June 25th, 2011
Researchers say they identified 300 species that they think are new to science this spring during a biological prospecting expedition to the Philippines, organized by the California Academy of Sciences.
“The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth,” Terrence Gosliner, dean of science and research collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, said today in a news release about the findings. “Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country’s reefs, rainforests, and the ocean floor."
The 42-day expedition was launched in late April and focused on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, as well as the surrounding waters. In cooperation with more than two dozen colleagues from the Philippines, the academy's scientists surveyed a wide range of ecosystems and shared their findings with local communities and conservationists.
Among the suspected new species are dozens of types of insects and spiders, deep-sea corals, sea pens, sea urchins and more than 50 kinds of sea slugs. Scientists say they came across a new kind of cicada that makes a distinctive "laughing" call, a starfish that eats only sunken driftwood, and a deep-sea swell shark that sucks water into its stomach to bulk up and scare off predators.
When the expedition ended, the scientists combined their data and identified their top conservation priorities — expansion of marine protected areas, plus reforestation to reduce sedimentation damage to coral reefs. The academy said reduction of plastic waste was also a priority, because plastic litter was pervasive throughout the marine environment, even on the ocean floor at depths of more than 6,000 feet.
Over the coming months, the expedition's scientists will be analyzing their specimens with the aid of microscopes and DNA sequencing equipment to confirm their discoveries.
The academy's expedition is one of many efforts around the globe to document and safeguard biodiversity — in part because yet-to-be-discovered species may point the way to commercially useful drugs or technologies, in part because they may turn out to be key to an ecosystem's health, and in part because they're beautiful, exotic or just plain odd.
"The species lists and distribution maps that we created during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival," Gosliner said.
Be sure to check out our slideshow featuring the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, and then click through these other galleries of new species:
More From Cosmic Log
June 25th, 2011
International Business Times
The Brazilian government has confirmed the existence of about 200 unidentified tribal people in the Amazon rainforest.
Satellite pictures in January revealed this community was living near the border with Peru. A flight expedition over the area in April confirmed that they are about 200 in numbers.
Along with Survival International (Funai), an organization working for tribal people's rights worldwide, Brazilian authorities found that these people are living in three clearings in the Javari Valley in the western Amazon.
According to Fabricio Amorim, who led Funai’s overflight expedition, illegal fishing, hunting, logging, mining, cattle ranching, missionary actions, drug trafficking and oil exploration on the Peru-Brazil border area are the main threats to the well-being of this community and their dwellings.
Brazil follows a policy not to contact these people, instead monitor their land so that they can live without any risk.
The community and its four straw-roofed huts were spotted in the Javari Valley, which is believed to be hiding around 2000 uncontacted tribes in the world.
Survival International has released the first, clear pictures of this ancient Amazonian tribe, who grow crops, peanuts, bananas, corns and more. Have a look:
June 25th, 2011
Ovulation is a really useful biological function. Not only does it facilitate pregnancy — though sperm are in no short supply, the ephemeral egg appears just once a month — but new research finds that it also helps a woman select potential partners by enhancing her "gaydar."
All this complex sexual decision-making is going on behind the scenes, according to a study published online this week in the journal Psychological Science that found that straight women at their peak period of fertility are far more accurate than non-ovulaters at sussing out who's gay and who's not just by looking at a man's face.
"We consistently find that people have no idea they are able to do this," says Nicholas Rule, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the study's lead author. "They come out of the experiment completely frustrated and say, This is so hard, no one can do this, and then we look at the data and they're doing amazingly well."
Rule and colleagues at Tufts University put 40 Tufts undergraduate women — all of whom were heterosexual and ovulating — through three experiments designed to test their hypothesis that women pay more attention to men's sexual orientation when they're extremely fertile.
First, the participants were asked to look at 80 images of men's faces; half the photos — which were similar in terms of expression and attractiveness — belonged to gay men, while the other half featured straight men. A participant's ability to determine the sexual orientation of the men in the photos was closely associated with how close she was to peak ovulation.
"The closer you get to peak ovulation, accuracy goes up, up, up, peaks at ovulation, then starts to go back down again," says Rule. "There is a linear effect."
Then, researchers substituted 100 female faces — half straight, half lesbian — and performed the experiment again. This time, they found no association between fertility and so-called gaydar, an informal term referring to the ability to intuit a person's sexual orientation.
"It's not just that women are more attentive to nonverbal cues around ovulation," says Rule. "It's really something specific about paying attention to men's sexual orientation."
Finally, researchers went a step further, asking half the female subjects to read a sexy story in order to "induce reproductive thinking" before repeating the previous two experiments with both groups. The women who'd read the tale — a hokey-sounding beach romance about meeting a handsome guy on an island — were even more successful at predicting sexual orientation than the control group, an outcome that Rule says proves that women's brains are evolutionarily primed for mating during ovulation.
This is hardly the first time that ovulation has been shown to alter women's behavior. Previous research has found that women are quicker to identify a man's face than a woman's face near ovulation; subsequent analysis divined that the opposite held true for lesbians: they were faster to pick out a woman's face. Last year, another study in Psychological Science found that ovulating women are half as likely to call their dads. Why? Because incestuous relationships are more likely to produce problematic offspring, women are unconsciously shunning pop at their most fertile time of the month.
Taken as a whole, the entire body of research suggests that when women have the greatest chance of getting pregnant, they are unconsciously making judgments and perceptions that maximize that possibility.
"Around ovulation, the mind is reallocating its resources in ways that are relevant evolutionarily," says Rule. "It shows us that the link between body and mind is greater than we often think."
Most Popular At Time
June 25th, 2011
A Russian woman died from a heart attack brought on by the shock of waking up at her own funeral.
Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, 49, was mistakenly declared deceased by doctors, the Daily Mail reported Friday.
But she later woke up - in a coffin surrounded by sobbing relatives. She started screaming after realizing she was about to be buried alive.
Mukhametzyanov, a resident of Kazan, was rushed back to the hospital where she was declared dead -- this time for real.
Her husband, Fagili Mukhametzyanov, was distraught.
"Her eyes fluttered and we immediately rushed her back to the hospital but she only lived for another 12 minutes," he said.
He told The Sun that he would sue the hospital.
"I am very angry and want answers. She wasn't dead when they said she was and they could have saved her."
A spokesman at the hospital, also in Kazan, said officials were investigating.
More From NY Daily News
June 24th, 2011
Cr editorial note: Are we shocked? Nah, they will get married in NY and then flee from the tyrannical taxation state right here to good ole NC and then turn a red state blue...in so many ways.
New York legislators cleared the last major hurdle to legalize same-sex marriage Friday when the state Senate followed the Assembly's lead in approving legislation to do so.
Earlier in the day, the Assembly passed a version of the bill that included an amendment about religious institutions. The Friday night vote in the Senate means the legislation's fate is now in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed it.
The Senate vote came after lawmakers agreed on an amendment that would help protect religious institutions from potential lawsuits, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said.Demonstrators have gathered for days in Albany as state lawmakers pored over the details of the bill, which would help make New York the nation's sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The vote on the marriage measure, which the state Assembly passed June 15, was stalled in part by Republican concerns over protections for religious institutions against the potential for litigation.
Cuomo says the bill would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry "as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex."
Currently, five states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire - and the District of Columbia grant same-sex marriage licenses.
The passage of same-sex marriage laws faced a daunting history in the New York state legislature.
The Senate rejected a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009 and has blocked the last three attempts by the state's lower house to get the proposed legislation signed into law.
Although New York currently does not grant same-sex marriages, a 2008 appellate court ruling upheld the right of couples to have their same-sex marriages recognized if they are performed elsewhere.FULL STORY