Welcome to Science Tuesday, my newish feature where I gather up all the science articles that I found interesting over the past week. They aren’t necessarily the biggest news items this week, but they’re the ones that interested me enough to read and post on G+ and Twitter.
In absolutely random order, here’s this week’s science goodness!
Ancient Death Toll of Birds Confirmed: Drier and smaller islands saw higher extinction rates, likely because they could easily be deforested, leaving birds no place to hide. Winged birds were 30 times likelier to survive the human expansion than were flightless birds. Bigger birds went extinct more often, as did unique species found only on the Pacific islands.
Extinction Enabled Rise of Crocodiles: although nearly all the crocodilelike archosaurs, known as pseudosuchia, died off about 201 million years ago, the one lineage that survived soon diversified to occupy land and sea. The lineage included the ancestors of all modern crocodiles and alligators.
This is the same Mega Volcano extinction event we were talking about last week!
Why Cuckolded Males Care for Other’s Offspring: By one estimate, the amount of effort a typical garden bird expends rearing chicks is the bird-equivalent of cycling the Tour de France. It stands to reason that male animals should only spend this much effort on their own offspring. Yet, bafflingly, research shows that males of many species continue to care for young they did not sire.
Social Isolation Shortens Lifespan: the take-away? Get out there and PARTY! 😉
EPA Charges Half of U.S. Rivers in Poor Environmental Condition: This is so sad 😦
Pesticides Damage Bee’s Brains: Work carried out by the University of Dundee, in Scotland, revealed that if the pesticides were applied directly to the brains of the pollinators, they caused a loss of brain activity.
But if you put pesticides directly on any brain guess what? You’ll destroy the brain. Take this article with a grain of salt.
(For those of you wondering, my dayjob is mainly testing water and soil samples for Pesticides.)
Blind Cavefish Also Hard of Hearing: “The caves are very loud with the sound bouncing off the walls and stuff,” Soares said. “It would not be very adaptive for the fish to hear at a frequency where the environment is so loud.”
Stone Age Phallus Found in Isreal: “The large amount of tools made of obsidian, a material that is not indigenous to Israel, is indicative of the trade relations that already existed with Turkey, Georgia and other regions during this period.”
Most of the article wasn’t about the stone phallus, but the headline sure does work!
An Animated GIF of Magnetic Paste: Just watch it. Creepy and amazing.
Glowing Millipedes Found on Alcatraz: These millipedes, which aren’t found anywhere else in the world, emit the light as a warning to predators that they are toxic, Rowland said.
Apparently they also smell like cherry or almond, so the researcher smells every one he picks up (but don’t eat them, they have cyanide in their body!)
Mystery of Desert ‘Fairy Circles’ Revealed: It is possible the termites don’t cause the fairy circles, but merely live in them. However, Juergens found the insects were present even during the early stages of patch formation, before the grass had died off on the surface. Over the termites’ lifetime, they munch on the grassy borders and gradually widen the circles.
WWF Finds Rare ‘Sumatran Rhino Footprint’ in Borneo: It is estimated that fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos, the smallest in its species, exist in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Tiny Blue-Bellied Fish Discovered in the Rio Negro: The fish – since named Cyanogaster noctivaga – is not only a new species, but an entirely new genus. And it was found in a stretch of river that has been particularly well explored, making it even more of a surprise.
Brain Size Didn’t Drive Evolution: In the study, researchers looked at 17 species that span 40 million years of evolutionary time, finding changes in the relative size of specific brain regions, rather than changes in brain size, accounted for three-quarters of brain evolution over that time.
And that’s it for this week’s Science News!
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