Thursday 29 May 2014

A Peat Bog the size England has been disovered in Congo

The bog covers an area the size of England and is thought to contain billions of tonnes of peat.

Scientists say investigating the carbon-rich material could shed light on 10,000 years of environmental change in this little-studied region.

The discovery team, from the University of Leeds, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Congo and Congo-Brazzaville's Marien Ngouabi University, had to contend with dwarf crocodiles, gorillas and elephants as they explored the area. But they said the biggest challenge was soggy feet.

Dr Simon Lewis from the Univer sity of leeds, who was working with PhD student Greta Dargie, said: "You can only walk on these areas for a couple of months a year, right at the end of the dry season, so you have to time it right. Even then it is still wet every day.

The team estimates that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometres (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground. It spreads into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Biggest ever Creature to walk the Earth found in Patagonia

Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say.

Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus.

Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur - an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period.

By measuring the length and circumference of the largest femur (thigh bone), they calculatedthe animal weighed 77 tonnes.

This giant herbivore lived in the forests of Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, based on the age of the rocks in which its bones were found.

But despite its magnitude, it does not yet have a name.

Friday 16 May 2014

Water Extraction is Triggering Earthquakes in California

Extracting water for human activities is increasing the number of small earthquakes being triggered in California.

A new study suggests that the heavy use of ground water for pumping and irrigation is causing mountains to lift and valleys to subside. The scientists say this depletion of the water is increasing seismic activity along the San Andreas fault. They worry that over time this will hasten the occurrence of large quakes. So great is the demand that scientists estimate twice as much water is being consumed as is being returned through rain and snow.

All this extraction is having a significant impact on the shape of the Earth. The floors of the valleys are subsiding, the researchers found, while the surrounding mountains are on the rise.

"We are removing a weight from the Earth's crust and it is responding by flexing upwards and literally moving mountains," lead author Dr Colin Amos told BBC News.

Climate change is real, man made, and it is hitting almost every part of the US. And it is going to get a lot worse.

One of the areas that's likely to feel the full effects of warming is the second largest state: Texas. The report predicts more heat, more dry spells and more extreme weather events in a place that suffered record temperatures in 2011.

So desperate are they for water in the town of Wichita Falls, the locals are investigating the possibility of recycling toilet water for human consumption!

As Texas is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the US, there is a certain synchronicity to the scale of the impacts the state is likely to endure.

Friday 2 May 2014

Female Insects with Penises have been Discovered

Female insects with "penises" have been discovered in a cave in eastern Brazil.

Scientists think they are the first example of animals with reversed genitalia.

The females of four species of Neotrogla insert their erectile organs into males' vagina-like openings.

The structure, known as a "gynosome", is used to suck out sperm and nutritious seminal fluids, which provide the females with food as well. This may be an important survival strategy as they live in a cave environment where food is scarce.

Copulation lasts an impressive 40-70 hours.

Once inside a male, the female gynosome inflates. It has numerous spines which anchor the two insects very firmly together.

When the researchers attempted to pull a male and female apart, the male's abdomen was pulled from its thorax without breaking the coupling.