Scientific anomalies
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Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Amazing Science!

Climate change, not human activity, led to megafauna extinction

Climate change, not human activity, led to megafauna extinction | Scientific anomalies |
Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded.


The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed "extinction window" between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change.


An international team led by the University of New South Wales, and including researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of New England, and the University of Washington, carried out the study. It is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


"The interpretation that humans drove the extinction rests on assumptions that increasingly have been shown to be incorrect. Humans may have played some role in the loss of those species that were still surviving when people arrived about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago -- but this also needs to be demonstrated," said Associate Professor Stephen Wroe, from UNSW, the lead author of the study.


"There has never been any direct evidence of humans preying on extinct megafauna in Sahul, or even of a tool-kit that was appropriate for big-game hunting," he said.


About 90 giant animal species once inhabited the continent of Sahul, which included mainland Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania.


"These leviathans included the largest marsupial that ever lived -- the rhinoceros-sized Diprotodon - and short-faced kangaroos so big we can't even be sure they could hop. Preying on them were goannas the size of large saltwater crocodiles with toxic saliva and bizarre but deadly marsupial lions with flick-blades on their thumbs and bolt cutters for teeth," said Associate Professor Wroe.


The review concludes there is only firm evidence for about 8 to 14 megafauna species still existing when Aboriginal people arrived. About 50 species, for example, are absent from the fossil record of the past 130,000 years.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Marco Bertolini's curator insight, May 7, 2013 3:21 AM

Des scientifiques sont à présent certains qu'un changement climatique a détruit la mégafaune d'Australie.  Et non pas l'action humaine, comme on l'a longtemps cru.  Un avertissement ?

Rescooped by Sallyann Griffin from Amazing Science!

First algae powered building constructed in Hamburg, Germany

First algae powered building constructed in Hamburg, Germany | Scientific anomalies |

A 15-unit apartment building has been constructed in the German city of Hamburg that has 129 algae filled louvered tanks hanging over the exterior of the south-east and south-west sides of the building—making it the first in the world to be powered exclusively by algae. Designed by Arup, SSC Strategic Science Consultants and Splitterwerk Architects, and named the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House, the building demonstrates the ability to use algae as a way to heat and cool large buildings.

To make use of the algae, which the team retrieved from the nearby Elbe river, it was put into large thin rectangular clear cases. Inside, the algae live in a water solution and are provided nutrients and carbon dioxide by an automated system. Each tank was then affixed to the outside walls of the building onto scaffolding that allows for turning the tanks towards the sun—similar to technology used for solar collectors. As the algae grows—mostly in the summer—it provides more shade for the building, helping to keep it cool (and serves as a sound buffer as well). Excess heat that builds up in the water in the tanks is transferred to saline water tanks underneath the building for use later. When the amount of algae growth in the tanks reach a certain point, some is harvested and taken to a processing facility inside the building. There the biomass is converted to biogas which can be burned to provide heat in the winter. Thus, the building makes use of both solar thermal and geothermal energy allowing it to be heated and cooled without using any fossil fuels.

The design and construction of the BIQ has taken three years and has cost approximately €5 million, all funded by Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) as part of the ongoing International Building Exhibition – 2013. The BIQ House is one of 16 projects undertaken by the group, with the goal of proving that cost effective ways of making bio-friendly buildings are available today. To highlight the building, the team has painted its exterior green and has added a giant cartoon-like bubble on one side with the word "Photosynthesis?" in it.

The building is to serve as a test case and will be studied by various architects and engineers from around the world to determine if the design is feasible and if so, to perhaps serve as a model when erecting buildings in other cities. 

Read more at:

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Peter Phillips's curator insight, April 13, 2013 2:27 AM

Creative thinking. Love it! I wonder how much biomass the algae is capapble of producing?