Otters are good for much more than just making people go "Awwwwww" at aquariums across the world. Given enough time, the clowns of the sea could save the worlds from global warming
, and all they have to do is what comes naturally -- keep eating sea urchins. Which they do with their adorable hands, like they think they're people!
A new study of Antarctic ice suggests that the continent may be harboring enormous stores of methane just beneath surface layers of ice.
Okay, has everybody made their fart jokes? Good. Moving on. The main ingredient of natural gas and a common byproduct of digestion in everything from cows to people to microorganisms, methane is the among the big bads of the greenhouse gas world.
It's super effective at trapping heat, trapping more than 20 times as much heat in the atmosphere than its more well-known cousin, carbon dioxide. Research published in the journal Nature
suggests that there are more than 4 billion metric tons of methane underneath Antarctica's ice sheets.
If that ice melts, releasing the methane stored underneath, the resulting gasses could contribute significantly to climate change. It's like the rich getting richer, only with instead of money, you have a greenhouse gas, and instead of investing wisely, everything melts.
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the medium ground finch
, marking the unassuming bird's second contribution to the wonderful world of science. The first? This finch (geospiza fortis
) is one of Darwin's Finches
, one of many varieties of finch species studied by the revered naturalist on his trip to the Galapagos Islands, where he laid the groundwork for his theory of evolution
. Its contributions to evolutionary science may not be over, as researchers hope to use their new insights to the finch genome as a tool to explore evolution in real time. Though it does occur to us that this seems like a lot of responsibility to lay at the feet of a tiny bird that probably just wants to eat seeds all day. We promise, though, medium ground finch, after that you can hit the showers. Good hustle, get some rest.
An Earth-like planet has been discovered just 20 light-years away in the Gliese 581 system following an eleven-year observation, and NASA says that this could be "the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one." Dubbed Gliese 581g because it is the sixth planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581, the planet has a mass of three to four times Earth's, orbits its star in just 37 days, and is "tidally locked" to the star, meaning that one side is always facing the star and it's always light on that side, while one side is always facing away and it's always dark.
Sci-fi sounding details aside, the reason Gliese 581g has scientists so excited can be summed up in one word: Water.