Had a fantastic day yesterday filming the red squirrels at Formby. Ironically had an easier time filming these little guys than filming grey squirrels! Look out for the new episode out this Friday ‘Invasive species: Gripes with greys’.
Modern forests hold signs of prehistoric apocalypse
When a 10-kilometer-wide object slammed into Earth about 66 million years ago, it created an ecological catastrophe. In the ensuing environmental chaos, dinosaurs died out but mammals survived, setting the stage for the modern world. Now, scientists have confirmed that the plant kingdom suffered similar disparities after the impact, losing many more flowering evergreen species than plants that drop their leaves each year. Researchers looked at more than 1000 fossilized leaves from rocks deposited in what is now southern North Dakota during a 2.2-million-year interval spanning the dino-killing impact. In the 1.4 million years prior to the impact, leaves from the various species of flowering plants in the ecosystem had, on average, thicker and heavier leaves with fewer veins than those that lived in the 800,000 years after the impact, the researchers report online today in PLOS Biology. Thin, veiny leaves are a signature of deciduous plants; even though such leaves must be replaced every year, they allow deciduous species to take up carbon more quickly than their evergreen cousins. This “live fast, die young” strategy enabled deciduous survivors to better take advantage of the extremely variable post impact climate in which suitable conditions for growth—especially those steady conditions generally preferred by slow-growing evergreens—occurred less frequently, the researchers propose. They conclude that post apocalyptic forests were likely chock-full of fast-growing deciduous species such as extinct relatives of sycamores, walnuts, and palms (pictured above in an artist’s reconstruction), whereas thick-leaved, slow-growing evergreens similar to today’s hollies and ivies were much less common than they had been prior to the impact. Even today, the researchers note, few if any forests are dominated by flowering evergreens.
Source - news.sciencemag.org
The difference between Moth's and Butterflies
- Well here is a condensed answer to @Exposure17's question on twitter:
- There is no solid difference between the two. Victorian entomologists imposed the division.
- Generally, butterflies fly by day and have clubbed antennae. Moths fly by night and day, have feathered antennae, apart from burnets. All UK moths have frenulum (hooks which join the hind and fore wings).
How many species are their around the world? Find out what we think and why the answer is so important.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
'Third eye' helps sea turtles sense changes in seasons
Each summer, leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate thousands of kilometers from their tropical breeding grounds to feed in cooler waters. Yet how the animals know when to begin their long journey back south at the end of the season has mostly remained a mystery. New findings, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, suggest that leatherback sea turtles may be able to sense seasonal changes in sunlight by means of an unpigmented spot on the crown of their head—known as the pink spot (pictured). Researchers conducted an examination of the anatomical structures beneath the pink spot and found that the layers of bone and cartilage were remarkably thinner than in other areas of the skull. This thin region of the skull allows the passage of light through to an area of the brain, called the pineal gland, that acts as biological clock, regulating night-day cycles and seasonal patterns of behavior. The authors suggest that the lack of pigment in the crowning pink spot and thin skull region underlying it act as a “skylight,” allowing the turtles to sense the subtle changes in sunlight that accompany changing seasons, signaling them to return south when autumn approaches.
Source - news.sciencemag.org
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