Enn Original News

The first big bite!
February 7, 2014 11:43 AM - Gareth Trickey, University of Toronto

The first top predators to walk on land were not afraid to bite off more than they could chew, a University of Toronto, Mississauga study has found. Graduate student and lead author Kirstin Brink and U of T Biology Professor Robert Reisz suggest that Dimetrodon, a carnivore that walked on land between 298 million and 272 million years ago, was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop serrated ziphodont teeth. According to the study published in Nature Communications, ziphodont teeth, with their serrated edges, produced a more-efficient bite and would have allowed Dimetrodon to eat prey much larger than itself. While most meat-eating dinosaurs possessed ziphodont teeth, fossil evidence suggests serrated teeth first evolved in Dimetrodon some 40 million years earlier than theropod dinosaurs.

USGS Develops Tool to Help Track Oil Spills
February 7, 2014 10:57 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Each year, tons of oil can be spilled into the ocean. Whether it comes from an oil tank spill, a leak that occurs during offshore drilling, or even natural seeps that occur within the ocean, oil spills can cause grave environmental and economic damage to marine and coastal ecosystems. When an oil spill occurs, the oil that floats on water will usually spreads out rapidly across the water surface to form a thin layer called an oil slick. As the oil continues spreading, the layer becomes thinner and thinner, eventually turning into a thin layer called a sheen. Managing and predicting the spread and path of oil is often very difficult for first-responders and clean up crews, however, a newly developed computer model holds promise to helping scientists track a spill. U.S. Geological Survey scientists developed the model as a way of tracking the movement of sand and oil found along the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Achoo! Native Echinacea angustifolia plant is blown away
February 5, 2014 08:17 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Echinacea, a genus of flower in the daisy family is sold in many over-the-counter cold and flu remedies and sold in pharmacies and health and nutrition stores. Echinacea has nine wild species in eastern and central North America that grow in moist to dry prairies and in open wooded areas. The genus includes the purple coneflower, pale purple coneflower and narrow-leaved purple coneflower. All have large magenta petals that unfurl from early to late summer.

Solar Energy is cash and sunshine in your pocket
January 30, 2014 09:48 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Is there money to be made on your roof? With the never-ending availability of sunshine and the evolution of solar technology many are recognizing the benefits of solar. The decision making process though is not for the faint of heart. Recognizing the difficulty in breaking through the process a company called Generaytor out of Tel Aviv has developed a free web-based app to show how much money can be saved and made with rooftop solar panels.

Slowing down the floodwaters
January 29, 2014 10:41 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Putting something called "Natural Engineering" to work in a five-year research project, Newcastle University in cooperation with the Environment Agency are discovering the benefits utilizing the land's natural defenses to slow river flow downstream and prevent flooding. Slowing down water in anticipation of flooding events is being tested all over the world. Strategies include the use of retention basins; wetlands development; levee systems and floodwalls but Newcastle University researchers directed by Dr. Mark Wilkinson are employing additional water retention strategies further up in the catchment system. The Belford Burn is a small catchment system located in Northumberland, a community just south of the Scottish border.

Seahawks vs. Broncos: Sustainability Highlights for the Teams and Super Bowl XLVIII
January 29, 2014 09:18 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

With the Seattle Seahawks getting ready to play the Denver Broncos this weekend in Super Bowl XLVIII, here at ENN, we are not only focused on the game, but we are also interested in the sustainability efforts of the stadiums and the teams. As for this year's Super Bowl, MetLife Stadium boasts that it is the first stadium in the world to earn the title of "Certified Green Restaurant" stadium from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).

Control of the lion fish
January 24, 2014 09:32 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

A recent Oregon State University study shows that controlling the invasive lionfish in the western Atlantic Ocean is likely to allow for recovery of native fish. The lionfish is estimated to have wiped out 95% of native fish in some Atlantic locations. This Atlantic invasion is believed to have begun in the 1980s and now covers an area larger than the United States.

Great Lakes evaporation hypothesis up in the air
January 21, 2014 03:24 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

The recent Arctic blast gripping the nation will likely contribute to a rise in Great Lakes water levels in 2014, new research from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University shows. Research conducted by the two schools through the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA) shows the correlation between periods of high and low evaporation and its effect on ice cover. Years with high ice cover were usually followed by cooler summer water temperatures and lower evaporation rates, but these same high-ice winters were preceded by high evaporation rates during the autumn and early winter indicating a two-way connection between ice cover and evaporation. While ice cover reduces evaporation from what would otherwise be exposed lake surface water, it also reduces lake temperature generating ice cover.

Beaver, Dam it!
January 20, 2014 09:32 AM - Enn Staff, The Ecologist

As climate change brings more rain, there will be more catastrophic flooding; flooding of crops, homes and businesses, particularly in urban areas where there is simply no place for the water to go. One British writer has identified the beaver as the would-be hero to restore hydrological normalcy. Louise Ramsey writes about the beaver in Britain where reintroductions of the rodent have shown the vital role they once had in reducing flooding and how they could take up that mantle once more.

Dueling fruit flies
January 17, 2014 11:13 AM - By Robin Blackstone

Apparently male fruit flies fight. Who knew? According to biologist David Anderson from the fly laboratory of California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Drosophilae, commonly known as fruit flies, fight regularly. Males in particular put up a big fight in the presence of a female because males have special cells in their brains that promote fighting that are absent in the brains of female fruit flies.

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