Friday, April 19, 2013

Loose Feathers #388

Red-shouldered Hawk / Photo: US Forest Service
Birds and birding
Nature and science blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • Scientists have sequenced the genome for the African Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae). The analysis showed that the coelacanth and lungfish (both lobe-finned fish) are more closely related to mammals than to other types of fish, which supports the idea that mammals and other tetrapods evolved from lobe-finned fish.
  • Recent research on the coelacanths and other ancient lineages has shown that "living fossil" is an inaccurate concept; such organisms have undergone evolution at rates similar to other species, even if they remain superficially similar to their ancient forebears.
  • When a Chinese ship ran aground on a protected coral reef in the Philippines, it not only damaged the reef but was also carrying 10,000 kg of meat from endangered pangolins.
  • Production of the inexplicably popular kopi luwak, which relies on passing coffee beans through the digestive systems of civets, is likely to threaten the wild civet populations.
  • The small, web-based InsideClimateNews organization won a Pulitzer for its reporting on tar sands oil.
  • The kudzu stinkbug might shift from eating kudzu to soybeans if its population continues to expand. This is one reason it is so hard to find good biocontrols.
  • Wednesday's explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas has rightly raised questions about the safety of the fertilizer industry. There are also a variety of environmental problems associated with the industry due to its reliance on natural gas from fracking and nutrient runoff that causes massive dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere.
  • Finland is considering creating a new national park to protect Arctic wildlife.
  • Two new species of ypsolophid moths have been described from eastern Russia.