Happy Thursday, dear friends! We have been blessed with a last touch of summer here on Paumanok, and the crickets have come out at night again. While I adore autumn weather, the feeling of the warm sun on my skin is a joyous one!
Let’s get right down to business with the news, so you can all go enjoy a blessed day.
Today we share some joyous news from Gaia’s animal, plant and insect kingdoms. We will bounce around from there.
New species of frog has been hanging out in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.
I think it is a common misconception that everything to be discovered, on this blessed planet, has already been found. The truth is, that new animal, plant and insect species are being discovered every day, but usually that is occurring in the far reaches of nature. Scientists have recently discovered a new species of frog in the New York City area. They say it was hiding in plain sight, looking remarkably like other Leopard Frogs, but it’s croak was very distinct. With the advent of DNA testing, to confirm species differentiation, discovering new species becomes much easier, but they still have to collect enough specimens to determine if they indeed have a new species, or just a genetic mutation among a population. In this case, the Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog has been discovered and categorized, appearing in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Seems New York can still surprise us!
Some ancient tortoises are making a huge comeback!
Giant Tortoises live a very long time, and have a relatively low breeding rate. The population of tortoises on the Galapagos island of Espanola had two strikes against them. First, whalers found the islands, and hunted the tortoise for food. Second, they later left goats on the island, so they would have a stable food source when they returned seasonally. The feral goats became invasive, destroying the natural ecosystem, and leaving the tortoises with very little to eat. In 1960, there were only 15 wild tortoises on the island.
Today there are more than 1,000, living and breeding in the slowly recovering ecosystem. Researchers believe the rebound occurred, because they actively removed the feral goats, and introduced captive-bred tortoises to the island. The genetic stock became more varied, so more tortoises survived into adulthood. While the ecosystem is still recovering, the researchers believe the tortoises will no longer need human help to survive on their home island. What a wonderful comeback story for one of the longest living species in the world!
More animal success stories.
After reading about the success of the giant tortoise, I was so excited, that I decided to do some digging on other species that may have made comebacks. This article is from the spring, but the information still applies. Epic comebacks are being made for animals that were on the brink of extinction in the wild only decades ago. Many attribute this to the banning of DDT, which affected egg health in many avian species, as well as better conservation of habitat, more successful captive-breeding programs, and greater awareness of the public related to endangered species. Whatever the reason, this is great news for us all, as diverse species create healthy habitats, and healthy habitats create a more stable earth!
Infecting bees with a virus might just save the European Honeybee species.
When settlers came to the Americas they brought their seeds with them, to grow foods they were used to from their homelands. Since plants are very specifically related to their pollinators, the native insects were not attracted to these newly introduced plants, and harvests were extremely poor. European honeybees were introduced, and took over the pollination of these crops. Since they were not attracted to native species of plants, a balance was struck in the insect world. Now, due to hive stress from over use of pesticides and fertilizer, the immunity of European honeybees became weak, and many hives were infected with a parasite called American Foulbrood. The parasite does not affect adult bees, but kills the larvae in the hive. If the parasite gets a good hold on a hive, it will collapse the population, and beekeepers must seal off the hive and burn it.
An undergraduate student decided to look into the idea, of introducing a bacteriophage into the colonies that had been infected. A bacteriophage is a virus, that specifically targets a certain bacteria, and will replicate within their host bacteria until hosts no longer exist. The phage then becomes dormant. So far they have a number of promising candidates to do the work, which is seen as a much healthier alternative to the antibiotics administered in the past, which only made the parasite come back stronger. Sounds like a sweet idea!
Who ever thought of signing a petition to thank a government for doing something good?
Recently, the Brazilian government designated a new Amazon Rainforest Reserve that is about the size of the US state of Delaware. There has been a huge outcry over the past several decades, related to deforestation in the Amazon basin, it’s effects on local wild life and the environment as a whole. The Alto Maues reserve covers 1.65 million acres of pristine wilderness, and preserves habitat for many species that exist no where else on earth. In honor of this momentous decision to invest in the environment and the earth ecosystem as a whole, you can send a “thank you” note to the Brazilian government. I think it is wonderful to honor positive decisions like this when they occur, and I hope readers will join the gratitude petition, if they feel so inclined.
Russia shoveling in the gold.
I know many of you follow the financial forums, related to the ultimate currency reval, so there is plenty of information out there for you, and places to find it. If something pops up that seems interesting, or out of the ordinary, it will be shared. This is one of those things. Russia boosted its gold reserves by 31.2 metric tons in September, which is the largest increase since they defaulted on local debts in 1998. Russia is estimated to have the fifth-largest gold reserve in the world, and this increase of over $1.5 Billion in gold puts their reserves at the highest level in over 2 decades. The article also provides some analysis behind the move. Whatever the reason, it is a huge change, and could indicate more changes to come.
Russell Brand rustling feathers on his Revolution book tour.
Russell Brand recently released a new book called Revolution, which details his thoughts on other people’s ideas, related to changing the world. Having read Russell’s autobiography, I can attest to his sharp wit as well as his sharp mind, so I am looking forward to reading this new book as well. While on a publicity tour for the book in the UK, Russell was interviewed on BBC2’s flagship Newsnight by new host Evan Davis, who quickly lost control of the discussion. During the interview it became clear that Brand was open to the idea of a US 9/11 conspiracy. While the article tries to point out Brand’s ludicrous nature, the information was broadcast and then written about in a mainstream media paper, putting the question into more human minds. Brand’s whole point is about questioning authority, and being brave enough to take the answers, and I applaud him.
Someone really was looking down from above, and what they saw was spectacular!
Astronaut Chris Hadfield asked his son to help him set up his Twitter account, because he was going to be out of town for a while. Chris was going to the International Space Station, and he took a camera with him. His Twitter account went immediately viral, with over 1 Million followers, and during his time in the heavens, he took over 45,000 photographs of our beautiful earth. Many folks wanted to see their home town’s from space, to see where they fit in amongst the cosmos. Hadfield has now published a book, where he hand-picked some of his favorites called Here You Are: Around the World in 92 Minutes, but you can see some great ones in this article as well. Many astronauts come back from space, having looked down on the earth from above, and it has changed their lives forever. Some say it is the vastness of space that does this, but I believe the sheer beauty of our planet has a lot to do with it as well.
That’s the news for today! Have an awesome day, and I hope to see you back here tomorrow for more news!
Be Well. Be Joy. Be Love!