Biology news

Yellowstone Wolf

Wolves were re-introduced to the Yellowstone National Park in the mid 1990s and have generally received a good press (especially in TV wildlife programmes and in the media in general). The elk of the park are their chief prey animal and it was thought the re-introduction would alter their behaviour - creating a 'landscape of fear' as the saying goes (the wolf controlling elk numbers etc) - see ...

Declining Insects

At ... the reason this has popped up on WattsUp is the fact that the researchers claim light pollution is a bigger factor than climate change for the ongoing decline in insect numbers. The interesting theory is advanced by scientists at a German institute of Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries (where one have thought the climate change meme would have taken precedent). They discovered a sharp decline in flying insects as a result of light pollution.

Origin of Pluto

Also sent in by Jovan. Busy man. At ... what is the origin of Pluto? Is it a planet - or something else. It is being suggested Pluto is a great comet - of sorts. They say it is an agglomeration of a billion comets (in other words an inestimable number of comets). Another idea is that Pluto formed from coldices with a chemical composition similar to the Sun (but the giant comet theory is gaining traction it is alleged).

Dinosaurs that swim

Robert sent in this link ... which is actually a few years old. At ... dinosaurs are usually thought to be great lumbering land animals, or perhaps with a fondness for a swamp. However, how such a beast managed to keep its huge tail aloft is a basic problem as no actual marks of tails touching the ground have ever been found fossilised - but marks of crocodile tails have been fossilised. The latter move along the ground of course but just keeping a big dinosaur's tail aloft was no mean feat.


At ... the subject is viruses, the most abundant form of life on Earth. These are outliers in the search for life on other planets. Now, astrobiologists are being urged to do the research more thoroughly. The humble virus is integral to life on Earth - a disease causing agenb (but is it as simplistic as that?) Viruses are entities where genomes replicate themselves inside living cells. They can transfer from one cell to another. Viruses comprise the whole reproduction cycle - and use living cells to reproduce.

DNA change

William also sent in this link - ... NASA used astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother in  a space experiment - in order to study space effects. The results were surprising. It seems a brief spell on the international space station was enought to change the genes of one of the twins - not by a great orde of magnitude, but enough to say for sure that this occurred.

Virus from Space

Gary sent in this link ... courtesy of British Columbia. Not exactly the same as Hoyle and Wickramasinghe and 'Diseases from Space' as the new findings are talking about viruses swept into the air in sea spray and soil dust, which then travel upwards into the atmosphere. They are deposited back on to the surface of the Earth somewhat later - in a never ending cycle. Obviously, humans have evolved and survived while all of this was going on - by the mechanism of the immune system.

More on Dinosaurs

William has picked up on another dinosaur story at ... a slab of sandstone found at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland contains at least 70 mammal and dinosaur tracks - showing they coexisted. The sandstone was a rock outcrop spotted by a guy that had dropped his wife off at work. He is described as an expert on dinosaur tracks - and what caught his eye was a 12 inch wide dinosaur footprint.

Mongolian dinosaur cemetery

Gary sent this link to his web site - at ... which refers to an article I looked at but did not report, on the presence of dinosaurs in the shifting sands of what was in the Cretaceous era, supposedly an earlier version of the Gobi desert. This basically ignores the fact that Mongolia at that time may have been situated somewhat south of where it is now. The UK was certainly in a more sub tropical position - so why is it assumed Mongolia was close to where it is now.

Dinosaurs living in the dark

At ... Dinosaurs dug out of rocks in Victoria State, Australia, more than 120 million years of age, had to deal with prolonged periods of darkness and below freezing temperatures - according to a new study in Scientific Reports (January 2018). Problem with that assumption seems to be the difficulty plants might have to flourish in darkness as these were herbivores. Do plants grow in complete darkness and was Australia really at the pole 120 million years ago?