July 30, 2007
The very cold, very dark waters near Antarctica may seem an unlikely place to find life, but scientists recently discovered more than 700 species thriving there. All of the species were completely new, and more than a few had evolved eyes, despite living in a nearly lightless environment.
As you can see in this slideshow, many of these sponges, crusteaceans and mollusks are pearly white–characteristic of creatures in such environments. But others were pink and red and just as colorful as their tropical counterparts.
Just goes to show that this planet’s still teeming with life, even in the face of global warming-related extinctions.
July 27, 2007
Four score and, oh, say, half a score years ago, Yellowstone National Park lost its grey wolves, and with them a major cog in Nature’s biological wheel. No wolves meant more elk meant less plant life, which in time meant trouble for aspen trees. (No trouble, though, for Scooter Libby’s cryptic poetry.)
But scientists reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s, and a new paper in Biological Conservation reports that order is being restored. The elk, fearful of becoming Wolf Fare, avoid munching low brush in certain areas of the park. As a result, many young aspens have grown too tall–reaching seven feet–for elk to eat. (More…)
July 26, 2007
Paper cuts just got a lot more serious.
Scientists have figured out how to turn a material almost as tough as diamond, called graphene, into sheets of paper. (More…)
July 25, 2007
It is a well-known fact that rabbits have difficulty breeding. Thankfully, Chinese scientists have come to the rescue by cloning a rabbit, a world first.
Conservationists and other animal lovers can now sleep better at night knowing that the thinning herds of rabbit that dot the planetary landscape will be able to avoid being endangered. Maybe someday the pitiable rabbit will be able to enjoy some minor flash of dominance in a niche ecosystem tucked in, say, England, California, Italy, far-flung Australia or even some remote forgotten island. With hope and Chinese cloning ingenuity.
What’s truly impressive about this is the Chinese diligence. Admittedly, though, it’s not like they have anything else that needs cloning attention.
July 23, 2007
Technically, they’re called “basal dinosauromorphs” (but one scientist calls them “dinosaur wannabes”) and I’m gonna call them dino-neanderthals.
Because it turns out that, for quite a while, dinosaurs coexisted with their more-primitive precursors, ancestors and genetic cousins–much as early humans coexisted with the similar but genetically distinct neanderthals (indeed, early humans and early neanderthals may have coexisted in a manner unsafe for discussion on a Web site that doesn’t have an age-checking filter).
It had been thought that when dinosaurs arrived on the scene, they quickly out-competed–ran faster, ate more, bred more, etc–than these dinosaur wannabes. But a study mostly led by Berkeley folks suggests that these two types of ancient reptiles coexisted for as much as 20 million years. (More…)