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Small transparent spheres found in clam fossils testify to impacts of asteroids

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Small glass beads found inside fossil clams in Florida would, according to scientists, have witnessed the explosive impact of extraterrestrial objects that occurred in the region millions of years ago.

The research started when Mike Meyer, a student at the University of South Florida, discovered these beads, called microtektites, during a project in 2006. The project involved collecting fossils from the walls studded with shells inside a quarry, fossils could provide important information about the geological history of Florida.

It was during this research that the student noticed these tiny translucent stony balls smaller than a grain of salt. After storing 83 of these small spheres in a box for more than 10 years, Meyer, who later became a professor of earth systems sciences at Harrisburg University, realized that it was time to really analyze them, starting from scratch.

He then analyzed the elementary composition as well as all the physical characteristics of these small spheres and understood that they could have only an extraterrestrial origin. They must therefore be microtektites, objects produced by impacts usually caused by meteorites or asteroids. These small beads were sealed inside the fossils of Mercenaria campechiensis, a species of bivalve mollusc.

When the clams died, they settled under the sediments and with the weight of these same sediments were increasingly “sealed” until they became true safes for everything that ended up being inside them. It is not the first time, in fact, that inside bivalve fossils interesting remains have been found.

These beads could be the result of a single bed of tektite related to a single impact or they could be evidence of numerous impacts on Florida that occurred in the distant past. They probably date back to a period between 2 and 3 million years ago even if the dating has yet to be done.

Steven Cooper

I was a humanities major at Strayer University before switching to mechanical engineering, graduating in 2017 and since entering an internship and full-time employment. I have always loved reading science magazines including New Scientist, Scientific American and All About Space, and consider myself fairly well educated on a range of fields. It was therefore a natural choice for me to join Turtle Island News as a volunteer contributor and editor.

Landline contact number: 302-270-6080
Mobile contact number: 302-276-7165
Email contact: [email protected]
Steven Cooper
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Malaria forms resistant to any drug are spreading in Southeast Asia

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According to the results of a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the most resistant forms of human malaria, those of the Plasmodium falciparum parasites, are gaining even more resistance against drugs in Southeast Asia.

These forms have spread quickly since 2015 in various regions of Southeast Asia, from Laos to Cambodia to end with Thailand and Vietnam. Treatment failures are causing alarm among doctors and experts. These forms of malaria seem to be resistant to artemisinin and piperaquine, which is undermining efforts to eradicate the disease in these regions.

According to Olivo Miotto of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and of the University of Oxford, UK, one of the authors of the studies, these results indicate that the resistance of Plasmodium falciparum is becoming a very large epidemiological problem also because this strain seems to spread geographically very quickly invading new territories and acquiring ever more profitable genetic properties that increase resistance even more.

According to Mallika Imwong of the University of Mahidol in Thailand, “to stay one step ahead, continuous surveillance, including genetic surveillance, is needed to map the spread of resistance in real-time, so that other countries can act quickly and change drugs if necessary.”

The Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for nine deaths out of 10 for the case of malaria, a disease which at present infects more than 200 million people around the world.

Steven Cooper

I was a humanities major at Strayer University before switching to mechanical engineering, graduating in 2017 and since entering an internship and full-time employment. I have always loved reading science magazines including New Scientist, Scientific American and All About Space, and consider myself fairly well educated on a range of fields. It was therefore a natural choice for me to join Turtle Island News as a volunteer contributor and editor.

Landline contact number: 302-270-6080
Mobile contact number: 302-276-7165
Email contact: [email protected]
Steven Cooper
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New species of bioluminescent beetle discovered in China

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A new species of bioluminescent beetle has been discovered in subtropical hardwood forests in the southwestern regions of China.

The new identification, carried out by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as by researchers from other institutes, is related to a new member of the family of elaterids (Elateridae), a family of beetles that is characterized by an unusual behavior: they produce a shot with their own body thanks to which they manage to make jumps to escape predators. They are also called “click beetles” because they produce, by performing this move, an unusual “click.”

The family of elaterids contains about 10,000 species that live around the world but only 200 of them are able to emit light. These species live mainly in Latin America and Oceania and therefore the discovery of a new “luminous” exponent in China bodes well for new species of bioluminescent beetles also in this continent.

As stated by Wen-Xuan Bi, one of the researchers involved in the discovery, the latter occurred in 2017 during an expedition to western Yunnan.

The researchers had noticed a bioluminescent beetle with a single luminous organ on the abdomen. Also, this characteristic is to be underlined: most of the bioluminescent beetles boast the luminous organs on the first of the three thoracic segments of the body or both on the prothorax and on the abdomen. There are very few species that boast these luminous organs only on the abdomen.

The morphological investigation by which researchers also analyzed the genes shows that it is not only a new species but also a new subfamily belonging to the elaterids.

The new subfamily was called Sinopyrophorinae, the new genus was named Sinopyrophorus while the species was named Sinopyrophorinae Schimmel.

Steven Cooper

I was a humanities major at Strayer University before switching to mechanical engineering, graduating in 2017 and since entering an internship and full-time employment. I have always loved reading science magazines including New Scientist, Scientific American and All About Space, and consider myself fairly well educated on a range of fields. It was therefore a natural choice for me to join Turtle Island News as a volunteer contributor and editor.

Landline contact number: 302-270-6080
Mobile contact number: 302-276-7165
Email contact: [email protected]
Steven Cooper
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Sex change in anemone fish first begins in the brain

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Anemonefish (Amphiprioninae), also called clown fish, are fish of the Pomacentridae family characterized by very vivid colors, usually tending to orange or red with black and white streaks. These fish survive thanks to a highly symbiotic relationship with sea anemones: they always live close to them and feed on the waste they leave.

These fish represent a wonder of creation especially for another reason: they can change sex if there is need. For example, if the last female of a group disappears, a male can become female to continue the reproduction level.

A new study, conducted by Justin Rhodes, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, has discovered that this sex change occurs first in the brain and only subsequently involves the gonads and sexual organs, sometimes even after months or years.

The researchers also found that when this change occurs a particular process is triggered in the brain in an area that controls the same gonads. In the study, which appeared in Hormones and Behavior, it is described what appears to be the first case of animals in which the sex change takes place first in the brain and then in the organs.

The change is triggered when, for any reason, the female of the group that lives in the anemone disappears. At this point, the main male companion begins to take on female behaviors and among other things, begins to aggressively defend the “nest,” just like the female did. In this process which then leads to a final sex change, the next larger male becomes his partner.

By performing laboratory experiments, the researchers followed the behavioral development of 17 pairs of male anemone fish. After a few minutes from the moment they were placed in the tank, one of the males emerged as dominant and began to behave as a female but the gonads remained masculine.

By analyzing the brain of the fish, the researchers realized that, among the changes, there was an increase in the pre-optic area, something that made her brain look more and more like that of a female.

After six months the brain became completely feminine and only after the end of this brain process did the sex change of the organs begin.

Steven Cooper

I was a humanities major at Strayer University before switching to mechanical engineering, graduating in 2017 and since entering an internship and full-time employment. I have always loved reading science magazines including New Scientist, Scientific American and All About Space, and consider myself fairly well educated on a range of fields. It was therefore a natural choice for me to join Turtle Island News as a volunteer contributor and editor.

Landline contact number: 302-270-6080
Mobile contact number: 302-276-7165
Email contact: [email protected]
Steven Cooper
Continue Reading

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