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Michael Barrett has an old-fashioned flip phone. As appalling images of panicked children and adults apparently victims of poison gas or cruel nerve agents go viral, the labs and the equipment store of the world's global chemical arms watchdog hum with activity. Tucked away in a small industrial zone in the Dutch suburb of Rijswijk, the two-storey building, with about 20 staff, has been key to the two decades of painstaking work by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to eliminate the world's toxic arms stockpiles.
Igor, a Siberian tiger in a Hungarian zoo, received stem-cell joint treatment on Wednesday which doctors hoped would help heal its hip and allow it to live happily, on less medicine. Igor is a 13-year old tiger living in the zoo in the southern Hungarian town of Szeged. It has been suffering from hip joint pains for years.
Have you ever wondered why land animals are so small today? Fossils have shown us that many dinosaurs were absolutely massive beasts, evolving over millions and millions of years to become huge, intimidating creature that could crush small animals under their mighty feet, and modern day mammals, by contrast, are tiny. Sure, elephants are big, but that seems to be a rare exception rather than the rule. As it turns out, the plight of many modern elephant species tells us everything we need to know about why mammals are so small: humans keep killing all the big ones.
A new study from a team of researchers from several American universities points to humans being the main reason why modern day animals are so tiny compared to the past. The research was published in Science. This is why we can't have nice things.
“We used to have animals on the Earth that weighed over 10 tons,” Felisa Smith, a paleoecologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the research, told Seeker. “Now the biggest thing is an elephant that on average is only about three and a half-ish, and if they go extinct, then we’re talking about things no bigger than 900 kilos (2,000 pounds). And that’s maximum size. If you look at mean size, it’s much, much different.”
The work focuses on what life roamed the earth in the post-dinosaur world, with creatures like the the wooly rhinoceros, mastodon, and the giant sloth which was as large as an elephant. These examples of "megafauna" began to disappear right around the time human ancestors pushed their way out of Africa. The scientists have drawn a pretty damning link between large-scale extinction of huge mammals and the arrival of human ancestors with insatiable appetites.
Even more unsettling than what our family tree has done to the animal kingdom may be what lies ahead. Smith and her fellow researchers suggest that, based on the trends humans have set in motion, such as climate change, larger modern animals face a similar fate as the ones we've already pushed to extinction.
"If we don’t cope with it, we actually are going to end up with an Earth where there is nothing bigger than a cow," Smith says. "And that’s a depressing thought for me personally.”
In his annual State of the City address on Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Elon Musk's SpaceX would be building its Big Falcon Rocket ships in none other than the Port of Los Angeles.
The freediving Bajau people of Southeast Asia, however, are not your average people. Scientists have discovered the group of “sea nomads” may have developed genetic adaptations that allow them to free dive to depths of up to 230 ft. Bajau members report lasting up to thirteen minutes underwater in a single dive. For more than 1,000 years the Bajau have lived off of the seas in Southeast Asia.
NIH Funding Opportunities
- Targeted In Vivo Delivery of Gene Therapeutics for HIV Cure (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- Notice of Correction to Cover Instructions for RFA-DK-17-024 Impact of the Use of Glucose Monitoring and Control Technologies on Health Outcomes and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) (R01 Clinical Trial Required)
- Notice of Correction to Data Table Instruction in PAR-17-341 "National Institute of General Medical Sciences Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32)"
- Harnessing Big Data to Halt HIV (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
- Notice of Correction to Cover Instructions for RFA-DK-17-023 Clinical, Behavioral and Physiological Research Testing Current and Novel Closed Loop Systems (R01 Clinical Trial Required)