ScienceDaily (Feb. 21, 2012) — Atmospheric oxygen really took off on our planet about 2.4 billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event. At this key juncture of our planet’s evolution, species had either to learn to cope with this poison that was produced by photosynthesizing cyanobacteria or they went extinct. It now seems strange to think that the gas that sustains much of modern life had such a distasteful beginning.
Scientists studying the decline and recovery of seagrass beds in one of California’s largest estuaries have found that recolonization of the estuary by sea otters was a crucial factor in the seagrass comeback.
"…Hughes and his colleagues documented a remarkable chain reaction that began when sea otters started moving back into Elkhorn Slough in 1984. The sea otters don’t directly affect the seagrass, but they do eat enormous amounts of crabs, dramatically reducing the number and size of crabs in the slough. With fewer crabs to prey on them, grazing invertebrates like sea slugs become more abundant and larger. Sea slugs feed on the algae growing on the seagrass leaves, keeping the leaves clean and healthy….”
"Long-lived bacteria, reproducing only once every 10,000 years, have been found in rocks 2.5km (1.5 miles) below the ocean floor that are as much as 100 million years old…”
Cicada emergence gif
In the mood for a good one? Here are 3 that I’ve watched recently (all on Netflix) which are pretty thought provoking.
- If a Tree Falls (2011) - follows one man’s impending trial for acts of “eco-terrorism” during his time with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
- Vanishing of the Bees (2009) - examines the “mystery” behind colony collapse disorder (CCD). Narrated by Ellen Page.
- Surviving Progress (2011) - explores the “progress trap” in connection to sustainability and it’s applicability to modern times. Features commentary from great Stephen Hawking and Jane Goodall, among others.
Shorter-Winged Sparrows Evolve Around Highways
"Over the last 30 years, the number of cliff swallows killed along roads in southwestern Nebraska has plunged, and the birds’ average wing length has shrunk, researchers report March 18 in Current Biology.” (read more)
The data are “jaw dropping,” says animal behaviorist Colleen Cassady St. Clair of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, who was not involved with the work. The results suggest that years of smacking into SUVs forced swallows to adapt to the road.
I did not and apologies for the late response… I seem to never see these messages.
For those curious, Lynn Marguilis ”is best known for her theory on the origin of eukaryotic organelles and her contributions to endosymbiotic theory, which is now generally accepted fr how certain organelles were formed.”
ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2012) — Organic chemists at the University of York have made a significant advance towards establishing the origin of the carbohydrates (sugars) that form the building blocks of life.
A team led by Dr Paul Clarke in the Department of Chemistry at York has re-created a process which could have occurred in the prebiotic world.
Working with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, they have made the first step towards showing how simple sugars — threose and erythrose — developed. The research is published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.
The Khan Academy discusses Embryonic Stem Cells
“If you are against research that involves embryonic stell cells because of the destruction of embryos, on those same philosophical grounds, you should also be against in vitro fertilization because both of these involve the destruction of zygotes.”
This is more developmental biology than ecology and evolution, but delves into the politics/philosophy surrounding current research and the forces both for and against it. It is wholly important to have a firm understanding of the science behind these issues before forming an opinion. Also, if you do not already know about the Khan Academy, check it out!