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Wed, 25 Nov 2020
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Cloud Lightning

Fiji lashed by powerful cyclone

At least six people have died and thousands are without power or water after Cyclone Gene lashed Fiji.

Winds gusted at 140km/h (88mph), tearing off roofs, causing flooding and bringing down trees and power lines, disaster officials said.

Hundreds of people took refuge in schools and government shelters after fleeing damaged houses.

Forecasters warned of further serious flooding, as the tail-end of the storm dumped large amounts of rain on Fiji.

Cloud Lightning

China fights 'war' against havoc caused by snow

China is waging all-out war against the disasters caused by heavy snow and rain in the southern provinces, with military forces and police officers getting involved.

Top state leaders are also supervising disaster relief work.

Chinese President Hu Jintao chaired a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) here on Tuesday to study the damage inflicted by icy rain and heavy snow and plan future work.

Magic Wand

"Mother of Pearl": Nacreous Clouds

As January comes to an end, sky watchers in Scandinavia are recovering from a veritable storm of nacreous clouds. After mid-month, hardly a night went by without someone spotting the phenomenon. "It was incredible! They were all over the sky," says Morton Ross of Oslo, Norway. This picture, taken by Ross on Jan. 25th, shows a typical apparition:

©Morten Ross

Sherlock

Greek experts look out for lost honey bees

Greek experts have expressed concern for the unexplained disappearance of large quantities of honey bees.

Greek scientists are watching out for Colony Collapse Disorder, which refers to the mysteriously abrupt departure of worker bees from their hives, Kathimerini reported Saturday.

Frog

Chameleons' colourful flashes are social signals

Chameleons are famed for changing colour to blend in with their surroundings and hide from predators - but new research on chameleons in their native habitat shows some of their colour changes evolved for exactly the opposite purpose - attracting attention.

African dwarf chameleons live in habitats in southern Africa ranging from grassland to rainforest.

They engage in complex social signalling, with bright colour changes along their flanks used by females to signal interest or rejection to males, and by males to signal aggression or submission to other males, and interest towards females. Males even square off in rapid-fire, colourful signalling duels.

©Adnan Moussalli and Devi Stuart-Fox
Chameleons can signal others in a matter of milliseconds by brightening their flanks. This keeps down the risk of being seen by a predator.

"Chameleons use colour change for camouflage and communication, but we don't know why some species change colour much more than others", says Devi Stuart-Fox of the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Cloud Lightning

Air and sea ports suffer as stormy weather sweeps across Israel

Stormy weather swept through the country Tuesday, causing delays at Ben-Gurion International Airport and forcing the Haifa sea port to partially close down.

At least eight arrivals to Ben Gurion Airport were delayed Tuesday due to the severe weather conditions.

Fish

Turtle Migrates 12,774 Miles

A leatherback turtle was tracked by satellite traveling 12,774 miles (20,558 kilometers) from Indonesia to Oregon, one of the longest recorded migrations of any vertebrate animal, scientists announced in a new report on sea turtle conservation.

Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of all living turtles and are widely distributed throughout the world's oceans. They have been seen in the waters off Argentina, Tasmania, Alaska and Nova Scotia.

©Brian Hutchinson, CI
A leatherback sea turtle returns to sea in Grande Riviere, Trinidad.

Ladybug

Rare 3-Foot Spitting Earthworm Found in Legal Battle

A rare 3-foot-long spitting earthworm that smells like lilies is at the heart of a legal battle between conservationists and the U.S. government.

When taxonomist Frank Smith discovered the giant Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) in 1897 by, he described it as "very abundant." Nowadays, however, sightings of the worm are rare.

The only recent confirmed worm sighting was made in 2005 by a University of Idaho researcher. Before that, the giant worm had not been spotted in 17 years, since 1988.

©Yaniria Sanchez-de Leon/University of Idaho (c) 2005
The large, light-colored worm at the top is the giant Palouse earthworm, Driloleirus americanus. Below is the southern worm or Aporrectodea trapezoides, an introduced species.

Bug

This Beetle Really Rocks

A new species of beetle that appears as if wearing a tuxedo has been named in honor of the late rock 'n' roll legend Roy Orbison and his widow Barbara.

Entomologist Quentin Wheeler of Arizona State University announced the discovery and naming of the beetle, now dubbed Orectochilus orbisonorum, during a Roy Orbison Tribute Concert on Jan. 25.

The ending of the species name, "orum," denotes it was named after a couple. If the beetle were just named after Roy it would end in "i," and for just Barbara, the name would end in "ae."

©Charles J. Kazilek, Arizona State University
This lateral view shows the new species of whirligig beetle, revealing its divided eyes (above and below the water line) and its white underside.

Snowman

Bus crash on icy road in China kills 25

GUANGZHOU - Some of the worst winter weather to hit southern China in decades took 25 more lives Tuesday when a bus plunged off an icy road, adding to the chaos the snow storms have caused during the nation's peak travel season.

Numerous cities suffered blackouts as heavy snowfalls caused power lines to snap and hampered the delivery of coal, used to generate most of China's electricity. Around 50 deaths so far have been blamed on the weather.