Science Links of the Week »Explorersweb

His passion for the natural world drives many of our adventures. And when we’re not really out there, we like to delve deeper into discoveries about where we live and travel. Here are some of the best natural history links we’ve found this week.

Spix Macaw re-entered the Brazilian forest: Since 1995, conservationists have been trying to save Spix Macaw. This blue-gray parrot is one of the rarest birds in the world. During the 16th century, they hunted for their beautiful plumage. In the 1990s, only one known bird remained in the wild, a male.

Scientists then released a female from a nearby zoo. Two months later, the birds were paired. Two weeks later, the female disappeared, and a few years later, the male died. Many believed that this was the end of the species.

Now the Conservatives are trying to bring it back. Today, eight Spix Macaw captives have been released back into the forests of Brazil. They plan to release 12 more at the end of the year, and more in the future.

“There are very few reintegration programs in the world that have done something like this, and there are no parrots or macaques,” said wildlife biologist Thomas White.

Beautiful, poisonous and destructive

Lionfish spread to the Caribbean: Lionfish are known for their beautiful patterns and venom. Although fish are not aggressive, they do contain a neuromuscular toxin that they use to protect their venom backbone.

Lionfish are native to the Pacific Ocean and India, but have spread to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. This is not a good thing. As an invasive species, they wreak havoc on Atlantic reefs. A single lionfish can reduce the number of young fish in its feeding area by 80 percent in five weeks.

At the same time, they reproduce very quickly. Females can produce 25,000 eggs in a few days. Caribbean communities are trying to save their reefs by controlling lionfish populations.

Fernanda the giant tortoise. Photo: Lucas Bustamante / PA

100 years later, the look of a turtle surprises

The extinct giant tortoises were found alive: For more than a century, everyone thought Chelonoidis phantasticus the giant tortoise species became extinct. The last sighting of this fantastic creature was in 1906. Researchers have now found the island of Fernandina in western Galapagos.

Fernanda, as she is named, first appeared in 2019. Since then, conservationists have questioned whether it was a member of the endangered species. Princeton researchers have been sequencing its genome and that of man since 1906. They unite. This means that Fernanda is different from the other 13 living turtles in the Galapagos.

Why do ocean predators sink so deep? Researchers are tagging large marine animals with devices, sensors and small cameras to capture life under the waves. Their monitoring showed that almost all large sea predators entered hundreds and thousands of meters below. But why?

The likely answer is food, but only one species has been seen — the northern elephant shellfish — doing so. Fish ecologist Simon Thorrold believes they can also dive to hide from other predators, either for navigational reasons or for cool deep water temperatures.

Why do whale sharks and other sea predators dive so deep? Photo: Shutterstock

Magnetic microbes

Strange creatures in the Mariana Trench: In 2018, graduate student Yang Hao collected sediments from Mariana Lubaki. Reaching a distance of 11 km, it is the deepest part of the ocean. Yang was looking for cosmic dust but found something completely unexpected. There was a small shell organism attached to the magnetic needle that examined the sediment.

The small creature was a single-celled creature called a foraminifera, to be exact Resigela bilocularis. There are many foraminifera on the seabed, but these were different. They are magnetic.

Many animals use magnetic fields to navigate, and some can manufacture magnetite using the surrounding iron. But no one knows how or why foraminifera are magnetic. They are the first magnetic, single-celled organism to be found at this depth. Investigators suspect R. bilocularis they are making their own magnetite. The magnetite they form is different from the surrounding sediment.


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