Earth ChangesS


Study Provides Better Understanding of How Mosquitoes Find a Host

© ARS Photo UnitMosquitoes can detect a very fine chemical structure difference in octenol, a compound emitted by mammals, according to new research by ARS scientists.
The potentially deadly yellow-fever-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito detects the specific chemical structure of a compound called octenol as one way to find a mammalian host for a blood meal, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report.

Scientists have long known that mosquitoes can detect octenol, but this most recent finding by ARS entomologists Joseph Dickens and Jonathan Bohbot explains in greater detail how Ae. aegypti -- and possibly other mosquito species -- accomplish this.

Dickens and Bohbot, at the ARS Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., have shown that Ae. aegypti taps into the "right-handed" and "left-handed" structural nature of octenol, which is emitted by people, cattle and other mammals. This ability to detect the "handedness" of molecules has been shown in mammals, but the discovery is the first case of scientists finding out how it works in an insect, according to the researchers.


'Globetrotting' New Worms Discovered on Great Barrier Reef and Swedish Coast

© Pierre De WitThe new species of Grania discovered off the Gullmarsfjord.
Between the grains of sand on the sea floor there is an unknown and unexplored world. Pierre De Wit at Gothenburg University knows this well, and has found new animal species on the Great Barrier Reef, in New Caledonia, and in the sea off the Gullmarsfjord in the Swedish county of Bohuslän.

The layer of sand on ocean floor is home to a large part of the vast diversity of marine species. Species representing almost all classes of marine animals live here. The genus Grania, which belongs to the class of annelid worms Clitellata, is one of them.

Grania the globetrotter

Grania is a worm around two centimetres in length and mostly white, which is encountered in marine sand throughout the world, from the tidal zone to deep down in the ocean. The researcher Pierre De Wit, at the Department of Zoology of the University of Gothenburg, is analysing exactly how many species of Grania there are and how they are related to other organisms.


Lizard Moms Choose the Right Genes for the Right Gender Offspring

© Joseph MehlingThe male of this species can be two to three times the mass of the female, but the females seem to be in control of the genetic destiny.
Two Dartmouth biologists have found that brown anole lizards make an interesting choice when deciding which males should father their offspring. The females of this species mate with several males, then produce more sons with sperm from large fathers, and more daughters with sperm from smaller fathers. The researchers believe that the lizards do this to ensure that the genes from large fathers are passed on to sons, who stand to benefit from inheriting the genes for large size.

The study is published in the March 4 issue of Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science.

"This species has figured out a clever way to pass on genes with gender-specific effects on fitness," said Bob Cox, the lead author on the paper and a post-doctoral researcher at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. "Usually, when natural selection pulls genes in different directions for each gender, the species faces an evolutionary dilemma. But these lizards have solved this puzzle, they've figured out how to get the right genes into the right gender."

Arrow Down

Colorado, US: Rock Slide in Glenwood Canyon May Have I-70 Closed for Days

 rock slide
© Kelley Cox/Glenwood Springs Post IndependentAftermath of the rock slide in Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Springs - Crews have already began removing debris from a rock fall that has Interstate 70 closed in both directions at the Hanging Lake Tunnel in the Glenwood Canyon. The interstate is currently closed between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero.

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) engineers said that clean up would continue over the next two to three days, and that they hope to have an emergency contractor by the end of the week to begin repairs.

CDOT program engineer Joe Elsen would not say when traffic would again be allowed through the canyon. However, Elsen estimated that repairs will take between two and three months to complete.

"Without knowing anything else now, this is probably a two-month repair," Elsen said.

Bizarro Earth

Barcelona hit with heaviest snowfall in 25 years

© AFP/GETTYA man puts snow chains on his car during a heavy snowfall in Barcelona

Schools were closed, roads were blocked and power was knocked as Barcelona was hit with its heaviest snowfall in 25 years.

Snowfalls of up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) were forecast for the worst affected areas of the region of Catalonia, prompting the regional government to cancel classes for more than 142,000 students at 476 public schools.

Power was lost in homes throughout the region, with energy company Fecsa-Endesa reporting 200,000 clients without electricity, mostly in the province of Girona.

Bizarro Earth

Alaska: Earthquake Magnitude 5.6 - Andreanof Islands, Aleutian Islands



Tuesday, March 09, 2010 at 14:06:54 UTC

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 at 04:06:54 AM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

51.635°N, 173.516°W

51.6 km (32.1 miles) set by location program


79 km (49 miles) SE (142°) from Atka, AK

217 km (135 miles) E (96°) from Adak, AK

348 km (216 miles) WSW (247°) from Nikolski, AK

1790 km (1112 miles) WSW (244°) from Anchorage, AK

Bizarro Earth

4.5 Earthquake Shakes Hawaii, No Tsunami Generated

A 4.5 magnitude earthquake shook Big Island residents at 6:30 p.m. Monday. It was felt by island residents, but no tsunami was generated.

Quince Mento, Hawai'i County civil defense administrator, said it was "one sharp jolt" but that there were no reports of damage or injuries.

The quake was centered about 16 miles due west of Honomu, under the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea, he said.

Mento said there were reports of the quake being felt in Hilo, Volcano and North Kohala.

Bizarro Earth

Quakes rock Northern Luzon, Philippines

Vigan City - Two successive earthquakes hit the Batanes Group of Islands early morning Tuesday.

Julius Galdiano of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology branch office in Sinait, Ilocos Sur said the first quake with 5.1 magnitude occurred at 1:22 a.m. Tuesday, with Intensity 5 felt at the center of the province while intensity 4 was felt in Batan Island.

The epicenter of the quake according to the United States Geological Survey was located 30 km south southeast of Basco, Batanes with a depth of 10 kilometers.

After 20 minutes or at 1:40 a.m, an aftershock was felt in the same place with a magnitude of 4.8 magnitude.

Galdiano also revealed that before the quakes, a weak temblor was also felt and was centered 80 kilometers northwest of Vigan City at about 10:28 p.m. last Monday.

According to Phivolcs, no damage had been reported from the quakes.

Bizarro Earth

Massive Chilean quake shifted whole cities including Santiago and Buenos Aires

Mike Bevis
Columbus, Ohio - The massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck the west coast of Chile last month moved the entire city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west, and shifted other parts of South America as far apart as the Falkland Islands and Fortaleza, Brazil.

These preliminary measurements, produced from data gathered by researchers from four universities and several agencies, including geophysicists on the ground in Chile, paint a much clearer picture of the power behind this temblor, believed to be the fifth-most-powerful since instruments have been available to measure seismic shifts.

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina and across the continent from the quake's epicenter, moved about 1 inch to the west. And Chile's capital, Santiago, moved about 11 inches to the west-southwest. The cities of Valparaiso and Mendoza, Argentina, northeast of Concepcion, also moved significantly.

Bizarro Earth

Minor quake in Burma

Chiang Mai - There was a tremor in Burma's new jungle capital city of Naypyitaw last Friday afternoon following a minor earthquake. There were no damages, according to officials of the Meteorology department.

"There was an earthquake but we have not released a statement," an official of the Meteorology department in Naypyitaw told Mizzima.

Other government officials in Naypyitaw, when contacted, said they felt the quake though there were no damages.

The Meteorology department refused to provide further details on the quake.