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Changing Ecology of Oceans: Study shows mass extinctions of larger Marine animals

In past extinctions, smaller creatures were more prone to die off but in the Earth's oceans these days, the bigger a species is, the more chances of it to go extinct

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FILE - A blue whale is shown near a cargo ship in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast, Aug. 14, 2008. The oceans are turning into a Darwinian topsy-turvy place, where it’s survival of the smallest and the bigger a species is, the more prone it is to die off. VOA
  • Blue whale is on the IUCN endangered list and has lost as much as 90 percent of its population in the last three generations
  • The proportion of species that are threatened increases enormously as body size increases
  • The mass extinction 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs didn’t kill off bigger marine species at higher rates than smaller ones, unlike what’s happening now

Sept 16,2016: In the Earth’s oceans these days, the bigger a species is, the more prone it is to die off. That’s unheard of in the long history of mass extinctions, a new study finds.

As subfamilies of marine animal species — called genera — grow larger in body size, the likelihood of them being classified as threatened with extinction increases by an even greater amount, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science. In past extinctions, smaller creatures were more prone to die off, or size didn’t matter, said study lead author Jonathan Payne, a paleobiologist at Stanford University.

Almost none of the genera that have species averaging 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) long are threatened with extinction. However, 23 percent of those that are 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) are threatened, 40 percent of those that are 39 inches (1 meter) are endangered and 86 percent of those that are 32.8 feet (10 meters) are vulnerable, Payne said.

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These are species that are not extinct yet, but are on the respected Red List of threatened and endangered species created by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

“The proportion of species that are threatened increases enormously as body size increases,” Payne said.

Take the blue whale, not only the largest living animal, stretching close to 100 feet long, but the largest to ever have existed, Payne said. It’s on the IUCN endangered list and has lost as much as 90 percent of its population in the last three generations, according to the IUCN.

FILE – A 70-foot female blue whale, that officials believe was struck by a ship, is seen washed ashore near Fort Bragg, California, Oct. 20, 2009. As subfamilies of marine animal species grow larger in body size, the likelihood of them being classified as threatened with extinction increases by an even greater amount, according to a study published Sept. 14, 2016. VOA

On the other end of the spectrum is a grouping of fish, bioluminescent bristlemouths, that are about three inches long. They are the most abundant creatures with a backbone; the population is estimated to be in the trillions.

Focus on oceans

Payne compared fossil records, looked at past mass extinctions and compared them to current threats, concentrating on 264 genera that have the best modern and ancient records. Payne concentrated on oceans, where the fossil records are better over time. The mass extinction 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs didn’t kill off bigger marine species at higher rates than smaller ones, unlike what’s happening now, Payne said.

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The study “shows us how unusual this crisis of biodiversity we have right now,” said Boris Worm, a top marine scientist at Dalhousie University in Canada. He wasn’t part of the study but praised it. “We have had mass extinctions before. This one is totally different than what has happened before.”

Worm spoke from a break during research in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where after a more-than-20-year career he finally saw his first underwater right whale and basking shark.

“They are both in trouble and both among the largest of their kind,” Worm said.

Humans suspected

Payne’s study didn’t try to explain why larger animals were more threatened, but both he and Worm point to one main suspect: humans. Mostly through fishing and hunting, but also through environmental degradation such as warmer and more acidic oceans, humans have made it tougher for the biggest marine animals to survive, they said.

Catherine Novelli, the U.S. undersecretary of state for environment, said a world oceans conference that starts Thursday in Washington, will see the announcement of “many more” areas where nations set aside large areas of the seas where animals are protected and fishing is prohibited.

Duke University biologist Stuart Pimm also praised the study as both compelling and disturbing because “even if some species do hang on, we have massively changed the ecology of much of the oceans.”

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Payne said there is still hope, since these species haven’t gone extinct yet. He points to northern elephant seals which had a population below 100 in the early 1910s, but are now more than 100,000 strong. But they are the exception.

“It pains you to the core to know that these animals might be gone in a generation or two,” Worm said. “You can’t imagine a world without them. It’s such an important and beautiful part of our planet.” (VOA)

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Did You Hear about the New Species of Spiders Named After Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernie Sanders and Barrack Obama?

The new species of spiders have been named in honor of leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world

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Did you hear about the Bernie Sanders spider? (representational image) Pixabay

Vermont, September 30, 2017 : What if we tell you that a team of researchers has recognized and named 15 new species of spiders in the Caribbean after your favorite stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders?

Not in Hollywood, Washington, DC or Vermont – but you might now be able to catch a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S, michelleobamaae, S. berniesandersi, S. davidbowiei along with S. leonardodicaprioi on the Caribbean islands and some other southern spots.

Ingi Agnarsson, expert of spiders and professor of biology at University of Vermont, who led the new study revealed the rationale behind the undergraduate study and on choosing the intriguing names. “(We) wanted to honor people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change—leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world”, he said.

ALSO READ Exclusive : Our Islands Are Vanishing! | Tracing the Inundation of Parali I Island

The Smiley-Faced Spider

Popularly recognized as a global hotspot for biodiversity, there continues to be several species in the Caribbean that are outside the spectrum of research and study. This includes the ‘smiley faced’ spider in the genus Spintharus- named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens.

Previously recognized as one widespread species, researchers from the UVM discovered that there exist many more endemic species within the genus, 15 of which have been recognized in the research.

These samples were collected from Florida, South Carolina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and Columbia.

Each team member got to decide names for the new species of spiders. Alongside naming them after friends and family members, many species have been named after distinguished figures.

“We all named the Bernie Sanders spider together,” said Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”

Some of the other names include,

Spintharus davidbowiei

Named after the great artist David Bowie, who passed away in 2016. His music will continue to inspire generations and the authors decided to honor his legacy by naming a spider in his name.

Spintharus barackobamai

Named after the widely popular, and largely loved, former President of the United States Barack Obama. The authors love him for his statesmanship and humanitarianism, and named the spider species after him, to honor their president and his devoted service.

Spintharus michelleobamaae

Named in honor of the Former First Lady of the United States for her poise, confidence and elegance, her fight for human rights and for always striving to uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all.

Spintharus davidattenboroughi

The authors of the research also named a species of spiders after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to recognize and celebrate his efforts to educate people of the wonders of the natural world and sowing a seed of caring for nature in humanity.

The study has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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Blue Whale Game: Attention Parents! Watch Your Teen, this Lethal Game Impels to Commit Suicide

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Blue Whale Challenge
Blue Whale Challenge. Pixabay
  • The Blue Whale is a lethal game that involves brainwashing weak teenagers over a stretch of 50 days, prompting them to take up deadliest tasks
  • The killer game seems to have been arrived in India now, and the government has social media platforms to remove links to the bloody game
  • Maneka Gandhi has requested parents to deter their children from playing such games

New Delhi, August 25, 2017: As the communication becomes accessible with social media, the human race has become more indulgent in extremist activities inciting people to indulge in self-harm.

The Blue Whale is a lethal game that involves brainwashing weak teenagers over a stretch of 50 days, prompting them to take up deadliest tasks varying from watching horror flicks to inflicting self-harm. Finally, on the 50th day, the players are challenged to commit suicide after being exhausted physically and mentally.

The game was started in 2013 by Phillip Buddeikin, a Russian Psychology student and was jailed in 2016. According to him, the victims were ‘biological waste’ and that they were happy to die, whereas he was, in fact, cleansing the society, mentioned Daily Mail report.

Also Read: Sarahah-App for Honesty Or Breeding Ground for Hostility? Why it Reflects Wrong Belief System in Our Society! 

Buddeikin attracted teenagers by posting scary pictures and videos on various groups and platforms. He then taped people religiously following his posts and asked them to join a closed group. He skimmed the most depressed people and lured them for the lethal game. People soon fell for the peer pressure to complete the tasks.

The tedious tasks include: Carve F57 on your skin, Wake up at 4:20 AM and go to the roof, Carve a whale with a razor on your skin, Don’t speak to anyone for an entire day, listen to depressing music, climb on a crane and ultimately commit suicide.

The killer game seems to have been arrived in India now, and the government has asked Facebook, Google, Yahoo, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms to remove links to the suicide game.

Maneka Gandhi, Women and Child Development Minister has requested parents to deter their children from playing such games.

What impelled the kids to watch this horrific game?

The blue whale game targetted socially depressed teenagers as they were the easy targets. At the commencement of the game, the moderator asks for the personal information, which was later used to threaten players if they asked to leave the game. These kids were groomed and manipulated to perpetrate such horrendous tasks.

You can watch for under mentioned change of behavior to ensure that your teen is not succumbing to the deadly game:

Being extra secretive

Not connecting socially

Spending too much time on social media

Wandering alone at night or unusual places

Look for self-harm injuries

 


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Google Integrates Brazil’s Indigenous Territories into its Maps

Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities

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Google Integrates Brazil's Indigenous Territories into its Maps. Wikimedia Coomons
  • Google on Sunday announced the integration of Brazil’s indigenous territories into its maps
  • Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world
  • Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities

New York, July 31, 2017: In a bid to prevent deforestation and preserve culture, Google on Sunday announced the integration of Brazil’s indigenous territories into its maps.

In partnership with Fundacao Nacional do Indio (FUNAI), Brazil’s governmental agency overseeing indigenous affairs, Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities.

“On Google Maps and Earth, you can now see the names of certified indigenous territories in Brazil, search for indigenous territories using the name of the ethnic group living there and see how forests are maintained in these areas compared to other parts of the Amazon,” Raleigh Seamster, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach, said in a blog post.

Brazilhas one of the world’s most diverse populations, with more than 500,000 indigenous people living on 472 territories certified by the government — representing 13 per cent of Brazil’s total land.

Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most bio-diverse tract of tropical rain-forest in the world.

Also Read:“Museum of Yesterday” : New App Reveals Little-known History of Rio de Janeiro Port

Deforestation has had a devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, destroying biodiversity, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Google said that integrating indigenous territories into its maps is an essential step in accurately reflecting the world and showing how the indigenous communities play an important role in preserving the natural biodiversity and cultural richness of the Brazilian Amazon.

“By defining Brazil’s indigenous territories we can show the world the role these communities play in maintaining global socio-biodiversity,” Artur Nobre, Presidential Advisor, FUNAI, said in a statement.

This update builds on other work by Google Earth Outreach to support cultural preservation and land management.

A similar update was announced earlier this month for Canada. (IANS)