warming is changing polar bear diet. (CC-BY-SA:
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Bears Snack on Dolphin - Global warming may be responsible
for a new item on the polar bear's diet: dolphin. As the
seas warm new species are finding their way north and getting
on the bear's diet, which previously consisted mostly of
seal. Norwegian scientists have photographed the white bears
eating dolphins several times in the Arctic since April
of 2014, but never before. The researchers blame the change
on a strong retreat of ice during the summer and two nearly
ice-free winters in recent years.
the Tortoises Return to Santa Fe Island - In an attempt
to restore ecological balance the Galapagos archipelago,
Ecuador has released tortoises similar to the giant tortoise
which died out there years ago. "We released in Santa Fe
201 tortoises from the Chelonoidis hoodensis subspecies,
which are from Espanola Island, and which have morphological
and genetic similarities to the extinct subspecies on the
(Santa Fe) island," rangers from Galapagos National Park
said in a statement. The animals were raised in captivity
and 30 carry radio transmitters that allow rangers to track
them. The last member of the extinct subspecies that used
to populate the island, Chelonoidis abigdoni , was
named "Lonesome George" and died three years ago at the
Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador.
do Change Weather - Conspiracy theorists have long argued
that contrails left by jets impact the weather. Now there
is some actual proof that this may be the case. A new study
published in the International Journal of Climatology
shows that in areas otherwise very similar, the presence
contrails can decrease the maximum and raise the minimum
temperatures. The researchers counted the number of contrails
by using satellite imagery. The scientists studied two regions
in their tests. In the South, the decrease in the temperature
range was 6 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the Midwest region
it was only five degrees.
Evidence of Warm Blooded Dinos - A recent study published
in the journal Science suggests that dinosaurs were more
warm-blooded, like mammals and birds, than had been previously
thought. A century ago most researchers thought that dinosaurs
were very reptilian in nature: mostly dependent on the environment
to warm up for activity. Newer studies however have suggested
they were somewhere in between the cold and warm blooded.
This latest study indicates that they were much more warm
blooded than had been was suspected. "Upon re-analysis,
it was apparent that dinosaurs weren't just somewhat like
living mammals in their physiology - they fit right within
our understanding of what it means to be a 'warm-blooded'
mammal," said author Michael D'Emic, a Stony Brook University
paleontologist. D'Emic took previous studies that looked
at dinosaur rates of growth based on annual rings in the
bones and then adjusted them for stressful or seasonal environments.
He believes that the original research underestimated the
growth because of these missing factors. His conclusion
is that dinosaurs had similar metabolic rates as birds.
Looks into Terraforming Planets - Terraforming Mars
to turn it into a habitable planet has always been the stuff
of science fiction, but according to one report, the U.S.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is already
working on micro-organisms that can help so such a job.
Though officially DARAPA denies its intensions to make the
red planet green, comments made by Alicia Jackson, deputy
director of DARPA's Biological Technologies Office, suggest
otherwise. "For the first time, we have the technological
toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth,
but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay," Jackson
said. DARPA scientists would cut and splice DNA for the
little animals giving them preferred traits that would allow
them to live on Mars and change its attributes (for example
transforming the carbon-dioxide to oxygen). Most likely
these engineered animals will first be deployed on Earth
to do jobs like rehabilitating tracts of land damaged by
man-made or natural disasters.
Quote of the Month -“Never
memorize something that you can look up.” - Albert Einstein
New at the Museum:
of the Age of Steam: Building The Bell Rock Lighthouse
- Dozens of ships and thousands of lives had been lost
when vessels went down on the treacherous Bell Rock reef.
Could a Lighthouse be built on this impossible ocean swept
Dinos - I've seen and read in the Jurassic Park movies
and books that some dinosaurs like Dilophosaurus and Procompsognathus
were poisonous. My teacher says that they weren't, but were
some dinosaurs really venomous?
is no real hard evidence that any dinosaur killed or injured
its victims with poison. On the other hand there is no real
evidence that all the dinosaurs were non-poisonous, either.
The problem is that most of structures of the dinosaurs
that would tell this story, like a gland that would make
and store the poison, are soft tissue. Soft tissue is not
preserved well in the fossil record, however. Only hard
tissue like bones usually survive. So we just don't know
one way or another.
we don't know for sure Michael Crichton, who wrote the original
Jurassic Park books decided to make his story a little more
exciting by giving Dilophosaurus the ability to project
poison like a spitting cobra snake can today. (In the movie
version they also added the frill around the creature's
neck which does not appear in the fossil record for Dilophosaurus
either, but as the frill is also soft tissue we can't positively
say it didn't have a this characteristic either).
2000, Mexican paleontologist Rubin A. Rodriguez de la Rosa
of the Museum of the Desert in Saltillo showed his fellow
scientists at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate
Paleontology a tooth he had found. It was from an unknown
species of carnivorous dinosaur and it had a groove running
down it like those found on modern poisonous snakes. (The
groove provides a channel for the poison to enter the body
of the victim). Rodriguez de la Rosa thinks that his maybe
evidence that some dinosaurs were verminous.
all scientists are convinced of his interpretation of this
fossil, however. So we just don't know for sure. Hopefully,
some paleontologist will find more of this odd creature
and maybe then we will be certain.
the lack of evidence it isn't unreasonable that there might
have been poisonous dinosaurs. The Komodo Dragon, the world's
largest lizard alive today has a poisonous and septic bite.
Why not some dinosaurs?
Amy Johnson - Though we think of Amelia Earhart as the
pioneering woman aviator, she wasn't the only female who
took to the skies in that era to break records. Amy Johnson,
born on July 1st 1903, became qualitied as a British pilot
and ground engineer in 1930. That same year she attempted
set a record for solo flight from London to Darwin, Australia,
but missed it by 3 days. However, she was still the first
woman to make the flight. Unfortunately, like Earhart, she
disappeared. Her plane went missing over the Thames estuary
Some Shooting Stars - On July 12th through August 23rd
you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Delta Aquarids
Meteor Shower. The shooting stars will appear to come from
the constellation Aquarius. The peak of activity will occur
on the evening July 28th and on into the morning of the
Downing a Drone My Cost You - A court in Modesto, California,
has ruled that shooting down a drone is illegal. On November
28, 2014, Brett McBray ordered his son to use a shotgun
to shoot down a drone hovering in the vicinity of his house.
McBray claimed it was watching his family. His neighbor,
Eric Joe, who owned the drone, counter-claimed that the
remotely piloted craft was over his own land and was not
fitted with a camera. He demanded $700 in damages from McBray
who refused to pay. Joe took the case to small claims court,
which ruled McBray owed Joe $850.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.