Saturday November 25, 2017

Frogs’ Survival Possible due to Dinosaurs’ Death: Study

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Frogs' survival
There are 6,700 known species of Frogs today. Wikimedia
  • Many theories exist explaining the extinction of Dinosaurs but the most agreed upon is the asteroid explanation
  • It turns out that the frogs’ survival is due to the extinction of dinosaurs just like their extinction paved way for successful human evolution
  • If the asteroid catastrophe would not have happened, 88% of today’s frog’s species would not be here today

July 04, 2017: A study carried out by American and Chinese biologists has concluded that had it not been for the extinction of dinosaurs by the asteroid, 88% of frog’s species we have today would not exist. The frogs’ survival was a benefit reaped out of the death of dinosaurs.

The Asteroid that hit the planet wiped out three-quarters on animals on the Earth. The extinction is popularly known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-PG) boundary.

The asteroid which met the Earth 66 million years ago had a direct impact in wiping out dinosaurs from the face of the planet, however, the frogs actually benefitted out of it. The emergence of frogs can be traced back to 200 million years.

ALSO READ: Astronomers Spot Primitive ‘Little Cub’ Galaxy that may Shed Light on Early Universe

The resilient creatures were able to take advantage of an evolutionary vacuum that was created as a result of the destruction. It has been observed that 9 out of 10 frog species that exist today evolved from just three frog lineages that survived the asteroid impact, mentioned ANI report.

Frogs are “master survivors” stated David Wake, co-author of the research paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. They were quick to take to trees which at the time were “evolving to their full flowering”. The team of Gene researchers studied 95 sets of genes from 156 frog species.

Today, frogs are the most diverse group of vertebrates with more than 6,700 species discovered.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Astronomers Discover New ‘Mid-size’ Black Hole 100,000 Times More Massive than the Sun

Scientists predict that nearly 100 million of these small black holes should exist in the Milky Way, however only about 60 have been found till now

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Black hole in milky way
A near-infrared image of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy as seen with Hubble Space Telescope/NICMOS. (NASA/STScI) (VOA)
  • Researches in Japan have discovered a super-massive black hole in Milky Way Galaxy
  • The black hole is believed to weigh as much as 400 suns
  • According to studies,  at least 100 million of these small black holes should exist in the Milky Way

Japan, September 5, 2017 : Astronomers have found new evidence for the existence of a mid-sized black hole, considered the missing link in the evolution of super-massive black holes.

Astronomers in Japan found the possible black hole in our own Milky Way galaxy, a long-theorized object which is bigger than the small black holes formed from a single star, but still much smaller than giant black holes such as the one at the center of the Milky Way.

Black holes are difficult to find because they do not emit any light. However, scientists can detect them by their influence on nearby objects.

The astronomers in Japan found new evidence of the so-called intermediate-mass black hole when they turned a powerful telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert on a gas cloud near the center of the Milky Way. The gases in the cloud move at unusual speeds, and the scientists believed they were being pulled by immense gravitational forces. They say the gravitational force is likely caused by a black hole measuring about 1.4 trillion kilometers across.

black hole in Milky way galaxy
Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project are seen in the Atacama desert, some 1500 km north of Santiago, Chile, VOA

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Theoretical studies predict at least 100 million of these small black holes should exist in the Milky Way, however only about 60 have been found.

The possible mid-sized black hole is much smaller than the super massive black hole that is located in the center of the galaxy, known as Sagittarius A, which weighs as much as 400 million suns.

“This is the first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way galaxy,” said the study’s leader, Tomoharu Oka from Keio University, Japan.

If confirmed, the intermediate-mass black hole could help explain how supermassive black holes operate. One theory is that supermassive black holes, which are at the center of most massive galaxies, are formed when smaller black holes steadily coalesce into larger ones. However, until now no definitive evidence has existed for intermediate-mass black holes that could indicate a middle step between the small and massive black holes already detected.

Researchers say they will continue to study the intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the hope of confirming its existence. (VOA)

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In Indonesia, a Jungle School helps rescued Orangutans to return to the Wild

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature - which changed the species' threat level to critical - estimates a mere 47,000 will be left in the wild by 2025

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Orangutan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

September 5, 2016: There is an amazing jungle school in the heart of Borneo Islands that is designed specifically for the young rescued Orangutans. Some of them found wandering and suffering alone, as the fire rages huge parts of the rainforest in Borneo.

These young orphan Orangutans got to school to learn to feed themselves and avoid the predators. They are taught in the wildlife so they return to their world with no harm and with preparation. As life in the real world was drastic for these lovely creatures. Only a few years ago, the Bornean Orangutans were declared as critically endangered species and they are close to extinction.

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Experts say that the wonderful tree-dwelling Orangutans would do wonders in the wildlife and cross the Borneo without even touching the ground. But now the same Orangutans could get entirely vanished from the island within 50 years, as the ancient rainforest they have inhabited for centuries are felled and burned at alarming speed leaving serious danger for the inhabiting Orangutans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRf0gO54nqg&feature=youtu.be

Dr. Ayu Budi, a veterinarian is the head of the orangutan health clinic at the International animal rescue centre in the west Kalimantan province. She has something to say- “It’s heart-breaking,” she said , adding “when you see them, it’s really sad. They are supposed to be with their mother in the wild, living happily, but they are here.”

Exactly 101 Orangutans are nurtured under Dr. Budi’s care, including the 16 playful infants – are the lucky ones as they were rescued near death. In this beautiful niche of protected forest in the city of Ketapang, the young orangutans are nurtured back to life and health.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of their kin have died in the past four decades across Borneo, slaughtered by hunters, burned in land-blazing fires or put to death by habitat loss.

The result has been wild orangutan populations in freefall. In the mid-1970s, nearly 300,000 of these great apes roamed Borneo. Today, just a third of that number remain.

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The International Union for the Conservation of Nature – which changed the species’ threat level to critical – estimates a mere 47,000 will be left in the wild by 2025.

The fire often gets out of hand, tearing through the forest, and smouldering relentlessly on Borneo’s compact, carbon-rich peatlands. Last year’s blazes in 2015, were among the worst on record.

Conservationists fear a repeat disaster of that scale would ring the death knell for the Bornean orangutan.

Budi and her colleagues remain optimistic, teaching orangutans like Jack – a mischievous, attention-seeking seven-year-old – to forage by hiding peanuts and honey inside plastic balls high in the treetops.

But she frets her young charge will never get the chance to prove his independence in the wild, as Borneo’s lowland forests shrink ever smaller. “I think they still have a chance, but if the forest is gone, it will be difficult,” she said.

– by Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu of NewsGram

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Teaching animal pets to read: too much evolution?

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pets

By Nury Vittachi

New Delhi: Who thought pets could read? No one. But this dog has learned to read. Fernie, a two-year-old labrador from the UK, can read four words and is working on another 20, says his owner, a teacher.

I was impressed, as I well remember the difficulty I once had trying to teach a two-year-old human not to throw herself off a balcony.

All parents know that children get furiously angry if we stop them doing things like climbing into lion enclosures, drinking poison, eating mystery brown objects off the forest floor and the like. The basic toddler philosophy is: “I wonder what (insert lethal activity here) feels like? Let’s find out.”

(I suspect there’s also a subconscious undercurrent of “Time for a quick round of Make Dad Panic.”)

Parenting books say “they grow out of it”. They don’t say that they grow right back into it as teenagers, who have the exact same philosophy, but with more expensive dangers. (“I wonder what would happen if we mixed every chemical in the school lab?”)

The obvious solution is to teach children the way we teach dogs. “Sit.” (Child sits.) “Who’s a good boy?” (Adult pats head and presents tiny morsel of food.) “Study! Pass exams! (Child studies and passes exams.) “Who’s a good boy?” (Adult pats head and presents another tiny morsel of food.) and so on and so forth.

What if your child can’t talk yet? You can still teach it, thanks to scientists in Taiwan who have just invented an Infant Cries Translator app. You download the app and stick your phone near your baby’s mouth. Wah wah waahhhhh is translated on the screen into clear, adult-readable terms such as: “I wish to have an additional beverage, carer.”

This reminded me of my first daughter, who had advanced verbal skills and actually spoke like that from about 18 months old: “Convey me to the potty immediately, carer, or you and your so-called Persian rug will live to regret it.”

Happy memories. But I was brought back on topic by a colleague from the US who says TV shows in her home country feature a dog called Willow who can read. Clearly this is the trend.

I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced that teaching animals to read is a good thing. Life is grim enough without coming home to be greeted by my dog saying things like: “What do you think of Schopenhauer’s second volume of essays? Good grief, you haven’t read it, have you?”

The fact is reading gives humans an evolutionary advantage that we should not share with less-evolved creatures such as dogs, cats, amoeba, Donald Trump fans and the like.

But I must admit I was curious. So I handed my newspaper to my dog. She stared at the front page picture (a politician of course) and then tilted her head to one side, apparently having the same gyroscopic thing in her brain that smartphones have. Then she took a step forwards and peed on it. That was probably a rather insightful thing to do. I wish I’d thought of it.

If dogs do learn to read, let’s limit them to books about their kind: White Fang, 101 Dalmatians, and Marley and Me are probably the three most famous. Do NOT give them Cujo. (IANS)