Humans may be Earth’s apex predator, but the fleeting shadow of a vulture or the glimpse of a big cat can cause instinctive fear and disdain. But new evidence suggests that predators and scavengers are much more beneficial to humans than commonly believed, and that their loss may have greater consequences than we have imagined.
If you happen to be thirsty in the woods, there are a lot of things you can stick in your canteen to help clean up your drinking water. There are chlorine pills and filters (not crystals — never crystals). And now scientists have identified a certain kind of moss that could do it, too.
When fossil collector Paul De la Salle discovered pieces of a giant bone on Lilstock beach in Somerset in May 2016, he didn’t realise he had stumbled on a clue to a near 170-year-old mystery. Returning to the beach the following month, he found more pieces that together measured about a metre in length. De la Salle realised he was looking at the lower jaw of a huge ichthyosaur, an ancient type of marine reptile that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.
Earth’s crust is made up of fractured slabs of rock, like a broken shell on an egg. These plates move around at speeds of about 5cm per year – and eventually this movement brings all the continents together and form what is known as a supercontinent. The last supercontinent on Earth was Pangaea, which existed between 300-180m years ago.
Ohio State researchers found that corals that were more resilient to harsh ocean conditions also had more healthier microbiomes. Microbes may therefore be essential for to keep corals healthy under stressful conditions.
Genetic analysis reveals new evidence to explain how the hogfish uses its skin to “see.”The hogfish is a pointy-snouted reef fish that can go from pearly white to mottled brown to reddish in a matter of milliseconds as it adjusts to shifting conditions on the ocean floor.
The Global Seed Vault at the Svalbard archipelago is about to get some upgrades, Norway announced. Almost a decade since the vault opened, it now houses more than 850,000 seed samples donated by nations from all over the world for safekeeping.
If you go down to the shore today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Many will have witnessed the presence of a starfish or two when visiting the seashore or a public aquarium. Starfish come in an exciting range of colours and sizes, but have you ever given a thought to how this multi-armed wonder manages to exist in our oceans when it’s so unlike the other animals we know?
Pet owners will often swear their beloved pooch or moggie does wonders for their wellbeing, and now we have empirical proof. A new study has found dog ownership is linked to improved heart health for humans. This is an important finding, given heart disease is the leading cause of death globally.
Years ago, we believed that we weren’t animals and that animals were here solely for our use. Indeed, a cow was just a walking burger, steak of Sunday roast, keeping itself fresh and tasty ready for when we were hungry.
Maybe when you picture a university professor doing research it involves test tubes and beakers, or perhaps poring over musty manuscripts in a dimly lit library, or maybe going out into the field to examine new crop-growing techniques or animal-breeding methods. All of it’s good, solid research and I commend them all.
Humans have built high-rises since ancient Roman times, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they became the default work space for a significant slice of the world’s workers. While these buildings are certainly efficient, they can cause real health issues.
Just six years ago, more than 40% of Britain’s electricity was generated by burning coal. Today, that figure is just 7%. Yet if the story of 2016 was the dramatic demise of coal and its replacement by natural gas, then 2017 was most definitely about the growth of wind power.
In Antarctica, a fleet of seven drones will embark on a year-long mission under the ice. If they survive, the data they collect could drastically improve predictions of future ice melting and sea level rises.
At approximately 3.5 billion-year-old, the oldest fossils on Earth have been uncovered in Western Australia. The microscopic fossils are the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth and — thanks to further analysis and study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison —could deepen our understanding of the origins of life. The study was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
People rarely enjoy meeting a jellyfish. On the beach they appear limp, amorphous, and blistered in the sun. In the water it’s often a brush of a tentacle on exposed skin followed by a sting. They hardly evoke the serene elegance of a turtle or the majesty of a breaching humpback whale. But despite making a poor first impression, jellyfish are among the most unusual animals on Earth and deserve a second chance to introduce themselves.
“The oceans cover 70% of the surface of our planet, and yet they are still the least explored,” says Sir David Attenborough in the opening sequence of the recent BBC documentary series Blue Planet II. “Hidden beneath the waves, there are creatures beyond our imagination.” Yet while the programme reveals the wonders of many of these species, an incredible number more have never been encountered by humans at all.
Musk has officially announced his intentions to compete for a contract to build a high-speed loop in Chicago, through his venture The Boring Company. Not a hyperloop, this railway system will instead use electric pods.
Thunder and lightning have sparked awe and fear in humans since time immemorial. In both modern and ancient cultures, these natural phenomena are often thought to be governed by some of the most important and powerful gods – Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology and Thor in Norse mythology.
By the middle of this century the over 60s will outnumber the under 18s for the first time in human history. This should be good news, but growing old today also means becoming frail, sick and dependent. A healthy old age is good for you and a remarkably good deal for society. Improving the overall health of older Americans could save the US alone enough money to pay for clean drinking water for everyone on Earth for the next 30 years.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in 2015 that gave the state until 2030 to have 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy. A new report released this month shows the state may reach or surpass this goal by 2020.
Beer has been around for thousands of years — 5,000, in fact, according to a recent paper. There’s evidence that early Chinese civilizations (around 3400-2900 BC) fermented grains in clay pottery to make some of the earliest brews.
Beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, there lies a continent that is covered by rivers and lakes, the largest of which is the size of Lake Erie. Over the course of a regular year, the ice sheet melts and refreezes, causing the lakes and rivers to periodically fill and drain rapidly from the melt water. This process makes it easier for Antarctica’s frozen surface to slide around, and to rise and fall in some places by as much as 6 meters (20 feet).
Some have suggested solar geoengineering — the injection of aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight away from the planet — as a way to counter global warming. However, new research suggests the radical process could do as much harm as good.