In Alaska, scores of volcanoes and strange lava flows have escaped scrutiny for decades, shrouded by lush forests and hidden under bobbing coastlines.…Read More »
In the past three years, 12 new volcanoes have been discovered in Southeast Alaska, and 25 known volcanic vents and lava flows re-evaluated, thanks to dogged work by geologists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Forest Service. Sprinkled across hundreds of islands and fjords, most of the volcanic piles are tiny cones compared to the super-duper stratovolcanoes that parade off to the west, in the Aleutian Range.
The deforestation of the Brazilian rain forest has created a hidden consequence: The seeds of palm trees have evolved rapidly to be smaller.
The change is the result of a domino effect that begins with human agriculture and hunting, which have devastated large bird populations in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. With these birds, which include colorful toucans and cotingas, locally extinct or barely hanging on, the palm trees have no way to disperse their largest seeds. As a result, seed sizes are smaller in parts of the rain forest where large birds are missing, finds a new study detailed in the May 31 issue of the journal Science.
What lurks in the depths of the Bonaire reef, one of the healthiest and most diverse in the Caribbean Sea?
For the first time, researchers will try to answer just that question as they explore the deepest reaches of the reef, in the Dutch Caribbean, which includes the nearby islands of Bonaire and Curaçao. Scientists set out today (May 30) in a special submarine that can descend nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) beneath the surface, according to a release from Wageningen University, a research institute in the Netherlands from which the researchers hail.
A dinosaur nest discovery has revealed the most primitive known dinosaur embryos, which are among the oldest ever found.
The eggs belong to Torvosaurus, a T. rex-like predator that stalked the late Jurassic some 150 million years ago. Torvosaurus grew to be around 30 feet (9 meters) long, but the fragmented embryos discovered in Portugal were probably only about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in length.
A comet that could become one of the brightest ever seen when it flys by the sun this November is already remarkably bright and active, a new set of photos…Read More »
Comet ISON sports a well-defined tail of dust and gas even though it remains far from the sun, the new images from Hawaii's Gemini North Observatory reveal. But it's still too early to tell if ISON will live up to the "comet of the century" hype, researchers stress.
Hot pink tube worms living on scalding deep-sea hydrothermal vents actually like to keep things relatively cool, according to a study published today…Read More »
(May 29) in the journal PLOS ONE.
Superheated water — at temperatures of more than 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius) — spews from the vents. An entire ecosystem clings to the chimneylike columns, with worms and many other species consuming each other and the mineral-laden hydrothermal fluids. Exploring the deep-sea vents helps scientists determine the upper temperature limits for life.
A new thumbnail-sized butterfly with olive-green eyes has been discovered in Texas, scientists report this week.
Hundreds of butterfly species likely await discovery in the tropics, but in the United States, identifying a truly distinct butterfly like the one from Texas, now dubbed Vicroy's Ministreak (Ministrymon janevicroy), is rare, scientists say.
Gem hunters have always been natural geologists, seeking the mother lode long before researchers explained how gems and minerals form.
Now, scientists want to officially link precious gems to their geologic setting, with a new suite of tectonic gemstones that will help researchers and the public recognize the special conditions that create rare gems. Their proposal kicks off with ruby and jadeite jade, two rare stones linked to colliding tectonic plates.
The modern ecosystem of icy Antarctica is some 33.6 million years old, new research finds, with a system dating back to the formation of the polar ice…Read More »
The date is revealed by fossilized remnants of plankton found in Antarctic sediments, which show how plankton diversity plummeted when a big chill came along at the end of the Eocene Epoch and the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. Before the transition, Earth was a toastier place, and a wide array of plankton survived even at the poles.
By tracking and listening to whales, scientists have unlocked secrets about the dramatic changes currently underway in the Arctic. They've also learned…Read More »
that these whales are talented singers.
In a wide-ranging talk here at the American Museum of Natural History, researchers and a documentary filmmaker revealed how declining levels of ice have affected the Arctic, as well as the humans that dwell there. Their stories, recounted during a session of the World Science Festival, billed as an annual celebration and exploration of science, reveal the difficulty and beauty of working in the harsh, and quickly changing, environment of the far North.
Credit: Courtesy of Conrad Labandeira and Finnegan Marsh, Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian
This well-preserved fossilized tree hopper, flanked by two fossil crane flies, is one specimen from of an extraordinary fossil collection donated to the…Read More »
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History by an amateur paleontologist between 1992 and 2003.
The collection from citizen scientist and Colorado resident David Kohls is helping scientists in the museum's Department of Paleobiology (LINK) as well as visiting researchers gain exciting new insights into insect evolution, feeding strategies and ecology. Thanks to Kohls, these scientists have access to more than 120,000 fossils preserved in lake sediments about 48 million years ago — insects, spiders, leaves, flowers and small vertebrates.
A towering "rain control" site, where shamans would have asked the gods to open up the skies centuries ago, has been discovered in South Africa.
…Read More »
Located in a semiarid area of the country, near Botswana and Zimbabwe, the site of Ratho Kroonkop (RKK) sits atop a 1,000-foot-tall (300 meters) hill and contains two naturally formed "rock tanks." These tanks are depressions in the rock created when water weakens the underlying sandstone. When the scientists excavated one of them, they found over 30,000 animal specimens, including the remains of rhinoceros, zebra and even giraffe.
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