A team of biologists has recently discovered in the dense forests of South America three new species of dwarf dragon lizards, also known as wood lizards. These reptiles are one of the most unique creatures in South America, according to the researchers.
Until recently, biologists believe that wood lizards are the least diverse species of reptiles, mainly because only 6 species of this creature had been discovered eight years ago.
However, in the past years, the number of species has reached 15, including the newly found lizards.
The reptiles were discovered during an expedition made by a team of researchers who wanted to find unknown species of wood lizards.
Omar Torres-Carvajal from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and one of the biologists who discovered the lizards, said that:
“The diversity of these conspicuous reptiles has been underestimated.”
The new species of miniature dragon lizards were discovered in dense forests of the Tropical Andes, an area that is known for its rich biodiversity.
Researchers said they do not really know why it took so long for these new species to be discovered, especially since they are so brightly colored, which makes them very easy to be spotted in their natural habitats.
Torres-Carvajal explained that wood lizards are usually large reptiles, so it’s unusual that only a few species have been discovered in the past ten years. This shows how much there is still to discover about the reptiles living in South America, said Torres-Carvajal.
One of the newly found lizards was named Enyalioides sophiarothschildae and has a black a brown body, with bright white scales under its jaw, which resembles a beard.
This particular species was named after Sophia Rothschild, one of the sponsors who financed the program that led to the discovery of the reptiles.
The second species of lizard discovered was named Enyalioides anisolepis. This species of dwarf dragon is bright green, orange or black in color. The lizard has uneven scales down its back, which inspired its name, which in Greek means “unequal scales”.
The third lizard is called E. altotambo and was named after the town it was discovered in, Alto Tambo, Ecuador. The male of this species looks like tiny iguanas, while the female looks more like a chameleon.
According to DNA analysis, all three species of lizards are different from each other and from other known species of wood lizards.
The discovery was detailed in the journal ZooKeys.
Image Source: wanderlust
According to a report released recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in which the scientists explored the risk of coral bleaching around the world, Florida coral reefs are significantly affected by the effects of climate change.
The experts explain that coral bleaching occurs when the oceans are warmed due to climate change. Because of this warming, the algae that live close to the corals leave, which makes the coral lose its vibrant colors. The corals then turn white as more algae leave.
Coral bleaching has been happening more frequently in recent years, becoming more acute in the last 20 years.
Previous studies suggest that the majority of coral reefs found in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching in the near future.
The latest report from NOOA has detailed when and where coral bleaching will take place. According to the study published in the journal Global Change Biology, coral bleaching may vary in timing and location.
Ruben van Hooidonk, a researcher at NOOA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that the recent findings will help resource managers to better understand how coral bleaching occurs and how to avoid it from happening.
The researchers refer to some locations as “relative refugia” saying that these locations are less likely to experience extreme events and temperature changes, which will give them time to adapt to the increasing effects of climate change.
Van Hooidonk said that because of this, managers can use this information to try and protect these locations, treating them as refuges.
Also, these special locations could be helped if the managers reduce the damaging effects of human activities.
NOOA identified other locations, aside from Florida, that are expected to experience coral bleaching in the next 15 or so years. These other regions include Mexico, the Bahamas, Cuba, Caicos, Turks, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
These areas should be protected first, according to the NOOA report.
The disappearance of coral reefs can have an economic, ecological and social effect, the researchers explain. Without these coral reefs, many species of fish will lose the habitat they need in order to thrive, which will affect the people whose main food source is fish.
Also, if coral reefs will disappear, it will affect the tourist business, as there are many people who visit certain locations just to dive and see the corals.
Roku is one of the most used streaming media devices around and it has just announced that it will be updated with a voice search feature.
The company announced on Monday that it will update their most popular streaming device so that the user can find new content much easier.
Aside from announcing its latest product, called Roku 3, that features the voice search, the company also made some improvements to the previous model, Roku 2.
One of the new features is called Roku Feed, which keeps the users informed and allows them to follow any popular movie that comes out. Also, Roku Feed allows the user receive updates when these are available to be streamed.
The new feature also informs the users when the movies they are interested in become available on other streaming channels, and provides them with information like the changes in price.
The feed feature is under My Feed tab on the home screen of the TV.
Moreover, Roku announced a new way of searching for specific channels. The users can now search the channel within using the Roku Channel Store simply by streaming the name of the channel.
This will make it easier and faster for the users to locate their favorite channels, including HBO Go, CBS News, Sling TV or any other channel in the list of more than 2,000 available channels.
Roku announced that it currently has more than 250,000 movies and TV shows that are available for streaming.
The new updated are expected to arrive on all Roku devices by the end of this month, so if any users do not see their device updated right away, they should not worry because they will receive the new features as soon as possible, the company said.
The new Roku 3 that features a voice search will let the users search for their favorite movei or TV show just by using their voice.
The new streaming media device costs $99.99 and comes with a new remote control that has a special button that activates the voice search feature. It also comes with a hack for headphone that enables private listening, and it also features a motion control for playing games.
Roku announced that it updated its mobile apps, making it available for Android for now. The iOS version will be available later this week.
Roku 2 device has been updated with speed and performance upgrades and its price is $69.99. Both models are available for sale starting today.
Image Source: cnet
One of the earliest known ancestors of the human species is the Australopithecus. The oldest known specimen that belongs to the Australopithecus branch is Lucy, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and considered to have lived approximately 3.2 million years ago.
This made Lucy the oldest known human ancestor. However, researchers discovered 21 years ago skeleton in South Africa they believed was actually older than that of Lucy.
The scientists named the skeleton Little Foot and according to a new study, it appears that Little Foot lived more than 3.67 million years ago and could be one of the first Australopithecus.
In the vicinity of the area where Little Foot’s skeleton was unearthed, the researchers also found stone tools that date back more than 2.18 million years ago, and considered to be the oldest stone tools ever discovered so far.
The remains of Little Foot were discovered by Ronald Clarke, professor at the Evolutionary Studies Institute from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Professor Clarke explained that Little Foot proves the fact that later species of hominids, like Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus did not necessarily come from Australopithecus afarensis.
Clarke said that scientists construct evolutionary scenarios based on the fossils they have discovered so far and those fossils are not many.
Little Foot’s age could prove the possibility that there could have been many other species belonging to the Australopithecus group living in much wider African regions.
Darryl Granger, a researcher at the University of Purdue, said that Little Foot could have existed between 2 and 4 million year ago, around the time when Australopithecus existed on our planet.
The paleontologist who discovered Little Foot’s remains decided the bones are more than 3 million years old.
In order to determine Little Foot’s approximate age, the researchers used a special dating technique that was originally designed by NASA to analyze solar wind samples taken from the genesis mission.
This dating method is called “isochron burial dating” and it utilizes radioisotopes taken from the rock samples found near where the skeleton was discovered. This way the researchers can determine how long the rocks have been under the ground or hidden from sunlight.
Granger said that this dating technique, although expensive and requires a lot of work, is the future of dating methods because of its accuracy.
This is the second time Little Foot’s remains have been dated because the first one was questioned by many scientists.
Image Source: news.sciencemag
The Large Hadron Collider restarts after a two-year pause needed for upgrades. Scientists have already started to circulate protons from both directions, around the 17-mile-round (27-kilometer-round) ring tunnel located 300 feet (100 meters) beneath the French-Swiss border near Geneva.
On Sunday April 5, Europe’s CERN particle physics center announced that the first round of proton circulation was completed. But this was not the only task set on today’s schedule. The Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) team is planning to send waves of protons throughout the day.
The LHC is known as the world most powerful and most expensive collider. It has a team of thousands of physicists and engineers and its construction cost was estimated at about $ 10 billion.
The collider functioned between 2009 and 2013, when it contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson. The existence of this subatomic particle was first suggested in the 1960s but the hypothesis couldn’t be demonstrated until the LHC.
This Higgs boson, the last puzzle piece needed to complete the Standard Model (a theory regarding particle physics), helps other fundamental particles acquire mass proprieties.
The LHC is used to accelerate protons to reach the speed of light with the help of powerful magnets that had been cooled down to temperatures close to absolute zero. During the two-year pause, engineers upgraded the magnets’ interlinks in order to resist to higher power levels.
The pause should have ended a few weeks ago but due to a short-circuit detected in one of the magnets, the beginning of the new project was postponed until this Sunday.
During the first course of collisions, the LHC created energy calculated at 8 trillion electron volts, or 8 TeV. Now, after all upgrades have been implemented, the LHC will be able to generate energy as high as 13 TeV, which is close to the machine’s full capacity. Joe Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab in Illinois described this upgrade as “the biggest jump in energy” possible during his lifetime.
Although cosmic rays are capable of generating energy with intensities higher than 13 TeV, physicists are pleased with the fact that they are able to analyze such collisions in a controlled environment. So what expectations are there from the LHC’s second run? Lykken gave the following brief statement:
“The basic thing we’re looking for is to start producing some new heavy particles that we couldn’t produce last time.”
Image Source: Wallpapers Wide
New research in the field of optics offers high hopes for blind people due to a successful experiment promising to advance efforts further than other experts reached so far.
Scientists succeeded in providing sensory input to rats by connecting their brains directly to some tiny digital compasses. The journal Current Biology has published the discovery and sparked some real interest in creating a strange sixth sense in sighted humans. Apparently, they could broaden their senses in order to detect ultrasound waves and ultraviolet radiation.
A team of Japanese researchers endeavored to experiment with adult rats whose eyes were sewn shut simulating blindness. Then their visual cortex was connected to a digital compass, similar to the ones used in smartphones.
The experiment meant the compass was to be connected to a microstimulator, which in turn emitted different electrical signals. At the receiving end, the rat’s visual cortex caught the signals and guided the rat when pointing north or south; therefore, they could essentially “see” via geomagnetic signals.
Without the compass, the rats could not find their way inside the mazes. However, after the compass was attached, it took them only a few days to get used to the way geomagnetic information helped them solve the mazes. Remarkable results showed their performance levels almost reached the standard set by normally sighted rats.
Yuji Ikegaya from the University of Tokyo who co-authored the study said in a statement that the team was surprised to see the rats adapting to the new sense without being “explained” how to use it, and implementing it in solving behavioral tasks in a matter of two or three days.
According to Ikegaya, what the paper tried to show is the immeasurable, albeit latent, capacity of the brain to adapt. The fact that adult rats were used in the experiments pointed to the flexibility of the mammalian brain – even in adulthood. The already developed brain did not stop learning to incorporate a new and never-experienced-before modality into the task at hand.
One obvious application of the study’s findings is the help that it brings to blind people through the attachment of a geomagnetic sensor to walking canes. This, however, is only a small part of what the researchers thought of.
According to their demonstrations, this type of technology might also be used to broaden our senses. Further research could also help humans read and interpret information gleaned from ultrasound waves, ultraviolet radiation – signals not yet detected by our brains.
Reality might gain some new colors if we will learn to be assisted into using our brain to fuller capacity.
Image Source: Humane Research
Polar bears really need marine food, and if they are forced off the sea ice and moved inland they might not be able to survive for long, a recent study concluded. A team of scientists sounded the alarm on this matter as more and more polar bears are reported to be hunting on land in areas affected by climate change.
Wildlife biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey monitored a few polar bears who turned inland in search for food since they were no longer able to use the ocean’s frozen surface to hunt. Normally, their diet relies heavily on fat marine mammals, such as seals, and scientists fear they will not get the energetic value they need out of land food.
When reports started coming about polar bears changing their hunting patterns, scientist initially overjoyed. They thought the endangered species was showing that it can adapt to climate changes and might have no trouble surviving. But the latest study conducted by a group of wildlife researchers based in Anchorage, Alaska put things into another perspective.
“There is evidence that some bears are using terrestrial sources in a place such as Hudson Bay, but there’s been no evidence that it’s contributing a significant amount to their energy requirements,” lead author of the study Karyn Rode believes.
Although one group of polar bears, consisting of a handful of specimens, did manage to get enough value out of food like bird eggs or berries, the study suggests they are an exception and changing their diet would not be a solution for polar bears as a species. “Terrestrial foods can’t offer polar bears what they need at a population level,” Rode warned.
The scientific community is currently divided on the matter, as there are some biologists who argue there is enough data to conclude that even larger groups of polar bears can adapt to inland conditions. Robert Rockwell, ecologist with the City College of New York, has been monitoring wildlife in Hudson Bay for almost half of century. He claims to have seen polar bears thrive on goose eggs and caribou calves. “I find it hard to believe they’re going to get nothing out of it,” Rockwell said.
Polar bears have been on the list of threatened species since 2008. There are currently 19 polar bear populations across the planet, massed in four regions. In Hudson Bay, one of the four regions, polar bears showed they can survive without marine food for longer periods of time. But this is owed in part to the fact that Hudson Bay only has seasonal sea ice.
In the other three regions, the polar bears normally stay on sea ice all year long, and their diet is mostly includes fat marine mammals and fish. According to the authors of the study, they are much larger in size than Hudson Bay bears and running around in search of berries or caribou is not feasible.
“This paper establishes in no uncertain terms that polar bears are very unlikely to be able to make a living on land, and that if we don’t save the sea ice, polar bears will indeed be gone,” co-author Steven Amstrup argues.
Image Source: Pitara
This Saturday will bring to us the shortest lunar eclipse of the century, which NASA estimates will only last about 5 minutes. So if you want to have a good chance of seeing the moon rising, you must be very quick, otherwise you’ll miss it.
If weather will cooperate with eager early-risers, they should be able to witness at least a partial lunar eclipse on April 4, which will be visible just before the sun rises. Around 7:58 a.m. EDT, West Coasters might have a pretty good chance of also seeing the moon’s strange shade of red while approaching totality.
Once again, stargazers from other parts of the global are more fortunate and their chances of catching a good image of the lunar eclipse are a lot better. Sky & Telescope stated that observers from Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and Australia will have the best “seats in the house”.
Will Gater, astronomer at the online Slooh Community Observatory, gave a statement encouraging people who live in less fortunate location to not lose hope, as such total lunar eclipses are usually caught on camera around the world, some of which will even broadcast it live. So you still have a chance to be a witness, by starting your day with an incredibly ethereal live event.
Slooh has already announced a live webcast on the Slooh.com website, and you can tune in starting 6 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 4. According to NASA reports, Saturday will mark the third of a lunar eclipse tetrad. First and second sky events happened on April and September 2014, respectively, and the tetrad will come full circle on September 28.
NASA officials have explained the “blood moon” phenomenon in a statement, saying that the color is an effect of sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere – filtering most of the blue light, the remaining one casts a reddish color. Hence, the “blood moon” nickname, which in fact isn’t as graphic as it sounds.
The joy of lunar eclipses is that they can be witnessed from any location on Earth that has proper weather conditions that allow viewers to see the moon. Total solar eclipses, on the other hand – like the one form March 20, 2015 – are more exclusive, depending on which way Earth, sun, and moon align.
Image Source: The Oslo Times
A Chinese Internet regulator declared Google’s decision of ceasing to recognize its trust certificates as unacceptable, as it would discourage Chrome browser users from logging in on sites covered by their authority.
On Wednesday, a post on Google’s official security blog declared that China Internet Network Information Center’s (CNNIC) certificate authorities will no longer be recognized. Their decision followed a thorough investigation into a claim that CNNIC was responsible for a potential security lapse in March.
One of the direct consequences of this resolution is that some users of Google’s Chrome, ranked as world’s number one Internet browser, might be warned if they attempt to access sites covered by CNNIC. So far, it’s not very clear how many websites this situation implies, and how many warning messages will be displayed.
CNNIC is a major player involved in China’s Internet administering, focusing on allocation and certification of web domain names and IP addresses. Following Google’s decision, the company urged them to reconsider in light of user rights and interests. CNNIC also released a statement on its website, calling Google’s ruling “unintelligible”.
Most of CNNIC’s certificates are designed to make sure the connection between Internet users and websites is secure, and their ability to respect that very goal was put under scrutiny last week. Google claimed the Chinese agency had broken their users’ trust by allowing MCS Holdings to release unauthorized certificates for some of Google’s domains.
Google’s policy of making Internet connections secure by avoiding ‘man-in-the-middle’ hacking attacks had been broken; such attacks are very harmful, as they can intercept and modify communications.
It was not only Google Chrome that changed its stance towards CNNIC, but also Microsoft Corp and Mozilla, the top of world’s most-used web browsers; they have also denied trust of those unauthorized certificates, following Google’s official blog post.
There is still some good news for CNNIC, as Google stated that they will consider a reapplication for recognition is the Chinese provider will fix their procedural controls and becomes suitable again from the technical point of view.
MCS Holdings also released a statement on its official website, explaining that the security lapse was a mistake, as they were trying to test the certificates issued to it by CNNIC; instead of making on the public domain, the testing was supposed to be confined in a controlled environment.
Due to censorship concerns, local Google search engine has been shut down ever since 2010, and most of the services and features offered by the company are inaccessible in China.
Image Source: News China
Gloomy news from Antarctica as scientists announced on Tuesday they have measured a record breaking high temperature on the continent – 17.5 degrees Celsius (or 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
The temperature was measured in the northernmost extremity of the Antarctic Peninsula, at the Argentinian Esperanza Base, and the announcement was first published on the meteorological website Weather Underground. It is the highest registered value in almost fifty years of weather monitoring in Antarctica.
According to available data, the highest temperature ever recorded before was 17.1°C (62.8°F), measured at the same location on April 24, 1961. Earlier this week, researchers expressed concerned when they discovered another record value of 63.3°F at the Marambio Base, set on an island just outside Antarctica mainland, and their fears were confirmed on Tuesday, when they finished measuring the air temperature on the continent itself.
The website labeled this week’s discoveries as part of the “remarkable heat wave” that usually hits Antarctica at the end of the austral summer. The results, however, have not yet been made official by the World Meteorological Organization.
According to some of the international bodies overseeing weather changes in Antarctica, Argentina’s Esperanza Base is not technically part of the continent, so the results the scientists there came with may not enter official records. Christopher Burt, a weather historian, argues there are currently four accepted ways to define Antarctica, and none of them counts the Esperanza Base as relevant for weather concerns.
The World Meteorological Organization will have the final saying on the matter, as the world’s supreme weather body does have the authority to validate the result anyway. But the WMO will have to compare it to some other recent results that suggest the contrary.
For instance, according to Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist, only last year Antarctica smashed another record, this time for the lowest temperature ever recorded on the continent. He and those who think like him argue that a single measurement of a record high is not relevant enough to come to a conclusion.
One thing all scientists seem to agree upon is that the ocean water surrounding Antarctica has been warming constantly in the past decades, therefore causing glaciers found on the edges of the continent to start melting. Another British study made recently estimates the temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula region increased by 2.8 °C compared to half a century ago. The British Antarctic Survey warns that the area is “the most rapidly warming region in the Southern Hemisphere – comparable to rapidly warming regions of the Arctic.”
However, the image for the entire continent is a little more complex. Researchers took a glance further inland on Antarctica and found out that some of the glaciers located there are actually growing in size. They have yet to conclude if this phenomenon is in any way related to the melting of the glaciers that come in contact with the warm ocean water.
“That has not been satisfactorily explained,” NASA’s Schmidt wrote. “One record warm temperature doesn’t cut through all that complexity.”
Image Source: American Geophysical Union