Top Stories

How did the giraffe get its long neck?
May 27, 2016 06:09 AM - Penn State University

For the first time, the genomes of the giraffe and its closest living relative, the reclusive okapi of the African rainforest, have been sequenced — revealing the first clues about the genetic changes that led to the evolution of the giraffe’s exceptionally long neck and its record-holding ranking as the world’s tallest land species. The research will be published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on May 17, 2016.

“The giraffe’s stature, dominated by its long neck and legs and an overall height that can reach 19 feet (~ 6 m), is an extraordinary feat of evolution that has inspired awe and wonder for at least 8,000 years — as far back as the famous rock carvings at Dabous in the Republic of Niger,” said Douglas Cavener of Penn State, who led the research team with Morris Agaba of the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology in Tanzania.

How did the giraffe get its long neck? Clues now are revealed by new genome sequencing. 

Antarctic fossils show creatures wiped out by asteroid
May 27, 2016 06:03 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A study of more than 6,000 marine fossils from the Antarctic shows that the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was sudden and just as deadly to life in the Polar Regions.

Previously, scientists had thought that creatures living in the southernmost regions of the planet would have been in a less perilous position during the mass extinction event than those elsewhere on Earth.

Living near a landfill could damage your health
May 26, 2016 06:56 AM - Oxford University Press via EurekAlert!

According to research published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, health is at risk for those who live within five kilometres of a landfill site. 

Spring comes sooner to urban heat islands, with potential consequences for wildlife
May 25, 2016 08:21 PM - Jenny Seifert, University of Wisconsin-Madison

With spring now fully sprung, a new study by University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers shows that buds burst earlier in dense urban areas than in their suburban and rural surroundings. This may be music to urban gardeners’ ears, but that tune could be alarming to some native and migratory birds and bugs.

Wildfires no longer spreading like wildfires
May 25, 2016 07:15 AM - Swansea University

A new analysis of global data related to wildfire, published by the Royal Society, reveals major misconceptions about wildfire and its social and economic impacts.

Study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease
May 24, 2016 07:12 PM - Elizabeth Sharpe, University of Washington Health Sciences

Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans  found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution —even at lower levels common in the United States — accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas.  The study was published May 24 online in The Lancet.

A Different Look at Energy Harvesting Roadways
May 24, 2016 02:02 PM - Abigail Starks

Over fifty percent of the United States energy comes from coal and petroleum based fuels. Powering a nation in which the average person uses the amount of energy in 15,370 lbs of coal or 165,033 sticks of dynamite in a year is not sustainable. When thinking of a solution, the well-known renewable energy source that most likely comes to mind is solar power.

Solar panels are an impervious surface. Impervious surfaces already take up 32,868.61 square miles of roads, parking lots, driveways, and more. These surfaces displace rainwater to surrounding areas and have great impacts on the water table and soil quality. Utilizing already cleared land rather than clearing more would be beneficial to the environment, as solar fields require large amounts of cleared land.

A Different Look at Energy Harvesting Roadways
May 24, 2016 02:02 PM - Abigail Starks

Over fifty percent of the United States energy comes from coal and petroleum based fuels. Powering a nation in which the average person uses the amount of energy in 15,370 lbs of coal or 165,033 sticks of dynamite in a year is not sustainable. When thinking of a solution, the well-known renewable energy source that most likely comes to mind is solar power.

Solar panels are an impervious surface. Impervious surfaces already take up 32,868.61 square miles of roads, parking lots, driveways, and more. These surfaces displace rainwater to surrounding areas and have great impacts on the water table and soil quality. Utilizing already cleared land rather than clearing more would be beneficial to the environment, as solar fields require large amounts of cleared land.

Squid populations on the rise
May 24, 2016 07:09 AM - University of Adelaide

Unlike the declining populations of many fish species, the number of cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish and squid) has increased in the world's oceans over the past 60 years, a University of Adelaide study has found.

The international team, led by researchers from the University's Environment Institute, compiled a global database of cephalopod catch rates to investigate long-term trends in abundance, published in Cell Press journal Current Biology.

UN Climate negotiations update - how to raise and allocate $100 billion
May 23, 2016 07:15 AM - Georgiadis Pavlos, The Ecologist

The UN intersessional negotiations on climate change (UNFCCC) which started in Bonn last week enter their second week with the big question - how to find and allocate by 2020 the $100bn as agreed in the Paris Agreement. Delegate Pavlos Georgiadis reports.

The burning question for week two of these negotiations is how to raise and allocate the $100bn agreed as part of the Paris Agreement

The first week of the negotiations started slowly, and ended even slower. Negotiators look like they still have some sort of bad hangover, thanks to the fact they are still celebrating the Paris agreement. And while discussions take place inside the UN building in Bonn, Sri Lanka tries to recover from the worst floods in its historyIndia reports the hottest day every recorded in the countryand Carbon Brief warn that we only have five years until the 1,5°C carbon budget is blown.

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