Science News Update: August 25

science news

In this science news update, we ricochet from the eating behavior of bats to the magnitude of climate change. The editors have chosen a few of their favorites as well, from weird species names to the Hox genes of Drosophila.

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Bats that Prefer Scorpions for Food

Even bats like their food a little spicy. The pallid bat has a natural immunity to scorpions, and frequently dines on them at night. At times, up to 70% of the bat’s diet may come from scorpions!

Link (The Nature Conservancy, Aug 12) : http://goo.gl/k3oHBY

Visualizing the Magnitude of Climate Change

One of the biggest obstacles in getting people to understand climate change is to grasp the magnitude of energy that is involved. It is best to relate it to something that is easily understood. For example, the amount of energy being added to the biosphere by human activity is equivalent to 4 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, every second.

Link (Science Alert, Aug 19th): http://goo.gl/d8TVof

The Role of the Appalachians in Speciation

The Appalachians are a massive chain of mountains, extending over 2000 miles from Newfoundland to Alabama. 450 million years ago, the formation of this chain fundamentally changed the process of speciation on the planet, allowing for the invasion of species into newly formed seas and the formation of new specialized species to fit rapidly evolving environments.

Link (Ohio University, Aug 21st):http://goo.gl/jl0LfU

 

Editor’s Picks

The Strange Names of Species

To be honest, most species names are pretty boring, and because of this it is hard to get student’s interested enough to learn the basics of taxonomy. This article presents some of the quirkier names that have been assigned to species, and can provide a real learning resource for the classroom.

link (National Geographic, Aug 8): goo.gl/qecxtp

 Is Evolution Predictable?

Evolutionary biologists have often debated whether, if you began life again on some other planet under the same conditions, you will end up the the same results. Most supported the idea that chance events would have too great of an impact, and that the end result of these experiments would always be unique. This article, by Carl Zimmer, does a great job of summarizing recent experiments which suggest that evolution might be predictable.

Link (NY Times, Aug 15, 2013  ); http://goo.gl/HC2HJ4

Hox Genes and Evolution

This article, by Alice Roberts, provides a great review of not of the important of fruit flies (primarily Drosophila melanogaster) in genetic research, but also what the study of developmental Hox genes are telling us about the process of evolution.

Link (The Guardian, Aug 17th): http://goo.gl/6vjpEC

 

Photo of the Week

black orchid

Black orchid of Belize; used by permission from 5Blue Media

Our recent story “Orchid Evolution and the Black Orchids of Belize” featured the above picture of a black orchid, taken in Caves Branch, Belize

Video of the Week

Our video of the week features sink holes, which this summer have been plaguing many parts of the US.

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