Earth ChangesS


Elephant legs are much bendier than Shakespeare thought

Throughout history, elephants have been thought of as 'different'. Shakespeare, and even Aristotle, described them as walking on inflexible column-like legs. And this myth persists even today. Which made John Hutchinson from The Royal Veterinary College, London, want to find out more about elephants and the way they move. Are they really that different from other, more fleet-footed species? Are their legs as rigid and 'columnar' as people had thought? Traveling to Thailand and several UK zoos, Hutchinson and his team investigated how Asian Elephants move their legs as they walk and run and publishes his results in The Journal of Experimental Biology on August 22 2008.


Abandoned baby whale euthanized in Australia

An injured baby humpback whale found earlier this week off Sydney's coast has been euthanized, Radio Australia reported on Friday.

The calf, nicknamed Colin, was abandoned by its mother and was unable to feed himself.

After vain attempts to save the animal's life, wildlife rescue workers decided to kill it to stop its suffering.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Nuri in China after sweeping Hong Kong

Hong Kong - Typhoon Nuri struck southern China on Friday, killing three people after barreling through Hong Kong, shutting down most of the financial hub with gale-force winds and disrupting hundreds of flights.

A man takes a photograph on the waterfront during typhoon Nuri in Hong Kong August 22, 2008.

Downgraded to a severe tropical storm, Nuri made landfall in southern Guangdong in the late evening. Strong winds in the provincial capital of Guangzhou toppled an expressway traffic sign, which crushed a van and killed its three passengers, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

Torrential rain is expected over the weekend as Nuri moves northwest, ebbing gradually, it added. The typhoon is now headed along the Guangdong coastline towards the gambling hub of Macau, where flights and ferries were also cancelled.

Much of Hong Kong ground to a standstill on Friday with the closure of financial markets, schools and offices. Howling winds swept across the former British colony, uprooting trees and churning white-tipped waves in Victoria harbor.

Arrow Down

US: Pesticide data may tell why bees die

A Bayer CropScience pesticide is at the center of a legal battle for research data that could help explain what's killing U.S. honeybees in large numbers.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in a Washington, D.C., federal court, accuses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of hiding the honeybee data.


Hawaii: Minor quakes rattle portions of the Big Island

Two relatively minor earthquakes within the past 24 hours have rattled the southeast area of the Big Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Cloud Lightning

Six Florida deaths blamed on storm Fay

Miami - Tropical Storm Fay was blamed on Friday for six deaths in Florida as forecasters warned that its torrential rains threatened a large swath of the southeastern United States with flooding over the weekend.

©REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Workers clear debris from a damaged roof at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic after Tropical Storm Fay passed through Wellington, Florida August 19, 2008.

At 11 a.m. EDT the center of the storm, which had threatened to strengthen into a hurricane as it churned across the Caribbean, over the Florida Keys and on to the state's southwest coast, was about 40 miles northeast of Cedar Key in northwest Florida, U.S. forecasters said.

The sixth storm of what experts predict will be a busy Atlantic hurricane season, Fay was moving west at just 5 miles per hour (7 kph) after making its third Florida landfall on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, with top sustained winds that had weakened to 45 mph (75 kph), was expected to move near or over the Florida Panhandle on Saturday and to dump heavy rain over northern Florida, southern Georgia and southeastern Alabama, the Miami-based hurricane center said.


World heading towards cooler 2008

This year appears set to be the coolest globally this century.

cold 2008
The early part of 2008 saw continued low temperatures in some regions

Bizarro Earth

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought; Nuclear Power Plant Seen As Particular Risk

A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones.

All known quakes, greater New York-Philadelphia area
©Sykes et al.
All known quakes, greater New York-Philadelphia area, 1677-2004, graded by magnitude (M). Peekskill, NY, near Indian Point nuclear power plant, is denoted as Pe.

The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America HERE.


Genetics Reveals Big Fish That Almost Got Away

Researchers from the University of Hawaii, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, National Marine Fisheries Service and Projecto Meros do Brazil discovered a new species of fish - a grouper that reaches more than six feet in length and can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. This newly discovered species can be found roaming the tropical reefs of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

goliath grouper
©Rachel Graham/Wildlife Conservation Society
A new genetic study by the University of Hawaii, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and others has found that there are two species of goliath grouper instead of one.

Was the massive fish hiding among the corals and sea grass to evade marine biologists? No, it was just a case of mistaken identity, as explained in a recent genetic study in the journal Endangered Species Research.

It turns out that goliath in the Atlantic - which inhabit the tropical waters of the Americas and western Africa - are not the same groupers that swim in Pacific waters, even though they look identical.

"For more than a century, ichthyologists have thought that Pacific and Atlantic goliath grouper were the same species, and the argument was settled before the widespread use of genetic techniques. The genetic data were the key to our finding: two species, one on each side of the isthmus.," said Dr. Matthew Craig of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, lead author of the study.

Alarm Clock

At top of Greenland, new worrisome cracks in ice

WASHINGTON - In northern Greenland, a part of the Arctic that had seemed immune from global warming, new satellite images show a growing giant crack and an 11-square-mile chunk of ice hemorrhaging off a major glacier, scientists said Thursday.