Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

This week in science (March 15 – March 22)


By Claire Roth

Wildlife – New Colombian bird species

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

Twenty-five years after its initial sighting, the Tatama Tapaculo has been been identified as a new species. The Tatama Tapaculo resides in the rainforests of the Western Andes in Colombia and was discovered due to research on its call and mitochondrial DNA. The black-brown bird is small at an average of 10 to 23 centimeters in length and 10 to 185 grams in weight. It spends its days on the forest floor and underbrush, scratching away with sturdy legs in search of food.

Source: Sci-News

Geology – Canadian crust

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

Whether you’re the kind of person who enjoys pizza crusts or banishes them after eating the good stuff, a very different and much more ancient kind of crust was detected in the Superior Province of Canada, and geologists are simply eating up (metaphorically). This crust hails from around 4.2 billion years ago when the Hadean eon was in full swing. The Hadean eon received its name after the Greek god and ruler of the underworld, Hades, because it was the time of Earth’s formation and boasted a hellish landscape. The crust was dated through analyzing an isotope of the element neodymium that was present in rock samples. Neodymium itself is a result of the radioactive decay of an extinct element known as samarium. Samarium disappeared within the first few pages of Earth’s history and had been studied in early meteorites from Mars and the Moon, indicating to scientists the age of the rock samples.

Source: Sci-News

Wildlife – Hungry hungry spiders

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

A recent study found that you don’t need to be the largest predator in size to be the largest predator in impact. The Science of Nature journal published research by scientists at the University of Basel finding that spiders consume the same amount of weight in insects as humans consume per year in fish and meat. Let that sink in for a second, but not before noting, for perspective, that the world’s population of spiders cumulatively weighs 24 million tons and that same population consumes somewhere in the ballpark of 400 million tons and 800 million tons of insects per year. The positive impacts of this voracious diet and population size include controlling insect-related damage to plants and also feeding larger critters who enjoy munching on spiders themselves.

Source: BBC

Wildlife – Fluorescent frog

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted the discovery of the first ever naturally occurring case of fluorescence in an amphibian. Fluorescence occurs when light is absorbed and then emitted. The amphibian, a frog called the South American polka dot tree frog, has a particular structure of molecules within its skin, lymph tissue, and gland secretions that allow it to glow when ultraviolet light is shone on it. This creates a much different spectacle than its normal olive shade under regular light.

Source: The Huffington Post

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