Taxonomy term

february 2017

Early Pacific seafarers set sail in El Niño years

Even with modern airplanes and ships, the far-flung islands of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Micronesia and Fiji are difficult to reach. Thousands of years ago, the seafarers who first settled the islands had a much more arduous journey, sailing thousands of kilometers and navigating by the stars. According to a new study, these intrepid travelers may have gotten a boost from weather associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation patterns, which sweep through the Pacific every three to seven years.

27 Feb 2017

Down to Earth With: Cave scientist and paleoclimatologist Kathleen Johnson

Paleoclimatologist Kathleen Johnson has some advice for anyone interested in tropical cave science: befriend experienced cave guides and beware of venomous snakes, ubiquitous bats and Frisbee-sized spiders.

24 Feb 2017

Early fossils demonstrate dinosaurs' slow rise

Dinosaurs were so dominant through much of the Mesozoic that it’s easy to forget that wasn’t always the case. The discovery of a specimen of an early small dinosaur alongside a lagerpetid — a precursor to the dinosaurs — is giving scientists a glimpse into the slow-paced early stages of dinosaur evolution.

23 Feb 2017

Discovered: One of the last-surviving Asian dinosaurs

Paleontologists have discovered a new species of oviraptorosaur, a group of strange bird-like dinosaurs without teeth. The species, Tongtianlong limosus, has been described based on a specimen preserved in mudstone dating to the end of the Cretaceous. The find adds to a growing list of newly unearthed and similarly aged oviraptorosaur species, suggesting the group flourished during the last few million years of the Age of Dinosaurs before all nonavian dinosaurs were killed off in the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

21 Feb 2017

Broadening ocean current could carry less heat poleward with climate change

Some ocean currents, like the Agulhas Current in the southwestern Indian Ocean, act like giant air conditioners, moderating Earth’s climate by shuttling heat from the equator toward the poles. The Agulhas is one of the largest and fastest currents in the world: Flowing southwest along the east coast of Africa, it stretches almost 1,500 kilometers and transports about 70 million cubic meters of water every second toward the South Pole at peak speeds upward of 7 kilometers per hour.

21 Feb 2017

Ants developed farming millions of years ago

A new study in Nature suggests that ants may have invented agriculture as much as 3 million years before humans.

20 Feb 2017

Geomedia: Film: Exploring Florida's aquifers with filmmaker Tom Fitz

Filmmaker Tom Fitz describes the first time he found himself sitting, alone, more than 20 meters below Earth’s surface and about 300 meters into an underwater cave: He was waiting in position to film a sequence of divers swimming through a narrow passageway as their lights illuminated the chamber for his new, yet to be named, documentary. “I was suddenly in absolute, complete black,” Fitz says. “The kind of darkness that we rarely experience.”

20 Feb 2017

How soil management could help reduce greenhouse gas concentrations

As scientists continue studying the web of natural and anthropogenic processes that affect Earth’s climate, discussions about how to limit global warming have included proposals both to cut emissions and to increase sequestration of greenhouse gases through a variety of methods. In a recent review published in Nature, Keith Paustian, a soil ecologist at Colorado State University, and his colleagues noted the understudied and underrated greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the world’s soils.

17 Feb 2017

Early humans dealt with Ethiopian supervolcanoes

About 200,000 years ago, modern humans evolved in East Africa, including in what’s now Ethiopia. They — like earlier hominins who had preceded them — likely encountered occasional explosive eruptions spewing ash and lava into the air and onto the landscape, according to a new study in Nature Communications.

17 Feb 2017

Geologic Column: The gift of intelligence

Intelligent life is unique to Earth as far as we know, despite our attempts to search for it elsewhere. The results of humans applying our gift of intelligence have been extraordinary — but they’ve come with consequences. 
15 Feb 2017

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