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Nature Blows My Mind! Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni Creates World's Largest Mirror

Nature Blows My Mind! Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni Creates World's Largest Mirror | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
It never ceases to amaze me how many otherworldly places, phenomenon and organisms exist on this one planet. This natural mirror on a salt flat blows my mind.
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Gaia Diary
“The more we nurture the planet, the better and more natural a life we'll have.” ― Chris d'Lacey, Icefire
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Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot

It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it
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100-mllion-year-old amber preserves oldest animal societies

100-mllion-year-old amber preserves oldest animal societies | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Fighting ants, giant solider termites, and foraging worker ants recently discovered in 100-million-year-old amber provide direct evidence for advanced social behavior in ancient ants and termites -- two groups that are immensely successful because of their ability to organize in hierarchies. The new work proves that advanced sociality in ants and termites was present tens of millions of years earlier than indicated by the previous fossil record.
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New CU study confirms giant flightless bird wandered the Arctic 50 million years ago

New CU study confirms giant flightless bird wandered the Arctic 50 million years ago | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
New research by the University of Colorado Boulder and the Chinese Academy of Sciences confirms there really was a giant, flightless bird with a head the size of a horse's wandering about in the winter twilight of the high Arctic some 53 million years ago.
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New Satellite-Based Maps to Aid in Climate Forecasts

New Satellite-Based Maps to Aid in Climate Forecasts | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
New, detailed maps of the world’s natural landscapes created using NASA satellite data could help scientists better predict the impacts of future climate change.
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Eagles and agriculture coexist in South Africa

Eagles and agriculture coexist in South Africa | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
To biologists' surprise, an eagle population living in a South African landscape dominated by agriculture appears to be thriving, according to a new paper in The Condor: Ornithological Applications -- even out-performing their neighbors in undeveloped mountain habitat.
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Clams help date duration of ancient methane seeps in the Arctic

Clams help date duration of ancient methane seeps in the Arctic | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A bed of fossilized, methane dependent clams has for the first time been observed in the high Arctic. It tells the story of a thousand year long methane release event.
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Fossil discovery: Extraordinary 'big-mouthed' fish from Cretaceous Period

Fossil discovery: Extraordinary 'big-mouthed' fish from Cretaceous Period | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Scientists have discovered two new plankton-eating fossil fish species of the genus called Rhinconichthys from the oceans of the Cretaceous Period, about 92 million years ago. Paleobiologist Kenshu Shimada at DePaul University said Rhinconichthys are exceptionally rare, known previously by only one species from England. But a new skull from North America, discovered in Colorado, along with the re-examination of another skull from Japan, have tripled the number of species in the genus.
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Rare bumble bee may be making a comeback in Pacific northwest

Rare bumble bee may be making a comeback in Pacific northwest | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Bombus occidentalis used to be the most common bumble bee species in the Pacific Northwest, but in the mid 1990s it became one of the rarest. Now, according to an article in the Journal of Insect Science offers, it may be making a comeback.
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There’s no such thing as truly ‘pristine’ nature anymore

There’s no such thing as truly ‘pristine’ nature anymore | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Humanity has changed the world so much that it’s hard to find anywhere that’s still untouched. Do we need a new way to define ‘pristine’?
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Wolf species have 'howling dialects'

Wolf species have 'howling dialects' | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Largest quantitative study of howling, and first to use machine learning, defines different howl types and finds that wolves use these types more or less depending on their species, resembling a howling dialect. Researchers say findings could help conservation efforts and shed light on the earliest evolution of our own use of language.
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The mystery of the Red Sea

The mystery of the Red Sea | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
An international team of biologists including researchers from the Moscow State University discovered new species of fluorescent polyps living in colonies on the shells of gastropods.
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Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought | University of Southampton

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought | University of Southampton | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.
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Imperiled Amazon freshwater ecosystems urgently need basin-wide study, management

Imperiled Amazon freshwater ecosystems urgently need basin-wide study, management | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
New study finds that human impacts on freshwater ecosystems and the water cycle in the Amazon are combining to cause dangerous basin-wide damage — changes that can only be mitigated by basin-wide research and policies.
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Rare beluga data show whales dive to maximize meals

Rare beluga data show whales dive to maximize meals | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
As the Arctic continues to change due to rising temperatures, melting sea ice and human interest in developing oil and shipping routes, it's important to understand belugas' baseline behavior, argue the authors of a new paper.
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Biologists find genetic mechanism for 'extremophile' fish survival

Biologists find genetic mechanism for 'extremophile' fish survival | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A Washington State University biologist has found the genetic mechanisms that lets a fish live in toxic, acidic water. The discovery opens the door to new insights into the functioning of other 'extremophiles' and how they adapt to their challenging environments.
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Past warming linked to rising sea level

Past warming linked to rising sea level | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

A warming episode some 125,000 years ago significantly diminished polar ice sheets and drove sea level six to nine meters higher, a scientific review of recent data shows.

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Wasps fly backwards to make sure they can find their way home

Wasps fly backwards to make sure they can find their way home | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Sand wasps capture snapshots of the landscape around their nest to make sure they can find their way back later, according to the first study to reconstruct what a homing insect sees in the field.
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Penguin parents: Inability to share roles increases their vulnerability to climate change

Penguin parents: Inability to share roles increases their vulnerability to climate change | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The fixed division of labor between crested penguin parents increases their chicks' vulnerability to food shortages made ever more common by climate change. The parents have been unable to adapt their habits to the challenges of increasingly frequent years of limited food supply and, as a result, will become further threatened by extinction. So says researcher Kyle Morrison of New Zealand, who led a study published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
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How climate change changed the face of marine science

How climate change changed the face of marine science | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
In the last 15 years, marine science has become increasingly dominated by the topic of climate change, shows new research.

 

And it is not just the physical sciences of oceanography and climatology that are focussed on how climate change affects the oceans. Marine biologists and ecologists have also shifted their focus to climate.

“There’s been a huge growth in the proportion of climate change research within the field of marine science,” says lead-author Martin Pedersen, postdoc at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

According to Pedersen, this growing interest in climate change among marine scientists coincides with the publication of the first report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1990.

“Many people know of the IPCC reports, not only in the scientific community but it’s also in the general news. So even though we can’t prove that it’s the main driver [of shifting focus in marine science], I’m pretty sure that it’s had a huge influence,” says Pedersen.

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The Nullarbor Plain's ancient forests revealed

The Nullarbor Plain's ancient forests revealed | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Australia's Nullarbor Plain is one of the driest landscapes in the country, but new research suggests it was once forest that received up to four times as much rain as it gets now.
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Yes, even rats have feelings. Here’s how we know.

Yes, even rats have feelings. Here’s how we know. | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

We still don't know how many animals can actually empathize. But the mounting studies suggest there's a fundamental baseline, at least among mammals. "When we're talking about the ability to sense the emotion of others, and to respond to them in some way, that's probably very widespread," Burkett says.

The capacities may vary depending on how animal societies are structured. Chimps and primates are thought to have the most humanlike emotional capacities. Dogs have evolved to live in packs and are attuned to our emotional needs. Cats, evolved to be solitary hunters, care much less.

Many of the researchers I spoke to say those who discount animals' ability to empathize are making empathy out to be more complicated than it actually is. In Silberberg's view, for instance, empathy requires that an individual knowingly act at a cost to itself to aid another.

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Experts urge extreme caution on 'rewilding' to save wild places

Experts urge extreme caution on 'rewilding' to save wild places | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Efforts to 'rewild' the landscape have become increasingly popular in some corners, but researchers writing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Feb. 8 say that scientific evidence supporting the potential benefits of this form of restoration is limited at best. As history has shown, the introduction of species into new places is often met with unexpected, negative consequences for the environment.
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Ocean acidification makes coralline algae less robust

Ocean acidification makes coralline algae less robust | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Ocean acidification (the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere), is affecting the formation of the skeleton of coralline algae which play an important part in marine biodiversity, new research from the University of Bristol has found.
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The return of the flatworm

The return of the flatworm | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Acoel worms, which live next to grains of sand on the sea-bottom, may at first glance seem small and unimportant. These colourful micro-worms, however, play lead part in understanding the evolutionary step from jellyfish to human beings.
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Forest losses increase local temperatures

Forest losses increase local temperatures | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
An article by JRC scientists published today in Science, reveals that the biophysical effects of forest losses substantially affect the local climate
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Climate change's frost harms early plant reproduction, Dartmouth study finds

Climate change's frost harms early plant reproduction, Dartmouth study finds | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Climate change may harm early-flowering plants not through plant-pollinator mismatch but through frost damage, a Dartmouth College-led study shows.
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