Biology news

Plankton and Vents

At http://phys.org/print383921447.html ... the subject is hydrothermal vents and methane seeps on the sea floor in various regions of the world. These have variously been treated as something of a geological and biological oddity - under the waves and out of sight. It is now emerging they are something special, an important force in the ecology of the marine system. They are also said to affect global climate but we can take that with a pinch of salt as climate has a habit of creeping into all manner of studies, with little real relevance.

wild and wilder horses

At http://phys.org/print383382056.html ... science has been having a look at wild horses and how they survived the last Ice Age into the Holocene and the modern world. In the open landscape of the Late Pleistocene the wild horse was common. In the post glacial wooded environment horses were confined to a few refugia, it is thought. Mostly they were confined to the steppe zone and central Asia which is where they were eventually domesticated. Did wild horses survive into the 19th and 20th centuries. It is thought most of these were feral - domesticated horses gone wild.

bison

At http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/spring-2016/article/archaeologists-... ... archaeologists have unearthed the bone of pre-Younger Dryas bison on a dig in Florida (among other interesting things) some ten feet below the ground surface. The bone was found in material from the Pleistocene epoch and it seems it is a rare find as bison roamed a grassland environment and most bones disintegrated over time.

monkey business

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/first-north-america... ... (see also www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/monkeys-may-have-floated-to-north-amer...) ... is one of those stories where a new find is like a torpedo, holing a consensus theory in the midriffs. Fossil teeth of monkeys have been unearthed by the Panama Canal expansion project. It was thought monkeys crossed over from South America when the two parts of the continent came together around 3.5 million years ago.

radiation a lesser effect than ...

Radiation appears to have a lesser effect on animals than human activity and interference - see http://phys.org/print380252676.html. Robert Farrar has also sent in the link to http://crev.info/2016/04/why-chernobyl-neighbors-are-not-dying/ ... and the same story can be seen at other online sites (now or in the recent past). We might begin by saying here we go again -Chernobyl and the exclusive zone. However, this time some further information is p[assed on to Joe Public. Some of the animals in the exclusion zone, such as Dzungarian horses, were deliberately introduced as an experiment.

radioactive pigs

At www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/radioactive-boars-rampage-around-fukus... ... following the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power station during the earthquake and tsunami wave the surrounding area was evacuated - leaving empty houses, sheds and outbuildings behind. These were duly colonised by animals - most notably by wild pigs. This may say a bit like 'Animal Farm' but the pigs really did get to upgrade to houses.

Life in Space

At http://phys.org/print379308179.html ... an interesting discovery. Ribose and related sugar molecules, the backbone of RNA, or ribonucleic acids, which are important in the coding of genetic information from before the emergence of DNA, is found in comets and asteroids. It may actually be abundant in the universe at large. As such, life beyond the confines of the Earth must be feasible.

Big Head

At www.yahoo.com/news/giant-mammoth-skull-discovered-bulldozer-operator-134... ... the skull of an Ice Age mammoth has been dug up by a bulldozer operator in Oklahoma. This is not your cold adapted mammoth covered in a woolly exterior but a species adapted to a temperate climate - or even perhaps a warm one. It is also much larger than woolly mammoths, males reaching up to three times the size. Surprisingly, it was found in a sand pit - see image below

soft tissue

Robert Farrar sent in this link, http://crev.info/2016/03/triassic-reptile-soft-tissue/ ... which concerns a paper in the online journal PLoS One which documents the survival of soft tissue preserved in ancient reptiles from the Triassic. Soft tissue from Jurassic dinosaurs is also known - but we are going back over 200 million years ago.

lizards in amber

Lots of insects have been found in amber - but apparently so were lizards and geekos ... and the chameleon - go to http://phys.org/print376555684.html