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Tue, 06 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


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.


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.


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.

Arrow Down

Western Canada facing this winter's coldest temps.

Canadians from British Columbia to Manitoba are being warned to batten down the hatches, bundle up or just stay inside Monday night as bitterly cold winds sweep across a significant swath of western Canada.

Winds up to 80 kilometres an hour are set to make already cold temperatures feel like -50 C and could cause white-out conditions on roadways, turning minor snowfalls into major headaches for drivers.

Bizarro Earth

New Fault Found in Europe; May "Close Up" Adriatic Sea

A newly identified fault running under the Adriatic Sea is building more of Croatia's Dalmatian Islands and bulking up the Dinaric Alps, a new study says.

Both the islands and the mountain chain - which runs along the upper western coast of the Balkan Peninsula - were believed to have stopped growing 20 million to 30 million years ago.

©Dario Mitidieri/Getty Images
A previously unknown active fault off the coast of Croatia is creating new additions to the Dalmatian Islands, according to a new study. The fault lies northwest of the southern town of Dubrovnik, seen above at sunrise with several of the islands in the distance.


WWF calls for supermarkets to boycott bluefin tuna

The environmental group WWF on Monday called on supermarket chains around the world to take bluefin tuna off their shelves, saying overfishing, driven by the craze for sushi, threatened to wipe out the species.

Praising several retail chains that have taken the lead in refusing to sell bluefin, WWF said it was time for "retailers around the world to emulate their courageous decision... until this fish is out of danger."

Cloud Lightning

China issues severe weather warning amid fuel shortage fears

China issued a severe weather warning on Monday for large swathes of the country already reeling from transport havoc and power shortages caused by the heaviest snowfalls in decades.

The forecast of further severe snowstorms came as hundreds of thousands of travellers remained stranded in airports, train stations, and on highways as they struggled to join their families for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Even before the new weather warning, Premier Wen Jiabao called late Sunday for "urgent" action to combat blackouts and the mounting transport chaos caused by what has been described as the heaviest snow in China in half a century in places.


China counts cost of snowy winter chaos

Beijing - Brutal winter weather across China on Monday stranded hundreds of thousands of people and choked energy flows, claiming a rising human and economic toll that pummeled local stock prices ahead of Chinese New Year.

At least 24 people had died in two weeks of accidents due to snow, sleet and freezing cold across central, eastern and southern China, regions used to milder winters, Xinhua news agency said.

Bizarro Earth

Benin's Cotonou - a city slowly swallowed by waves

Gilbert Adikpeto remembers the night he lost much of his shorefront home, literally washed away by the sea.

"We were asleep with the children when there was a deafening noise from the living room. I got up in a panic and the whole room had disappeared under the waves," said the 62-year-old retired railway worker, still in shock two months later.

Adikpeto's story could become all too common, experts warn.


Cloud Lightning

Snow causes chaos in China as millions head home for Lunar New Year

The worst snowfalls in a decade caused traffic chaos across much of China Saturday as millions of people tried to head home for the important Lunar New Year holiday, state media reported.

Tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded as transport in several regions across the centre, east and south of the country ground to a halt due to the bad weather.