown.
Computer models have long predicted that the warming of the oceans and the "freshening" of the seas with water from melting glaciers and increased precipitation — all linked to the warming of the Earth by greenhouse gases — could slow the currents, but scientists did not expect to see such changes so soon.
Excuse me: All Herring Break Loose
In polite society, flatulence is often a social faux pas—especially when issued deliberately. But in the world of fish, group "raspberry-blowing" sessions appear to perform an important social role.
This intriguing idea comes from scientists who discovered that herring create a mysterious underwater noise by farting. Researchers suspect herring hear the bubbles as they're expelled, helping the fish form protective shoals at night. It's the first ever study to suggest fish communicate by breaking wind.
The study's findings, now published online in the U.K. science journal Biology Letters, reveal that Atlantic and Pacific herring create high-frequency sounds by releasing air from their anuses.
"We know [herring] have excellent hearing but little about what they actually use it for," said research team leader Ben Wilson, a marine biologist at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, British Columbia, Canada. "It turns out that herring make unusual farting sounds at night."
If we accept that humans have a finite individual lifespan, and no one can ever be immortal, then maybe we should keep in mind that our species also has a limit for its span on Earth. Instead, in our optimism we imagine that if we could manage ourselves and the Earth well enough we could, somehow, find ways to cope with a doubling lifespan, or a doubling of population. We assume the extra stress we would place on Earth's ecosystems could be prevented or alleviated by good stewardship or planetary management.
I think this is our greatest error. Consider how the well-intentioned application of the principles of human welfare and freedom that moved us in the... 20th century failed our bright expectations. Cruel tyrannies now reign in much of what we call the Developing World. In spite of modern medicine, in many places the quality and the length of life diminishes as the land dies under the weight of sacred cows and insupportable numbers of people.
Consider also yourself. You might suffer the misfortune of an accident that damaged your kidneys. Not fatally, but enough to cause those wonderful intelligent filters to fail in their task of regulating the electrolytes, the salts of your blood. You can survive, even live a normal life, but only by taking care to monitor your intakes of salt and water. Such a burden powerfully reinforces the wonder at how well our body manages itself when we are healthy.
Spreading Democracy: Greenhouse gas 'to rise by 52%'
Global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 52% by 2030, unless the world takes action to reduce energy consumption, a study has warned.The prediction comes from the latest annual World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that under current consumption trends, energy demand will also rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years.
Seyoum Goitom, inventor and father of six, stood in his workshop in Eritrea, explaining his passion for mechanics, while young girls herded goats outside and butterflies wobbled in the warmth.
Goitom has so far built a biscuit maker, welding machine and lawnmower from recycled parts. Now he is looking at a much bigger and possibly more significant project.
The 38-year-old is turning his creative energies to deforestation around Keren, his home and one of Eritrea's most attractive towns, where the forest is slowly disappearing.
He is working on an enormous, solar-powered stove based on a satellite dish which he believes could drastically cut the need for firewood among his compatriots in the Red Sea state.
Elephants are drawn to the bones of their dead, displaying a trait once thought to be unique to humans.
A study of African elephants in Kenya found they spent far longer smelling and gently touching the skulls and tusks of the dead than other objects, including pieces of wood or even the bones of animals such as rhinoceroses and buffalo. [via mecha]
A total of 15,589 species face extinction, reveals the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. One in three amphibians and almost half of all freshwater turtles are threatened, on top of the one in eight birds and one in four mammals known to be in jeopardy.
It certainly is spotted, isn't it? Heh.
"Never one drop of rain on
How the snail crossed the bridge
My Fractal Cabbage
Nearly exact self-similar fractal forms occur do in nature, but I'd never seen such a beautiful and perfect example until, some time
The environmental crisis consists of the deterioration and outright destruction of micro and macro ecosystems worldwide, entailing the elimination of countless numbers of wild creatures from the air, land, and sea, with many species being pushed to the brink of extinction, and into extinction. People who passively allow this to happen, not to mention those who actively promote it for economic or other reasons, are already a good distance down the road to insanity. Most people do not see, understand, or care very much about this catastrophe of the planet because they are overwhelmingly preoccupied with grave psychological problems. The environmental crisis is rooted in the psychological crisis of the modern individual. This makes the search for an eco-psychology crucial; we must understand better what terrible thing is happening to the modern human mind, why it is happening, and what can be done about it.
There will be as many as 50 million environmental refugees in the world in five years' time. That is the conclusion of experts at the United Nations University, who say that a new definition of "environmental refugee" is urgently needed. They believe that already environmental degradation forces as many people away from their homes as political and social unrest.
"In poorer rural areas especially, one of the biggest sources of refugees is land degradation and desertification, which may be caused by unsustainable land use interacting with climate change, amplified by population growth...A second issue is flooding, caused I would say by increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere super-imposed with probably some natural fluctuations."
The polar bear is one of the natural world's most famous predators - the king of the Arctic wastelands. But, like its vast Arctic home, the polar bear is under unprecedented threat. Both are disappearing with alarming speed.
Thinning ice and longer summers are destroying the bears' habitat, and as the ice floes shrink, the desperate animals are driven by starvation into human settlements - to be shot. Stranded polar bears are drowning in large numbers as they try to swim hundreds of miles to find increasingly scarce ice floes. Local hunters find their corpses floating on seas once coated in a thick skin of ice.
It is a phenomenon that frightens the native people that live around the Arctic. Many fear their children will never know the polar bear. "The ice is moving further and further north," said Charlie Johnson, 64, an Alaskan Nupiak from Nome, in the state's far west. "In the Bering Sea the ice leaves earlier and earlier. On the north slope, the ice is retreating as far as 300 or 400 miles offshore."
It's getting hot in here: Arctic Ice Cap on the Melt
The floating cap of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to what is probably its smallest size in a century, continuing a trend toward less summer ice that is hard to explain without attributing it in part to human-caused global warming, various experts on the region said today.
The findings are consistent with recent computer simulations showing that a buildup of smokestack and tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases could lead to a profoundly transformed Arctic later this century in which much of the once ice-locked ocean is routinely open water in summers. It also appears that the change is becoming self sustaining, with the increased open water absorbing solar energy that would be reflected back into space by bright white ice...
"Feedbacks in the system are starting to take hold," Dr. Scambos said. "The consecutive record-low extents make it pretty certain a long-term decline is underway."
Rita: This is global warming
Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes.
The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."
In a series of outspoken comments - a thinly veiled attack on the Bush administration, Sir John hit out at neoconservatives in the US who still deny the reality of climate change.
Referring to the arrival of Hurricane Rita he said: "If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation."
Breaching is a common behavior among mobulids; it is said to be exclusive to the smaller varieties. For those of us who have witnessed a mobulid's sanguine underwater undulations, it may be hard to believe, but it would not have been uncommon long ago to hear tall tales of devil rays leaping out of the water and crashing through a ship's hull. [via MeFi]
Scientists say scrub jays are not stuck in the present...
Mental time-travel, the ability to use memories of past experiences and plan for the future, has traditionally been considered a quality unique to humans. Now scientists at the University of Cambridge have identified the same ability in a bird - the Western scrub jay... In a paper published this week in Nature magazine they describe laboratory tests which show that scrub jays who have experience of stealing food from other birds? hidden caches seem to use this knowledge when hiding their own supplies.
"To our knowledge this is the first experimental demonstration that a non-human animal shows elements of mental time-travel..."
Happy Friday: It's a White Giraffe
What do an African researcher and the fictional character Captain Ahab have in common? Both were searching for a legendary white beast, and whereas Ahab searched for his white whale, Wildlife Conservation Society... researcher Charles Foley sought--and finally found--his white giraffe.
Fears of an international energy crisis mounted on Wednesday as the scale of human and economic devastation caused in the southern US by Hurricane Katrina became fully apparent... As the human tragedy unfolded, there were fears that the economic impact of the storm, which has paralysed the Gulf of Mexico oil industry, could be felt around the globe.
But don't panic, m'kay? I've been to so many places where the people thrived without fuel. The Sun is fuel. Love is fuel. Working the Earth is fuel enough. Even if the sky falls on Chicken Little, survival is immanent; the ferment of dead dinosaurs must eventually run out, so that we can understand that real survival does not depend upon the chemicals of the dead; it depends on the innovation of the living.
The process is called Fischer-Tropsch, named for the German scientists who developed the process in the 1920s for converting coal to diesel fuel, which later ran the Nazi war machine. In more recent decades, the process was used in South Africa to fuel its vehicles when the world would not trade with the apartheid nation. It still produces 150,000 barrels of fuel a day from coal. Energy technology firms in the United States and elsewhere have fine-tuned F-T to make both its process and products pollution-free.
"There are no smoke stacks..."
The stalactites hang like glass daggers over the glacial lake. Ice peaks rise against the bright blue sky like crystal pyramids. Mounds of dark rock rise up between the snow and ice, discoloured after years of being covered by the glacier.
This is Pastoruri. In the past 10 years, its ice caps have retreated by about 200m. Soon it, like many other glaciers in Peru, will have disappeared almost completely. At about 5,000m, or just over 16,000ft, it is one of the glaciers worst affected by climate change in Peru. And Peru, in turn, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change in the world.
Sitting between the tropics, where the sun is particularly fierce, and home to more tropical glaciers than anywhere else, this South American country is especially vulnerable to rising temperatures. Experts predict all the Peruvian glaciers below 5,500m will disappear by 2015. This is the majority of Peru's glaciers.
Ecological activists need not repeat the same errors committed by the old left which emphasized issues of quantitative need over matters of qualitative desire. Marx believed that a universal condition of material need caused all social strife and injustice. Accordingly, Marx asserted that after material inequity was abolished through the revolutionary process, social relations would be automatically improved, restoring quality of life to realms outside of labor as well. Marx could not have anticipated the degree to which capitalism would invade and erode the realm of home and the everyday in the post-war era. Again, for Marx, it was primarily the sphere of work that was poisoned with alienation, and it was there that he placed the locus of his theory. The sixties brought a needed challenge to Marxist theory. Groups such as the Situationists in France, as well as sectors of the American New Left expanded their focus to address the encroachment of capitalism into everyday life. The New Left's emphasis on such qualitative domains as sensuality, art, and nature stood as a response to Emma Goldman's apocryphal warning to Marxists decades before: If I can't dance, in your revolution, I'm not coming. As these movements illustrated, a focus on desire keeps our eyes on the qualitative dimension of life. It allows us to attend to the ways in which the process of commodification extends into our relationships with each other and with the natural world, reducing parents to `child-care providers', the sick to `consumers of health-care', and nature to patentable `genetic material'.
For the past 20 years climatologists and ice and atmosphere scientists have been working in Alaska studying climate change. Now they have discovered a rich new source of records extending their knowledge back by decades through the oral history of native Alaskans. Barrow is the most northerly town in the United States, lying 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle. And 92-year-old Bertha Leavitt is its oldest inhabitant.
"When I was a child", she says, "it was so much colder and the winds in winter used to be fierce." She remembers her elders telling in their stories that the weather was going to change. And since her childhood she believes this has come true.
One Square Inch of Silence
The logic is simple: If a loud noise, such as the passing of an aircraft, can affect many square miles of wilderness lands around or below it, then it is reasonable to assume that a naturally quiet place, if kept quiet, would also affect many square miles around it. By managing a single point of park land, it is predicted that natural quiet will be restored throughout the park with substantially long noise-free intervals.
One Square Inch of Silence seeks to designate a single square inch of land with a zero tolerance to human caused noise intrusions at Olympic National Park. Any noise intrusions into this area will produce a letter that asks the noise maker to voluntarily change their behavior. It is hoped that this test study will prove this method to be an effective and economical means for managing natural quiet.
The collapse of a huge ice shelf in Antarctica in 2002 has no precedent in the past 11,000 years, a study that points the finger at global warming says. Measuring some 3,250 square kilometres in area and 220 metres thick, the Larsen B iceshelf broke away from the eastern Antarctic Peninsula in 2002, eventually disintegrating into giant icebergs.
By chance, a US-led team of geologists had gathered a rich harvest of data around the iceshelf just before the spectacular collapse, including six cores that had been drilled into marine sediment. The cores contain the remains of plankton and algae embedded in layers of minerals, and their radiocarbon and oxygen isotopes provide clues about ice cover and climate change over the millennia.
Increased biodiversity was a "happy by-product" of sustainable farming practices and farmers working with "natural processes" to increase productivity... The fact the organic arable farms were more likely to have livestock on them also made them richer habitats for wildlife.
"There were very large benefits right across the species spectrum." More organic farming would help "restore biodiversity within agricultural landscapes..."
Arctic ocean depths teeming with life
The remotest depths of the Arctic ocean are surprisingly full of life, including previously unknown species of jellyfish and worms, a scientific team which just finished exploring the area... The scientists... used robot submarines and sonar to probe an isolated 12,470-foot (3,800-meter) basin off Canada's Arctic coast where they fear species could be at risk from global warming.
"We were surprised by the abundance and the diversity of life in this environment. Even at a depth of 3,000 meters we found animals on the sea floor, we found sea cucumbers ... and all kinds of jellyfish and crustaceans..."
The great predators of the seas - tuna, swordfish, marlin and others - could be on the way out. Canadian researchers who surveyed the catches from ocean fishery "hotspots" warn that not only are numbers in decline, but also the variety of species in any region. The research, published in Science today provides fresh ammunition for conservationists who want to see the creation of large, internationally protected marine parks where fish populations can breed and recover.
Where fishermen might once have caught 10 different species, they now haul in only five. "It's not yet extinction - it's local fishing out of species...Where you once had a range of species in dense numbers, now you might catch one or two of a certain species."
New frogs found in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan biologists have found dozens of new species of tree frog over the last decade in the island's dwindling rainforests, but warn many known species are either extinct or on the verge of disappearing because of man.
Researchers from Sri Lanka's privately-funded Wildlife Heritage Trust found 35 new species of frog -- increasing the number of known frog species on the Indian Ocean island by a third -- but also found 19 species are now extinct.
"(They) have gone extinct largely because of the loss of their habitat... The land has now been converted to other uses like tea and rubber..."
science their way
Extraordinary efforts by the White House to scupper Britain's attempts to tackle global warming have been revealed in leaked US government documents... These papers - part of the Bush administration's submission to the G8 action plan for Gleneagles next month - show how the United States, over the past two months, has been secretly undermining Tony Blair's proposals to tackle climate change.
The documents... represent an attempt by the Bush administration to undermine completely the science of climate change and show that the US position has hardened during the G8 negotiations. They also reveal that the White House has withdrawn from a crucial United Nations commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservationists are warning that the south-east Asian island of Borneo could lose almost all its lowland forest within a decade. A report from the WWF says illegal logging and clearance for oil palm plantations is destroying the habitats of several animals. Orang-utan and pygmy elephants could become unviable in just 15 years.
According to the WWF, 1.3m hectares of Borneo's lowland forest is being destroyed each year. At that rate, it claims, by 2020 the remaining pockets of jungle may be too small and broken up for some species to be genetically viable. In other words, each tiny area of woodland that remains will not support a healthy breeding population of large animals like pygmy elephants or orang-utan.
The trail starts at an altitude of about 7,875 ft., then drops down a hundred or so feet before crossing a knife-edge ridge between Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu... While the slopes are steep and the drop to the Urubamba River is close to 1,300 ft., the trail along the ridge is neither difficult nor threatening. The trail follows a mixture of original Inca trails and steps and modern additions to make the climb easier. From the base of Huayna Picchu, it climbs 1,000 ft. in a series of switchbacks and steeply pitched rock steps. Most of the steeper sections are provided with handrails of either braided nylon rope or steel cable, making the climb mostly a matter of hoofing it up long, tall staircases with lots of air behind and beneath you. That morning, clouds intermittently blew over, dropping an occasional drizzle and leaving behind condensate even when they were not heavy enough to have precipitation falling from them. The stone steps become slick enough with the moisture to deserve care and respect...
is the funk in the trunk?
In 1997, O'Connell-Rodwell took this discovery in a bold, new direction by proposing that low-frequency calls also generate powerful vibrations in the ground - seismic signals that elephants can feel, and even interpret, via their sensitive trunks and feet.
Scientists have long known that seismic communication is common in small animals, including spiders, scorpions, insects and a few vertebrate species, such as white-lipped frogs, kangaroo rats and golden moles. Seismic sensitivity also has been observed in elephant seals - huge marine mammals not related to elephants.
But O'Connell-Rodwell was the first to suggest that a large land animal is capable of sending and receiving vibrational messages. "A lot of research has been done showing that small animals use seismic signals to find mates, locate prey and establish territories," she notes. "But there have only been a few studies focusing on the ability of large mammals to communicate through the ground."
it's not a small world after all
While no corner of earth remains uncharted, there are still millions of species that have yet to be discovered and documented. The quest to complete a comprehensive directory of all life on earth goes on. It's a good job monkeys don't understand us, else you'd fear for the newly discovered Callicebus aureipalatii. The creature is one of about 30 varieties of titi monkey which can be found in the dense tropical rainforests of South America. There's Callicebus brunneus (Brown titi), Callicebus personatus (Masked titi), Callicebus moloch (Dusky titi) and then there's the new arrival, Callicebus aureipalatii - Golden Palace titi.
This latest species had the dubious fate of being discovered in an era of strident global capitalism - hence its name, the result of a charity auction eventually won by the online gambling emporium GoldenPalace.com. Novelty names aside, though, it's surprising that on a planet which has been so comprehensively researched, circumnavigated and trampled over there are still new sorts of primate which have evaded human detection.
discovery on the sly
Scientists believe they have found a wholly new species of mammal deep in the heart of one of the richest, least studied and most endangered wildlife areas on earth.
The discovery of an apparently new kind of fox in the dense forests of central Borneo is an extremely rare event. Only a handful of new mammals have been discovered in the whole world over the past 70 years. It comes as hopes are rising that the forests - which are expected to be cut down within the next 15 years - may be saved at the last minute. The Indonesian government has recently halted logging in an important national park and has begun preparations with the governments of Malaysia and Brunei about establishing a 220,000 kmsq conservation area.
Borneo - the world's third largest island - has possibly the most diverse wildlife on the globe. By a conservative estimate, it is home to 15,000 species of plant; one 52 hectare plot alone has 1,175 different kinds of tree - a world record. Six thousand of them are found nowhere else, as are about 160 of its fish species, 30 of its birds and 25 of its mammals.
preserve the diversity
Over 360 new species have been discovered in Borneo over the last decade, highlighting the great need for conservation in the area, the WWF says. Previously unseen insects, frogs, fish, lizards and snakes have made themselves known to science for the first time. And a new report suggests thousands more species remain undiscovered.
However, these newly introduced and yet-to-be-uncovered species are also under threat, WWF claims, because Borneo's forests are being cleared. "Borneo is undoubtedly one of the most important centres for wildlife in the world... It is one of the only two places on Earth where orang-utans, elephants and rhinos can be found."
warm yes, fuzzy no
Scientists have concluded more energy is being absorbed from the sun than is emitted back to space, throwing the Earth's energy "out of balance" and warming the globe. Scientists... used satellites, data from buoys and computer models to study the Earth's oceans. They confirmed the energy imbalance by using precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.
The study reveals Earth's energy imbalance is large by standards of the planet's history. The imbalance is 0.85 watts per meter squared. That will cause an additional warming of 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) by the end of this century.
Let's Talk About Climate Change
The commonplace view of the earth from an airplane at 35,000 feet -- a vista that would have astounded Dickens or Darwin -- can be instructive when we contemplate the fate of our earth. We see faintly, or imagine we can, the spherical curve of the horizon and, by extrapolation, sense how far we would have to travel to circumnavigate, and how tiny we are in relation to this home suspended in sterile space. When we cross the Canadian northern territories en route to the American West Coast, or the Norwegian littoral, or the interior of Brazil, we are heartened to see that such vast empty spaces still exist -- two hours might pass, and not a single road or track in view.
But also large and growing larger is the great rim of grime -- as though detached from an unwashed bathtub -- that hangs in the air as we head across the Alps into northern Italy, or the Thames basin, or Mexico City, Los Angeles, Beijing -- the list is long and growing. These giant concrete stains laced with steel, those catheters of ceaseless traffic filing toward the horizon -- the natural world can only shrink before them.
The sheer pressure of our numbers, the abundance of our inventions, the blind forces of our desires and needs, appear unstoppable and are generating a heat -- the hot breath of our civilization -- whose effects we comprehend only hazily. The misanthropic traveler, gazing down from his wondrous, and wondrously dirty, machine, is bound to ask whether the earth might not be better off without us.
a bug's life
They are everywhere: around us, beside us, beneath us, busy in their small, secret world. Tiny, alien, comic and fierce, stalk legs and compound eyes, extravagantly built for plain purposes: they fly, they mate, they hunt and feed.
And they dream. They dream of the gorgeous saturated swirl of Eden, velvet leaves edged and shimmering in heat and dew. They dream of sunlight that lasts forever, and shadows as deep as the sea.
The insects here are alive, not silent and still as we usually see them, specimens pinned dead and dry on a page. These are pictures of creatures living their lives, leaping from skyscraper stalks, climbing and tumbing over giant pods, surmounting seeds. Of ladybugs in love. Of katydids considering. Of philosophic ants. Every day the green world dreams its secrets, and every day the insects live that dream.
it's a trap!
Using a home-made trap, a tiny species of ant is capable of ensnaring prey much larger than itself and tearing it to pieces. The ants (Allomerus decemarticulatus), which live in Amazonian plants called Hirtella physophora, construct a honeycomb-like structure out of their host plant's fibres from which they can stage an ambush.
The worker ants hide in the holes of this death trap with their mouths open wide, waiting for locusts, butterflies or other insects to land. When prey arrives they quickly seize its extremities, pulling on legs, arms and antennae until the hostage is rendered immobile. Once trapped, other ants from the colony arrive to sting and bite the prey until it is paralyzed.
creature double feature
Meet "Professor Turtle," keeper of The Lake of the Returned Sword and its mysterious giant reptile. Zoologist Ha Dinh Duc, one of Hanoi's best-known characters and world famous in his field for tracking the huge turtle living in the center of Vietnam's capital, is retiring soon. But he is not giving up his quest for recognition of the turtle as a unique species after 15 years of following its movements in the murky green water.
"I call the turtle great-grandfather," said Duc, 65, who displays an obvious attachment to the 6-foot-7-inch-long and 3-foot-7-inch wide endangered turtle he named after an emperor. Nobody knows the exact age of the turtle, but for me, it is maybe more than 600 years old."
Monarch butterfly population in jeopardy
In recent years, bitter cold, severe rainstorms and droughts have taken their toll on the delicate creatures. Experts say that three of the past five winters in Mexico have seen major die-offs in monarch populations. Additional threats, say researchers, include loss of habitat and a declining food supply due to the rise in illegal logging operations and the unrestricted spraying of pesticides and other poisons in forested areas of Mexico where the butterflies are known to gather.
certainly not in town for the water
A wayward white whale paid a call on Trenton on Tuesday, creating a splash among delighted crowds along a narrow, urbanized stretch of the Delaware River about 55 miles upriver from Claymont. New Jersey officials said they would attempt to herd the out-of-place mammal - believed to be a 10- to 12-foot beluga whale - back downriver... it's unusual to see a beluga, which number about 62,000 to 80,000 worldwide, in the area because they usually stay in colder water.
Having grown up in Delaware and heard of these things before, it's rather exciting but at the same time rather sad. That river remains very polluted, and this poor creature must be quite lonely. The best that could happen, of course, is the whale returns to its proper ecosystem and all the gawkers and onlookeers will be more curious about whales and their protection.
out of place, running out of time?
Crocodiles living in the Sahara sounds like fiction, but Spanish scientists are investigating such a group in southern Mauritania. The reptiles are regarded as the last remains of the abundant crocodile population that roamed the Sahara before it dried up about 9 000 years ago. The group of a few dozen crocodiles subsists at a pond near the Senegalese border... The pond, measuring about 100 square metres, is located 200km from the nearest river...
humans: get a clue
Most people listening to prairie dog chatter describes it as a series of yips, high-pitched barks or eeks. However, according to Dr. Slobodchikoff, Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University, prairie dogs are capable of referential communication. They have:
* different alarm calls for different species of predators
birds on the brain
On Martha's Vineyard, the songs of the black-capped chickadee are different from those throughout North America. The songs on the Vineyard still consist of two main whistles, but both are on the same frequency. On the island are three different song dialects, the dialect on the western end of the island, at Gay Head, consisting of sweetie-hey songs, with the brief pause now in the first whistle, not the second.
Bonus: My hummingbird summer (NPR audio). After spending a few weeks intensively caring for four orphaned hummingbirds last summer, a wildlife rehabilitator is surprised to find that the birds have bonded to her, even after they are set free.
the mystical Manta ray
Mantas can be identified by the distinctive pattern on their belly, with no two rays alike. In 1992, I had been identifying the manta rays that were seen at Molokini and found that some were known, but many more were sighted only once, and then gone.
So there I was... a beautiful, very large ray beneath me and my skeptical divers behind. I reminded myself that I was still trying to win their confidence, and a bounce to see this manta wouldn't help my case. So I started calling through my regulator, "Hey, come up and see me!" I had tried this before to attract the attention of whales and dolphins, who are very chatty underwater and will come sometimes just to see what the noise is about. My divers were just as puzzled by my actions, but continued to try to ignore me.
There was another dive group ahead of us. The leader, who was a friend of mine and knew me to be fairly sane, stopped to see what I was doing. I kept calling to the ray, and when she shifted in the water column, I took that as a sign that she was curious. So I started waving my arms, calling her up to me.
After a minute, she lifted away from where she had been riding the current and began to make a wide circular glide until she was closer to me. I kept watching as she slowly moved back and forth, rising higher, until she was directly beneath the two Europeans and me. I looked at them and was pleased to see them smiling. Now they liked me. After all, I could call up a manta ray!
Looking back to the ray, I realized she was much bigger than what we were used to around Molokini - a good fifteen feet from wing tip to wing tip, and not a familiar-looking ray. I had not seen this animal before. There was something else odd about her. I just couldn't figure out what it was.
the civilization of rats
Some of them can read [via MeFi]
Recently, a track worker called Manuel, who moonlights as a handyman, helped Daphne and me paint what would soon become our child’s room. Manuel painted in silence, until I asked if he ever encountered rats in the tunnels. ‘I see them all the time! They’re big, and they’re brave. They scare me. The other night I was spreading concrete when I looked up and there was one about a foot long, staring at me. When I waved my shovel at him he stood up on his hind legs and snarled.’
‘What did you do?’
‘I decided to go on a break.’
As the human brain evolved, humans were able to laugh before they could speak, according to a new study. But here's the punch line: Laughter and joy are not unique to humans, the study says. Ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals long before humans began cracking up. In studying laughter, scientists have focused mostly on related issues—humor, personality, health benefits, social theory—rather than laughter itself. New research, however, shows that "circuits" for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the human brain. As humans have incorporated language into play, we may have developed new connections to joyous parts of our brains that evolved before the cerebral cortex, the outer layer associated with thought and memory.
"Human laughter has robust roots in our animalian past..."
a human to the rescue of a fish
past the turning point?
The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure. The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself. "Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it says.
cuckoo for coconuts
Two tiny species of tropical octopus have demonstrated a remarkable disappearing trick. They adopt a two-armed 'walk' that frees up their remaining six limbs to camouflage them as they slink away from trouble.
"When we noticed one was walking, I thought my gosh, this is amazing. It's the first underwater bipedal locomotion I know of..." Instead of its usual sprawling crawl, O. marginatus fled from divers by striding on two arms, with the rest of its arms wrapped around its body, giving it the appearance of a walking coconut... Looking like a coconut may help O. marginatus to go unseen... There is an abundance of coconuts on the sea floor in the area...
Rains prompt rare wildflower display in Death Valley [via MeFi]
Flikr galleries here and here.
A rare burst of color is softening the stark landscape of Death Valley, with clusters of purple, pink and white wildflowers dotting the black basalt mountainsides and great swaths of golden blooms bordering the blinding white salt flats on the valley floor. The winter storms that brought mudslides and death to Southern California dropped 6 inches of rain on this thirsty desert - three times more than usual - encouraging wildflower seeds to sprout. Experts say this kind of show comes once in a lifetime. The flowers have adapted to the desert by developing seeds with coatings so thick or waxy that they can hibernate for decades. Only continued heavy rains will coax them to grow. Then, when there's just the right amount of moisture, sunlight and warmth, "it's all systems go..."
long live the monarch
Chain Saw Thins Flocks of Migrants on Gold Wings
The number arriving this winter was the smallest since Mexico and the World Wildlife Fund began keeping records in the 1970's, down three-quarters from the winter before, the wildlife fund and independent biologists said. Biologists and nature lovers say bad weather is not the whole story. They warn that logging in Mexico and herbicides in the United States have endangered these almost miraculously migratory insects, which flutter thousands of miles. Hardier genetically altered corn and soybean crops in the United States and Canada, in the breadbasket areas that are the monarch's main summer conjugal grounds, have enabled farmers to use stronger herbicides to eliminate weeds. That has drastically depleted the supply of flowers on which the butterflies feed, as well as common milkweed, on which the monarch lays its eggs in the spring and summer and on which its larvae feed, several biologists say.
sleep now, warble later
A good night's sleep helps young birds master the art of singing, but only after a rather groggy start, Nature magazine has reported. When adolescent zebra finches first wake up in the morning, their singing voices are decidedly rusty. But, strangely, the most tuneless early birds go on to become the best singers. Scientists believe the birds practise songs in their dreams, which pays dividends in the end, despite causing a temporary "loss of direction".
mapping through song
Whales sing to each other across thousands of miles of ocean and use sound to create their own mental 'A to Z' of the sea floor... 'There is a time delay in the water, and the response times for their communication are not the same as ours... Suddenly you realise that their behaviour is defined not by my scale, or any other whale researcher's scale, but by a whale's sense of scale - ocean-basin sized.'
On a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, I was astonished when our guide showed us how damselfish (family Pomacentridae) farm algae on their own. It was also amazing to see how aggressively protective they were of their farms. To demonstrate, our guide took a sea urchin and dropped it into the damselfishâ€™s algae farm, and within seconds the damselfish pushed the sea urchin out of the farm. Some damselfish farm algae on coral heads and nip the coral to create cuts that encourage the algae to grow. Apparently, they are known even to attack human beings that swim near their farms.
dolphin's toy vortices
The young dolphin gives a quick flip of her head, and an undulating silver ring appears--as if by magic--in front of her. The ring is a solid, toroidal bubble two feet across--and yet it does not rise to the surface! It stands erect in the water like the rim of a magic mirror, or the doorway to an unseen dimension. For long seconds the dolphin regards its creation, from varying aspects and angles, with its vision and sonar. Seemingly making a judgement, the dolphin then quickly pulls a small silver donut from the larger structure, which collapses into small bubbles. She then "pushes" the donut, which stays just inches ahead of her rostrum, perhaps 20 feet over a period of up to 10 seconds. Then, stopping again, she regards the twisting ring for a last time and bites it--causing it to collapse into a thousand tiny bubbles which head--as they should--for the water's surface. After a few moments of reflection, she creates another.
hanuman makes life interesting
Delhi suffers from a serious monkey menace, with scores of animals seen across the city, particularly near top government offices. The monkeys who have moved into residential areas and official enclaves due to Delhi's shrinking forests, are said to have become a 'security threat'. Last year, the ministry of defence found some of its top secret documents scattered all over the place one morning.
When the temperature soars, coral reefs might cool off by creating their own clouds. Research from the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast shows that corals are packed full of the chemical dimethyl sulphide, or DMS. When released into the atmosphere, DMS helps clouds to form, which could have a large impact on the local climate.
In the air, DMS is transformed into an aerosol of tiny particles on which water vapour can condense to form clouds. This sulphur compound is also produced in large amounts by marine algae and gives the ocean its distinctive smell. Algae play a vital part in regulating Earth's climate, but no one had looked at whether coral reefs might have a similar role.
star nosed food eater
A study published this week in the journal Nature reveals that this mysterious mole has moves that can put the best magician to shame: The energetic burrower can detect small prey animals and gulp them down with a speed that is literally too fast for the human eye to follow. It takes a car driver about 650 milliseconds to hit the brake after seeing the traffic light ahead turn red. The star-nosed mole, operating in the Stygian darkness of its burrow, can detect the presence of a tasty tidbit, such as an insect larva or tiny worm, determine that it is edible and gulp it down in half that time.
Cuttlefish wimps 'dress as girls'
Countdown to global catastrophe: Climate change report warns point of no return may be reached in 10 years, leading to droughts, agricultural failure and water shortages...
And it breaks new ground by putting a figure - for the first time in such a high-level document - on the danger point of global warming, that is, the temperature rise beyond which the world would be irretrievably committed to disastrous changes. These could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream. [via MeFi]
A National Guard soldier in Iraq blogs about the birds and the local ecology. Here's an audio interview with "John" from today's Weekend Edition. Follow along with this Middle East Birding Guide (Arabic language .pdf in 10 separate chapters, lots of pretty pictures).
The Tree of Life Web Project is a collaborative effort of biologists from around the world. On more than 3000 webpages, the project provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history (phylogeny), and characteristics.
Lucy the Goose was memorialized last Friday with a service fit for a high-ranking diplomat. Which, in a way, she was, having served faithfully, if sometimes cantankerously, as Chestertown's avian ambassador for at least a dozen years.
A 120-year-old giant tortoise living in a Kenyan sanctuary has become inseparable from a baby hippo rescued by game wardens...
Ants' 'genetic engineering' leads to species interdependency
New research shows that the dwarf mistletoe, a member of the same Viscaceae family as the better-known Christmas varieties, is truly worthy of being hung with pride. The stubby variety might be a clumpy green parasite of conifers, but it turns out to have the world's only water-pump seed ejection system. One that can fire a seed up to a dazzling 20 meters (65 feet). So who are you calling a dwarf now?
"Living Rock:" absolutely bizarre plant species.
Living stone plants (Lithops species) are members of the mesembryanthemum family. They are natives of South Africa and Namibia, where they grow among stones in the dry upland regions or along the edges of river courses that are dry for most of the year. They are succulents, which store water in their fleshy leaves, but are not related to cacti.
The Birds Are Falling: Avian losses could hit ecosystems hard
If many bird populations dip toward extinction in the coming century, as scientists predict, widespread harm could come to ecosystems that depend on these birds to pollinate plants, disperse seeds, scavenge carrion, and control insects...
Consideration of the recognized threats to avian survival—including alien predators, chemical contaminants, and fishing gear—led the scientists to forecast that 500 to 1,300 species will vanish by the end of this century, and that up to 1,050 others will become so depleted that they'll serve no significant ecological function. In contrast, only 129 bird species are known to have gone extinct in the past 500 years.
The 'Ley' of the Land and Sea? Sharks respond to magnetic lines
This ability has long been suspected by researchers who have observed the fish migrating huge distances in the ocean along straight lines... "This significant advance in demonstrating the existence of a 'compass' sense should now make it possible to investigate exactly how this sense works and how sensitive sharks are to the Earth's magnetic field..."
Ants use geometry, odour to find way (via joshua)
Ants use angled signposts, using tiny scent markers, to find their way home or follow the path into the wilderness... Scout ants would set the trail from the nest using pheromone scents as indicators for those coming behind. Wherever the trail forked to let the ants explore potential sources of food, one of the angles between the forks was always around 60 degrees, the researchers found. This means an ant which has gone off the trail can find its way by detecting this narrow angle.
Named after Arunachal Pradesh, where it was found, the Arunachal macaque -- a relatively large, brown primate with a comparatively short tail... The last species of macaque discovered in the wild, the Indonesian Pagai, was described in 1903.
Kenya's Wangari Maathai urged a fight against deforestation on Wednesday on her arrival in Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize amid controversy about whether the award has lost its way by embracing environmentalism. The movement she leads has planted about 30 million trees across Africa to combat deforestation and fights for women's rights, justice and democracy in Kenya.
I don't get the 'controversy.' A sane environment breeds peace; a nation on te brink environmentally cannot sustain it's dependants nor can the resources be distributed equally, which leads to unrest, et cetera. Mrs. Maathai could not be a more deserving deserving recipient of the Nobel.
After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family... Babs' 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to approach the body, followed by Babs' mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down, held Babs' hand and stroked her mother's stomach. Then she sat down and laid her head on Babs' arm.
Prairie dogs, those little pups popping in and out of holes on vacant lots and rural rangeland, are talking up a storm. They have different "words" for tall human in yellow shirt, short human in green shirt, coyote, deer, red-tailed hawk and many other creatures. They can even coin new terms for things they've never seen before, independently coming up with the same calls or words...
Homing pigeons use the Earth's magnetic field to navigate their way home over long distances, scientists writing in Nature magazine claim. The pigeons probably use tiny magnetic particles in their beaks to sense our planet's magnetic field, scientists say
A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark... "They started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us..."
Nature Series No. 23: How to tell the Birds from the Flowers
For reasons that area scientists don't really understand, millions and millions of tiny black spiders called Halorates ksenius - they have no common name - became trapped in Russell Jervis' clover field and started spinning webs.
And this is the last post from Greensboro, I'm heading home this afternoon. It's been a really fun training and it really makes me want to go back to school. Nonetheless, I'm really ready to get home... regular posting resumes tomorrow.
File in the 'waiting for an animated film adaptation department:' Couple Helps Fox; Fox Then Brings Friend
Shirley Tompkins and her husband Bob began helping a wounded fox last winter. Now a second also is showing up at their trailer.
A world, melting: reports on the Arctic impact of global warming, happening right now:
The study said the annual average amount of sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by about 8 percent in the past 30 years, resulting in the loss of 386,100 square miles of sea ice - an area bigger than Texas and Arizona combined.
As much as a third of all species will be extinct by 2050 by some estimates... bears, walruses and some seals are on their way to extinction, warns the report, which was released Monday at an international science meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. Summer sea ice may disappear entirely and, combined with a rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, will likely help raise the world's sea levels 3 feet by 2100, swamping homes from Florida to Bangladesh.
The one thing I do know about global warming is this: It wasn't a topic of debate in the presidential election. No one was talking - not in any depth - about how climate change may affect the world and our relationship to the rest of the world. No one was debating strategies for dealing with climate change. It just wasn't on the agenda. Today, we're all running around squawking about "moral values." That debate centers on how we live with one another. How we live with nature is another "moral value" and, perhaps, we might want to start thinking about it a little more seriously than we have been.
"The white elephant is the God Saman's vehicle which he used when he came to Sri Lanka in the Ratnapura area. The Lord Buddha's mother also dreamt of a white elephant before his conception. We believe the white elephant only appears once every 12 years and it's seen as an auspicious sign," he says.
"Frost Flowers" occur when still-living green plant tissue freezes and the sap is extruded in long, unbroken strands.
Saving the Whooping Crane: Operation Migration (via J-Walk)
A new generation of Whooping crane chicks is currently being guided from their summer home in central Wisconsin to their new winter habitat in Florida... This will be the 4th year of the ultralight-guided migration reintroduction that in the first 3-years has resulted in 36 Whooping cranes being restored to eastern North America - a portion of their former range before the species was almost wiped out.
Once lost, now found: 'Extinct' pine marten in comeback
The pine marten - declared extinct in England a decade ago - is making a comeback in North Yorkshire, wildlife experts believe.
The National Audubon Society has released the first national “The State of the Birds” report documenting the health and abundance of North America’s birds. Appearing in the October issue of Audubon Magazine, “The State of the Birds” paints a disturbing picture: Nearly 30 Percent of North America’s Birds are in Significant Decline
Consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil increased by almost 700 percent between 1961 and 2001, it said. But the planet is unable to move as fast to absorb the resulting carbon-dioxide emissions that degrade the Earth's protective ozone layer. "We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate... We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth's ability to renew them."
"They use so much water while we barely have enough to cover our basic sanitary needs, let alone water our crops..."
A 121 million-year-old baby arboreal bird, fossilised while still curled in its egg, has been found in China... The fossil is thought to be the most ancient unborn bird ever discovered.
Thanks for the diversification, pollution: Male Bass in Potomac Producing Eggs
The discovery has made the South Branch the latest example of an emerging national problem: Hormones, drugs and other man-made pollutants appear to be interfering with the chemical signals that make fish grow and reproduce.
Now it seems the future has become even more uncertain. Climate scientists say they have identified a dozen weak links around the world, regions where global warming could bring about the sudden, catastrophic collapse of vital ecosystems. The consequences will be felt far and wide.
The deafening sound of the
The world's oceans are now so saturated with noise that whales and other marine mammals are dying, biologists say. The UK's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is launching a campaign, Oceans of Noise, to tackle what it says is the increasing problem of noise pollution.
US surfer's wave turns into
"I'm looking down, and there's just swirling water and I see barnacles on the back of the whale..."
Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature |
The world's oceans are now so saturated with noise that whales and other marine mammals are dying, biologists say. The UK's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is launching a campaign, Oceans of Noise, to tackle what it says is the increasing problem of noise pollution.
Frogs: a chorus of
Frogs: a chorus of colors, via Presurfer.
Man-made rainforest baffles scientists A
A Man-Made rainforest that should have taken millennia to evolve has baffled scientists by springing up in just 150 years. Rainforests should take millions of years to develop the highly complex, interactive ecosystems for which they are famed, in which every species fills an essential niche. But the forest on Green Mountain, Ascension Island, in the mid-Atlantic sprung up chaotically from a mixed bag of botanical scrap brought in by the Royal Navy in 1843.
Walking back to genesis It
It is a conceit of hindsight to see evolution as aimed towards some particular end point, such as ourselves. A historically minded swift, understandably proud of flight as self-evidently the premier accomplishment of life, might regard swiftkind - those spectacular flying machines with their swept-back wings, who stay aloft for a year at a time and even copulate in free flight - as the acme of evolutionary progress. If elephants could write history they might portray tapirs, elephant shrews, elephant seals and proboscis monkeys as tentative beginners along the main trunk road of evolution, taking the first fumbling steps but each - for some reason - never quite making it: so near yet so far. Elephant astronomers might wonder whether, on some other world, there exist alien life forms that have crossed the nasal rubicon and taken the final leap to full proboscitude.
Water Paints Multicolored Desert
A study of the vibrant red, pink, orange, purple and yellow bands in the rocks of the Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada has revealed that the hues in the rocks were probably put there by a complex ebb and flow of groundwaters, faulting and raising of mountains and even the presence of now absent hydrocarbons over the last 150 to 200 million years.
The Starving Ocean: We thought
The Starving Ocean: We thought the ocean was an inexhaustible source of food. And that it would always regenerate more creatures to replace those we remove. But today's ocean is failing to produce fish as it did in the past, and the reason increasingly appears to be an overall decline in marine nutrient cycling. Simple starvation now increasingly limits the growth of fish and other marine life. "Overfishing" appears to have affected not only the targeted species, but the ecosystem in general...and ramifications of this disturbance may extend as far as the ocean-atmosphere CO2 balance. (via MeFi)
The joy of animal plurals
The joy of animal plurals and adjectives: Beastly Garden of Wordy Delights gives us such semantic wonders as: a rumpus of baboon, a clowder of cat, a business of ferret, and a charm of hummingbird.
Soya boom threat to South
Owls set beetle trap with
Scientists describe such behaviours, where animals use intermediate methods to achieve an objective - such as baiting to acquire food - as "tool usage". "This experiment demonstrates that tool use makes a difference to a wild animal."
Earth warned on 'tipping points'
The world has barely begun to recognise the danger of setting off rapid and irreversible changes in some crucial natural systems, a scientist says.
Professor Schellnhuber said 12 "hotspots" had been identified so far, areas which acted like massive regulators of the Earth's environment.
If these critical regions were subjected to stress, they could trigger large-scale, rapid changes across the entire planet. But not enough was known about them to be able to predict when the limits of tolerance were reached.
Happy Saturday: Amazing photographs of
Happy Saturday: Amazing photographs of monkeys.
New bird spotted in
An international expedition has found a bird species new to science on a remote island in the northern Philippines. The team of Filipino and UK researchers discovered the bird, a rail, living by a stream in the forests of Calayan. They think the birds number only about 200 pairs at most, and since they are found nowhere else they might soon be at risk from development pressures.
Hungry world 'must eat less
World water supplies will not be enough for our descendants to enjoy the sort of diet the West eats now, experts say. The World Water Week in Stockholm will be told the growth in demand for meat and dairy products is unsustainable.
The second deepest hole is
The second deepest hole is George Bush's credibility: Explorers find world's deepest hole (I'll just hold my breath for a sec while we get all the jokes ouf of the way).
Cave explorers discovered a pit inside a mountain range in central Croatia believed to have the world's deepest subterranean vertical drop, at nearly 1,700 feet, a scientific institute reported Monday. The cave, in Croatia's mountainous Velebit region, has a steady, weaving descent of 203 feet before it takes a direct vertical plunge of 1,693 feet through the ground...
New ocean species uncovered
Scientists exploring the depths of the mid-Atlantic ridge were excited to uncover a wealth of new species, including a bright red squid. The 10-year census, which began in 2000, aims to record all known marine life, in an aquatic "Doomsday Book". The latest study used deep-sea probes to explore the undersea mountain ridge, running between Iceland and the Azores.
A giant ecosystem that has
They are disaster zones: professional ornithologists who have spent their careers monitoring the teeming, screaming bird life of Orkney and Shetland have never seen anything like it.
On cliff ledges, on moorlands, on shingle banks, the nesting attempts of hundreds of thousands of seabirds in Scotland's Northern Isles have come to grief in the summer of 2004.
It is the year without young. Eggs have not been laid; where eggs have been laid, they have not hatched; where they have hatched, the chicks have died in the nest, and the tiny numbers of chicks that have left the nest have not lasted long.
A giant ecosystem that has functioned for millions of years has broken down. The reason is starvation, and the reason for the starvation is thought to be climate change: this is a taste of things to come.
Squirrels emit 'silent scream' Ground
Ground squirrels make an alarm call so high pitched that we cannot even hear it, scientists report in Nature. While studying the little rodents, researchers noticed that some of them made faint whispering sounds, as if they had lost their voices. But when these "silent screams" were processed by a bat detector, an abundance of ultrasound was detected. The researchers believe the whispers might be "secret" alarm calls - that the squirrels' predators cannot hear.
The Earth Sings (stories and
The Earth Sings (stories and music, Real req'd)
The Earth Sings" is a sixty-minute HearingVoices.com radio special of sounds for and from Mother Earth. With ears wide open we trek through Nepal, New Zealand, and North America.
UN plan to save Iraq's
The United Nations has announced a major project to help restore the lost marshlands of Iraq, which supported the ancient way of life of the Marsh Arabs.
World's tiniest fish identified The
The smallest, lightest animal with a backbone has been described for the first time, by scientists... The minuscule fish, called a stout infantfish, is only about 7mm (just under a quarter of an inch) long.
Evolution? Natasha, a 5-year-old
Natasha, a 5-year-old black macaque walks at the Safari Park near Tel Aviv Tuesday July 20, 2004. The young monkey began recently walking exclusively on her hind legs after a stomach ailment nearly killed her, zookeepers said.
Conservationists report finding bird
A bird thought by some to be extinct has been discovered on the island of Cozumel off Mexico's Caribbean coast, conservationists announced Friday.
Amazing microscopy: Secretory Structures of
Amazing microscopy: Secretory Structures of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants
Indian dam town defies
Over 20,000 people in India's Madhya Pradesh state are defying a deadline to leave their homes - which will soon be submerged by water from a river dam. The Indira Sagar dam is one of 29 being built on the Narmada river. The town of Harsud, 235km from state capital Bhopal, faces being submerged when monsoons raise the water level.
Go to the slime mold,
Go to the slime mold, thou sluggard: To see the world in a uninucleate amoeboflagellate cell, and heaven in a plasmodium
...these organisms challenge some of our most fundamental preconceptions about how life should work. And needless to say, faulty assumptions and unconscious prejudices constitute the most serious impediments to understanding - in religion no less than in science.
You want transformation, metamorphosis? Boy, do these suckers ever metamorphose. Forget about caterpillar into luna moth, soul into spirit, Big Mac into little Jimmy. Every species of slime mold progresses from an assimilative phase to a propagative phase: that is to say, they go from moving around and eating stuff to standing still and growing little stalks. From animal-like to plant-like - often in just a few hours if the conditions are right.
Toxic pollution rose in 2002,
Toxic chemical releases into the environment rose 5 percent in 2002, marking only the second such increase reported by the Environmental Protection Agency in nearly two decades, and the first since 1997. Some 4.79 billion pounds were released in 2002, the latest for which figures are available, not including releases from metal mining, the EPA reports. The agency stopped including that data because of a recent court decision in an industry challenge.
English Divers Find Giant 'Guard'
Lobsters have long been known as solitary and territorial crustaceans — but timely and fashion conscious? Divers in northeast England were recently surprised to come across a giant lobster standing guard over a barnacle-encrusted watch at the bottom of a harbor.
Living on Sun, Water, Wind,
Nearly everyone who has been to the solar village Gaviotas, east of the Andes in Colombia, calls it a utopia. But it isn't, says Paolo Lugari, its founder. That word means in Greek "no place." Gaviotas has existed, however improbably, for more than 30 years now. Lugari says it's a "topia" -- simply a place.
When he first saw it, looking down from a small plane in 1965, it surely looked like no place. There were two crumbling warehouses abandoned by a road crew at the end of a failed attempt to cut a highway across the huge, wild, wet savanna called the llanos. No one lived on the llanos except a few scattered ranchers and the Guahibo Indians, who fished and hunted in mosquitoey forest strips along the rivers. The soil was so toxic that nothing but tough grass could grow.
If people can live here, they can live anywhere, Lugari thought. He set out to show that they could.
Blowing In The Wind" Whirling
Baboons on rampage in South
Residents of a small South African coastal town are threatening to declare all-out war on baboons who have terrorised pre-schoolers, raided homes for food and urinated on clothes after pulling them out of closets.
World's land turning to desert
World's land turning to desert at alarming speed, United Nations warns
One-third of the Earth's surface is at risk, driving people into cities and destroying agriculture in vast swaths of Africa. Thirty-one percent of Spain is threatened, while China has lost 36,000 square miles to desert -- an area the size of Indiana -- since the 1950s.
Bizarre: Skylarks helped by 'crop
Bizarre: Skylarks helped by 'crop circles'
Crop circles could finally have found their niche with news that leaving fallow patches in cereal fields could help reverse a decline in UK birdlife.
This is a very nice
This is a very nice way to wrap up the weekend, and no, it's not what you think: Live Peep Show (or 'piip,' as those wacky Norwegians would have it)!
It's birds, folks. In a house. With a camera.
Qurrvack!: Ducks 'quack in
Qurrvack!: Ducks 'quack in regional accents'
Synchronous Rhythmic Flashing of Fireflies
We humans are pretty smug about our ability to communicate complex messages via sound waves. Of course, we recognize that whales and other cetaceans also seem to "talk" to one another, and that other animals employ their sense of smell for relaying messages. But most of us do not realize that lowly fireflies congregate to communicate en masse, with untold thousands of individuals cooperating in huge synchronized light displays. In reading some of the descriptions of these great natural phenomena, one recalls the light displays used to communicate with the aliens in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Lone leopard spotted in Georgia
A single leopard has been discovered in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, years after the big cats were thought to be extinct in the area. Zoologists were first alerted by some footprints in the Vashlovani State Reserve, which looked far too large to belong to the much smaller lynx. The leopard - now named Noah - was then caught on remote-sensing cameras.
17 year cicadas emerge!
Trillions of the insects will blanket the landscape in a frenzy of breeding, before dying en masse in June. The bugs, which have the longest known adult-to-adult cycle, will have to contend with a more developed world than the one they left behind in 1987. Some scientists say urbanisation is endangering periodical cicadas: at least one population is already extinct and others are at risk, they say.
Quoth the Raven Biologists... have
Biologists... have found evidence of theories of mind in a range of mammals, from gorillas to goats. But two recent studies suggest that even mammalian studies may be looking at the question too narrowly. Birds, it seems, can have theories of mind, too.
Well duh, Mr. Scientist-man! Watch a bird for five minutes and it's beautifully clear just how amazingly brilliant and resilient they are, and not just the bigger birds like ravens. Yesterday I watched a Towhee kick up leaves in a very organized search for food, and it was done in very precise patterns. Parrots, parakeets, minahs, et cetera can be trained to talk, of course, and some even extemporize, like the mockingbird. Tool use has been noted in several larger species. I would boldly reckon that all birds have a distinct theory of mind, and just because humans can't communicate with them at present the way we do gorillas or dolphins, doesn't mean that they are capable of equivocal forms of intelligence and thought, just of a different, and venerable, quality.
Tigers Bite Back, Killing 3
umatran tigers have killed three illegal loggers and mauled several others over the past week in and around a conservation forest in Riau province (Indonesia)... The first attack occurred on May 7 in the 150,000-acre Senepis Tiger Conservation Area near the coastal town of Dumai, detikcom online news portal reported. Some of the heaviest logging in Sumatra takes place in Riau, with vast tracts of forest being destroyed to make way oil palm plantations. The rampant deforestation has severely encroached on the habitat of tigers, prompting them to search for food in villages or to pounce on loggers.
Scampering through rats' colorful history
Rats are the ultimate survivor. Their life expectancy in the city is one year. In that time, a female rat can produce up to 12 litters of 20 rats. One pair of rats has the potential for 15,000 descendants in a year. As the representative of a pest-control firm told Sullivan, "The bad news is rodents are going to win this war against us humans. The good news is there's a lot of business."
No surprise here: Plastic fibre
No surprise here: Plastic fibre a 'major pollutant'
Tiny pieces of plastic and man-made fibres are causing contamination of the world's oceans and beaches, the journal Science has reported.
The planet's Twenty-five Biodiversity Hotspots
The planet's Twenty-five Biodiversity Hotspots
The most remarkable places on Earth are also the most threatened...
Sequestering carbon: For industrialised countries,
For industrialised countries, cuts of 90% or more would probably be needed, Professor Shepherd believes. Renewable energy could produce only about a fifth of the cuts needed, and so the world should research other methods, including possibly nuclear power and macro-engineering solutions. Professor Shepherd said these could range from storing ("sequestering") CO2 in deep aquifers or at depths of more than 3,000 metres (9,850 feet) in the oceans to mixing it with serpentine to produce magnesite and burying the resultant solid waste. He put the cost at $50 (42 euros) per tonne, and falling. Storing CO2 in trees and soils, as envisaged by the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty, he estimated, could probably cope with no more than about 100 billion tonnes of carbon.
Tool use in birds and
Outsourcing environmental leadership: One nation,
Outsourcing environmental leadership: One nation, underperforming
Modern environmentalism can fairly be described as an American invention. It got its rhetoric from John Muir, its fighting savvy from David Brower, its sense of the world from Rachel Carson, and its institutional framework from the Congress of the Nixon years, which bowed before the loud will of the American people in the years after Earth Day I. The rest of the industrialized world followed, its NGOs patterned on the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, its laws modeled on ours. We paved the road; we drove innovation.
A new report [complete PDF
A new report [complete PDF here] by the Center for Biological Diversity reports that 114 species have gone extinct in the first twenty years of the Endangered Species Act, mostly due to lack of enforcement and political ineptitude.
Squeezing the maximum food from
It's Earth Day! I'll be
It's Earth Day! I'll be posting only environmental/ecological links today. Let's start with doing something...
Adopt-a-Bat: These bats live
Drops of life: a photo
Drops of life: a photo essay on the vitality and scarcity of water in India [via WorldChanging]
Penguin-cam snaps amazing images Scientists
Scientists have obtained amazing images of penguins interacting with each other underwater by strapping miniature cameras to the flightless birds' backs.
Carbon Dioxide Reported at Record
That year-to-year increase of about 3 parts per million is considerably higher than the average annual increase of 1.8 parts per million over the past decade, and markedly more accelerated than the 1-part-per-million annual increase recorded a half-century ago, when observations were first made here.
Mass Extinction Not Inevitable Two
Two new studies published this week in Science that show steep declines in bird, butterfly and plant populations across Great Britain provide the strongest proof yet that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction of life. The British analyzed six surveys covering virtually all of their native species populations over the last 40 years. They discovered birds and native plants had declined 54 percent and 28 percent respectively while butterflies experienced a shocking 71 percent decrease.
Climate risk 'to million species'
Climate change could drive a million of the world's species to extinction as soon as 2050
Beautiful, sultry, earthy: Earth Erotica
Beautiful, sultry, earthy: Earth Erotica via MeFi
Aw, shit: Excrement energy boost
Aw, shit: Excrement energy boost for future
Researchers have developed a device which generates electricity from sewage and think it could become a green energy source of the future.
Birds 'heed monkey warnings' Birds
Birds are capable of recognising warning calls from other species, according to scientists.
Satellite tags to save dolphins
New Zealand is aiming to use satellite tagging to try to save Maui's dolphins, the world's most endangered marine mammal.
Mammals 'choose' sex of offspring
Experts from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities have found that some species are capable of influencing whether to produce sons or daughters.
Very sad: Great Barrier Reef
The brightly-coloured corals that make Australia's Great Barrier Reef one of the world's natural wonders will be largely dead by 2050 because of rising sea temperatures, according to a report released Saturday.
Owl's sight restored with delicate
A great horned owl found starving in the wild because it had gone blind could be released this spring after having new lenses implanted in its eyes.
Owl has been popping up a lot for me lately. During the hottest and most intense round in the sweatlodge yesterday, I had a vision of an owl's face, much like the one in this story, half concealed by a warm darkness. On the altar mound outside the door-flap, I had placed an old totem I have of a half-man half-owl. Bumping into this story reassures me that there is something I've got to learn from these amazing birds...
Earth's cloud forests threatened Pressures
Earth's cloud forests threatened
Pigeons' human-like ability to navigate
Homing pigeons are finding their way around Britain by following roads and railways, zoologists claim. They say the birds' natural magnetic and solar compasses are often less important than their knowledge of human transport routes.
Football festival aids elephants Almost
Almost 100 elephants have taken part in a football game in India as part of an annual festival aimed at encouraging locals to protect the animals.
Polly wanna discuss the dynamics
Polly wanna discuss the dynamics of avian-human communication at your soonest convenience. By the way, how are you in the way of crackers?
News > Science/Health --
Environmental groups and a New Hampshire company are locked in a legal battle over whether a newly developed sonar system will help whales avoid colliding with ships or drive the animals from their feeding grounds and separate calves from their mothers.
Earth 'entering uncharted waters' The
The Earth has entered a new era, one in which human beings may be the dominant force, say four environmental leaders. In the International Herald Tribune, they say the uncertainty, magnitude and speed of change in many of the Earth's systems is without precedent.
Maasai strike animal balance Kenya's
Kenya's Maasai people, who depend on tourists visiting the Maasai Mara game park, are facing big challenges after a dramatic fall in wildlife numbers.
Orang-utans 'may die out by
The orang-utan, Asia's "wild man of the forests", could disappear in just 20 years, a campaign group believes.
Richer, stouter, and no happier
More people are adopting a lifestyle that leaves them dissatisfied and the Earth impoverished, US researchers say.
Climate risk 'to million species'
Climate change could drive a million of the world's species to extinction as soon as 2050, a scientific study says.
Sextuplets Born to Rare
Sextuplets Born to Rare White Tiger
The 'body burden' Davis Baltz
The 'body burden'
Davis Baltz shops for organic food and otherwise tries to live as healthy as he can. So he was shocked to learn that the pollutants collecting inside his body sounded much like a Superfund cleanup site: pesticides, flame retardants and other nasty, man-made chemicals turned up in a recent test.
Meet a future jewel of
"This is the first time opal has been found in animals," said Dr Parker, who is now at Oxford University in Britain.
Spooky: Goodbye sunshine Each year
Spooky: Goodbye sunshine
Each year less light reaches the surface of the Earth. No one is sure what's causing 'global dimming' - or what it means for the future. In fact most scientists have never heard of it.
Whale nursery discovered in Chile
Scientists have made the extraordinary discovery in Chile of a hidden nursery where blue whales go in large numbers to rear their young and to feed.
Super cool squirrels! "We believe
Super cool squirrels! "We believe that a ground squirrel, when it goes into hibernation, produces chemical messengers that are released from the brain that direct the slowing down of the metabolism... If we were able to synthesize the same chemical compounds and make them available in an injection, it could be administered to induce a hibernation-like state in humans."
And they're cute, too.
Australia life-line for Barrier Reef
The Australian Government has submitted a plan to parliament to make the Great Barrier Reef the most protected coral reef system in the world.
Fiji's 'extinct' bird flies anew
A small songbird believed to have become extinct more than a century ago has been found alive and well in Fiji.
Oblivion threat to 12,000 species
Another 2,000 species have been added to the annual Red List of the world's most endangered animals and plants. The "official" catalogue produced by IUCN-The World Conservation Union now includes more than 12,000 entries.
Floraphilia... twenty four luscious images
Floraphilia... twenty four luscious images from one garden.
via life in the present
Dead Sea Drying Up, Israeli
For millennia, the balance was maintained by the Dead Sea's only water source, the Jordan River, pouring in from the north. In recent decades, however, both Israel and Jordan have been tapping in to irrigate large swaths of agricultural land along the narrow river that divides the two countries, robbing the Dead Sea of its replacement water.
Thirsty Africa faces food crisis
The spectre of famine and reliance on outside help could soon threaten large parts of Africa, scientists believe. They think increasing water scarcity may leave much of the continent not only thirsty, but without enough water to grow sufficient food for its needs.
New Zealand ponders the
Mothers against Genetic Engineering, led by one of the former Thompson Twins, Alannah Currie, has produced a dramatic billboard showing a woman with four breasts being milked.
Bad Mileage: 98 tons of
"Can you imagine loading 40 acres worth of wheat – stalks, roots and all – into the tank of your car or SUV every 20 miles?"
Ocean census discovers new fish
Some 300 scientists from 53 countries are creating a record of all known marine life, in a project reminiscent of an aquatic Domesday Book.
Arctic being 'transformed' by warming
NASA scientists released new evidence this week that the Arctic region is warming up and its sea ice cover is diminishing, with implications for further climate change throughout the globe.
I dispense with a cup
I dispense with a cup of killdeer ...the creature was a baby bird, a chick. If I were a two-inch-tall bird, I thought, scurrying around erratically, contending with pebbles in my path and dips in the asphalt, the last thing I'd want near me is a six-foot giant who lifts his big feet up and down as though he's stomping grapes. So I stood still.
No bueno: South American glaciers'
The Patagonia glaciers of Chile and Argentina are melting so fast they are making a significant contribution to sea-level rise, say scientists.
The Empire Strikes Out The
The real-world situation that's spontaneously combusting today is a perfect storm of extreme environmental degradation and rolling infrastructure collapse. It's by no means the first time this has happened. Previous civilizations bought the farm because of self-induced environmental catastrophe, but in the past the damage was localized.
Old purple frog danced
The seven-centimeter long amphibian hopped around the feet of dinosaurs. Researchers say the small-headed critter belongs to a new family of frogs thought to have disappeared millions of years ago.
Goodbye cruel world Lion numbers
Lion numbers have dropped by 90% in 20 years. The other big cats are going fast. How long before all the Earth's 'mega species' disappear from the wild?
In the market for sky
Crossposted to MeFi
the Degree Confluence Project aims
the Degree Confluence Project aims to "visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location." Includes stories from each documented point.
Orangutans Could Go Extinct in
Orangutans Could Go Extinct in 20 Years Habitat destruction by illegal loggers could mean the extinction of orangutans within 10 to 20 years, a Harvard researcher studying the apes said Monday.
A Gaetice depressus, right,
A Gaetice depressus, right, and its exuviae seem smiling in this undated handout photo from Toba Aquarium in Toba, Mie prefecture, western Japan. An 8-year-old boy picked the Gaetice depressus with about 1.5 cm shell on Aug. 30, 2003 when he went digging for clams at a beach in the prefecture and brought it to the aquarium. Employees at the aquarium doubted first that it was drawn by permanent marker but kept it. Even after the Gaetice depressus exuviated on Sept. 21, 2003, it still has the pattern like smiling clearly and it was proved that the pattern is by nature.
Gorilla Escapes From Boston Zoo,
Gorilla Escapes From Boston Zoo, is off to found new civilization.
Awww, cute: Roaming rodent gets
Awww, cute: Roaming rodent gets first-class return to Utah An adventurous adult male chipmunk is being flown from Marin to Utah in a private plane today to rejoin rodents he left behind after he took a road trip to Terra Linda.
From a website made by
From a website made by a well respected environmentalist and biker, killed over the weekend by a drunk driver... Analysis and Notes on Walden -- Henry Thoreau's Text with Adjacent Thoreauvian Commentary
From a thread on MeFi
Albatrosses face growing peril
Albatrosses face growing peril The plight of several species of albatross has worsened significantly in the last year, conservationists say.
UK makes a bold step
UK makes a bold step ahead for wind power: Boost for offshore wind power ... thousands of turbines to be built off the British coast [will] generate as much energy as around six nuclear power stations.
'Nemo' fish a transexual CHILDREN
'Nemo' fish a transexual CHILDREN who rush out to buy a clownfish, the cute little star of the new Disney cartoon Nemo, may be getting something that their parents may not have bargained for: a piscatorial transsexual.
Rubber Duckies' longest 'bath' ever
Rubber Duckies' longest 'bath' ever is coming to an end A consignment of thousands of rubber ducks is expected to wash up any day on the coast of New England - after more than a decade at sea.
Floods leave one million homeless
Floods leave one million homeless in India's northeast In Assam, the mighty Brahmaputra River burst its banks at several places Saturday washing away homes and breaching roads and mud embankments.
Incredible photography from the Bird
Incredible photography from the Bird Hand Book
Read fellow bloggers writing about
Read fellow bloggers writing about place, and the meaning of landscape.
Amazon destruction speeds up
Amazon destruction speeds up : "New satellite information from Brazil has revealed a sharp increase in the rate of destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. "
'Fluorescent fish' give the green
'Fluorescent fish' give the green light to GM pets, a huge and dangerous snub to natural creativity.
Green, or blue energy: Tidal
Green, or blue energy: Tidal energy turbine launches
"We estimate that there is at least 10 gigawatts of power available from tidal power in the UK. That's the same as about half of the existing nuclear industry."
Earthhaven Eco-Village "Earthaven is where
"Earthaven is where the human community is bonding with the Earth in a manner capable of healing the devastation of the past and inspiring a new grandeur for the future. Here on the land, even for a brief while, we experience what it is to return to ourselves."
America's 15 best swimming holes,
America's 15 best swimming holes, one of which is intriguingly not far from here.
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i am jay joslin: a spirit-fed mountain hopping lover of everything, an ordained lefty-veggie-homo, and bon-vivant go-go dancing with all the messenger mockingbirds of morning.
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Eclectic Music for Mountain Folks
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Keep it even,
"Not all who wander
You contain everything
Everything contains you
If you desire the Infinite,
look no further than the window.
Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe
0. If you find yourself
wonderstruck, don’t forget to return the favor. 1. Always be of service to
the whole and the Holy. You’ll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being
of service to your becoming Whole. 2. You will be called upon
to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never
turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in
their darkness, and you’ll find that when it’s your turn to be in the night
that there’ll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to
share . 3. The rewards of being
true to yourself are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met
with nothing. 4. You’ll also see that
knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own
struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but
yours is the power to choose it. 5. You’ll find that some of
your choices could’ve been better, or at times were downright stupid. That’s
okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them
I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I
tried it on. 6. Your growth will be a
mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you
strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing
minutes. Don’t count on second chances. 7. In those times when
everything collapses around you, and what’s left won’t go right, don’t
forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are
a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle
to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament you’re
having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic
flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that
there’s a little of each one hidden in both. 8. Respond as best as you
can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any
situation and being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF,
leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in. 9. Whatever you’re doing,
celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what you’ve got
when you’re done. Magic lives in the action. 9 ½ . All matter is energy.
All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short
time in this shape until we’re reunited with the expanse from which we came.
Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy
that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a
sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore,
why be bored? 9 3/4 . Choosing to live in
the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling
obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to
continue. It’s one of the few risks I’d recommend not taking, right up there
with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences. 10. The Universe itself it
not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered ,
butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So,
whenever things just don’t make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as
best you can, because that’s what you get for choosing this goofy,
unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.
0. If you find yourself wonderstruck, don’t forget to return the favor.
1. Always be of service to the whole and the Holy. You’ll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being of service to your becoming Whole.
2. You will be called upon to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in their darkness, and you’ll find that when it’s your turn to be in the night that there’ll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to share .
3. The rewards of being true to yourself are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met with nothing.
4. You’ll also see that knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but yours is the power to choose it.
5. You’ll find that some of your choices could’ve been better, or at times were downright stupid. That’s okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I tried it on.
6. Your growth will be a mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing minutes. Don’t count on second chances.
7. In those times when everything collapses around you, and what’s left won’t go right, don’t forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament you’re having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that there’s a little of each one hidden in both.
8. Respond as best as you can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any situation and being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF, leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in.
9. Whatever you’re doing, celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what you’ve got when you’re done. Magic lives in the action.
9 ½ . All matter is energy. All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short time in this shape until we’re reunited with the expanse from which we came. Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore, why be bored?
9 3/4 . Choosing to live in the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to continue. It’s one of the few risks I’d recommend not taking, right up there with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences.
10. The Universe itself it not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered , butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So, whenever things just don’t make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as best you can, because that’s what you get for choosing this goofy, unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.