Working in a "natural seafloor laboratory" of hydrothermal vents that had just been rocked by a volcanic eruption, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and other institutions have discovered what they believe is an undersea superhighway carrying tiny life forms unprecedented distances to inhabit the post-eruption site.
Continue reading "Deep-Sea Extremophiles Migrate Hundreds of Miles to New Volcanic Vents -Experts Ask How?" »
In a striking revelation, scientists have discovered that all plants live and die by a precise and simple rule. Scientists have found for the first time that plants can self-regulate their populations to maintain stability and optimize their lives, and that the lengths of their lives are precisely related to their mass. Even more incredible, a single scaling power for lifespan holds true across the entire spectrum of plants, from minute single-celled phototrophs to the massively majestic redwoods.
Continue reading "Plants Live and Die According To A Precise Scale (A Galaxy Classic)" »
A new model developed at the University of Bristol (England) shows that changes in the carbonate chemistry of the deep ocean may exceed anything seen in the past 65 million year, predicting much higher rates of environmental change at the ocean’s surface in the future than have occurred in the past, potentially exceeding the rate at which plankton can adapt.The team applied a model that compared current rates of ocean acidification with the greenhouse event at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, about 55 million years ago when surface ocean temperatures rose by around 5-6°C over a few thousand years. During this event, no catastrophe is seen in surface ecosystems, such as plankton, yet bottom-dwelling organisms in the deep ocean experienced a major extinction.
Continue reading "Are Our Oceans Endangered? Acid Rate Now Highest in 65 Million Years" »
The largest snake the world has ever known -42 to 45 feet long -ruled tropical ecosystems only 6 million years after the disappearance Tyrannosaurus rex, according to a new discovery in Columbia of the fossil skeletons of a giant, boa constrictor-like snake (skull left), named Titanoboa cerrejonensis. Tipping the scales at an estimated 1.25 tons, the snake lived during the Paleocene Epoch, a 10-million-year period immediately following the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Continue reading "The Planet's Largest Prehistoric Snake Was 45-Feet Long & Ate Crocs for Dessert" »
"In some sense, the genetic code is a fossil or perhaps an echo of the origin of life, just as the cosmic microwave background is a sort of echo of the Big Bang. And its form points to a process very different from today's Darwinian evolution."
Carl Woese -Microbiologist
What if a process Darwin never wrote about, and never even dreamed ofl, has been controlling the evolution of life throughout most of the Earth's history and altered the evolutionary process itself? What if it turns out that there is a "time machine" that biologists can use to look back towards the origin of life?
Continue reading " Is DNA a Fossil of the Origin of Life? Two Leading Scientists Say "Yes" " »
Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute have shown for the first time that 'lifeless' organic substances with no genetic material — prions similar to those believed responsible for Mad Cow disease and similar, rare conditions in humans — are capable of evolving just like higher forms of life, a discovery that could reshape the definition of life and have revolutionary impacts on how certain diseases are treated."
Natural selection is incredibly useful: it's resulted in everything alive so far, including us, it works to improve it all even now. The scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have shown that you don't even need to be alive to evolve, with prion protein populations enjoying natural selection.
Continue reading "Prions: Do They Reshape the Definition of Life? " »
"No scientific subject holds more surprises for us than biology."
Freeman Dyson -Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton
Cornell University Professor Emeritus Thomas Gold, who for 20 years
directed the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research,
proposes the striking and controversial theory that "a full
functioning ecosystem feeding on hydrocarbons, exists deep within the
earth, and that a
primordial source of hydrocarbons lies even deeper." Gold believes that
the microbes predate all of the planet's other life forms, existing
even before photosynthesis became the preferred life-giving form.
Continue reading "Did a Deep Biosphere Precede Life on Earth's Surface? " »
Few of us like to dwell on the fact our human cells are vastly
outnumbered (10X) by microbes in our bodies’ cellular cities. If we
went by cellular per capita, rather than size of cell, we’d be more
microbe than man.
In fact, various microbes have colonized nearly every conceivable
part of our bodies, from the inside out. Some make us sick, but most
allow us to live. In fact, without our little micro-friends, we
couldn’t survive. Microbes known as “probiotics” break down
indigestible food, keep us “regular”, make vitamins, and aid the immune
system by keeping out harmful bacteria, among other functions.
Continue reading "Clues Sought to Unknown Human-Microbe Life Colonies" »
Alive today, the Jurupa Oak sees Christmas like your grandparents see the Wii you got for it - perhaps fun, but a newfangled invention they never needed before. Thirteen thousand years old, it experienced an Ice Age and existed before agriculture.
Scientists spotted the unusual Oak in an unlikely spot, rocky hills too dry and hot for it, and found that it survives against the odds like an insane sci-fi villain: cloning itself to continue after being burned to death. The land is too dry because the land itself has changed since the oak sprouted. The Jurupa Oak colony of bushes extends over twenty-five meters, expanding at a lightning pace of two millimeters per year, and genetic analysis shows that the whole region of bushes is really one plant.
Continue reading " The World's Oldest Plant Discovered - Alive at the Last Ice Age" »
Like a modern, micro version of The Thing, Antarctica's icy lakes have
been discovered to house a surprisingly diverse community of viruses,
including some that were previously unidentified. The finding could
shed light on whether microbial life evolved independently in
Antarctica, which has been isolated for millions of years, or they were
introduced there more recently.
Some of these lakes which are
frozen nine months of the year, have little animal life and are
dominated by microorganisms, including algae, bacteria, protozoans and
viruses. A virus is little more than a package of DNA surrounded by a
capsule structure. To survive, viruses must hijack, or infect, living
cells and use the host's equipment to replicate.
Continue reading "Prehistoric Lakes of Antarctica Discovered with New, Unknown Viruses" »