How Medical Nanotech Will Change Humanity Forever
Futurists have long speculated that nanotechnology — the engineering of materials and devices at the molecular scale — will revolutionize virtually every field it touches, medicine being no exception. Here’s what to expect when you have fleets of molecule-sized robots coursing through your veins.
A Little Gull, the smallest breeding gull in Europe, swoops down to take a break from hunting for food, making the smallest of ripples as it lands gracefully on a peaceful mountain lake in Kolasen, Jamtland, North Sweden. Picture: Daniel Pettersson/Solent News (via Pictures of the day: 27 November 2013 - Telegraph)
A sea snail feeding off a dead octopus’ beak is among the 30 new species found during an expedition to Antarctica‘s Amundsen Sea (map), according to the first study to shed light on the sea’s bottom dwellers.
The newfound sea snail, or limpet, is from a group that specializes in feeding on the decaying beaks of squid, octopi, and their relatives, according to study leader Katrin Linse of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
Linse and a team of marine biologists from BAS and other institutions hauled up 5,469 specimens belonging to 275 species from the depths of the little-explored sea of the Southern Ocean during a 2008 research cruise.
That year, scientists on the RSS James Clark Ross took advantage of the thin summer ice to get close to the edge of the ice shelf and bring up the thousands of specimens, including some newly discovered in Antarctic waters. At least 10 percent of all the species collected are new to science, and the figure is likely to rise, Linse said.
It’s taken a global team years to identify and categorize only a small fraction of the species, which are described October 1 in the journal Continental Shelf Research.
Many of the species new to Antarctica are echinoderms, a group that includes starfish and sea cucumbers.
Some of the other finds from the expedition:
—A funky, fuzzy bristle-cage worm, so called because of the long bristles on their heads. The critters thrive at a depth of over 3,000 feet (1,000 meters).
—Pareledone turqueti, or Turquet’s octopus, which has provided evidence for “cryptic speciation,” in which species appear the same from the outside but have a different form and structure inside.
—A sea lily or stalked crinoid, found nearly 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) down.
The Amundsen Sea has troughs and basins that can be over 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) deep.
These geological structures are left over from previous ice ages; animals, some of which persist today, might have taken refuge there.
The creatures found in the Amundsen Sea—such as starfish, urchins, and brittle stars—are surprisingly more mobile than those found in other seas around Antarctica, which are generally dominated by large, sedentary sponges, she said.
This suggests that in the past, the sea creatures could have moved to more habitable environments when needed.
But more changes are coming to the Amundsen due to the breakup of the ice shelf caused by warming waters, so studying the animals now is crucial.
“Until now we knew nothing” about the animals that inhabit the Amundsen seafloor, Linse said.
“Our recent study gives us a first insight into the biodiversity of this region and can serve as a baseline to observe future changes.”
Petrified Forest National Park // Arizona
The Mexican Gray Wolf
The Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is a Mexican subspecies of grey wolf. It is one of the most endangered canids in the world.
Historically, it occurred over a wide area of Northern Mexico and the Southern regions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. However, at present, it is unknown whether there are still viable wildlife populations, the last record was confirmed in the 80’s.
Their ecological vulnerability and their ecological role as driver of the populations of large herbivores, make the Mexican wolf a subspecies of high priority for conservation.
Ornate Cowfish (Aracana ornata)
The ornate cowfish is a species of boxfish native to the Eastern Indian Ocean. When stressed, boxfish will release a toxin through their mucous secretions known as ostratoxin. This poison is unique to the boxfish and is toxic to other fish.
Klaus Stiefel on Flickr
Crinoid Shrimp (Periclimenes sp.)
As their name suggests, crinoid shrimp are found on the feathery arms of crinoid feather stars. Amazingly, the patterns and colours of the shrimp always resemble that of their host.
Klaus Stiefel on Flickr
Beetles in the genus Megetra advertise their toxicity with aposematic coloring. Not all blister beetles use this method of warning off predators.
There are three species in genus Megetra. These beetles range the southwest U.S. and Mexico, and are often found in the Chihuahuan desert.
Blister Beetles produce cantharidin, a poison comparable to cyanide and strychnine in toxicity. Stored in the insects’ blood, cantharidin is very stable and remains toxic in beetle carcasses. Animals may be poisoned by ingesting beetles while grazing or eating harvested silage. Cantharidin can also cause severe skin inflammation and blisters.
What’s kinda like a cross between a hermit crab and a beaver, but it’s a moth larva? A Bagworm!
Larvae of moths in the family Psychidae build spiral-patterned cases out of environmental materials such as twigs, leaves, and silk. The Australian on the right, Metura elongatus, uses silk, with bits of leaf. This animal is in an earlier stage, still motile and feeding. The animal on the left, from the Czech Republic, is Megalophanes viciella; this individual is at a later stage, when it is finished growing and feeding. It has anchored its somewhat woodier case, sealed the opening, and begun metamorphosis.
Read more: Encyclopedia of Life
Photographs: left- František ŠARŽÍK via BioLib.cz; right- Donald Hobern via flickr
Threatened Listing Proposal Not Enough to Conserve Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Aggressive Habitat Protection, Ending Threats from Tower Collisions and PesticidesUrgently Needed
ABC MEDIA RELEASE
American Bird Conservancy (ABC), one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups, says that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to list the western population of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act falls short of providing the necessary protections for the imperiled bird species whose numbers have plummeted in recent decades.
The ABC assertions are contained in a December 2 letter to FWS available here.
"The draft rule only proposes to list the species as threatened rather than as endangered, and doesn’t address the threats or propose more effective conservation measures such as removing cattle from riparian areas and restricting the use of pesticides in adjacent agricultural areas,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy.
"Federal agencies must address water diversion and grazing policies that are disastrous to the cuckoo. They need to reverse direction, stop the degradation, and develop a plan to restore riparian areas and regrow lost Yellow-billed Cuckoo habitat," Holmer added.
In the United States, only 350 to 495 pairs of the bird exist, with a similar number found in Mexico. The birds are isolated in small patches of increasingly degraded riparian forest habitat…
(read more: American Bird Conservancy)
photo: Alfred Yan
Mouse vertebra section (200x)
Dr. Michael Paul Nelson & Samantha Smith
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Pink Headed Reed Snake (Calamaria schlegli)
…a species of calamariine colubrid snake that occurs throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. C. schlegli is fossorial (burrowing) and active at night. Its diet consists mainly of terrestrial gastropods and frogs which are found in leaf litter. C. schlegli is often confused with the venomous Blue Malayan Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus) due to its characteristic pink head.