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Showing posts from January 18, 2016

Warmer Indian Ocean could be 'ecological desert', scientists warn

By Amantha Perera NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Anslem Silva has fished for four decades from this popular harbor on Sri Lanka's west coast, but for five years now filling his boat has become increasingly difficult. Overfishing is responsible for some of the lowered catch, but another problem may also be contributing: lack of food for the fish themselves, driven by global warming. "Rapid warming in the Indian Ocean is playing an important role in reducing phytoplankton up to 20 percent," said Roxy Mathew Koll, a scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Research at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.


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Oldest Animal Jonathan the Tortoise Is Going Strong at 183

A caloric increase is helping the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world — a giant tortoise — reclaim his health and vigor, a veterinarian reports. At 183 years old, Jonathan, who resides on the tiny Atlantic island of St. Helena, is now eating like a king. Before the diet change, Jonathan's keratin beak was blunt and soft, making him an inefficient grazer, Dr. Joe Hollins, the veterinarian who cares for Jonathan, said in a 2012 report in the journal Veterinary Record.


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Fowl Play: Diverse Parasites Infest Backyard Chickens

Chickens that live in backyards are exposed to a wider range of ectoparasites — parasites that live on the skin — than their commercial counterparts. In a study published online Jan. 11 in the Journal of Medical Entomology, scientists investigated 100 hens from 20 flocks in Southern California, and found a number of parasites in the coops and on the birds that are typically absent in commercial farms. Many of the urban chickens were playing host to a diverse group of parasites, which included fleas, mites and six species of lice: Menopon gallinae, Menacanthus cornutus, Menacanthus stramineus, Goniocotes gallinae, Lipeurus caponis and Cuclotogaster heterographus.


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SpaceX narrowly missed Falcon 9 rocket landing, video shows

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that exploded into a fiery ball just after landing at sea off California on Sunday had descended with pinpoint accuracy onto an ocean barge before a landing leg buckled, causing the booster to tip over, a landing video showed. Heavy fog at the rocket’s launch site in California may have caused condensation to collect in the latching mechanism and then ice it over, said technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, owner and chief executive of Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX. SpaceX is seeking to develop a cheap, reusable rocket and a successful ocean landing would have marked a second milestone for the company, a month after it nailed a spaceflight first with a successful ground landing in Florida.


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How the cat got its spots

A team of biologists and mathematicians from three British universities are challenging conventional thinking on piebaldism - a benign genetic disease caused by a mutation which results in the distinctively colored fur patches of cats, horses, pigs, dogs, and deer, while human hair is occasionally affected.     In a paper published in Nature Communications, the team, led by University of Bath mathematical biologist Dr Christian Yates, say their findings have potential implications for a wide range of serious embryonic diseases.

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Fossils of Largest Marine Croc Found … on Tatooine!

"At one point, when one eye of the crocodile was completely exposed, we realized there was an entire, giant skull just under our feet," said excavation team member Andrea Cau, a doctoral student at the Biological, Geological and Environmental Department of Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna University, in an email interview with Live Science. In the hours that followed, they became certain they were laying eyes on a previously unknown species.


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Belgian drone mixes plane and quadcopter technology

By Jim Drury Researchers in Belgium have devised a prototype delivery drone which they say could rival the likes of Amazon Prime Air and Google's Project Wing. The University of Leuven team behind VertiKUL 2 (KUL is the acronym for Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) say the drone combines the ability of quadcopters to take-off and land vertically with both the speed of conventional aircraft and their capacity to fly long distances. Lead researcher Bart Theys told Reuters that combining aspects of multicopters and conventional aircraft created great potential for a future drone delivery service.

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