The passion for the world of nature drives many of our adventures. And when we’re not actually out, we like to delve into the discoveries of where we live and travel. Here are some of the best natural history links we found this week.
Scientists use YouTube to study elephants: There are many stories of elephants mourning their dead, but there is very little scientific information. It is almost impossible to study their behavior. Asian elephants are elusive and unlikely to have this behavior. So researchers turned to YouTube, hoping that millions of pairs of eyes may have witnessed it several times and recorded it.
In fact, they found 24 videos where elephants mourn. The elephants stood over the bodies and touched them to study. They also soothed others with their heads and trunks. In some cases, mothers move the bodies of their calves.
The mourning suggests what we have long suspected that elephants are very intelligent. The study “helps to overcome this emotional division between humans and other species,” said biologist Jack Tamisia.
The great white shark dominated an ancient rival
The great white shark may have caused the disappearance of megalodon: Scientists have used a new method to study the diet of Otodus megalodon, an extinct species of mackerel shark. The megalodon lived between 23 and 3.6 million years. They are the largest known shark that ever existed, reaching 20 meters in length.
Competition for food has probably led to the extinction of sharks. Researchers are comparing the zinc isotope composition of the teeth of both the megalodon and the modern great white shark. This showed that their diets have a surprising overlap. They both hunted the same prey, supporting the theory that the great white’s superior adaptability pushed the megalodon to extinction.
Singing lava lakes predict eruptions: Lava began to accumulate in the crater of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in 2007. More than a decade later, the volcano erupted. Researchers have found that they can predict when the volcano will erupt again by listening to the vibrations made by these lava lakes.
A rock falling from the edge of the lava crater produces a seismic wave. The height and wavelength store information about the state of the magma. The duration of seismic waves is related to the temperature of the magma and hints at the gas content of the bubbles in the magma. This in turn may indicate when the volcano will erupt next.
The surprising reason for the giraffe’s long neck
Giraffes have developed long necks to compete for partners: We have long believed that giraffes have developed long necks to feed on plants that other animals cannot reach. But new research suggests they may have actually developed their megawatts to compete for partners.
The 17-million fossil of an ancient relative of giraffes has a complex series of joints between the head and spine and a hard aspen on the head. These two structures made the animal very experienced in a high-speed headbutt.
Today’s giraffes also compete for mates by hitting their heads and have hard horned aspens on their heads. Their long necks allow them to apply more force to their heads with whipping action. People with longer necks are more likely to win battles and partners. This suggests that the ability to eat hard-to-reach plants is only the ultimate benefit of their competition for partners.
A plant larger than Manhattan
The largest plant in the world found in Australia: The largest known plant on Earth grows off the coast of Australia. Seagrass covers an area of 200 square kilometers, which is three times more than Manhattan.
Researchers analyzed samples of the seagrass meadow in Shark Bay to find out more about the genetic diversity of the grass and how many plants make up the meadow. “The answer struck us – there was only one!” Said marine biologist Jane Edgelow. The entire meadow of seagrass has evolved from a single seed for 4,500 years.
The ancient city reappears after a drought: Kemune is a Bronze Age city in a reservoir on the Tigris River in northern Iraq. The 3,400-year-old city emerged from the water during a drought in 2010, but archaeologists were unable to excavate anything until drought in 2018.
Now they had a second chance to explore the site. A severe drought in early 2022 forced Iraq to use water from a reservoir to irrigate crops. During this period of low water, archaeologists have discovered more than 100 clay tablets from the Assyrian period. They also covered parts of the site with plastic sheets to help protect buildings when water began to rise again.
The city is completely submerged again. “It is completely unpredictable when the site will reappear. It may appear this summer or in a few years, “said archaeologist Ivana Puldjiz.