Breeding a better bee

One problem with honey bees is that we move them around so much. Specifically half of the bees in the US go to California during a critical 22 day period to pollinate the almond orchards.

This means that most bees are best adapted to survive in the California, which means that the PNW bees don’t really thrive in their colder than optimal environment.

Well one bee keeper is taking it upon himself to stop honey production and focus on making queens that are best suited for the Washington and PNW environment! Read about it here.

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The field of human evolution is crazy right now

I’ve been avoiding posting about this for weeks. Every time I go to write a post, I find a new article explaining how everything we know might actually be wrong.

Which is an alarming pace for any field to be moving, but in a field with such a paucity of resources, it’s nothing short of awesome.

Want to know what’s currently being shaken up in the field of human evolution?

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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How to have a scientific debate

Science denialists often claim that “the scientists haven’t decided” “it’s still being debated”. With respect to climate change, evolution and GMOs, that’s largely not true.

But the world of anthropology is heating up these days with some hot topics like when were humans in North America, and what did our ancestors look like/do?

Want to know more about what’s lighting the anthropological scene up? Read about it here.

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Talking with whales

While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech.

Since the early 1960s the United States had been deploying marine mammals, beginning with dolphins, for tasks including mine detection and recovery of test torpedoes. By the mid-1970s, the locus of the naval cold war had shifted to the Arctic, where the latest Soviet submarines were secreting themselves under the ice cap, an environment off-limits to animals including dolphins and sea lions used in the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP). Experiments commenced on weaponry that could function in such extreme conditions. The Navy needed marine mammals with built-in sonar, capable of locating and retrieving sunken experimental torpedoes in the frigid waters and low visibility of the Arctic, and they landed on beluga whales.

Due to his close work with his trainers, Noc began to mimic human speech in an attempt to communicate, work that is presented in “Spontaneous Human Speech Mimicry by a Cetacean,” in the October 23, 2012, edition of the journal Current Biology. Or read about it over at the Smithsonian!

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Oldest fossil on earth?

The history of life on earth is fascinating, and largely one of the reasons I started studying evolutionary biology.

There is solid evidence of life dating back to 3.5 billion years, at which point the earth was a billion years old.

Last August, Dr. Van Kranendonk and his colleagues reported discovering fossils in Greenland that are 3.7 billion years old and were once mats of bacteria that grew in shallow coastal waters.

But then, a new study, published in the journal Nature, Mattew S.Dodd, Dominic Papineau and their colleagues at University College London studied rocks that are older.

They came from a remote geological formation in Canada called Nuvvuagittuq, which stretches across four square miles on the coast of Hudson Bay.Researchers have variously estimated its age at 3.77 billion years or 4.22 billion years — just 340 million years after the formation of the planet.

Want to read more? Check it out at the Washington post!

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Iron-rich chert, shown here in red, containing ancient fossils was formed near hydrothermal vents on an ancient seafloor, according to a new study. 

 

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