The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals in just 20 years, study says

The population of corals within Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has plummeted by 50 percent in the last two decades, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, Australia, assessed the colony size of corals in the reef — the world’s largest — between 1995 and 2017, and found a drastic depletion in the population of small, medium and large coral.

“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species, but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,” study co-author Professor Terry Hughes said of the findings, published in the Royal Society journal.

These specific corals are especially important in providing a habitat for marine life such as fish that inhabit the reef, the researchers said, meaning their loss also results in a decline in reef biodiversity. Despite covering less than 0.1 percent of

Read More

Toothless dino’s lost digits point to spread of parrot-like species — ScienceDaily

A newly discovered species of toothless, two-fingered dinosaur has shed light on how a group of parrot-like animals thrived more than 68 million years ago.

The unusual species had one less finger on each forearm than its close relatives, suggesting an adaptability which enabled the animals to spread during the Late Cretaceous Period, researchers say.

Multiple complete skeletons of the new species were unearthed in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia by a University of Edinburgh-led team.

Named Oksoko avarsan, the feathered, omnivorous creatures grew to around two metres long and had only two functional digits on each forearm. The animals had a large, toothless beak similar to the type seen in species of parrot today.

The remarkably well-preserved fossils provided the first evidence of digit loss in the three-fingered family of dinosaurs known as oviraptors.

The discovery that they could evolve forelimb adaptations suggests the group could alter their diets

Read More

Mosquitos lost an essential gene with no ill effects

Mosquitos lost an essential gene with no ill effects
The exoskeletons of a normal mosquito larva on the left and a mosquito larva with the gooseberry gene edited out on the right. Credit: Alys Jarvela/University of Maryland.

University of Maryland entomologists discovered that a gene critical for survival in other insects is missing in mosquitos—the gene responsible for properly arranging the insects’ segmented bodies. The researchers also found that a related gene evolved to take over the missing gene’s job. Although laboratory studies have shown that similar genes can be engineered to substitute for one another, this is the first time that scientists identified a gene that naturally evolved to perform the same critical function as a related gene long after the two genes diverged down different evolutionary paths.

The work emphasizes the importance of caution in genetic studies that use model animals to make conclusions across different species. It also points to a new potential avenue for research

Read More

New education ‘hubs’ for Deaf children needed to replace social spaces lost when specialist schools close

New dedicated hubs for Deaf children are needed around the country to provide new social spaces, education and support, an expert has said.

Special schools for Deaf children have had an important role in the Deaf community, acting as places people can meet and learn BSL together. But the move to inclusive education and new technology such as cochlear implants means most children with hearing loss are now educated in mainstream schools.

Deaf education should be remodelled to replace the role previously provided by specialist schools which have closed, Dr Hannah Anglin-Jaffe argues in a study in the British Education Research Journal.

Dr Anglin-Jaffe proposes Deaf education and support could be run in the same way as existing community provision in schools and other social spaces such as libraries or community centres. These hubs could act as a new iteration of the special school for the Deaf and host

Read More

Extinct penguin links species’ origins to lost Zealandia continent

  • Researchers in New Zealand identified a new, extinct penguin species via fossils.
  • The discovery indicates that crested penguins have lived in New Zealand for millions of years.
  • Based on this and other findings, researchers believe all modern-day penguins evolved from ancient penguins that roamed the now-sunken continent of Zealandia.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Earth’s lost eighth continent, Zealandia, sank into the sea between 50 and 35 million years ago. Today, we know the tiny fraction of it that remains above the waves as New Zealand.

But before most of Zealandia disappeared — about 60 million years ago — ancient penguins walked upon the 2-million-square-mile continent. In fact, a recent discovery has led scientists to conclude that all modern-day penguins likely descended from Zealandia’s ancient birds.

The newly identified fossils of an extinct penguin species offer a crucial, previously missing link between ancient and modern penguins.  

Last month,

Read More

Get Lost With a Signal-Blocking Smartphone Pouch

Albert Einstein kept a portrait of the 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday on his wall, alongside a picture of Isaac Newton. Genius recognizes genius: Faraday’s many discoveries led to electric motors, to electricity being put to practical use in technology, and to the concept of electromagnetic fields in physics. Faraday also figured out that an enclosure made of a mesh of conductive metal can absorb and redistribute electromagnetic interference. It is this work that’s honored every time someone slips a cell phone into a pouch coated with metal, made for the specific purpose of preventing signals from getting in or out. The low-tech hack shields phones from digital buttinskies by blocking cellular signals, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, RFID, and Bluetooth. Privacy-craving citizens can put their phone into a Faraday pouch like this one from Silent Pocket ($60 and up), where a metal lining renders the device inside invisible to snoops. “The biggest

Read More