Earth's Changing Surface Geology 

Earth’s Changing Surface: It Takes Time!

By Alyssa L. Abbeyn (@ifDiscswereRock) for The Biota Project (@thebiotaproject) It’s a pretty regular night, my partner and I are doing some extra work tonight since we are leaving early tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. I’m on my computer at the kitchen table and they’re in the other room. Quite suddenly, the house creaks and groans rocking back and forth like a rickety old table with unstable legs. My first thought, “Wow the upstairs neighbors are really stomping around up there, or maybe some furniture fell down or something…” then…

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Five Drowned Apostles Oceanography 

Introducing Five New Drowned Apostles

The Twelve Apostles are limestone stacks off the coast of Victoria in Australia. While mapping the ocean floor, scientists have found more and dubbed them the five drowned apostles. For years, the limestone columns known as the Twelve Apostles have attracted tourists to the southern coast of Australia. These natural formations stand just offshore in Victoria. Suddenly, the Apostles’ numbers have increased. Scientists have discovered five more limestone columns, submerged deep below the waves, and dubbed them the five drowned apostles. The recently discovered sea stacks are about 6 kilometers offshore…

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Dolphins at sunset along the Indian River Lagoon (Photo courtesy of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University) Biology Oceanography Zoology 

Dolphins and Their Social Networks

By Kate S. They don’t have Twitter accounts, but dolphins are able to form highly complex and dynamic networks of friends, according to a recent study by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) at Florida Atlantic University. Indian River Lagoon Dolphins Dolphins are known for being highly social animals, so the research team took a closer look at the interactions between bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon and discovered how they mingle and with whom they spend their time. The Indian River Lagoon is a narrow 156-mile long…

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Human evolution: The fossil mandible near where it was found (Brian Villmoare) Archaeology Biology Paleontology 

Fossil Sheds Light on Early Human Evolution

The discovery of a fossilized lower jaw bone in Ethiopia has pushed back evidence of the human genus — Homo — to 2.8 million years ago. The find predates all previously unearthed fossils of the Homo lineage by approximately 400,000 years. For decades, scientists have been searching in Africa for fossils documenting the earliest phases of the Homo lineage. However, specimens recovered from between 3 and 2.5 million years ago have been frustratingly few and often in poor condition. As a result, there has been little agreement on when the…

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Oysters, clams, and mussels in Oregon and Washington are showing the effects of ocean acidification (Oregon State University) Environment Oceanography 

Ocean Acidification Threatens Shellfish

By Kate Stone Coastal communities in fifteen U.S. states that depend on the $1 billion shellfish industry (primarily oysters and clams) are in trouble. The shellfish supplies in these areas are at risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, according to a new study from Oregon State University. Previously, the Pacific Northwest was most frequently cited as the region with vulnerable shellfish populations, say the researchers. Now they have identified many more coastal areas where the problem exists, ranging from Chesapeake Bay to the bayous of Louisiana. “Ocean acidification…

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Signs of life on Earth: The oldest rock samples, from 3.2 billion years ago, were collected at this site in the desert in northwestern Australia. (R. Buick / University of Washington) Biology Paleontology 

Life on Earth May Be Older than We Thought

Life on our planet could be at least one billion years older than previously thought, according to new geological research from the University of Washington. Nitrogen is a chemical element that is essential for building genes. Without plenty of nitrogen, life on the early Earth would have been scarce. Researchers looking at some of the planet’s oldest rocks have found evidence that organisms were already pulling nitrogen out of the air 3.2 billion years ago, and converting it in ways that could support larger communities of lifeforms. Finding Ancient Life…

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