Category Archives: Wildlife

Science Podcast

Motherboard: Science Solved It podcast.

“I grew up on shows like The X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries. I checked out books on UFOs and Bigfoot from the library. I was fascinated by all of the wondrous, unexplainable things in the universe. And I still am. Only now, as an adult, a science journalist, and a skeptic, I’m much more interested in the explanations behind these mysterious phenomena.

That’s why I created Science Solved It, a new weekly podcast from Motherboard. Each episode, I explore one of the world’s greatest mysteries that was solved by science. I talk to the actual, real live scientists who cracked the case, while also indulging in some of the bizarre conspiracy theories that accompany these mysteries. Throughout the season, you’ll hear about unexplained, underwater noises, floating lights, moving rocks, and even a cartoon that gave people seizures.”

I found the podcast via this MetaFilter post: Science Solved It: theories and solutions to strange occurances, which has links and summaries to all the episodes in the first two seasons. I especially liked the episodes about the underwater flies at Mono Lake and the moving rocks in Death Valley, because I’ve been to those places years ago – plus, now I want to go see albino redwood trees (which probably won’t happen, as their location is being kept secret for good reasons).

I’ve got a cold at the moment and spent the past two days on the couch binge-listening to all 14 episodes in the first two seasons. Highly recommended!

Sunfish in Scotland

BBC News: Tropical sunfish spotted in Highland waters. “A fish normally found in tropical waters has twice been spotted off the west coast of Scotland last week.”

“It is the fourth time this year that the sunfish has been recorded by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.
The ocean sunfish is the heaviest bony fish in the world, with an average weight of 2,200lbs (998kg).”

Flight by electrostatic repulsion

The Atlantic: Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity. “Scientists are finally starting to understand the centuries-old mystery of “ballooning.””

“The upper reaches of the atmosphere have a positive charge, and the planet’s surface has a negative one. Even on sunny days with cloudless skies, the air carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every meter above the ground. In foggy or stormy conditions, that gradient might increase to tens of thousands of volts per meter.

Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air.”

Link via MetaFilter.

Ein halbes Grad Unterschied

Deutsche Welle: Klimawandel begrenzen, um Arten zu schützen. “Naturschützer kämpfen dafür, Arten vor dem Aussterben zu bewahren. Klimaschutz ist möglicherweise eine Schlüsselmaßnahme. Er könnte die Tiere bewahren, von denen wir am abhängigsten sind.”

“Die Forscher untersuchten drei Szenarios: eine Erderwärmung von 1,5 Grad, 2 Grad und von 3,2 Grad Celsius. Auf letzteren Wert laufen wir derzeit zu, wenn alle Länder ihre international abgegeben Versprechen in punkto CO2-Emissionsreduktion einhalten.

Nach derzeitigem Verlauf würden bis zum Jahr 2100 etwa 49 Prozent aller Insekten, 44 Prozent aller Pflanzen und 26 Prozent aller Wirbeltiere die Hälfte ihres Lebensraum verlieren. Beschränkt sich die Erderwärmung auf 2 Grad Celsius, wären es noch 18%, 16% beziehungsweise 8%. Und bei einer Erwärmung von 1,5 Grad Celsius erniedrigt sich die Zahl der betroffenen Arten auf 6% der Insekten, 4% der Pflanzen und 4% der Wirbeltiere. In dem Fall hätte quasi der Großteil der weltweiten Arten Glück gehabt.

“Die aktuelle Studie bestätigt frühere Erkenntnisse, dass der Klimawandel die Biodiversität bedroht”, sagt Tiffany Knight vom deutschen Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung in Leipzig. “Es gibt klare und eindeutige Belege dafür, dass der Klimawandel bereits die geographische Verbreitung, die Häufigkeit und die Migrationsmuster von Arten beeinflusst hat und damit die Biodiversität des Planeten bedroht.”

Aber, so fügt die hinzu: “Wenn wir als globale Gemeinschaft die Ziele des Pariser Klima-Abkommens erreichen oder übertreffen können, dann können wir einige der prognostizierten dramatischeren Verluste verhindern, die fatale Folgen für uns Menschen hätten.” “

Ice Age megafauna left tracks on Alkali Flat

The Conversation: How to hunt a giant sloth – according to ancient human footprints.

“Rearing on its hind legs, the giant ground sloth would have been a formidable prey for anyone, let alone humans without modern weapons. Tightly muscled, angry and swinging its fore legs tipped with wolverine-like claws, it would have been able to defend itself effectively. Our ancestors used misdirection to gain the upper hand in close-quarter combat with this deadly creature.

What is perhaps even more remarkable is that we can read this story from the 10,000-year-old footprints that these combatants left behind, as revealed by our new research published in Science Advances. Numerous large animals such as the giant ground sloth – so-called megafauna – became extinct at the end of the Ice Age. We don’t know if hunting was the cause but the new footprint evidence tells us how human hunters tackled such fearsome animals and clearly shows that they did. “

Link via MetaFilter.