Damien1972 writes: More than 60 percent of Africa's forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade, reports a new study published in the online journal PLOS ONE. The study warns that the diminutive elephant species — genetically distinct from the better-known savanna elephant — is rapidly heading toward extinction. The study is based on the largest-ever set of survey data across five forest elephant range countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. The study involved more than 60 scientists who spent 91,600 person-days surveying for elephants, walking over 13,000 kilometers.
Damien1972 writes: Humans are not alone in experiencing a mid-life crisis — great apes suffer the same, according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A new study of over 500 great apes found that well-being patterns in primates are similar to those experience by humans. This doesn't mean that middle age apes seek out the sportiest trees or hit-on younger apes inappropriately, but rather that their well-being starts high in youth, dips in middle age, and rises again in old age.
Damien1972 writes: A new paper in Current Biology suggests leeches can be used as a cheap way to track rare mammals. The research found that the presence of mammals can be determined by testing the victim's blood for DNA stored in the leech. The blood may survive a year-and-a-half.
Damien1972 writes: Scientists have devised a way to produce ethanol directly from seaweed. The breakthrough came from identifying the biochemical pathway used by a microbe to digest kelp's structural sugar alginate and inserting the gene into a strain of E. coli which was designed to convert the seaweed sugars directly into ethanol. The discovery offers the potential to generate biofuels that don't compete with terrestrial food production. The research is the cover story this week in Science.
Damien1972 writes: A 0.12 degree C rise in temperature will spur giant King Crabs to invade the Antarctic continental shelf, causing havoc for its unique ecosystem, reports a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Temperatures are currently rising 0.01-0.02 per year, meaning it could be less than a decade before the crabs chow down on the soft-bodied invertebrates that currently rule the shelf. “It's much more reminiscent of the Paleozoic era before all those shell-crushing crabs and bony fish and bottom-feeding sharks and rays evolved," said marine biologist Richard Aronson. “The bottom communities in Antarctica are anachronisms. They're a window to the past. They're going to get modernized when these crabs show up.”
Damien1972 writes: The African crested rat, a rodent from East Africa, applies a toxin from tree bark to make itself poisonous, reports a new study published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B. The discovery is the first known instance of a mammal acquiring its poison from a plant. All other known poisonous mammals — including the duck-billed platypus, shrews and the solenodon — produce their toxins themselves.
Damien1972 writes: A new study published in Scientific Reports has discovered visible evidence on Google Earth of the interactions between marine predators and prey in the Great Barrier Reef. Studying the satellite imagery of lagoons around remote and protected Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef, researchers found that they could easily identify a phenomenon known as 'grazing halos'. Scientists believe these 'grazing halos' are created by hungry herbivorous fish and sea urchins who pick a region clean of seaweed, revealing the substrate beneath. Seeking protection from predators in a reef, these herbivores venture out to feed only so far, creating a halo-shape around their refuge.
Damien1972 writes: A new airplane-based remote-sensing and analysis system will enable scientists to catalog tree species as they create three-dimensional maps of tropical forests. The system uses the most advanced airborne imaging spectrometer ever developed to detect small changes in forest canopy structure from selective logging and distinguish between plant species.
Damien1972 writes: The missing Bronx Zoo cobra that quickly became a pop culture sensation has been found in the zoo's Reptile House. The escaped serpent was found in a non-public, off-exhibit area in the Reptile House, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo. The Egyptian cobra was said to be in good condition, but it will be placed under observation and evaluated.
Damien1972 writes: A new study finds that self-described Republicans are less skeptical of "climate change" than "global warming". The research, conducted by psychologists at the University of Michigan, found that 44 percent of Republicans endorsed the idea that "global warming" is real, whereas 60 percent believed in "climate change." Among self-described Democrats the difference in wording was negligible: 86.9 percent vs. 86.4 percent.
rhettb writes: The mystery of the legendary chupacabra, a beast said to drain the blood of domestic animals at night, has been solved, according to a University of Michigan scientist. Biologist Barry OConnor says that most chupacabra sightings are probably linked to coyotes with mange, a disease caused by the same species of mite that triggers scabies in humans. Severe cases of mange cause hair loss and thickening of skin in wild dogs and can lead to bacterial skin infections that produce a foul odor characteristic of the 'chupacabra'. Wombats and squirrels are also susceptible to mange, suggesting that chupacabra are found in trees and Down Under.
Damien1972 writes: Kiribati, a small nation consisting of 33 Pacific island atolls, is forecast to be among the first countries swamped by rising sea levels. Nevertheless, the country recently made an astounding commitment: it closed over 150,000 square miles of its territory to fishing, an activity that accounts for nearly half the government's tax revenue. What moved the tiny country to take this monumental action? President Anote Tong, says Kiribati is sending a message to the world: "We need to make sacrifices to provide a future for our children and grandchildren."