Rain and snow aren't the only things to fall from the sky. Throughout history rare occurrences have been recorded of other less expected and surprising forms of deluge. In 2001, parts of India were showered with mysterious red particles that were thought to contain alien microbes.
Scientists trekking through the Suriname rainforest, one of the last road-free wilderness areas in the world, turned up a host of animals that conservation biologists believe are new to science. This little guy was just one of them.
This little guy is officially the smallest vertebrate on the planet, averaging 7.7 millimeters in size, less than one-third of an inch. Named Paedophryne amauensis, the new species of frog was discovered in Papua New Guinea, where it lives in leaf detritus on the rainforest floor.
For years, every time Vance Vredenburg visited his study area in Kings Canyon National Park in California, he tallied about 100 Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs. But in 2005, all the San Francisco State University biologist found were 30 carcasses floating in a lake. Most of the park’s 10,000 frogs had fallen victim to chytrid, a disease that’s the biggest threat to vertebrate biodiversity in history. This summer, Vredenburg returned to the area with plastic tubs full of a bacterial species that might save both this frog and other amphibians around the world.
Behold Huia cavitympanum: the only frog species that can communicate through ultrasonic calls too high-pitched for humans to hear. Two scientists made the discovery by camping out with recording devices in the frog's native island of Borneo. Bonus points go to the guy who was "bitten by leeches and woke up several mornings soaked in blood."
Also in today's links: a reason to switch up your music, what to do with too many chicken feathers, and more.
Customizing transportation infrastructure for amphibians
By Lindsey Konkel
Posted 04.29.2009 at 1:37 pm 2 Comments
Hara Woltz's clients don't say much -- mostly just ribbit. A landscape architect and biologist at Columbia University, Woltz has undertaken the daunting task of creating road-crossing tunnels for amphibians and reptiles, based on different animals' preferences for different tunnel attributes. Building herpetological crosswalks might seem absurd, but the stakes are high: nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species and many of its reptiles are spiraling toward extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation from human development.
Embryos of the red-eyed tree frog have developed an interesting strategy to survive on a patchy supply of oxygen. To permeate the normally oxygen-deficient eggs, oxygen must first pass through a strong outer membrane. But even though tiny hairs called cilia stir the fluid inside these quarter-inch-diameter eggs, most of the oxygen is near the eggs’ exposed surface.
Tough luck for frogs, and a guilty conscience for Norsemen
By M. Farbman
Posted 01.26.2009 at 12:05 pm 2 Comments
So, Norwegians are strapping and blonde, progressive and environmentally friendly -- right? Maybe not that last part: the Scandinavian country generates the most pollution per capita in Europe. It's a bit of a sticky wicket -- should Norway restrain its development of oil and gas to prevent these resources from being used at all? When is green green enough -- and what happens to the country if all of its citizens and politicians can't agree on these points?
Also in today's links: cutting smog, mystery fish and more.
Scientists say amphibian death could be the start of the first mass extinction since the dinosaurs
By Molika Ashford
Posted 08.15.2008 at 3:29 pm 7 Comments
Lots of amphibians (a third to a half of all species) are dying, and their deaths are the breaking-edge of what many scientists are calling the first mass extinction since the dinosaurs checked out 65 million years ago, researchers say in a new paper published online in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.