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Adapting to Water Temperature Changes: The Smart “Coat” of Yangtze Finless Porpoise

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Newswise — In a study using B-mode ultrasound imaging, a team of researchers in China monitored the blubber thickness in Yangtze finless porpoises (YFPs) over different seasons. They made a fascinating discovery – the thickness of the blubber changes with the water temperature.

“When the water gets colder, their blubber layer becomes thicker, acting like a warm, cozy down jacket,” shares Bin Tang, first author of the study. “And when the water warms up, their blubber gets thinner, helping them stay cool and comfortable.”

Interestingly, the blubber thickness of cetaceans exhibits varying patterns across different body regions in response to water temperature changes. Specifically, in the dorsal region, blubber thickness decreases linearly as the water temperature increases. However, in the lateral and ventral regions, significant changes in blubber thickness occur only when the water temperature reaches approximately 18 oC.

The researchers, who published their findings in the KeAi journal Water Biology and Security, also investigated the interconnection between energy intake, blubber thickness, and water temperature.

“It appears that water temperature might influence changes in blubber thickness by affecting the appetite of these marine mammals,” adds Tang.
Nonetheless, the relationship between energy intake, blubber thickness, and how it is influenced by water temperature is a complex subject that merits deeper investigation to uncover the underlying mechanisms.

Credit: Water Biology and Security
Figure 1
« Adapting to Water Temperature Changes: The Smart “Coat” of Yangtze Finless Porpoise

“By delving deeper into these aspects, we can gain valuable insights into the adaptive strategies of cetaceans and the mechanisms they employ to thrive in various aquatic environments, concludes corresponding author Yujiang Hao. “Such knowledge could have broader implications for understanding marine ecosystems and potentially even aid in conservation efforts for these remarkable marine mammals.”

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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The Unseen Power of Nature: Los Angeles River’s Dramatic Display

“Los Angeles River’s recent surge reminds us of nature’s might and the remarkable bravery of those who protect and serve.”

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Los Angeles, known for its bustling urban landscape and iconic landmarks, is also home to a hidden natural wonder—the Los Angeles River. While often overlooked, this river, meandering through concrete channels, reveals its formidable force during the rainy season, as recently witnessed in a remarkable turn of events.

By User2004 – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=855785

In a city where the river’s presence can be overshadowed by the urban sprawl, the recent events served as a powerful reminder of nature’s might. Fueled by an atmospheric river, the usually tranquil waterway transformed into a raging torrent, posing a threat to the flood-control infrastructure and prompting a dramatic rescue.

Amidst this dramatic transformation, a heartwarming yet perilous river rescue unfolded. A man, driven by instinctive bravery, leaped into the churning waters to save his beloved pet. Fortunately, the LA Fire Department swiftly intervened, showcasing the courage and skill of their helicopter crew as they executed a daring rescue, ultimately saving both the man and his loyal companion.

As the river surged, concerns mounted for the vulnerable homeless population residing along its banks. With encampments nestled among its shores, the deluge raised urgent alarms for their safety. First responders and swift-water rescue teams stood ready, highlighting the unwavering commitment to safeguarding every individual impacted by the river’s unpredictable temperament.

This recent episode serves as a poignant reminder of the intricate relationship between urban life and the forces of nature. It underscores the need for continued vigilance and preparedness, especially in a city where the convergence of urban living and natural elements can yield unexpected challenges.

The Los Angeles River’s surge, though brief, illuminates the significance of acknowledging and respecting the inherent power of nature. It also underscores the remarkable bravery and dedication of those who stand ready to protect and serve, even amidst the most formidable circumstances.

In the heart of a bustling metropolis, the Los Angeles River quietly flows, reminding us of the unseen forces that shape our world and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of nature’s awesome power.

Source: Associated Press

https://apnews.com/article/california-storms-los-angeles-river-atmospheric-94e6ad39870432fedb5d0a2464ecc3c1

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Unveiling the Mysteries of Ancient Tree Fossils: A Dr. Seuss-like Discovery

Unearthed 350 million-year-old tree fossils reveal a Dr. Seuss-like world, offering insights into Earth’s ancient forests and evolutionary experiments.

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Unearthed by paleontologists Robert Gastaldo, Olivia King, and Matthew Stimson, these 350 million-year-old tree fossils, named “Sanfordiacaulis,” offer a rare insight into the architecture of ancient trees. Unlike typical tree fossils, these specimens retain their branches and crown leaves, painting a vivid picture of a bygone era.

Cheeck out the story on CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/02/world/sanfordiacaulis-ancient-tree-fossils-discovery-scn/index.html

Trees, the ancient sentinels of our planet, have long held secrets of Earth’s past. Recently, a groundbreaking discovery of uniquely preserved 3D tree fossils in a Canadian quarry has provided a glimpse into the evolution of Earth’s early forests, shedding light on a period of history shrouded in mystery.

The discovery of these fossil trees, with a size and completeness rarely seen in ancient plant fossils, challenges existing knowledge and fills gaps in the fossil record. The preservation of over 250 leaves around one trunk, each extending 5.7 feet, hints at a diverse ecosystem vastly different from what we know today.

The unique fossilization of these trees, believed to be a result of a catastrophic earthquake-induced landslide in an ancient rift lake, offers a snapshot of a moment frozen in time. This extraordinary find has captured the attention of experts like Peter Wilf, a paleobotanist, who emphasizes the significance of these fossils in understanding the evolution of early forest structures.

Described as reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss illustration, the Sanfordiacaulis stands as a testament to the experimental nature of evolution. Though short-lived in the Earth’s history, these peculiar trees represent a “failed experiment of science and evolution,” showcasing the diversity and adaptability of ancient plant life.

Looking ahead, these fossil trees not only provide insights into Earth’s past but also offer clues about the future. By understanding how ancient trees diversified and occupied different ecological niches, scientists can gain valuable knowledge about the potential trajectory of life on our planet.

In conclusion, the discovery of the Sanfordiacaulis fossils opens a window into a world long gone, sparking curiosity about the mysteries of Earth’s early forests and the lessons they hold for the future. As we unravel the secrets of these ancient tree sentinels, we continue to paint a richer picture of life 350 million years ago and the remarkable journey of evolution on our planet.

Source: CNN

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The Ocean Sunfish: A Gentle Giant of the Sea

The ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, is a gentle giant of the sea, known for its enormous size, unique habits, and peaceful nature.

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If you’ve never heard of the ocean sunfish, also known as Mola mola, get ready to be amazed. These gentle giants of the sea are truly one of the most unique and fascinating creatures you’ll encounter in the ocean. With their enormous size and peculiar appearance, ocean sunfish have captivated the curiosity of scientists and ocean enthusiasts alike.

Lifeform of the Week: Ocean Sunfish – EarthSky

At first glance, it’s hard to believe that these fish can reach up to 12 feet (3.6 m) in height, making them the heaviest bony fish in the world. Their sheer size often leaves people in awe, as it’s not every day you come across a fish that resembles a drifting island. However, what’s even more intriguing is the fact that they appear to be newcomers to the planet, with scientists believing them to be one of the most recent fish species to populate the sea.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the ocean sunfish is their behavior. These gentle creatures have a penchant for sunbathing, often seen floating near the water’s surface, basking in the warm sunlight. This behavior has led to the misconception that they derive energy directly from the sun, which, in turn, inspired their name. In Spanish, they are aptly called “peces luna” or moonfish, a nod to a legend where fishermen mistook them for the reflection of the moon in the water, especially at night.

To truly appreciate the ocean sunfish, it’s best to witness them in action. Watching a video or observing them in their natural habitat can provide an unparalleled experience, offering a glimpse into the grace and beauty of these enormous, unique creatures. Their slow, serene movements through the water are a sight to behold, prompting a sense of wonder and admiration for the mysteries of the ocean.

Despite their imposing size, ocean sunfish are known for their gentle nature. They pose no threat to humans and are often regarded as peaceful inhabitants of the sea. Their sheer presence serves as a reminder of the diverse and wondrous life forms that call the ocean home.

In conclusion, the ocean sunfish, with its extraordinary size, peculiar habits, and gentle demeanor, stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring diversity of marine life. As we continue to explore and learn about the mysteries of the ocean, encountering creatures like the ocean sunfish serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our marine ecosystems for generations to come. Whether you’re an avid marine enthusiast or simply curious about the wonders of the natural world, the ocean sunfish is an undeniable marvel worth celebrating and protecting.

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