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This Ancient Shark Is Said To Be The World’s Oldest Living Vertebrate At 512 Years Old – Meaning It Was Born Before Shakespeare!

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This Ancient Shark Is Said To Be The World’s Oldest Living Vertebrate At 512 Years Old –Meaning It Was Born Before Shakespeare!

Researchers have found an ancient shark in the North Atlantic, believed to be 512 years old, which could be the oldest living vertebrate in the world. While the animal was discovered back in 2017, its potential age was revealed in a study in the Journal Science.

Marine biologist Julius Nielsen and his team have been studying the shark which is believed to be at least 272 years old and possibly as old as 512 years. While the exact time of the discovery remains unknown, the news resurfaced as Neilsen completed his PhD thesis on Greenland sharks.

Kim Praebel, from the Arctic University of Norway, found that Greenland sharks could have a lifespan of up to 400 years. But the recent research proves that the species could live to be even older. With the help of a mathematical model analysing the lens and the cornea that linked size with age, researchers found a way to predict age.

By measuring the size of the recent Greenland shark found, researchers suggest the animal could have been born as early as 1505, making it even older than Shakespeare. Greenland sharks — also known as the gurry sharks, or grey sharks, are large sharks of the family Somniosidae — grow at a rate of one centimetre a year, enabling scientists to determine their age by measuring their size.

The shark that was found to be 512 years old was one of 28 Greenland sharks to be analysed by the scientists.

“It definitely tells us that this creature is extraordinary and it should be considered among the absolute oldest animals in the world,” Nielsen said.

Steven Campana, a shark expert from the University of Iceland, also added:

“Fish biologists have tried to determine the age and longevity of Greenland sharks for decades, but without success. Given that this shark is the apex predator (king of the food chain) in Arctic waters, it is almost unbelievable that we didn’t know whether the shark lives for 20 years, or for 1,000 years.”

Greenland sharks are found in deep water in the Atlantic Ocean, from Canada to Norway. The species is often plagued by worm-like parasites that latch on to their eyes. These sharks have been known to feast on rotting polar bear carcass.

Nielsen shared a stomach-churning photo of the remains of a polar bear extracted from the stomach of a Greenland shark.

Image source: Blesk

“And no, I don’t think the shark attacked the bear,” Nielsen wrote. “It is much more likely a carcass found by the shark. Polar bear remnants in Greenland shark stomachs are extremely rare and polar bears are considered of no importance as food source for sharks in Greenland waters.”

Praebel had been looking into how Greenland sharks’ “long life” genes could shed light on what determines life expectancy in different species, including humans.

“This is the longest living vertebrate on the planet,” he said. “Together with colleagues in Denmark, Greenland, USA, and China, we are currently sequencing its whole nuclear genome which will help us discover why the Greenland shark not only lives longer than other shark species but other vertebrates.”

Amid the study into “long-life” genes, studies have also shed new light on the shark’s behaviour. 

“Since the Greenland shark lives for hundreds of years, they also have enough time to migrate over long distances and our genetic results showed exactly that,” Praebel reportedly said. “Most of the individuals in our study were genetically similar to individuals caught thousands of kilometres away.”

“We still do not know where and how the Greenland shark reproduce, but the results we presented here in Exeter showed that the shark may prefer to mate in deep hidden fjords of the Arctic,” Praebel said.

But how did this shark reach this age, how is it possible? According to the New Yorker, “the answer likely has to do with a very slow metabolism and the cold waters that they inhabit.” Nielsen isn’t so sure. “I’m just the messenger on this. I have no idea.”

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Featured Image: Journal Science.

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Thought To Be Extinct Taiwanese Leopard Spotted Recently After Having Disappeared In 1983

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Thought To Be Extinct Taiwanese Leopard Spotted Recently After Having Disappeared In 1983

Hopeful news for animal lovers is coming out of Taiwan, where rangers say they’ve spotted a leopard thought to be extinct. The Formosan clouded leopard was declared extinct in 2013, though the last official sighting occurred in 1983. Locally known as Li’uljaw, these elusive creatures are not easy to trap, but a group of rangers in Taitung County’s Daren Township have been patrolling since last summer hoping to spot the cat that locals claim to have seen.

Village chief of the Paiwan Tribe, Kao Cheng-chi, confirmed that rangers have been on alert since last June and that they’d held tribal meetings to discuss the sightings and ensure that hunters were kept at bay. Now, rangers have reported seeing Formosan clouded leopards hunting goats on a cliff, while a separate group spotted one run up a tree after roaming near some scooters.

Image source: Yahoo

The Formosan clouded leopard is a subspecies of the clouded leopard, a Himalayan cat that has been on the IUCN’s vulnerable list since 2008. Known for its beautiful dusky-grey markings, the Formosan clouded leopard was endemic to Taiwan and, at one time, it was the island’s second largest carnivore. Extensive logging ate away at its habitat, forcing it to retreat into the mountains.

Image source: Yahoo

This rare animal is considered sacred by the Paiwan tribe and is still listed as protected wildlife by Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau. The Paiwan have implored the government to stop logging in order to allow the Formosan clouded leopards to come out of hiding and there have been reports of encounters past 1983, even if they weren’t official sightings. Liu Chiung-hsi, a professor at the National Taitung University of Department of Life Sciences, said that a group of indigenous hunters told him that they had killed several cats in the 1990s, but burned their pelts for fear of repercussion from the government.

Now that these new sightings have been reported, the Taitung Forest District Office is hoping to confirm the sightings and start scientific research regarding them. For his part, Professor Chiung-hsi believes the reports. He told local reporters, “I believe this animal still does exist,” stating that it’s not surprising that they haven’t been seen regularly due to their vigilance and natural elusive behaviour.

It wouldn’t be the first time a seemingly extinct species popped back up. Just recently the Fernandina giant tortoise, thought to be extinct after a last official sighting in 1906, was spotted by rangers at the Galápagos National Park. Fingers crossed that the same is true for the Formosan clouded leopard.

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Featred Image: Inhabitat

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Two Percent Of The World’s Right Whales Have Recently Died — Pushing The Species Closer To Extinction

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Two Percent Of The World’s Right Whales Have Recently Died — Pushing The Species Closer To Extinction

At least eight North Atlantic right whales have died this summer — about 2% of the endangered marine mammal‘s total population. All of the animals have been found in Canadian waters, and alarmed scientists are working to confirm the causes of the deaths. 

While eight deaths have been confirmed, three more whales are currently entangled in fishing gear, so the number could increase, according to Sean Brilliant, a senior conservation biologist of marine programs at the Canadian Wildlife Federation

There are only about 411 right whales on Earth. All eight deaths have occurred in the last two months, a disastrous number reminiscent of the alarming amount of right whale deaths in 2017.

Brilliant said one of the major and most apparent reasons for the recent decline is the increase in human activities like fishing and shipping that have not accommodated to the whale population, which has faced a significant decline in reproduction.   

According to Heather Pettis, an associate scientist at the Anderson Cabot Centre for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, all eight whale deaths occurred between June 4 and July 18, and they may not be the only ones. 

“It is important to note that these are the mortalities that we have detected,” she told CBS News. “We believe that we document only 40-50% of mortalities due to carcasses sinking and/or being in areas where there are no surveillance efforts. So the reality is that it is highly likely that we have lost more than 2% of the population this year.” 

So far, necropsies have been performed on five of the animals. Three of those deaths were attributed to vessel strikes and the other two are pending analyses, Pettish said. 

The right whale population has been declining since 2010, and there are fewer than 100 reproductive females left in the population. According to a recent study, not one adult or juvenile right whale died of natural causes between 2003 and 2018.

Image source: CBC CA

“At the mortality rates we are seeing, this population could become functionally extinct within the next 20 years,” Pettis said. “With that said, this is a resilient species and researchers have no doubt that the species can recover if we stop killing them at unsustainable rates.” 

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a plan in February to protect North Atlantic right whales from vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglement. While the government had success in 2018, citing no whale deaths in Canadian waters, their actions were only temporary and subject to change. 

Last week, a coalition of lawmakers and whale experts presented a document asking the U.S. Congress to pass the Save the Right Whales Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. The bill would provide $5-million per year for 10 years to find ways to protect the animals, CBS Boston reports

Scientists have a few recommendations for altering human activity to help the population recover. Fishing gear could be modified to reduce the severity and lethality of entanglements. Additionally, the implementation of ropeless fishing technology and vessel speed restrictions in whale habitats could remove some mortality pressures on the species. 

But Pettis cautions that action must be taken sooner rather than later, as the species is nearing extinction. “We don’t have another 20 years to fix this – the population doesn’t have that much time.”

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Featured Image: Navy Times

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Ethiopia ‘Breaks’ World Record By Planting 350 Million Trees In One Day

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Ethiopia ‘Breaks’ World Record By Planting 350 Million Trees In One Day

More than 350 million trees have been planted in Ethiopia in one day, which officials say will be a world record.

Dr Getahun Mekuria, the country’s minister of innovation and technology, said 353 million trees had been planted by Monday evening, surpassing the initial goal of 200 million trees planted in one day.

“Today Ethiopia is set in our attempt to break the world record together for a green legacy,” the office of Abiy Ahmed, the country’s prime minister, tweeted on Monday morning.

Ethiopia is in the middle of a campaign to plant 4 billion trees between May and October.

Children plant seedlings at an elementary school in Lalibela, Ethiopia (Picture: Kyodo News/Getty)

The initiative is part of Mr Ahmed’s plan to help restore the country’s landscape, which experts say is quickly being eroded by deforestation and climate change.

So far, more than 2.6 billion trees have been planted in almost all parts of the east African nation, agriculture officials have said.

According to Farm Africa, an organisation involved in forest management in Ethiopia, less than 4% of the country’s land is now forested, a sharp decline from around 30% at the end of the 19th century.

Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmlands, unsustainable forest use and climate change are often cited as the causes for rapid deforestation.

In addition to ordinary Ethiopians, various international organisations and the business community have joined the tree planting spree, which aims to overtake India’s 66 million trees planting record set in 2017.

It is not yet clear if the Guinness World Records is monitoring Ethiopia’s the mass planting scheme but the prime minister’s office said specially developed software is helping with the count.

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Featured Image: Ethiopian Embassy

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Think It’s Hot In Europe? In These Places The Human Body’s Close To Its Thermal Limit!

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The body has a ‘thermal’ limit’ and you will die if the weather gets too hot Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/26/body-thermal-limit-die-weather-gets-hot-10464869/?ito=cbshare Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

I am a scientist who researches climate hazards. This week I have published research on the potential for a catastrophic cyclone-heat wave combo in the global south.

Yet over the past few days I have been approached by various media outlets to talk not about that hazard, but about the unfolding UK heat wave and climate change.

It is always satisfying to respond to public interest around weather extremes, but there is a danger that key messages about extreme heat globally are not receiving enough airtime.

It is by now very well established that hot extremes are more likely in the changed climate we are living in. Yet there is a seemingly unquenchable thirst for this story to be retold every time the UK sweats.

Narratives around such acute, local events detract from critical messages about the global challenges from extreme heat.

Make no mistake, maximum temperatures of 35°C (95°F) or more are hot by UK standards, but such conditions are familiar to around 80% of the world’s population.

The headline-grabbing 46°C recently experienced by Britain’s neighbours in France is indeed unusual, but still falls short of the 50°C recorded in India earlier this summer, and is somewhat temperate relative to the 54°C (129°F) confirmed for both Pakistan (in 2017) and Kuwait (in 2016). People in these hotter climates are better at coping with high temperatures, yet such heat still kills.

Deadly heat waves are, of course, no stranger to Europeans. The infamous 2003 event claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and 2010 saw more than 50,000 fatalities in western Russia. Fortunately, lessons were learned and authorities are now much better prepared when heat-health alerts are issued.

But spare a thought for less fortunate communities who are routinely experiencing extraordinary temperatures. In places like South Asia and the Persian Gulf, the human body, despite all its remarkable thermal efficiencies, is often operating close to its limits.

And yes, there is a limit.

When the air temperature exceeds 35°C, the body relies on the evaporation of water – mainly through sweating – to keep core temperature at a safe level. This system works until the “wetbulb” temperature reaches 35°C. The wetbulb temperature includes the cooling effect of water evaporating from the thermometer, and so is normally much lower than the normal (“drybulb“) temperature reported in weather forecasts.

Once this wetbulb temperature threshold is crossed, the air is so full of water vapour that sweat no longer evaporates. Without the means to dissipate heat, our core temperature rises, irrespective of how much water we drink, how much shade we seek, or how much rest we take. Without respite, death follows – soonest for the very young, elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Wetbulb temperatures of 35°C have not yet been widely reported, but there is some evidence that they are starting to occur in Southwest Asia. Climate change then offers the prospect that some of the most densely populated regions on Earth could pass this threshold by the end of the century, with the Persian GulfSouth Asia, and most recently the North China Plain on the front line. These regions are, together, home to billions of people.

As the climate warms in places like the UK, people can take sensible precautions against heat – slowing down, drinking more water, and seeking cool refuges. Air conditioning is one of the last lines of defence but comes with its own problems such as very high energy demands. By 2050, cooling systems are expected to increase electricity demand by an amount equivalent to the present capacity of the US, EU, and Japan combined.

Provided that electricity supplies can be maintained, living in chronically heat-stressed climates of the future may be viable. But with such dependence on this life-support system, a sustained power outage could be catastrophic.

Deadly Combination

So what would happen if we combined massive blackouts with extreme heat? Two colleagues and I recently investigated the possibility of such a “grey swan” event – foreseeable but not yet fully experienced – in a global study of storms and heat, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

We looked at tropical cyclones, which have already caused the biggest blackouts on Earth, with the months-long power failure in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria among the most serious.

We found that as the climate warms it becomes ever more likely that these powerful cyclones would be followed by dangerous heat, and that such compound hazards would be expected every year if global warming reaches 4°C.

During the emergency response to a tropical cyclone, keeping people cool would have to be as much a priority as providing clean drinking water.

The UK is moving into new territory when it comes to managing extreme heat. But the places that are already heat stressed will see the largest absolute increases in humid-heat with the smallest safety margin before reaching physical limits, and they are often least-equipped to adapt to the hazard.

It is therefore hardly surprising that extreme heat drives migration. Such mass displacement makes extreme heat a worldwide issue. Little Britain will feel the consequence of conditions far away from its temperate shores.

The challenges ahead are stark. Adaptation has its limits. We must therefore maintain our global perspective on heat and pursue a global response, slashing greenhouse gas emissions to keep to the Paris warming limits. In this way, we have the greatest chance of averting deadly heat – home and abroad.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

This article was written by Tom Matthews for The Conversation where it was originally published and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Tom Matthews, Lecturer in Climate Science, Loughborough University.

Featured Image: Metro

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