Animals

Canadian Arctic was once home to giant ancient camel

Illustration of the High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, about three and a half million years ago. (c) Julius Csotonyi/Canadian Museum of Nature

We typically tend to associate camels with dry, barren, scorching hot deserts, but the truth is the animals first originated in North America’s Arctic region. A recent discovery of an ancient giant camel in Canada’s High Arctic region adds further weight to this claim, and shows just how adaptable the animal was in its migration from freezing cold to melting…

Animals, Climate

Lizards facing mass extinction due to global warming

lizard

Within the next 50 years, numerous lizard species could become extinct due to global warming, a research by Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln (UK) concludes. Not all lizards lay eggs – some are viviparous, and develop their embryos inside the mother’s body as opposed to an egg. Viviparous lizards are most threatened…

Environment, Environmental Issues, World Problems

Global warming will open shipping routes directly through the North Pole by 2050

Projected Arctic shipping routes.

A group of researchers assessed seven individual climate models and found that in each case common open water vessels will be able to navigate through portions of the Arctic, currently possible only with icebreaker ships, by the mid-century. Moreover, the thinning ice will allow ice-strengthened vessels to sail directly over the pole, something currently unimaginable, dramatically shortening travel distance, time and cost….

Environment, Geology, Physics

Volcans helped slow down global warming

Smoke billows from a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull

Climate change deniers were ecstatic – our planet wasn’t warming as fast as models predicted it; ha! Everything crumbles down, global warming is a hoax and all is good in the world, right? Wrong. The main question in science is “Why?”, and researchers started asking the question. Are all the models wrong, is there something big we’re missing? Possible, but…

Environment

Wind surpasses nuclear energy in China [shorties]

wind one

Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. Arguably, this is just a temporary situation that will change pretty soon (as China is planning to build numerous nuclear reactors), but the fact that nuclear and wind energy are even on the same scale in China – definitely says a lot. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more…

Environment

Everything you wanted to know about shale gas drilling (but were afraid to ask)

shale-gas-drilling-diagram

People ask me about shale gas all the time – I guess it goes with being a geologist. As much as this subject interests me and as much as I care about this (and I’m sure you do too), I kind of grows tiring to answer the same questions over and over again; so I wanted to find a great…

Environment, Environmental Issues

BP on trial for “gross negligence” in oil spill

bp1

In New Orleans, a landmark trial began to assess whether BP was grossly negligent during the 2010 BP oil spill. Ethically speaking, not only was BP grossly negligent, but the spill was just grossly… gross! Estimates show that 4.1 million barrels of oil were spilled into the gulf of Mexico, making it the largest accidental spill in the history of…

Animals

Tusk DNA tracking to handle illegal trade

A bull elephant grazes in South Africa's Kruger National Park

International treaties to protect the elephants are not working – that’s the sad truth. There is no real, practical way of enforcing them, and as a result, whatever few elephants are left are still being tracked down and hunted, mostly for their tusks. Researchers estimate that tens of thousands of African elephants are now being killed by poachers each year,…

Animals

Japanese minister says he sees no end to whaling

whaling

Japan will never stop its annual hunt for whales, a government minister has reportedly said, despite recent clashes between whalers and environmental organizations. “I don’t think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan,” Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said in an interview with the French news service Agence France-Presse on…

Animals, Robotics, Technology

Robotic bat wing teaches scientists new things about aerodynamics

A robotic bat wing lets researchers measure forces, joint movements, and flight parameters, and learn more about how the real thing operates in nature (credit: Breuer and Swartz labs/Brown University)

For some time now, researchers have been experimenting with the idea of an aircraft that operates with flapping wings, just like insects or birds do, instead of conventional flat and long wings. The idea is that flapping wings allow a much greater degree of control and stability, allowing the aircraft to perform maneuvers otherwise impossible. Still, such concepts are very…