All the trees will die, and so will you

The title of this post is not my own, but it kind of has a point. Not “everything dies” but rather, a lot more apocalyptic.

A brown-black beetle (the polyphagous shot hole borer) breeds inside trees. It drills networks of tunnels, which then get infected by a fungus it carries to feed it’s young. Eventually the tree dies, the beetle moves on and the whole cycle starts again.

This would be a cute horror story, if the beetle wasn’t on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California. Which is going to directly link to the death of humans. Interested? Find out why here.

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When facing aliens, which PhD would be the most useful

With the new aliens movie coming out this summer, Jeremy Yoder took the time to measure the strengths and weaknesses of various disciplines of biologists.

For example:

Herpetologists. Strengths: Herpers know how to handle venomous snakes and poisonous frogs safely, and those skills probably apply to hazardous alien organisms. Weakness: Their skill set and confidence maybe actually mean they’ll be more likely to try to pick up the hissing slime-thing they find alongside the trail.

Mammalogists. Strengths: Mammalogists study the clade that contains some of the most dangerous megafauna alive today, so they should be familiar with evading a stalking predator and come prepared bear spray or maybe even a gun. Weakness: They may tend to assume that anything they don’t identify as a homeothermic vertebrate is too slow and stupid to be a real threat.

Intrigued? Want to know who to bring with you on your interplanetary exploration? Read more here.

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Save the (Wild) Bees

The domesticated honey bee dominates headlines as beekeepers struggle to stop mass die-offs. But they are not the only pollinators out there, and not the only bees that are declining.

“The needs of wild bees are so different that, as some experts say, raising honeybees to save pollinators is like raising chickens to help birds.”

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Coming face to face with a dinosaur

Until a real-life Jurassic Park is built (I’m still holding out hope), the closest you’ll come to facing down a dinosaur recently occurred by a heavy-equipment operator in Canada.

Want to read more? Or come face to face with a dinosaur yourself? Check it out here. nodosaur-fossil-canadian-mine-face.adapt.1900.1.jpg

Crazy Giant Bug Invasion

This title is not as excessive as it might seem at first. So let’s break it down.

The cicadas that live in DC are on a 17-year cycle. That means once every 17 years, they all emerge at once, make a ton of noise, leave their exoskeletons everywhere, mate, and go back into the ground. It’s pandemonium when it happens. If you want to know more, check out cicadamania.com.

The giant bug swarm is not due back till 2021, but some of these giant menaces are climbing out early. Four years early actually, as in, right now. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is happening. What to know more about the confused (“Crazy”), larger than mosquitoes (“Giant”) insects (“Bugs”) that are showing up before their time (“Invasion”)? Read about it here.

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Explore above and below the melting Antarctic

Amongst all the news this week, you may have missed something catastrophic. There are some disturbing developments from Antarctica, where scientists are seeing evidence that the ice sheets may have started irreversible disintegration.

And really interestingly, the New York Times has done a series of virtual reality films that explore what’s happening above and below the ice.

Check it out here!

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