The Olympics ended on Sunday, but if we know our readers, many of you were still glued to your televisions as the Discovery Channel's Shark Week began, with hours upon hours of programming dedicated to these fearsome, fascinating creatures. We at PopSci have to confess to being equally intrigued by sharks, an interest that has continued throughout history.
Though, the farther back you go in our archives, the more our shark coverage seems less like scientific curiosity and more like bloodlust. We were only too happy when shark skin started being turned into leather, for example.
Dusky sharks do not live in the Pacific waters near the Republic of Kiribati. Neither do spottail sharks, nor the aptly named bignose sharks. But they used to live there at one point in the past -- right by the Gilbert Islands, according to anthropological evidence. Ancient shark-tooth weapons can serve as a record of past biodiversity, according to new ecological research.
Speedo's Fastskin line (including the banned-as-of-2009 LZR suit) of high-tech, high-performance swimsuits were inspired by the skin of a shark--shark skin's sandpaper-like texture is thought to reduce drag, hence its usefulness in swimming gear. But an ichthyologist at Harvard performed a study and found that Fastskin is "nothing like shark skin at all," and that its surface properties do not reduce drag one bit.
By Emily ElertPosted 06.08.2012 at 1:34 pm 5 Comments
Last August, while diving to conduct a fish census on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, marine ecologist Daniela Ceccarelli spotted the ghostly white skin of a brown-banded bamboo shark. When she swam in for a closer look, she saw that the fish’s head had disappeared—into the mouth of another shark.
Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Johns Hopkins University report seeing a phenomenon we've all imagined: a black hole devouring a star.
A black hole at the center of a galaxy about 2.7 billion light-years away, one about the same size as the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way, was observed sucking the life out of a star.
By Juliet EilperinPosted 06.16.2011 at 10:17 am 10 Comments
In 2005, Eric Stroud, the managing partner of Shark Defense, a New Jersey company that specializes in shark-repelling technologies, happened to be carrying a rare-earth magnet as he passed a tank full of sharks. The sharks fled, and Stroud took note. After further tests, Stroud and his colleagues found that sharks that came within 20 inches of rare-earth magnets similar to the one he had been carrying would consistently swim away.
A research effort doubles as a shark-attack warning system
By Justin McLachlanPosted 07.21.2010 at 10:15 am 2 Comments
Great white sharks have been around for more than four million years, yet they remain one of the world's most mysterious animals. Scientists know that the beasts have special organs for sensing electromagnetic fields and that their jaws can snap down with 4,000 pounds of force. But migration patterns, which are critical for conservation efforts, are mostly unknown.
By Arnie CooperPosted 10.29.2009 at 5:01 pm 12 Comments
A whale’s skin is easily glommed up with barnacles, algae, bacteria and other sea creatures, but sharks stay squeaky-clean. Although these parasites can pile onto a shark’s rippled skin too, they can’t take hold and thus simply wash away. Now scientists have printed that pattern on an adhesive film that will repel bacteria pathogens from hospitals and public restrooms.
Overfishing made the grey nurse shark endangered, but it's the animal's bizarre, cannibalistic embryos that are making it difficult for the species to rebound. The gestating shark pups need a "time out," says Nick Otway, a fisheries biologist at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute in Australia. As a last-ditch effort to keep the species from eating itself into extinction, he built an artificial uterus, a souped-up fish tank that will give each unborn baby its own womb.
Willy Wonka would have liked this, but I can't imagine a whole lot of human cooks worth their -- ahem -- salt, will have much interest: a company is selling a book of spices made from edible paper. Want some chili flavoring in a dish? Just rip out the perforated page and put in the pan.
In today's links: forcing people to smoke fails, why it's sometimes better to eat bland food, and more.