Thursday 28 February 2013

Four New Species of Water-Gliding Rove Beetles Discovered in Ningxia, China

Feb. 25, 2013 — Four new species from the Steninae subfamily of the large family of rove beetles (Staphylinidae) have been discovered in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, China, as part of an exploration of the insect fauna of the Liupan Shan Natural Reserve, where a large number of specimens has been collected. The expedition also yielded 11 new records for the Ningxia province of previously described Steninae species. The study was published in the open access, peer reviewed journal Zookeys.
The beautifully coloured newly described water
gliding species, Dianous ningxiaensis. 
(Credit: Dr. Liang Tang; CC-BY 3.0)

The Ningxia Autonomous Region is mainly known as a dry, desert-like land. The region of the Liupan Shan Natural Reserve, however, is part of the Liupan Shan mountains, also known as the green pearl on the Loess Plateau. The area is also regarded as a "Kingdom of Animals" for its great biological diversity.

The rove beetle family, Staphylinidae, is one of the most widely distributed beetle families in the world. However, the representatives of the Steninae subfamily are of particular interest. These fascinating beetles are known for their unique ability to glide on the surface of water.This special skill is made possible through evolutionary adjustment allowing the production of special gland secretions that reduce surface tension.

Wallaby rescued from car park rooftop

A wallaby is recovering after he was rescued from a precarious perch on the rooftop of a multi-storey car park in Australia.

Six wildlife workers set up nets to prevent the marsupial jumping off the car park after he hopped onto a ledge next to a 50 metre drop.

Fortunately, the wallaby jumped the other way - to safety - and was tranquilised and then taken to a wildlife shelter, following the rescue in suburban Melbourne.

The wallaby will be monitored for a few days to make sure he has got over the stress of his adventure before being released back into the wild.

Wildlife Victoria worker Manfred Zabinskas, who darted the wallaby, said he had some paw injuries from hopping on concrete but his prospects for recovery were good.

"He could have jumped either way when he was on the ledge," Mr Zabinskas said.

Running Cockroaches Give Robotics A Fast Track To Success

April Flowers for redOrbit – Your Universe Online
Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that running cockroaches begin to recover from being pushed sideways even before their nervous systems kick in to tell their legs what to do. The research team hopes that these new insights on the stabilization of biological systems could one day help engineers design steadier robots. The findings, published online in Biological Cybernetics, might also improve doctors’ understanding of human gait abnormalities.

The roaches being tested were able to maintain their footing mechanically by using their momentum and the spring-like architecture of their legs, rather than neurologically by relying on impulses sent from their central nervous system to their muscles.

“The response time we observed is more than three times longer than you’d expect,” said Shai Revzen, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, as well as ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of Michigan.

“What we see is that the animals’ nervous system is working at a substantial delay,” he said in a statement. “It could potentially act a lot sooner, within about a thirtieth of a second, but instead, it kicks in after about a step and a half or two steps—about a tenth of a second. For some reason, the nervous system is waiting and seeing how it shapes out.”

The research team sent 15 cockroaches running across a small bridge onto a placemat-sized cart on wheels. The roaches were sent one at a time, for a total of 41 trials. The cart was attached to an elastic cord, pulled tight like a loaded slingshot. This was held in place by a strong magnet on the other side. The researchers released the magnet once the roach was approximately one body length onto the cart. The force of the cart’s movement is equivalent to a sumo wrestler hitting a jogger in a flying tackle. Revzen said that cockroaches are much more stable than humans.

Dead whale washed up in Wigtown Bay

A 60-foot whale found washed up on the Solway coast has been buried close to where it died.
The carcass of the male Finn Whale was examined by experts from the Scottish Marine Animals Strandings Unit.

Investigators took samples to try to establish if was diseased. The mammal was underweight and that may have been why it sought shelter in the shallow water of Wigtown Bay.

Investigators said the cause of death was probably drowning.

Dumfries and Galloway Council staff were among those helping to deal with the incident at the bay near Carsluith.

Language Protein Differs in Males, Females

Feb. 19, 2013 — Male rat pups have more of a specific brain protein associated with language development than females, according to a study published February 20 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The study also found sex differences in the brain protein in a small group of children. The findings may shed light on sex differences in communication in animals and language acquisition in people.

Sex differences in early language acquisition and development in children are well documented -- on average, girls tend to speak earlier and with greater complexity than boys of the same age. However, scientists continue to debate the origin and significance of such differences. Previous studies showed the Foxp2 protein plays an important role in speech and language development in humans and vocal communication in birds and other mammals.
In the current study, J. Michael Bowers, PhD, Margaret McCarthy, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine examined whether sex differences in the expression of the Foxp2 protein in the developing brain might underlie communication differences between the sexes.

China puts the 'con' into tiger conservation

New report exposes the double standard which stimulates demand
February 2013. Despite signing up to global initiatives seeking to protect wild tigers and double their number by 2022, Government departments in China have quietly set about stimulating domestic markets for tiger skins and body parts.

5000 tigers in captivity in China
As few as 3,500 tigers survive in the wild, yet more than 5,000 captive-bred tigers are held in Chinese ‘farms' and ‘zoos'.

Investigations by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) have uncovered a legalised domestic trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers, sold as luxury home décor and stimulating the poaching of wild tigers and other Asian big cats as cheaper alternatives.

Tiger wine
In addition, new evidence suggests a ‘secret' Government notification on the use of the bones of captive-bred tigers is being used to justify the manufacture of ‘tonic' wines.

The new EIA report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: China's Clandestine Tiger Trade' accuses China of defying the will of the international community and calls upon more senior levels of the Government to take control and amend laws to facilitate the destruction of stockpiles of all tiger parts and the phasing out of tiger farms.

EIA also wants the Government to send a clear message to all breeders, consumers and the industry that official policy is to end all demand and trade.

Debbie Banks, Head of EIA's Tiger Campaign, said: "The stark contradiction between China's international posture supporting efforts to save the wild tiger and its inward-facing domestic policies which stimulate demand and ultimately drive the poaching of wild tigers represents one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated in the history of tiger conservation.

Intolerable disconnect between words and deeds
"Pro-tiger trade policies are championed by only a handful of officials in a couple of Government departments and it behooves China to vigorously address and terminate this intolerable disconnect between words and deeds which so undermines international efforts to save the tiger."

How does a lynx cross a fence? Remarkable photos

Rare images of lynx family in Banff National Park

February 2013. Alex Taylor, a human-wildlife conflict specialist who works for Parks Canada, was sent to intervene to help keep a lynx and her kitten off the highway near Canada's Lake Louise in Banff National Park. While on the scene, Alex snapped an incredibly rare sequence of images of the animals as they crossed highway fencing.

"As the pictures clearly portray, lynx are incredibly agile and flexible animals - this sequence is nothing short of stunning," said Omar McDadi, a Parks Canada Communications Officer. "We believe this is the first time lynx have been captured on film crossing highway fencing in this fashion."

Lynx sightings in Banff National Park are rare, though last March a lynx was snapped using one of the park's wildlife overpasses.

Lynx intrusions on fenced parts of the highway are also rare. Since their installation in 1996, highway fencing and wildlife overpasses and underpasses along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park have helped reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by over 80% for large mammals (96% for elk and deer). Wildlife fencing has also helped make the Trans-Canada Highway safer for drivers by preventing collisions and reducing property damage.

"In addition to the remarkable photos, this is a good news story that highlights how the public can assist with wildlife conservation in our national parks," added McDadi. "A number of calls were made by the public to our Parks Canada dispatch line, prompting an immediate response from our conservation officer who was able to secure the area of the highway where the lynx were present and help to keep them off the road until they eventually disappeared into the forest."

While the fence has reduced collisions with large mammals by 80% (96% for elk and deer) it isn't perfect.

Please report wildlife sightings in Banff, Kootenay and Yoho national parks by calling Parks Canada's dispatch line at 1-888-WARDENS.


Two company directors admit destroying a population of Endangered Freshwater pearl mussels in Scotland

Hydro scheme firm fined a derisory £4,000 for Perth river pollution
February 2013. A hydro scheme company was fined just £4,000 (Maximum potential fine of £160,000) at Perth Sheriff Court for permitting its contractors to carry out illegal work in Scotland's River Lyon.

Shawater Limited was fined after pleading guilty to permitting the contractor to carry out work without the authority of a licence under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations 2011 (commonly known as a CAR licence). The Regulations are intended to protect Scotland's water environment.

Shawater Limited obtained the required CAR licence from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), but this did not include permission to construct a pipeline, ford and access track. Shawater Limited had representatives on site during the work, but did not prevent their contractors carrying out un-licenced work. They also did not ensure that adequate measures were in place to prevent excess silt entering the watercourse.

Sheriff Michael Fletcher considered these deficiencies serious for two reasons. There was inadequate protection of the river repeatedly over a lengthy period and the project was carried out on a river system where it was known that wildlife would be affected, and there was an expectation that the works would be carried out with extra care.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Alligator Sports Always-Erect, Hidden Penis

Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 February 2013 Time: 01:46 PM ET

Unlike many other reptiles and mammals, alligators sport permanently erect penises that hide inside their bodies, new research reveals.

The reptiles sport fully erect penises made of tough, fibrous tissue that shoot out of their bodies and get pulled back in just as quickly, according to the study, which is detailed in the March issue of the journal Anatomical Record.

"It is really interesting and really bizarre, very different from anything we've seen in vertebrates," said study author Diane Kelly, an anatomist at the University of Massachusetts.

Chinese Softshell Turtle “Invade” Laguna Bay, Threaten Fishing Industry in Philippines – via Herp Digest

Wednesday, 13 February 2013, Business Mirror, Philippines 
by Jonathan L. Mayuga / Reporter

THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has expressed alarm over the growing number of Chinese softshell turtles “invading” Laguna de Bay, threatening the multimillion milkfish and tilapia industry there.

Gerry Albert Corpuz, public information officer of Pamalakaya, said these turtles, scientifically known as Pelodiscus sinesis and first reported to have infested fishponds in Region 3 (Central Luzon), have now reached the bay.

“They [the Chinese turtles] are aggressive eaters. They grow fast and even move faster than local turtles,” Corpuz said.

He added that the Chinese turtles were reportedly as big as the pawikan or Philippine sea turtle.

The Pamalakaya official expressed fears that the turtles would adversely affect fish-cage and fishpen operators, as well as small-scale fishermen, who depend on the bay for their livelihood.

The Chinese turtles are the latest non-native marine species to have invaded the bay. Other non-native species like the janitor fish and knife fish have competed with milkfish and tilapia for food there.

Officials of the militant group saw how aggressive the turtles can be during a recent dialogue with fishermen working at Laguna de Bay, where Pamalakaya Vice Chairman Salvador France was shown a predatory turtle caught by fisherfolk from Barangay Layunan in Rizal province’s Binangonan town.

According to him, the turtle tried to attack one of the fishermen after it was released in the bay.

In a statement, France expressed dismay that government agencies are doing nothing to prevent the Chinese turtles from multiplying in the bay.

“We are just puzzled why officials of the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] continue to play deaf on complaints [about] the proliferation of predatory turtles across the 94,000-hectare Laguna de Bay. They never report the presence of this predatory creature in Laguna Lake to the general public,” he said.

DENR officials in Central Luzon earlier confirmed that the turtles have proliferated in the region and threatening the milkfish and tilapia industry there. In response, the department created a task force to look into the distribution, feeding habits and reproductive features of the turtles, which were introduced in the country in the 1990s.

The officials fear that the continued proliferation of the turtles might adversely affect rivers and streams, and seriously threaten the aquaculture industry in Central Luzon.

Fishermen and fishpond owners in the towns of Arayat, Candaba, San Luis, Minalin, Macabebe and Apalit in Pampanga province likened the turtle menace to the “golden kuhol” because of its adverse impact.

One measure the officials are implementing to address the problem is catching the turtles for local consumption. In Pampanga, three individuals were granted a permit to collect a combined 36,820 heads of live turtles in 2013, or about 30,700 kilos of turtle meat.

In 2012 about 349,170 heads of live turtles, or 236,250 kilos of turtle meat, were caught.

Long-lost continent found under the Indian Ocean

Sand from Mauritian beaches reveals rock from ancient landmass. 

24 February 2013 

The drowned remnants of an ancient microcontinent may lie scattered beneath the waters between Madagascar and India, a new study suggests. 

Evidence for the long-lost land comes from Mauritius, a volcanic island about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. The oldest basalts on the island date to about 8.9 million years ago, says Bjørn Jamtveit, a geologist at the University of Oslo. Yet grain-by-grain analyses of beach sand that Jamtveit and his colleagues collected at two sites on the Mauritian coast revealed around 20 zircons — tiny crystals of zirconium silicate that are exceedingly resistant to erosion or chemical change — that were far older.

Rare mammoth discovered in Russia, entire graveyard suspected

Researchers in southern Russia have unearthed remains of a rare mammoth species. Citing local villagers’ accounts of previous bone finds, they suspect that an entire graveyard of prehistoric creatures is waiting to be found at the site.

The bones were found encased in clay near a river confluence close to the village of Verkhny Kurp in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic of the Caucasus Mountains. They likely belonged to the southern mammoth (mammuthus meridionalis), a species that lived in Europe and Central Asia between 2.6 and 0.7 million years ago.

The archeological find was made after a river bank collapsed, researcher Viktor Kotlyarov, who studied the remains, told RT. One of the unearthed tusks remains intact thanks to its clay encasing. A meter-long fragment of another one was dragged down, exposed and quickly reduced to pieces before it could be preserved, although scientists had time to take pictures.

Don't Just Blame Cats: Dogs Disrupt Wildlife, Too

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 03:58 PM ET

Though they seem so natural in our homes, cats and dogs are natural predators, too. Most will attack birds, lizards and smaller mammals when given the chance, and scientists have demonstrated how their explosive populations can upset ecosystems.

The scourge of domestic cats has been thrown into the spotlight recently. A campaign in New Zealand is pushing to get rid of cats, or at least keep them confined indoors, where they can't prey on kiwis and other native birds. And a study out last month attached some staggering figures to cats' carnage in the United States: it found that the felines kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks, each year.

But defensive cat lovers should rest assured — a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford reminds us that domestic dogs are also killers and disease-spreaders that can pose conservation problems when they're allowed to roam free outdoors.

Monkeying Around With Puzzles Makes Chimps Happy

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

Chimpanzees don't need to be rewarded for playing with brainteasers. Like humans with a crossword puzzle, they're motivated by the challenge alone, new research finds.

Phil the chimpanzee plays with a puzzle at the Whipsnade Zoo.
CREDIT: Zoological Society of London 
For the study, published today (Feb. 23) in the American Journal of Primatology, researchers followed six chimpanzees at the Zoological Society of London's Whipsnade Zoo. Three of the chimps are half-brothers (Phil, Grant and Elvis), and their family group includes another male and two females.

Zookeepers gave the chimps a homemade puzzle made of plumbing pipes. Inside the network of pipes were two red dice. The chimps had to figure out where to poke sticks into holes in the pipes to get the dice to change directions and fall into an exit chamber. The game is based on the real-world task of using sticks to pull termites out of their nests as a snack.

'Lightsaber' Spines Help Strange Shark Ward Off Predators

Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer
Austin Powers' Dr. Evil had one simple request: "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads."

Velvet belly lantern sharks may not satisfy that demand, but perhaps they're even better: They come ready-made with glowing spines that look like lightsabers, research shows.

These deepwater sharks sport transparent spines, illuminated by a row of light-producing cells along their dorsal fins, according to a study published today (Feb. 21) in the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers think the glowing cells help keep these small sharks from being eaten, warning would-be predators that these shark-burgers come with a side of transparent spine that would be tough to swallow. If true, this would the first fish to use light, or bioluminescence, to actively ward off predators, said study author Julien Claes, a researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Strangely enough, these sharks also have even more glowing cells on the bottom of their bodies, which mimic the light streaming down from above, allowing them to blend in and preventing them from being spotted from creatures below, Claes told OurAmazingPlanet. "This counter-illumination prevents them from casting a shadow," he said.

The glowing parts of the velvet belly lanternshark, as seen from the side.
CREDIT: Dr. Jérôme Mallefet FNRS - UCL 
Glowing on top and bottom
It's a surprising use of seemingly contradictory strategies, said Nicolas Straube, a researcher at the College of Charleston who wasn't involved in the study. "It seems [contradictory] on the first glance, but the counter-illumination is used to be invisible from potential predators attacking from below, while the spines could only be seen by predators attacking sideways or from above and it seems to be evolutionarily advantageous, to warn potential attackers beforehand: If you try to eat me, you will be pierced by these two nice spines," he said. "So, the two strategies may in fact work well in concert."

Daisy the dog hits 100 dog-years on a roast and chilli diet

Published: Mon, February 25, 2013 

Pampered centenarian canine Daisy preparing to tuck into her birthday cake 

The centenarian canine tucked into some birthday cake to celebrate reaching the milestone – which her owner puts down to a diet of roast chicken and mashed potatoes, chilli and Chinese takeaways. 

Although the little Jack Russell was the runt of her litter and spent her first two years as a stray, she has more than made up for her bad start since being rescued by Mark Barsby-Finch and family from Tewkesbury, Gloucs.

He said: “Daisy has never had a tin of dog food in her life. She eats exactly what we eat.“ 

Her favourite meal is roast chicken and mashed potatoes, but she’ll happily eat anything. 

“She’s partial to a takeaway Chinese, and she loves a homemade chilli too, as long as it’s not too spicy. 

Daisy has never had a tin of dog food in her life. She eats exactly what we eat. 

Mark Barsby-Finch 

“I wouldn’t dream of giving her scraps – I cook an extra portion of food just for her, and she eats before the rest of the family.”In dog years, Daisy is 22 and the family celebrates her birthday on the anniversary of the day they adopted her, February 21. 

Although the oldest dog ever known in the UK reached the age of 26, Daisy is believed to be the oldest alive now.Mark added: “When we first adopted her, we had access to 40 acres of farmland, and Daisy used to be off out into the fields first thing in the morning, and reappear just in time for her tea. 

“She spends most of the time sleeping now, but apart from missing a few teeth and being a bit hard of hearing she’s in really good health.”

Daisy was adopted from Cheltenham Animal Shelter.l Is your dog older than Daisy? Ring the Daily Express on 0207 098 2982 

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Human Heart Develops Slower Than Other Mammals

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

The walls of the human heart develop slower than other mammals, according to a new study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus.

Researchers developed the first comprehensive model of human heart development using observations of living fetal hearts. Human hearts have walls that are a disorganized jumble of tissue until late in pregnancy, despite having the shape of a fully functioning heart.

During the study, they saw four clearly defined chambers in the fetal heart from the eighth week of pregnancy and they did not find organized muscle tissue until the 20th week.

Developing a simulation of the fetal heart is critical in helping researchers understand normal heart development in the womb. This simulation could eventually open up new ways of detecting and dealing with some functional abnormalities in early pregnancies.

The researchers used scans of healthy fetuses in the womb for the study, including a mother who volunteered to have detailed weekly electrocardiography scans from 18 weeks until just before delivery.

Data gathered during the research was used for a 3D computerized model built up using information about the structure, shape and size of the different components of the heart from two types of MRI scans of dead fetuses’ hearts.

Results from the study show the human heart may develop on different timeline from other mammals. While the tissue in the walls of a pig heart develops a highly organized structure compared to the early stage of a fetus’ development, the scientists say there is little organization of the human heart’s cells until 20 weeks into pregnancy.

Fewer bees in US a threat to world's almond supply

TURLOCK, CALIF. — In an almond orchard in California’s Central Valley, bee inspector Neil Trent pried open a buzzing hive and pulled out a frame to see if it was at least two-thirds covered with bees.

Trent has hopped from orchard to orchard this month, making sure enough bees were in each hive provided by beekeepers. Not enough bees covering a frame indicates an unhealthy hive — and fewer working bees to pollinate the almond bloom, which starts next week across hundreds of thousands of acres stretching from Red Bluff to Bakersfield.

“The bloom will come and go quickly,” said Trent, who works for the Bakersfield-based bee broker Scientific Ag Co. “The question is: Will the almond seeds get set? It depends if you have enough of a workforce of bees.”

That has growers concerned as nomadic beekeepers from across the country converge on the state with their semi-trucks, delivering billions of bees to the orchards for the annual pollination. Most almond trees depend on bees to transfer pollen from the flower of one tree variety to the flower of another variety before fertilization, which leads to the development of seeds.

It’s a daunting task: California’s orchards provide about 80 percent of the global almond supply. And with almond acreage increasing steadily in recent years, the bees must now pollinate 760,000 acres of trees. The number of bees needed is expected to increase as almond demand grows and orchards continue to expand.

'Ghost' caught on CCTV camera

CCTV footage said to show a ghost outside a London community centre is going viral after it was posted on YouTube.

More than 100,000 people have watched the video of the ghostly image outside South Ruislip Community Association and Community Centre.

It shows a transparent figure leaving the centre and walking towards a metal railing before seemingly disappearing into thin air.

The strange moment was reportedly witnessed by the centre's caretaker who went outside to investigate.

"I was sitting inside the hall and noticed a figure on the front CCTV camera," the caretaker is quoted as saying.

"I looked up at the screen and thought I saw a person but wasn't sure so went out to check.

"I went outside and no one was there but I thought they might have quickly walked around the side of the building into the park so I just went back in.

"After downloading the CCTV footage I was surprised to see that the figure had been recorded onto the system. I can't explain this."

The community centre was reportedly used as a prisoner of war camp for Italian prisoners during World War II - leading many to speculate the haunting figure may be from the 1940s.
A previous chairman is said to have believed the building was haunted and he used to greet the spirits when he entered the building in an attempt 'to make them friendly'.

Crocodile 'spotted in the Thames'

A retired university lecturer says he got the shock of his life when he spotted a 4ft crocodile in the River Thames.

Cyclist Richard Smith, 64, claims he saw the reptile swimming along the river at Reading, Berkshire, reports the Daily Telegraph.

He said: "I was cycling on my own and I saw what I thought was a bough of a tree with four stubby branches on it close in to the bank.

"As I got closer I saw it was a crocodile. It was about 4ft long. It had a 2ft tail and 2ft body.
"I got off my bike and ran back to where it was, but it had gone. I ran along the river for about 50 yards, but it wasn't there any more."

He came forward with his sighting, from June last year, after a tackle shop worker claimed to have also seen the beast.

Mr Smith added: "The man in the shop said he was on the bank of the Thames near Tilehurst station and he saw a fully grown swan pulled down into the water and it totally disappeared."

Tuna caught near California still have traces of Fukushima radiation

Almost two years after a natural disaster ravaged a Japanese nuclear plant, Bluefin tuna that test positive for radiation poisoning continue to be caught off the coast of California.

Twenty-three months after a tsunami took the Fukushima power plant offline and triggered an international emergency, the effects of the disaster are still being felt thousands of miles apart. This week writer Monte Burke of Forbes draws attention to a new study that shows the lingering damages caused nearly two years ago.

Burke says that a new study from Daniel J. Madigan of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station suggests that even waters in the East Pacific aren’t safe from the radiation. Bluefin off the coast of Japan are still showing signs of contamination almost two years after the incident, and migration patterns suggest that fish floundering near the other side of the ocean will continue to show evidence of radiation. And because relatively young Bluefin may have spent the majority of their lives in radioactive ocean waters near Japan, even infant fish are testing positive for radiation all this time later.

This isn’t likely to be ending anytime soon, either: Burke acknowledges that the plant is still leaking radiation into the ocean, which doesn’t necessarily just disappear. Just last month, a murasoi fish was caught in the vicinity of the Fukushima plant that tested to have around 2,540 times Japan's legal limit for radiation in seafood.

Stanford’s Madigan tells Burke that radiation within the tuna is excreted over time as well, so that the contaminants are continuously added into the ocean waters.

California's Island Night Lizard Makes Comeback – via Herp Digest

After more than 35 years, USFWS proposes removal of Xantusia riversiana from Endangered Species List., February 4, 2013 

The island night lizard (Xantusia riversiana), native only to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, has enjoyed such a recovery to its population that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove the reptile from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The lizard was first added to the list of endangered species in 1977, when it was listed as a threatened species due in large part to the introduction of nonnative pigs and goats that destroyed the lizard's habitat. In 1984 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a recovery plan for the species that was focused on restoring the animal's habitat and educating the public about the species. The service says that there are approximately 21.3 million lizards on San Clemente Island, 15,300 on San Nicolas Island, and 17,600 on Santa Barbara Island.

"The recovery of the island night lizard is yet another example of how well the Endangered Species Act works once we decide to use it," Collette Adkins Giese, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist said in a statement released by the Center. "Protections under this landmark law have been essential in reversing the trend toward extinction for so many of our country’s rarest and most unique wildlife and plants."

The island night lizard grows to about 4 inches in body length and is omnivorous. Its coloration ranges from pale gray to brown or black with striped or mottled patterns. It is a livebearer, giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs. It is also a slow growing lizard. It is estimated that the lizards can live more than 30 years. And contrary to their name, studies of the lizard on Santa Barbara Island have shown that the lizard is most active during the middle of the day.

Montana Roadkill Law Allows Motorists To Eat The Animals They Hit With Cars

Kill it and grill it.
Montana may now be the ultimate drive-through destination for adventurous foodies thanks to a new law that allows residents to consume any animals they kill.

The bill, which passed 19-2, allows deer, elk, moose and antelope that have been killed by a car to be harvested for food.

State Rep. Steve Lavin, who introduced the bill, initially included all animals, but Lavin eliminated sheep, bobcats and bears to offset any financial incentive to intentionally hit them.

"We have some animals whose parts are worth quite a bit: sheep, bobcats and bears," Lavin told the New York Daily News. "So I reduced the bill down to deer, elk, moose and antelope. The bill is confined to those four animals for that purpose. Their parts aren't worth what sheep or bear parts are worth."

Lavin, who is also a state trooper, introduced the law because he thought people were missing out on a potential food source.

"As people know, people hit a lot of animals on roadways, and I mean a ton of them," Lavin said, according to "There’s a lot of good meat being wasted out 

Fruit Flies Medicate Offspring with Alcohol

Joseph Castro, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 02:00 PM ET

It's not likely anyone would nominate a fruit fly for a "Best Mother of the Year" award — after laying her eggs, the insect hits the road, never to be heard from again. But it now turns out that fruit fly mothers aren't completely uncaring and actually try to give their offspring a fighting chance at life.

If she spots a deadly parasitic wasp around, the female fruit fly will "medicate" her offspring by laying her eggs in an environment with high levels of alcohol, which is very toxic to the wasps but not to the flies, new research shows.

Throughout the world, parasitic wasps are a bane to fruit flies. Female wasps lay their eggs inside  fly larvae, which then hatch and eat the maggots from the inside out. Fly larvae have a natural immune response to try to kill the wasp, but the venom the wasp injects along with her egg sometimes counters this defense. 

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