The riches of the natural world are not spread evenly across the globe. Some places, such as the tropical Andes in South America, are simply stacked with unique species of plants and animals, many found no place else on Earth. So-called biodiversity “hotspots” are thought to cover just 2.3 percent of the planet’s surface, mostly in the tropics, yet they account for half of all known plant species and 77 percent of land vertebrates.
Tag Archives: evolution
Toxic Newts Use Bacteria to Become Deadly Prey
The title of most poisonous animal on Earth is typically given to the beautiful and deadly golden poison dart frog of Columbia—the one-inch-long frog is sometimes drenched in enough poison to kill ten grown men. But a far less exotic creature is capable of producing enough poison to kill up to 20 people: the unassuming rough-skinned newt, with its bumpy skin and fiery orange underbelly, a familiar sight in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Continue reading Toxic Newts Use Bacteria to Become Deadly Prey
Huge, Shaggy Head of 30,000-Year-Old Wolf Unearthed in Siberia
A well-preserved head belonging to an ancient species of Pleistocene wolf has been pulled from the permafrost of northeastern Siberia. The enormous, well-preserved head could yield important genetic information about the evolutionary history of wolves and the origin of domesticated dogs. Continue reading Huge, Shaggy Head of 30,000-Year-Old Wolf Unearthed in Siberia
What Scallops’ Many Eyes Can Teach Us About the Evolution of Vision
The word “scallop” usually evokes a juicy, round adductor muscle—a seafood delicacy. So it isn’t widely known that scallops have up to 200 tiny eyes along the edge of the mantle lining their shells. The complexities of these mollusk eyes are still being unveiled. A new study published in Current Biology reveals that scallop eyes have pupils that dilate and contract in response to light, making them far more dynamic than previously believed. Continue reading What Scallops’ Many Eyes Can Teach Us About the Evolution of Vision
Rare Fossil of Triassic Reptile Discovered in Antarctica
The fossilized remains of an early reptile dating back some 250 million years have been uncovered in the unlikeliest of places: Antarctica. The discovery shows how wildlife recovered after the worst mass extinction in our planet’s history, and how Antarctica once hosted an ecosystem unlike any other. Continue reading Rare Fossil of Triassic Reptile Discovered in Antarctica
How Scientists Could Use DNA Sequencing to Identify Alien Life
Here’s a riddle: If an alien life form is, well, alien, how will we know what it is? DNA and RNA are the building blocks of life on Earth, but the molecules of life might differ substantially on another planet. So if scientists combing, say, the potentially habitable waters of Jupiter’s moon Europa were to stumble across a new life form, how could they know what they had discovered? Continue reading How Scientists Could Use DNA Sequencing to Identify Alien Life
Neanderthals Vs. Africans: Who Was the First to Create Art?
In his essay, Why Africana History?, the great scholar and historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke wrote: “The Europeans not only colonialized most of the world, they began to colonialize information about the world and its people. In order to do this, they had to forget, or pretend to forget, all they had previously known about the Africans.” Dr. Clarke’s words are still very relevant today, evident by the fact that textbooks in Texas recently began referring to enslaved Africans as “workers” rather than a group of people who were forcibly taken from their homes in bondage. In addition, the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti was recently portrayed as a white woman by a scientist claiming to have created a scientifically accurate facial reconstruction based on her skull. Continue reading Neanderthals Vs. Africans: Who Was the First to Create Art?