Malaria-carrying mosquitoes can travel 185 miles per night thanks to the wind

Mosquitos usually cover limited distances and do not go far from their birthplace because their lives are relatively short. However, a new study published in Nature confirms the suspicion that wind can be an excellent ally in relation to the possibility of these insects being moved.

This is a very negative fact, as mosquitoes can also carry microorganisms that can cause serious diseases in humans, particularly malaria. Researchers have analysed populations of mosquitoes living in the semi-desert zone of the Sahel, sub-Saharan Africa. They found that mosquitoes, even those that transmit malaria, can literally be carried by the winds and travel hundreds of kilometers (in one case, they recorded a distance of 185 miles), traveling up to 290 meters from the ground; and all in less than nine hours overnight.

In addition, this discovery also explains why mosquito populations in the area are growing so rapidly that it was a mystery to researchers and scientists.

This discovery was made by researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, and the University of Bamako, Mali. Researchers have been studying mosquito populations in four villages in Mali for 10 years.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1622-4

A shark’s excavation skeleton, which lived 360 million years ago, was found in Morocco

Researchers found several fossils of the skull bones and an almost complete skeleton of an ancient species of shark, captured in the rocks of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, a discovery that the same researchers claim to have been stunned by. A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B describes this shark (Phoebodus saidselachus), which lived more than 350 million years ago and for which no bone marks were found because the latter were made of soft cartilage rather than hard bone, so it is much more reluctant to petrify.

The mountainous area in which these remains were found was once a large shallow sea basin. The remains were found in a layer between 360 and 370 million years ago, the period of the famous Devon at the end of August.

The shark had a cone-shaped body, almost in the shape of an eel, and a pronounced muzzle, characteristics that could make it look like a modern curly shark (Chlamydoselachus, also called a collar shark or a fringe shark), a shark that today is often found in deep waters and represents various “primitive” features, for which they are also known as “living fossils.”

To confirm the thesis that the two sharks may be similar to each other, there are also teeth: Febod and the coiled shark are very similar, given that they both have a cone shape and are rotated inward, significantly different from the classic sharp teeth and serrated today’s sharks. Among other things, it also indicates that they ate more or less the same thing.

Researchers believe that Febodus himself is a close relative of Thrinacodus graciae, a variety of coal shark.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.1336

https://rs.figshare.com/articles/Supplementary_material_from_The_early_elasmobranch_i_Phoebodus_i_phylogenetic_relationships_ecomorphology_and_a_new_time-scale_for_shark_evolution/9918260

New study illustrates why Squirrels don’t like to drink

There are some squirrels that, unlike others, simply collect food for the winter, hibernate, reduce metabolism and, in particular, heart rate. Only one of these species, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus, has been studied by a team of researchers.

Protein manages to reduce heart rate and body temperature, as well as other metabolic processes, by going into hibernation and minimizing energy consumption, as bears do.

To find out how these proteins suppress their thirst, one of the basic needs that can cause them to awaken, researchers have analyzed their blood, dividing them into three groups: before hibernation, in a state of complete hibernation and in a state of non-hibernation.

The researchers noted that the concentration of serum, a thirsty substance in many animals, including humans, was unusually low. Squirrels did not drink a drop of water even after waking up, until the researchers themselves artificially increased the serum in their blood.

They then found that they could regulate blood concentrations by removing electrolytic substances such as sodium, glucose and urea, moving them to other parts of the body, especially the bladder. In this way, they may have remained moisturized.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/here-s-how-hibernating-squirrels-live-months-without-water

https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30883-8

It took 8 million years to recover from the extinction of 66 million years ago

A team of researchers has tried to assess how long it took for life on Earth to recover from the mass extinction some 66 million years ago, believed to have been caused by an asteroid. The results show that it took at least 2 million years to restore the level of plankton, an essential element of the entire ocean ecosystem. After the impact of the asteroid, plankton, especially the smaller one, nanoplankton, was almost completely destroyed.

These creatures are important because once they die, they throw their calcium and carbon exoskeletons onto the seabed. At the bottom of the sea, they form rich organic deposits that thicken and become lime. And it is by analyzing the fossil layers of these deposits that researchers have obtained data on plankton.

Analyzing various other fossil data, the researchers found that it took at least another 8 million years for the number of species of living creatures to return to their previous levels, i.e., the level preceding the catastrophic event.

Researchers described their findings in an article in the Conversation (below).


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://theconversation.com/ocean-ecosystems-take-two-million-years-to-recover-after-mass-extinction-new-research-124328

Why the tyrannosaurus skull wasn’t damaged when it broke the bones of its prey

A team of scientists from the University of Missouri-Colombia has studied the conformation of the skull of a tyrannosaurus, trying to solve what is considered one of the mysteries of paleontology.

Paleontologists, in fact, have always wondered how the tyrannosaurus managed to break the bones of its victim and therefore bite so hard, without damaging the bones of the skull. According to Caleb Sellers, a researcher at the University of Missouri, this dinosaur had a huge mouth, more than 1.8 meters long, with which it could bite with more than six tons of force.

According to the same researcher, all previous studies of the problem did not take into account all the connections within the skull, including those between ligaments and cartilage. Using new imaging techniques, the team analyzed the anatomy and structural conformation of the tyrannosaurus skull and observed how the mouth reacted to chewing stress.

They also used models of those who could be considered two relatives of a tyrannosaurus, a gecko and parrot. The researchers concluded that tyrannosaurus skulls should have been more rigid than ever before, similar to the skulls of hyenas, crocodiles and inflexible skulls, such as lizards and birds, of two animals that are still direct relatives of the same dinosaur.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://news.missouri.edu/2019/t-rex-used-a-stiff-skull-to-eat-its-prey/

https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ar.24219