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Tue, 07 Apr 2020
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Piranhas have had a raw deal in Hollywood

In Hollywood films piranhas have a reputation for being so aggressive that they can strip a body of flesh in just minutes - they were, for example, Bond villain Blofeld's favoured instrument of death in You Only Live Twice.

But it seems these Latin American freshwater fish are not the insatiable man-eaters of folklore, after all.

From today the new findings about piranhas - plus a tank full of them - will be on display at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.

According to research, the main reason the scary fish patrol in shoals is for protection from their own predators.

The widely held view that piranhas form "co-operative hunting groups" is a myth that has helped turn them into film legends.

However, a research team from the University of St Andrews and the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Institute in Brazil say piranhas are not dangerous. The researchers have been studying piranha behaviour in the flooded forests of the Amazon.

Prof Anne Magurran, of St Andrews, said: "Contrary to popular belief, piranhas are omnivores. They are scavengers more than predators, eating mainly fish, plant material and insects.

Better Earth

Californians urged to cut water after driest year

LOS ANGELES - Southern Californians, fond of their private pools, golf courses, garden sprinklers and the ubiquitous car wash, are being urged to reform their water-guzzling ways after the region's driest year on record.

A mere 3.2 inches of rain -- less than a quarter as much as usual -- fell on downtown Los Angeles in the year beginning on July 1, 2006, the lowest since records began 130 years ago.

A hot summer of short showers is forecast to follow.

Cloud Lightning

Flooding forces Kansas town's evacuation

Even after sunshine returned to southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri, rivers swollen by days of heavy rain inched dangerously upward across the Plains.

©Orlin Wagner (AP)
The Marais Des Cygnes River flows over the U.S. 59 bridge in Ottawa, Kan., Sunday, July 1, 2007. Closed flood gates protect the downtown business district. Flooding worsened across southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri Sunday as high water levels forced more people from their homes and forecasters said it could be days before area rivers begin returning to normal. Among the hardest hit regions was Osawatomie, Kan., in Miami County, where the Kansas National Guard was deployed to help with a mandatory evacuation of the city as workers struggled to reinforce a levee on the Marais des Cygne.

Cloud Lightning

It's not just the UK - weird weather is worldwide!

This year is on track to be the world's second warmest on record, experts warned yesterday.

The heavy flooding here this week and the heatwave in Greece may herald even greater disruptions from global warming, they said.

Their comments came as the European Commission advised leaders to 'adapt or die' in the face of climate change.

©Unk
Firefighters in Greece tackle forest fires caused by extremely hot and dry conditions.

Red Flag

Firefighters Battle Utah Blaze

NEOLA, Utah - A federal firefighting team took over direction of efforts Sunday to halt a fast-moving wildfire that had killed three people and charred about 42 square miles in northeastern Utah.

Snowman

Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny

In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore pleads, "We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth." Gore repeatedly asks that science and reason displace cynical political posturing as the central focus of public discourse.

Attention

Update! Floods follow drought in eastern Australia, worst in 40 years

Residents of a previously drought-stricken area of southeastern Australian were Friday being evacuated to safety as rising floodwaters threatened to swamp homes and farmland.

Scores of people have already been evacuated by army helicopters and police from homes in Gippsland in the east of Victoria state as officials warned that the deluge could worsen as rivers peak.

Jeff Amos, deputy mayor of the Wellington Shire Council, said it was ironic that residents who had recently battled savage bushfires and a long-standing drought had been confronted almost overnight with a flood emergency.

"It was a fair deluge during the past week which has put an end to the drought in one way," Amos told AFP. "But unfortunately it's probably going to do more damage than good.


Light Sabers

Coral Reef Fish Starve Themselves to Maintain Social Order

Some coral reef fish starve themselves to avoid getting into fights with their larger, dominant neighbors, researchers have found.

Emerald coral gobies live in small groups in which social rank is strictly determined by body size. Within each group only the largest, dominant female mates with the one resident male.

Rather than competing for the top spot, subordinate female gobies often limit their own growth to remain non-threatening to higher-ranking fish.

Underlying this strategy of peaceful coexistence is fear of being kicked out and left to die, the researchers say.

Each goby group of up to 17 individuals occupies a single coral colony that provides food and shelter.

Cloud Lightning

Syberia: Rescuers warn about heavy showers and thunderstorms at weekend

Rescuers declared a storm warning in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to bring blasts of Northern wind reaching 40-50 mph, the regional agency for civil defense and emergencies reported.

Attention

Weather extremes wither LA, drown Texas

Barring a surprise arrival of the kind of gully washers Texas is getting these days, Los Angeles' driest year in 130 years of record-keeping will go into the books this weekend.