Taxonomy term

november 2017

Marine megafaunal extinction discovered

Extinctions of large land animals during the Pleistocene are well documented. In a new study, scientists report that marine megafauna also suffered severe losses several million years ago, around the time that the first hominid ancestors were emerging in Africa.

17 Nov 2017

Desktop seismology: How a maker-inspired device is changing seismic monitoring

The Raspberry Shake — a personal seismograph invented in 2016 and named after the computer that powers the instrument (the Raspberry Pi) — was intended for hobbyists. But the device’s usefulness quickly became apparent to a much wider audience, including scientists and educators around the world. 
16 Nov 2017

Volcanic activity contributed to first of the "Big Five" mass extinctions

During the Ordovician, between about 488 million and 444 million years ago, plant life first emerged on land, while primitive fish and a variety of marine invertebrates flourished in the oceans. Toward the end of the period, however, a mass extinction — the first of the so-called “Big Five” Phanerozoic extinctions — wiped out roughly 60 percent of all marine invertebrate genera. In a recent study, researchers shed new light on a possible cause of the Late Ordovician extinction: volcanic activity.

15 Nov 2017

Ice (Re)Cap: November 2017

From Antarctica to the Arctic; from polar caps, permafrost and glaciers to ocean-rafted sea ice; and from burly bears to cold-loving microbes, fascinating science is found in every nook and crevasse of Earth’s cryosphere, and new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

14 Nov 2017

Geologic Column: Giving Konrad Zuse his due

German engineer Konrad Zuse is considered the first inventor of the programmable electronic computer in his home country, but sadly, few students elsewhere learn of his pioneering efforts. 
13 Nov 2017

Microbes influence ooid formation

The formation of carbonate spheroids called ooids is a bit of a mystery. They are thought to form in warm waters saturated with carbonate, which combines with calcium to form concentric layers of calcium carbonate on shell fragments or sand grains. Some scientists have suggested that the presence of microbes might encourage calcium carbonate to precipitate out of water to form ooids in a process called organomineralization.

10 Nov 2017

Comment: The Congressional ecosystem: A paleontologist's perspective

AGI’s William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellow gains a better understanding of the mechanics behind federal policymaking by taking a paleoecological view.
09 Nov 2017

Second stars can distort planet size estimates

When light from a star is blocked by another celestial body — as when the moon obstructed light from the much-larger sun during the recent solar eclipse — astronomers can estimate the density of exoplanets that orbit the star. And from the density, they can determine whether a planet is rocky like Earth or gaseous like Jupiter. But a new study in the Astronomical Journal shows that such density assessments, which are normally calculated from the size of the planet, may be skewed by the presence of “hidden” stars.

08 Nov 2017

Humans arrived Down Under earlier than thought

Analysis of sediments surrounding a trove of artifacts discovered in northern Australia suggests the first humans arrived on the continent about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, a finding that has implications for the hypothesized role of humans in the extinctions of Australian megafauna.

07 Nov 2017

Travels in Geology: The diverse geology, landscapes and whiskys of Scotland's Southwestern Islands

For the geologically minded traveler, the Scottish isles of Arran and Islay showcase a suite of interesting rocks and landscapes, a wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities, and Scotland’s second-finest product (after the geology): single malt whisky.
06 Nov 2017