Welcome to Sott.net
Thu, 08 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes
Map

Binoculars

Desperate Female Spiders Fight by Different Rules

Image
© Damian Elias
Jumping spider females fight by different rules than males.
If you thought women's pro wrestling was a cutthroat business, jumping spiders may have them beat.

In most animals the bigger, better fighter usually wins. But a new study of the jumping spider Phidippus clarus suggests that size and skill aren't everything - what matters for Phidippus females is how badly they want to win.

Found in fields throughout North America, nickel-sized Phidippus clarus is a feisty spider prone to picking fights. In battles between males, the bigger, heavier spider usually wins. Males perform an elaborate dance before doing battle to size up the competition. "They push each other back and forth like sumo wrestlers," said lead author Damian Elias of the University of California at Berkeley.

Magnify

Researchers Uncover Identity of Spider Discovered by Darwin More Than a Century Ago

Image
© George Washington University
Leucauge argyrobapta
Researchers at The George Washington University recently uncovered the identity of a spider that was originally found by Charles Darwin in Brazil more than a century and a half ago. Using notes taken by Darwin himself, the researchers uncovered the identity of the species, Leucauge argyrobapta, and many aspects of the identity of the genus Leucauge that will now help taxonomists understand this complicated lineage of orb-weaving spiders to which this species belongs.

"This finding greatly facilitates future work in one of the most diverse spider genera," said Dr. Dimitar Dimitov, a postdoctoral researcher at GW. "At the same time it shows us that looking in our backyard can often present us with surprising and significant findings."

The first specimen was found in the Tijuca forest located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro and collected by Darwin when he visited during the voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle in 1832. After making the voyage back to London with Darwin for study, the specimen was somehow lost.

Frog

New Gecko Species Identified in West African Rain Forests

Image
© Charles Linkem
The West African forest gecko, Hemidactylus fasciatus, is secretive but common in the tropical rain forest patches stretching nearly 3,000 miles from the coast of Sierra Leone to the Congo.
The West African forest gecko, a secretive but widely distributed species in forest patches from Ghana to Congo, is actually four distinct species that appear to have evolved over the past 100,000 years due to the fragmentation of a belt of tropical rain forest , according to a report in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The discovery by former University of California, Berkeley, students Adam D. Leaché and Matthew K. Fujita demonstrates the wealth of biodiversity still surviving in the islands of tropical rain forest in West Africa, and the ability of new DNA analysis techniques to distinguish different species, even when they look alike.

"We tended to find this gecko, Hemidactylus fasciatus, throughout our travels in West Africa," said Leaché, a herpetologist with UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. "Despite the fact that it is recognized as one species, using new methods we have established a high probability that it is composed of at least four species."

Better Earth

Who Are We Sharing the Planet With? Millions Less Species than Previously Thought

New calculations reveal that the number of species on Earth is likely to be in the order of several million rather than 10's of millions. The findings, from a University of Melbourne-led study, are based on a new method of estimating tropical insect species -- the largest and one of the most difficult groups on the planet to study -- having significant implications for conservation efforts.

The study's lead author, Dr Andrew Hamilton from The University of Melbourne's School of Land and Environment, said he was driven to more accurately calculate species numbers because humans were more certain of the number of stars in our galaxy, than fellow species on their own planet.

"Our understanding of species numbers has been clouded by one group of organisms, tropical arthropods, which include insects, spiders, mites and similar organisms. Estimates for this group have ranged from a few million up to 100 million," says Dr Hamilton.

Binoculars

A Second Oil Spill in the Gulf

Image
© The Times-Picayune
A second leak, discovered at the Ocean Saratoga rig, is leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Initial reports claim the the volume of crude oil being released is much less than that of the Deepwater Horizon, but a 10 mile long oil slick has been detected by satellite. The site is visible in satelite images gathered by Skytruth.org, which first reported the leak on its website May 15.

The Ocean Saratoga site, owned by Taylor Energy, is located approximately ten miles off the coast of southern Louisiana. Official figures released report only 14 gallons of oil per day being emitted into the Gulf of Mexico to account for the massive oil slick.

Reports admit that small amounts have been leaking daily since Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 causing an undersea mudslide that destroyed the rig. Taylor Energy says they have been working since that time to stop the leak.

Comment: See other article which reveal satellite images showing another oil leak in the Gulf.


Better Earth

Methane Eaters At Lost Hammer Lake

Image
© Dept. Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Montreal
This is Lost Hammer Spring on Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut Territory, Canada.
Axel Heiberg Island, Canada -- Researchers at McGill's department of natural resources, the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Toronto and the SETI Institute have discovered that methane-eating bacteria survive in a highly unique spring located on Axel Heiberg Island in Canada's extreme North.

Lyle Whyte, McGill University microbiologist explains that the Lost Hammer spring supports microbial life, that the spring is similar to possible past or present springs on Mars, and that therefore they too could support life.

The subzero water is so salty that it doesn't freeze despite the cold, and it has no consumable oxygen in it. There are, however, big bubbles of methane that come to the surface, which had provoked the researchers' curiosity as to whether the gas was being produced geologically or biologically and whether anything could survive in this extreme hypersaline subzero environment.

"We were surprised that we did not find methanogenic bacteria that produce methane at Lost Hammer," Whyte said, "but we did find other very unique anaerobic organisms - organisms that survive by essentially eating methane and probably breathing sulfate instead of oxygen."

Better Earth

Oasis Near Death Valley Fed By Ancient Aquifer Under Nevada Test Site

Image
© Unknown
BYU geology professor Steve Nelson at Ash Meadows
Every minute, 10,000 gallons of water mysteriously gush out of the desert floor at a place called Ash Meadows, an oasis that is home to 24 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.

A new Brigham Young University study indicates that the water arriving at Ash Meadows is completing a 15,000-year journey, flowing slowly underground from what is now the Nevada Test Site.

The U.S. government tested nuclear bombs there for four decades, and a crack in the Earth's crust known as the "Gravity Fault" connects its aquifer with Ash Meadows.

It will presumably be another 15,000 years before radioactive water surfaces at Ash Meadows, Nelson said. A more pressing issue for wildlife managers at Ash Meadows is the current decline in populations of Devil's Hole Pupfish and three other endangered fish species.

Bad Guys

Gulf Oil Leak May Be Bigger than BP Says

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill
© AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill pools against the Louisiana coast along Barataria Bay Tuesday, June 8, 2010.
New Orleans, Louisiana - While BP is capturing more oil from its blown-out well with every passing day, scientists on a team analyzing the flow said Tuesday that the amount of crude still escaping into the Gulf of Mexico may be considerably greater than what the government and the company have claimed.

Their assertions - combined with BP's rush to build a bigger cap and its apparent difficulty in immediately processing all the oil being collected - have only added to the impression that the company is still floundering in dealing with the catastrophe.

The cap that was put on the ruptured well last week collected about 620,000 gallons of oil on Monday and another 330,000 from midnight to noon on Tuesday and funneled it to a ship at the surface, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the crisis. That would mean the cap is capturing better than half of the oil, based on the government's estimate that around 600,000 to 1.2 million gallons a day are leaking from the bottom of the sea.

Bizarro Earth

Gulf Oil Leak Causing Huge Upheaval In Marine Ecology

Image
© Samantha Joye
Not looking good
As oil continues to leak out of the collapsed Deepwater Horizon well head, researchers are beginning to collect data on how it is changing life in the Gulf of Mexico.

Earlier today, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia in Athens spoke of what they are finding. She said that methane concentrations in a giant underwater plume emanating from the well head are as much as 10,000 times higher than background levels. The consequences of this for life in the gulf are unknown.

Joye was one of the first scientists to discover deep-water plumes emanating from the ongoing spill and recently returned from a two-week research expedition on board the research vessel F. G. Walton Smith. "It's an infusion of oil and gas that has never been seen before, certainly not in human history," she said earlier today, as she described her preliminary findings.

The plume is more than 24 kilometres long, 8 kilometres wide and 90 metres thick, and stretches from 700 to 1300 metres below the surface south-south-west of the collapsed Deepwater Horizon well head.

Bizarro Earth

US: Seniors Prepare for 'The Big One'

Seal Beach - Although experts say it will be sometime in the next 20-plus years, seniors in Leisure World want to prepare now for the big earthquake that has been all but guaranteed by experts to hit Southern California.

Residents in the community have set up the Planning for Emergency Preparedness Foundation to help gather supplies, draw up emergency response plans and offer residents survival tips for when a major earthquake hits.

The group is holding its first meeting on Wednesday, which will include David Bowman, chair of the Geological Sciences Department at Cal State Fullerton as the keynote speaker.

"In this major regional quake, police, fire, the Red Cross and other emergency services will be spread too thin to get to us for a minimum of a week," said Scott McIntyre, the group's vice president. "They are telling us we must be ready to take care of ourselves. We would be foolish not to prepare."

The U.S. Geological Survey has predicted the southern part of the San Andreas Fault, which runs 100 miles from San Bernardino to San Diego, has been quiet for nearly 300 years, according to National Geographic Magazine.