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Bathing Elephant - Zibalianja Lagoon, Linyanti Reserve, Botswana | image by Michael Poliza

Bathing Elephant - Zibalianja Lagoon, Linyanti Reserve, Botswana | image by Michael Poliza

70,000 year-old African settlement unearthed

archaeologicalnews:

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During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.

The site known as Affad 23, is currently the only one recorded in the Nile Valley which shows that early Homo sapiens built sizeable permanent structures, and had adapted well to the wetland environment.

This new evidence points to a much more advanced level of human development and adaptation in Africa during the Middle Palaeolithic. Read more.


Flamingos | image by Michael Poliza

Flamingos | image by Michael Poliza

A Java mouse-deer cub (Tragulus javanicus), one of the world’s smallest hoofed animals, and its mother at the Fuengirola biopark, near Malaga | image by Jorge Guerrero

A Java mouse-deer cub (Tragulus javanicus), one of the world’s smallest hoofed animals, and its mother at the Fuengirola biopark, near Malaga | image by Jorge Guerrero

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand | image by Kyle Carter

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand | image by Kyle Carter

This siphonophore was spotted by scientists on the Nautilus expedition. Siphonophores are made up of many smaller animals called zooids, and can be found floating around the pelagic zone in ocean basins around the world. One famous species is the deadly Portuguese man o’ war. Image : Nautilus Live

This siphonophore was spotted by scientists on the Nautilus expedition. Siphonophores are made up of many smaller animals called zooids, and can be found floating around the pelagic zone in ocean basins around the world. One famous species is the deadly Portuguese man o’ war. Image : Nautilus Live

European brown bear, Finland | image by Daniel Trim

European brown bear, Finland | image by Daniel Trim

Nile crocodile | image by Michael Poliza

Nile crocodile | image by Michael Poliza


This amazing graphic reveals the incredibly delicate balance that maintains the Earth as the only known habitable planet in the universe.
via The RDF

This amazing graphic reveals the incredibly delicate balance that maintains the Earth as the only known habitable planet in the universe.

via The RDF

Wasp builds nest out of dead ants
A newly discovered insect has been dubbed the bone-house wasp for good reason: Researchers report that it is the only known species to build its nest with dead ants. Whereas other wasps use pieces of arthropods to disguise their nest, the bone-house wasp (Deuteragenia ossarium) is the first to use whole ants, the researchers report this month in PLOS ONE. Scientists discovered the wasp when they traveled to southeast China’s Gutianshan National Nature Reserve and set up trap nests—plastic tubes filled with cutouts of the giant cane plant for the wasps to nest in. Inside, the wasps built brood cells, little cavities with walls made from plant debris, resin, or soil, for their developing young. When the entrance cell was filled with ants, a variety of parasitic wasp and fly species attacked only 3% of brood cells. Nests belonging to wasp species that don’t follow this behavior were parasitized at a rate of 16.5%. The ant species (Pachycondyla astuta) that appeared most often in the wasps’ barricades is abundant, aggressive, and has a mean sting. The researchers hypothesize that the ants’ smell—which lingers after death—functions either to disguise the odor of the wasp’s offspring or to dissuade predators who know better than to pick a fight.
Via Science
| image: Michael Staab

Wasp builds nest out of dead ants

A newly discovered insect has been dubbed the bone-house wasp for good reason: Researchers report that it is the only known species to build its nest with dead ants. Whereas other wasps use pieces of arthropods to disguise their nest, the bone-house wasp (Deuteragenia ossarium) is the first to use whole ants, the researchers report this month in PLOS ONE. Scientists discovered the wasp when they traveled to southeast China’s Gutianshan National Nature Reserve and set up trap nests—plastic tubes filled with cutouts of the giant cane plant for the wasps to nest in. Inside, the wasps built brood cells, little cavities with walls made from plant debris, resin, or soil, for their developing young. When the entrance cell was filled with ants, a variety of parasitic wasp and fly species attacked only 3% of brood cells. Nests belonging to wasp species that don’t follow this behavior were parasitized at a rate of 16.5%. The ant species (Pachycondyla astuta) that appeared most often in the wasps’ barricades is abundant, aggressive, and has a mean sting. The researchers hypothesize that the ants’ smell—which lingers after death—functions either to disguise the odor of the wasp’s offspring or to dissuade predators who know better than to pick a fight.

Via Science

| image: Michael Staab

science-junkie:

NASA’s Aquarius Returns Global Maps of Soil Moisture

Scientists working with data from NASA’s Aquarius instrument have released worldwide maps of soil moisture, showing how the wetness of the land fluctuates with the seasons and weather phenomena… Aquarius was built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. The new soil wetness measurements were not in the mission’s primary science objectives, but a NASA-funded team led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers has developed a method to retrieve soil moisture data from the instrument’s microwave radiometer.

Soil moisture, the water contained within soil particles, is an important player in Earth’s water cycle. It is essential for plant life and influences weather and climate. Satellite readings of soil moisture will help scientists better understand the climate system and have potential for a wide range of applications, from advancing climate models, weather forecasts, drought monitoring and flood prediction to informing water management decisions and aiding in predictions of agricultural productivity.

Source: nasa.gov

Koushki, an Asiatic cheetah, crouches at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. The country is conducting a campaign to rescue the Asiatic Cheetah which has disappeared from the continent except in Iran, where fewer than 100 remain | image by Vahid Salemi

Koushki, an Asiatic cheetah, crouches at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. The country is conducting a campaign to rescue the Asiatic Cheetah which has disappeared from the continent except in Iran, where fewer than 100 remain | image by Vahid Salemi

Once thought to be extinct, this baby golden lion tamarin is thriving in land set aside land for them. Humans presence has accelerated the rate of extinction of plant and animal species by 1,000 times, a new study reveals | image by Stuart Pimm

Once thought to be extinct, this baby golden lion tamarin is thriving in land set aside land for them. Humans presence has accelerated the rate of extinction of plant and animal species by 1,000 times, a new study reveals | image by Stuart Pimm