Source: Science Daily
With overfishing driving many hammerhead species closer to the brink of extinction, a team of researchers has been focusing on determining the migration patterns of smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) in the western Atlantic Ocean in an effort to identify areas and times for management action to help in building back the depleted species.
The team tagged juvenile hammerheads off the US Mid-Atlantic coast using fin-mounted satellite tags and tracked the animals for up to 15 months. The tags reported the sharks’ movement patterns in near real time via a satellite link to the researchers.
“Getting long-term tracks was instrumental in identifying not only clear seasonal travel patterns, but importantly, also the times and areas where the sharks were resident in between their migrations,” said Ryan Logan, first author of the paper published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Logan is a PhD student at Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and SOSF SRC and the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center (SOSF SRC).
Logan and his coworkers found that the sharks migrate between two seasonally resident areas: coastal waters off New York in the summer and off North Carolina in the winter. Identifying these habitats is vital for ultimately designating the areas as “Essential Fish Habitat”—with the accompanying limitations on fishing and development.
The high-resolution data also revealed that the hammerheads spent a lot of time in the Mid-Atlantic Shark Area (MASA) in the winter, starting in December. The MASA zone is closed to bottom longline fishing between January 1st and July 31st to protect dusky sharks, so beginning the closure of the zone in December would further reduce the fishing mortality of juvenile smooth hammerheads.
Check out the tracks of various shark species, including smooth hammerheads, at Guy Harvey Research Institute’s dedicated website.
Losing flight had huge benefits for ants, Researchers Say
Ants are one of the most successful groups of animals on the planet, occupying anywhere from temperate soil to tropical rainforests, desert dunes and kitchen counters. They’re social insects and their team-working abilities have long since been identified as one of the key factors leading to their success. Ants are famously able to lift or drag objects many times their own weight and transport these objects back to their colony. But with previous research having focused on the social aspects of an ant colony, looking at an individual ant has been somewhat neglected.
Now, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Sorbonne University in Paris have investigated why individual worker ants are so strong by taking X-ray images and creating 3-D models of their thorax—the central unit of their bodies—to analyze their muscles and internal skeleton. Their study, published in Frontiers in Zoology, examines the hypothesis that loss of flight in worker ants is directly connected to the evolution of greater strength.
“Worker ants evolved from flying insects,” said Professor Evan Economo, who leads OIST’s Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit. “We’ve always assumed that losing flight helped to optimize their bodies for working on the ground, but we have much to learn about how this is achieved.”
Being able to fly might be a common dream amongst people, but the reality of flight is that it puts strong constraints on the build of a body. In flying insects, the wing muscles occupy a major part of the thorax—sometimes more than 50%. This means that other muscles, which are used to support and move the head, legs, and abdomen are constrained and squeezed up against the exoskeleton.
But once the constraints of flight are removed, all that space in the thorax is open, which, the researchers surmised, would allow the remaining muscles to expand and reorganize.
Previous research in this area had focused on the external structure of ants but, with the technology available at OIST, the researchers were able to gain a highly detailed picture of what was going on inside the thorax. The aim was to analyze the general features common across all ants, rather than focus on the specialization of certain species. To do this, the researchers did a detailed analysis of two distantly related ant species, including both the wingless workers and the flying queens, and confirmed their findings across a broader sample of species.
They used advanced X-ray technology to scan the internal and external anatomy, like CT scans used in a hospital, but at much higher resolution. From these scans, the researchers mapped all the different muscles and modeled them in 3-D. The result was a comprehensive image of the inside of the thorax. They then compared findings from these two species to a range of other ants and wingless insects.
As predicted, the researchers found that loss of flight had allowed for clear-cut reorganization of the thorax. “Within the worker ant’s thorax, everything is integrated beautifully in a tiny space,” said the late Dr. Christian Peeters, lead author of this paper, who was a research professor at Sorbonne University. “The three muscle groups have all expanded in volume, giving the worker ants more strength and power. There has also been a change in the geometry of the neck muscles, which support and move the head. And the internal attachment of muscles has been modified.”
Interestingly, when looking at wingless wasps, the researchers found that these insects had responded to the loss of flight in a completely different way. Wingless wasps are solitary and consume food as they find it. On the other hand, ants are part of a colony. They hunt or scavenge for food that then needs to be carried back to the nest for the queen and younger nestmates, so it makes sense that there was a selection pressure to promote carrying ability.
Ants have been studied for centuries in terms of their behavior, ecology, and genetics but, the researchers emphasized, this story of strength has, so far, been somewhat overlooked. The next step is to develop more detailed biomechanical models of how different muscle groups function, do similar research on the mandible and legs, and explore the diversity seen between ant species.
“We’re interested in what makes an ant an ant and understanding the key innovations behind their success,” explained Professor Economo. “We know that one factor is the social structure, but this individual strength is another essential factor.”
Source: – lintelligencer
Finland's Nokia selected to build mobile network on moon for NASA – The Journal Pioneer
HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s Nokia has been selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon, the company said on Monday.
The lunar network will be part of the U.S. space agency’s efforts to return humans to the moon by 2024 and build long-term settlements there under its Artemis programme.
Nokia said the first wireless broadband communications system in space would be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before humans make it back there.
The Finnish company will partner with Texas-based private space craft design firm Intuitive Machines to deliver the network equipment to the moon on their lunar lander.
After delivery, the network will configure itself and establish the first LTE (Long-Term Evolution) communications system on the moon, Nokia said.
“The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data-transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video,” Nokia said.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Edmund Blair and Pravin Char)
Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Refrigerator-Sized Asteroid Could Hit Earth Before the US Elections – Science Times
A certain asteroid is currently moving toward Earth, said the world’s most prominent astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson.
It could theoretically strike the planet just before the forthcoming US presidential elections slated on November 2.
The prominent astrophysicist said that if the planet eventually ends in 2020, it would not entirely be the world’s responsibility.
The asteroid identified as 2018VP1 has been on the radar since the moment it was observed by the famed Palomar Observatory in California in November 2018.
Instagram Post About the Asteroid Described by Neil deGrasse
The astrophysicist then posted on Instagram that the 2018VP1, a space-rock-sized refrigerator, is currently hurling straight to earth in his Instagram post. Neil de Grasse mentioned that this space rock’s speed was at 25,000 miles per hour.
It was then reported that the asteroid could theoretically buzz-cut Earth around a day before the presidential election.
This came with the following argument that the comet, though, is simply not large enough to do serious harm, and it won’t be the whole responsibility of the Universe if the planet ends in 2020.
NASA: Hitting Asteroids on Election Day is Actually Not Destructive
On Twitter, NASA Asteroid Watch reported that the 2018VP1 asteroid is probably tiny and just around 6.5 ft in size and does not pose any danger to Earth.
According to NASA, an asteroid only has 0.41 percent of what directly reaches the Earth’s atmosphere. It was also claimed that it would disintegrate if it were to reach Earth because of its really small size.
A new “ticking time bomb” star was also discovered this year, said to be around 10 to 15 times the size of the Sun. There were many visible space events and other findings as well.
NASA has also stepped up both its space observation activities and its work to bring astronauts back to the moon in preparation for a possible Mars flight.
Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! It currently has a 0.41% chance of entering our planet’s atmosphere, but if it did, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size. — NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 23, 2020
Mission to Mars
One of the ultimate priorities of not just NASA but also SpaceX is the Mars mission. In a recent interview with NASA and SpaceX conducted by Everyday Astronaut, SpaceX claimed that the key reason for SpaceX’s development was to speed up attempts to reach Mars.
One of NASA’s exciting remarks regarding SpaceX is that SpaceX is not afraid of defeat, which is one of its key strengths. SpaceX has been said to have the potential to test, lose, learn, and come back better.
The work of NASA with SpaceX has just begun and their relationship may be predicted to continue for years due to the amount of collaborations they have lined up.
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