biosphere

NSF News - Antarctic seals may use the Earth's magnetic field to survive while hunting

National Science Foundation

From NSF  --  Antarctica's Weddell seals have biological adaptations that allow them to dive deep--as much as of hundreds of meters--while hunting, but also an uncanny ability to find the breathing holes they need in the surface of the ice that covers the sea. Now, a team of researchers supported by the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation, believe they have figured out they they navigate so well; by sensing the Earth's magnetic fields.

New fossils are no "missing link"

Understanding Evolution logo

From Understanding Evolution  --  Last month, scientists announced the discovery of 55-million-year-old fossils that belong to a mammal from ancient India, Cambaytherium thewissi. The hoofed animal may not have been particularly distinctive looking — it would have weighed between 45 and 75 pounds, resembling a cross between a wild boar and a tapir — but it does occupy a distinctive place on the Tree of Life. Some news outlets immediately began heralding the discovery as a "missing evolutionary link" between horses and rhinos. But is this accurate?

EARTH: Tiny Ants Are Heroic Weathering Agents

EARTH Magazine

From Earth Magazine  --  Earth's abundant silicate minerals are degraded over time by exposure to water, chemical dissolution, and physical and chemical weathering by tree roots and even insects such as ants and termites. Such weathering plays a significant role in decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide is consumed in chemical weathering reactions and the resultant carbonate becomes sequestered in the form of limestone and dolomite.

EARTH: La Brea climate Adaptation as Different as Cats and Dogs

EARTH Magazine

From EARTH Magazine  --  The La Brea tar pits in downtown Los Angeles are a famous predator trap. For every herbivore, a dozen or more carnivores - saber-toothed cats and dire wolves chief among them - are pulled from the prolific Pleistocene fossil site. In fact, the remains of more than 4,000 dire wolves have been excavated, along with more than 2,000 saber-toothed cats. The sheer number of fossils allows researchers to ask population-level questions about the climate and environment as well as how these animals evolved.

Pages