Science

The deepest known ocean virus lives under 29,000 feet of water

Marine virologists have found a novel virus living in the incredibly deep and dark Mariana Trench, more than 29,000 feet under the ocean’s surface. The virus is the deepest known isolated bacteriophage—viruses that infect and replicate inside bacteria—ever found, according to a study published September 20 in the journal Microbiology Spectrum. The enormous trench in the western Pacific Ocean near Guam is over 36,000 feet deep at its lowest depth and is part of the hadal zone. This zone is…

Science

Sadly, these live-streamed bald eagle eggs likely won’t hatch

Though they’ve captivated the internet since late February, three eagle eggs in a nest in Southern California are unlikely to hatch. Parents Jakie and Shadow continue to take turns keeping the eggs warm, as snow dots their nest overlooking Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains.  “At this point, from the date that the eggs were laid, it’s past the time that Jackie’s eggs have hatched in the past,” biologist and nonprofit Friends of Big Bear Valley executive director…

Science

Ireland was once home to deer with massive 12-foot antlers

Ireland may not be home to any snakes, but the island’s actual natural past and present is still bustling with other wildlife. It’s currently home to 40 species of land and marine mammals, 12,000 species of insects, and more than 400 bird species. Fearsome wolves used to roam the forests of Ireland, before being hunted into extinction by 1786 These wolves were likely a primary predator of one of the larger players of Irish natural history–the extinct giant deer (Megaloceros…

Science

‘Spectacular’ new orchid species is pollinated by moths

Despite their reputation for being easy for aspiring plant parents to destroy, orchids can be found all over the planet. There are more than 25,000 known species of these plants, with more discovered every year. An international team of scientists have now found a new species of orchid in Madagascar with an impressive nectar spur and has a tie to Charles Darwin. Solenangis impraedicta is described in a study published March 11 in the journal Current Biology.  [Related: This new…

Science

Healthy reef soundscapes can help degraded coral reefs grow

Healthy reefs are known as  vibrant homes for colorful corals and fish.. As with any bustling ecosystem, they have their own sounds and can be quite noisy. The purrs, croaks, and grunts of fish and crustaceans that live there and the sounds of healthy coral growing can echo through the water. Larval animals may use some of this sound to help them determine where to put down roots or when it’s time to grow. Broadcasting these healthy coral reef sounds…

Science

How citizen scientists are protecting ‘glass eels’

The Hudson River used to be among some of the most contaminated rivers in the United States. Following decades of environmental legislation and activism, wildlife including bald eagles, bears, and whales are being spotted in New York in larger numbers. The Hudson is also an important habitat for migratory American eels, who are now getting some help from citizen scientists.  For the first time, this citizen science data will be treated as official data entered in the Atlantic States Marine…

Science

Sorry, Darwin: Most male mammals aren’t bigger than females

The idea that most biologically male members of a species are physically larger than the females goes back to Charles Darwin’s 1871 book The Descent of Man. While this is typically true for some species including gorillas, buffalo, and elephants, it is not necessarily a one size fits all fact.  A study published March 12 in the journal Nature Communications found that the males in most mammalian species are not bigger than the females. Monomorphism–or both sexes being roughly the…

Science

Cicadas pee in jet streams like bigger animals

Cicadas are known for emerging in the billions. These groups chatter so loudly that fiber optic cables can pick up the noise. However, the way that they pee is also making waves this year. Instead of urinating in tiny droplets that they flick from their butts like other insects and small organisms, cicadas pee in high speed jets more similar to large mammals. This unique urinary habit is detailed in a study published March 11 in the journal Proceedings of…

Science

New squid alert! 100+ species discovered off the coast of New Zealand

The Pacific is the largest and deepest ocean basin on the planet. Scientists barely know just how many different organisms call these deep waters home. Many of these areas are remote and difficult to explore, but that hasn’t stopped efforts to find out what’s really lurking under the sea. In February, a team of researchers exploring the Bounty Trough off the coast of New Zealand discovered roughly 100 new and potentially new marine species.  Team members from the nonprofit organization…

Science

These extinct termites have been stuck in a mating position for 38 million years

It was a mosquito full of dinosaur blood and encased in amber that helped bring the fictional Jurassic Park to life. While real world bugs stuck in sticky substances don’t lead to dangerous dinosaur parks (yet), they do offer scientists a peek into their past shapes and behaviors. A pair of 38 million year-old termites trapped in tree resin in the middle of a mating behavior are helping scientists understand the mating behaviors of extinct insects. The finding is detailed…

Science

World’s oldest known fossilized forest discovered in England

Dinosaur fossils get most of the hype, but uncovering plant fossils is crucial for understanding the long-gone ecosystems of the past. In a plant find that’s definitely worth the buzz, a team of researchers have found the oldest known fossilized forest. The remains of this ancient forest are embedded in sandstone along the coast of southwest England and date back about 390 million years ago. These fossilized trees are roughly four million years older than the previous record holder–the Gilboa…

Science

Newly discovered deep-sea worm moves like a ‘living magic carpet’

The planet’s deep-sea worms survive and thrive in some pretty inhospitable places. Some are bioluminescent, glowing in regions too deep for the sun’s powerful rays to shine. Other sea worms can live surrounded by methane, one of the Earth’s most potent greenhouse gasses. Now, scientists have discovered a new species of deep-sea worm. It was found about 30 miles off of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast in an underwater methane seep. Pectinereis strickrotti is described in a study published March 6…