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Oldest Known Jellyfish Fossils Found

The oldest known fossils of jellyfish have been found in rocks in Utah that are more than 500 million years old, a new study reports.

The fossils are an unusual discovery because soft-bodied creatures, such as jellyfish, rarely survive in the fossil record, unlike animals with hard shells or bones.

©Unknown
Cambrian fossil jellyfish shows similarity to the modern jellyfish (right), Periphylla. Credit: Fossil photo by B. Lieberman. Periphylla photo by Dhugal Lindsay, Copyright JAMSTEC

"The fossil record is biased against soft-bodied life forms such as jellyfish, because they leave little behind when they die," said study member Bruce Lieberman of the University of Kansas.

These jellyfish left their lasting imprint because they were deposited in fine sediment, rather than coarse sand. The film that the jellyfish left behind shows a clear picture, or "fossil snapshot," of the animals.

"You can see a distinct bell-shape, tentacles, muscle scars and possibly even the gonads," said study team member Paulyn Cartwright, also of KU.

Better Earth

One Third of European Fish Species Endangered

More than one out of every three freshwater fish species in European waters is on the brink of extinction, conservationists announced today.

After seven years of research, scientists with the World Conservation Union (IUCN), based in Switzerland, found that 200 of the 522 (38 percent) species of European freshwater fish are threatened with extinction due to rapid development in Europe over the last 100 years. Twelve species are already extinct.

The survey, detailed in a book, Handbook of European Freshwater Fishes, also found 47 new fish species, but this biodiversity is threatened in many of Europe's lakes and rivers.

"This new study shows that we are far from achieving European governments' targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2010," said Jean-Christophe Vie of the IUCN's Species Program. "The status of fish populations reflects the condition of European lakes and rivers."

Better Earth

Magnitude-3.5 earthquake strikes outside Yosemite National Park

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-3.5 earthquake has jolted the Sierra Nevada mountains just outside Yosemite National Park.

The temblor struck just after 9:30 a.m. about 11 miles southeast of Mammoth Lakes along the eastern edge of the park.

Better Earth

Volcano gets active in Indonesia

Thousands of mountainside residents were evacuated as activity rose at one of Indonesia's most deadly volcanos Thursday, officials said.

Hundreds of deep volcanic tremors shook Mt. Kelud - tenfold the normal number - and its crater lake was the hottest since the mountain was put on high alert last month, said Surono, a senior government volcanologist who goes by a single name.

©Unknown
Hundreds of deep volcanic tremors shook Mt. Kelud - tenfold the normal number - and its crater lake was the hottest since the mountain was put on high alert last month (indoinside.com)

"Kelud is entering its critical phase," Surono said in a telephone interview, indicating that an eruption could occur at any time.

In 1990, Mt. Kelud killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds. In 1919, a powerful explosion that could be heard hundreds of miles away destroyed dozens of villages and killed at least 5,160.

Evil Rays

Prepare: Cell phone system not ready for next big earthquake

Many cell phone calls failed to get through, while some land lines were briefly spotty. And in the wake of Tuesday's quake, many people were left trying to determine how they should communicate when the next one hits.

©American Red Cross
Instructional earthquake preparedness leaflet from American Red Cross

Comment: The above article references the following earthquake in California on 30 October 2007:

Moderate earthquake of 5.6 rattles Bay Area


Bizarro Earth

China: Shrinking glacier threat to rivers



©Xinhua
Photo taken on September 20, 2007 shows an unidentified man walking past a group of glaciers in Bomi County, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. A group of 42 glaciers were found in the county with an average altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level in the southeast of the region. It could be the biggest glacier group on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

The rapid shrinking of the country's most famous glacier is severely threatening oases in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, scientists warned Thursday.

Cloud Lightning

Noel becomes hurricane, moves away from Bahamas

Tropical Storm Noel, whose rains have killed at least 108 people in the Caribbean, strengthened into a hurricane in the Atlantic on Thursday as it moved away from the Bahamas toward Bermuda, U.S. forecasters said.

©REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A resident walks on an empty beach in South Beach, Miami as Tropical Storm Noel moves close to the south of Florida October 30, 2007.

Bizarro Earth

Forests losing the ability to absorb man-made carbon

The sprawling forests of the northern hemisphere which extend from China and Siberia to Canada and Alaska are in danger of becoming a gigantic source of carbon dioxide rather than being a major "sink" that helps to offset man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas.

Studies show the risk of fires in the boreal forests of the north has increased in recent years because of climate change. It shows that the world's temperate woodlands are beginning to lose their ability to be an overall absorber of carbon dioxide.

Heart

Pygmy hippopotamus born in Athens Zoo



©n/a

A newly born rare pygmy hippopotamus takes its first steps away from its mother in the Attica Zoological Park, in the Athens suburb of Spata. The pup belongs to a rare species of hippopotamus living in the tropical forests of Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

Cloud Lightning

Fears grow for 150,000 people as flood chaos hits Mexico



©Unknown

Tens of thousands of people have fled to shelters in south-eastern Mexico after the worst floods in living memory in the area destroyed their homes and harvests. The authorities say the floods are expected to get worse.

Rooftops peeked above the water yesterday in the city of Villahermosa, capital of the state of Tabasco, which has been the worst hit by the catastrophe. Vast swaths of agricultural land throughout the state were under water. Some of the giant nine-metre stone heads carved by America's first great civilisation, the Olmecs, were only half visible at the La Venta archaeological site.