Animals, Biology, News

200 new species discovered in Himalaya, including walking fish, emerald snake and sneezing monkey

© Liang Zhang

A walking fish, a jewel snake and a sneezing monkey: these are just some of the biological treasures recently discovered in the fragile Himalayan ecosystems.

Animals, Biology, News

Meet the hog-nosed rat, a new species of mammal

hog-nosed rat

While surveying the island of Sulawesi right in the center of Indonesia, a group of researchers came across a previously undocumented species of rodent. It was pretty easy too, considering the animal’s uncanny appearance: what would otherwise look like a normal looking rat, but with the nostrils of a hog.

Biology, News

We’re buying invasive plants on Ebay, and this is bad news

Passiflora edulis, or passionfruit, is an attractive ornamental plant, native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina that can easily go invasive in Europe. Credit: Leonardo Ré Jorge / Wikimedia Commons

Over a period of 50 days of monitoring,  researchers found 2,625 different plant species for sale on eBay. 510 were known to be invasive in at least one region somewhere in the world and out of that group, 35 are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of the 100 worst invasive species. With the continuous globalization we’re all

Animals, Biology, Environmental Issues, News, Pollution, Science

Plastic-eating worm might pave the way for ocean clean-up

Noble. Heroic. Grubby.
Image via sciencedaily

When it comes to human waste products and pollutants, plastic claims the crown. There are very few things our planet can throw at it to get rid of the polymer. It becomes bendy and rippy and shredy but it just won’t go away. When you compound the resilience of this headstrong material with the sheer quantities of it that we dump into the oceans, it looks like a pretty one-sided battle that nature can’t win, despite all our desperate efforts to increase recycling and take it out of landfills.

But now it seems that mother nature still had a trick up her sleeve, and the non-biodegradable reign of plastic is about to come to an end, undermined by the heroic appetite of the mealworm.

Biology, Genetics, News

Adorable gene-edited micropigs to be sold as pets in China – and this is a problem

Credit: BGI

Many researchers have expressed concerns about using such advanced techniques for such frivolous purposes, and personally, I feel like this could cascade onto many other problems – despite their undeniable cuteness.

Biology, Diseases, Geology, News

Flea trapped in amber for 20 million years might hold earliest evidence of bubonic plague

Image credits: George Poinar.

Paleontologists believe they have found the oldest evidence of the bubonic plague, embedded in a flea trapped in amber for the past 20 million years. This could provide insight onto how this devastating disease appeared and evolved.

Animals, Biology, News

First biofluorescent reptile found is a ‘glowing’ neon red turtle

biofluorescent turtle

“Hey, what did you find” “We found a bio-florescent turtle!”, a researcher triumphantly declared. David Gruber, a biologist at City University of New York, and colleagues made the find while diving in the Solomon Islands this July. Previously, researchers have found ever growing evidence of bio-luminescence and bio-fluorescence in the animal kingdom, from coral to seahorses, but this was the first time anyone has laid sight on a glowing reptile.

Animals, Biology, News, Science, Studies, World Problems

Warmer climate is making bumblebees’ tongues shorter

They'll have a hard time raspberrying from now on.
Image via wikipedia

A new paper published Thursday in Science looks at how climate change is (out of all things) making the tongue of some bumble bees shrink. Two species of alpine bumbles in the Rocky Mountains already show a decrease in tongue volume of nearly 25 percent in the last 40 years; and smaller tongues could spell big trouble for the flowers that rely on bumble bees for pollination.

Biology, News

How household vinegar could help save the Great Barrier Reef

Bristling with lethal toxin-tinged spikes, a multi-armed creature is threatening the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches 2,000km (1,200 miles) along the coast, is the world’s largest living ecosystem. Yet it’s being threatened and every year the coral retreats at the hand of pollution, tourism, farming and pests. One such pest is the crown-of-thorns starfish which attaches itself to the coral and destroys it with its venomous thorns. Various pest control measures have been tried, but none proved more effective than injecting the animals with vinegar. James Cook University researchers tried out various concentrations of vinegar, needle size and injection locations until they found the sweet spot for a 100% kill rate within 48 hours of contact. Widespread and sustained (you have to control the starfish every year following breeding season) could thus help save the Great Barrier Reef, or at least buy time until we address the more serious causes leading to its destruction.

Biology, Environment, News

Massive California drought damaging giant sequoias

Image via Listening Earth.

California is currently experiencing its worst drought in over a millennium. Trillions of gallons of underground waters were lost in 2013 alone, and things are not looking up. Now, a new study has found that not even giant sequoias, majestic trees that have been living for centuries, are safe from the effects of this drought.