This is a cool infographic where you can scan to each of the Earth's continents to see how the shorelines would change SOLELY from all the ice on the planet melting (so ignoring how precipitation patterns could also change with global warming). The seas would rise 216 feet, and San Francisco would become a chain of islands, while California's Central Valley would become an inland sea. All of Florida disappears. Interestingly, the Great Lakes shorelines stay pretty much the same, because we don't have glaciers nearby to drain into them.
Here's a fun little video on the woolly bear (those fuzzy caterpillars that are black with a brown band around their middle), and why some people think the width of their brown band can forecast how severe the upcoming winter's weather will be.
Although scientists haven't reached any conclusions on their predictive power for the weather, it is fascinating how their hairs are structured to allow them to freeze solid and survive the winter without thawing out constantly!
Evolution has caused a fly to develop perfect-looking reverse images of a spider (or ant) on the tips of its wings, and the fly sits on vegetation with its wings spread on either side so that this false spider is visible. Perhaps it is used to scare away predators, but scientists are still debating how the fly displays its wings and what happens when it does.
Photo credit: Peter Roosenschoon, https://twitter.com/ziyatong/status/397348948857196544/photo/1
Every time I look at the picture of the creature, I can't believe it's a real, living creature on Earth (in Chile). It is probably the strangest animal I have ever seen. It looks like a stone filled with bloody goop, but is in the sea squirt group, and feeds on algae from a siphon. The red color isn't from its blood - it has clear blood - but Chileans like to eat them raw or cooked.
Even weirder, they can concentrate up to 10 million times the natural concentration of the rare element vanadium in their bodies, and scientists do not know why.
Photo credit: Arvid Puschnig
I love this. Here's a paper-puppet animation of the life of Alfred Russel Wallace - his explorations through the tropics and correspondence with Charles Darwin.
For those of you who don't know, Alfred Russel Wallace developed a theory of evolution and natural selection independently but around the same time as Darwin, wrote to Darwin about it, and spurred Darwin to co-publish a paper with him announcing the theory. This also made Darwin finally write his book The Origin of Species that he had been thinking about for decades because he knew he now knew he had competition!
This is a fun link with lots of pretty pictures, especially for people like me that love satellite images of some of Earth's most beautiful places. Many of these wouldn't qualify in being locations where tourists would want to travel to, but it's amazing what they look like from up high.
Now I want the book with all 150 images!
Sorry there's no preview - I don't want to get in trouble with any copyright laws.
Creating artificial blood that could be used for blood transfusions safely has been a very difficult goal for scientists to reach, but a scientist in Romania has developed artificial blood that does not have any adverse effects in mice. Some of the benefits of artificial blood is that it could be made sterile and shelf-stable, two things that donated blood is not. However, hemoglobin (what transports oxygen in our blood) can break down very quickly or have other side effects which makes it difficult to use in artificial blood.
This new artificial blood uses hemerythrin, a natural compound from invertebrate blood that is similar to hemoglobin but holds up better when outside the body. It will be interesting to see how it is used in further studies
It took me a while to post this, but this is some really cool research done by the lab coordinator for the class I teach and his wife, both from Michigan State University! They found that grasshopper mice do not feel pain from the scorpions they eat, even when the scorpions repeatedly sting them in the face. This is pretty amazing, considering "The bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) delivers one of the most painful stings in the animal kingdom—human victims have compared the experience to being branded."
The grasshopper mice aren't tolerant to all types of pain - they still react to other pain-inducing chemicals, but not the scorpion's venom. This is thought to be an adaptation to allow the grasshopper mice to eat the abundant scorpions as a food source in a desert environment without much other prey.
This ecology research could also prove useful for developing new painkillers that work more effectively in humans.
(includes cool video of the feeding in action!)
Photo courtesy of Matthew and Ashlee Rowe.
Sorry that this turned into a weekly dose of science instead of a daily dose of science for a while! No guarantees, but I'll see if I can post more frequently again. I also activated comments!
Today's news (and this one is actually news from the past two weeks) is that although past research has generally shown that Native North Americans have their roots in East Asia, and walked over the Bering Land Bridge when there was a frozen connection between (now) Russia and Alaska, new evidence has found that Native Americans and their ancestors have more European and Western Asian roots than Eastern Asian roots. This is not the result of interbreeding with Europeans that colonized North America in the 1500s and on.
Scientists sequenced the genome from a boy buried 24,000 years ago in Siberia (East Asia), and found part of his genome was only shared with Native Americans but no other group, and the other part was shared with Europeans and West Asians, but not with East Asians. It could be that the boy's group of people recently moved to Siberia and hadn't mixed with East Asians yet, then they interbred a bit and then migrated to North America. This research is being debated because it is based off a single skeleton, but is pretty cool nonetheless.
I'm an ecologist in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I'll share what I find interesting in this blog.