Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Mar 19 2017, 7:29am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 19 2017, 7:37am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

Top Science Stories This Week
Polka-dog tree frog is the world's first glow in the dark frog. Credit: JULIÁN FAIVOVICHA AND CARLOS TABOADA
 

World’s First Glow in the Dark Frog Discovered 

Tiny polka dot tree frog from South America is the first naturally fluorescent amphibian ever found. The frog was discovered in the Amazon basin and glows brightly when exposed to ultraviolent radiation.

Researchers stumbled upon the weird frog by accident while studying the pigments scattered on its body. When hit with black light, its skin started to emit neon green light. Surprised by their finding, the researchers conducted a thorough investigation of the little amphibian's skin and found that three molecules in its lymph tissue and skin glands are likely responsible for this green glow. Researchers have also found that these molecules enhance the brightness of the frog by 19 percent on a full-moon night and 30 percent during twilight.

Enceladus’ Ocean is Just a Few Miles Below its Surface

Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbors a global ocean beneath its icy surface. New research suggests that the moon is warmer than expected just a few feet below its icy crust, meaning that Enceladus' ocean of liquid water might be lurking only a couple of miles beneath its surface. That’s closer than previously thought. 

The conclusion was drawn from the microwave observations of the Enceladus south pole during a close flyby in 2011. Though the observations cover only a small patch of the southern polar region, they might represent the condition of whole surface and suggest that the entire region is likely warm underneath. Future missions to Enceladus could confirm whether this global ocean is really as close to the surface as this study indicates.

Mammals Shrink when Earth Heats Up

Global warming affects environments and ecosystems in many ways. Some fifty-six million years ago, about 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, Earth suddenly heated up and something strange happened to our world. Different animal species shrank noticeably, including compact horses. The animal got 14 percent smaller from about 17 pounds to around 14 pounds. 

Another creature a lemur like animal shrank about 4 percent. Researchers found that the amount animal shrank was directly related to how hot the planet got warm. And they warn that these unusual effects could happen again.

The findings are based on a new analysis of fossilized teeth and jaw fragments collected from the Bighorn Basin near Yellowstone National Park. Researchers found that mammal dwarfing occurred approximately 56 million years ago during an ancient warming period.  As the global temperature cooled down, the size of many mammals almost returned to their normal size.

Spiders Eat Millions of Tons of Insects Every Year

Researchers have showed some stunning estimates about just how much the world's spiders eat per year. Using two calculation methods, they have found that the global spider population which weighs around 25 million metric tons eats up to 800 million tons of insects every year. For comparison, all human population together consumes around 400 million tons of meat and fish every year.

These findings are not just astonishing numbers. They also suggest that spiders are playing an important role to kill countless pests that transmit diseases or parasites. Thus, serving as a major contributor to maintain the ecological balance of nature.

Unique Proteins Protect Water Bears from Dehydration 

Tardigrades, also called water bears, are known to be the toughest creature on Earth. They have a unique ability to survive extreme environments that would destroy most other living things. They can even manage to endure and survive complete dehydration.

Researchers have found that water bears produce unique proteins to preserve their cells during dehydration.  Initially, researchers had thought that the water bear relied on a sugar called trehalose to protect its cells during desiccation. These proteins form a glasslike matrix within the body that preserves the organisms during the drying process.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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