I am interested in the sea and the creatures that dwell in there, particularly jellyfish, octopus, cuttlefish etc. Seeing jellyfish slowly undulate underwater in the ocean is an amazing and fascinating sight almost… relaxing!
Josie Lim and her family were on a beach in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia last month when they came across a stranded gigantic jellyfish. As can be seen by the photo it is big being approx 1.5m (5ft) in size.
Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, of Australia’s The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO government agency, said that scientists had known about the species for a while but had not yet classified it.
She described the specimen as a “truly magnificent animal”. This species was part of the Lion’s Mane group, she said.
These jellyfish “look like a dinner plate with a mop hanging underneath – they have a really raggedy look to them”, she said.
The Tasmanian discovery was found stranded belly-up, Dr Gershwin explained.
It was one of a “species I’ve known about for a while but it’s not yet named and classified”, she said. “We’re very eager to know more about it.”
Recent years had seen “huge blooms” of jellyfish in Tasmanian waters, she said, but scientists were not sure why.
“We’re very keen to find out why jellyfish are blooming in such super-abundances in these southern waters,” she said.
The world’s largest jellyfish shares the same genus – Cyanea – as the Lion’s Mane. Found in the North Atlantic and Arctic, the Cyanea Arctica can grow up to 3m (10ft) across the body, Dr Gershwin said.
This week we met a new-found species of mammals, a carnivore at that. It looks so adorably. Say hello to him! 🙂
Olinguito: ‘Overlooked’ mammal carnivore is major discovery
By Jane O’BrienBBC News, Washington DC
Scientists in the US have discovered a new animal living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.
It has been named olinguito and is the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.
It has taken more than a decade to identify the mammal, a discovery that scientists say is incredibly rare in the 21st Century.
The credit goes to a team from the Smithsonian Institution.
The trail began when zoologist Kristofer Helgen uncovered some bones and animal skins in storage at a museum in Chicago.
“It stopped me in my tracks,” he told BBC News. “The skins were a rich red colour and when I looked at the skulls I didn’t recognise the anatomy. It was different to any similar animal I’d seen, and right away I thought it could be a species new to science.”
Meet the olinguito and the man who discovered the new mammal species
Smallest member of the animal family that includes racoons
Measures 14 inches in length (35cm), has a tail of 13-17 inches and weighs 2lb (900g)
Males and females of the Bassaricyon neblina species are similar in size
Eats fruit mainly, but also consumes insects and nectar
Solitary and nocturnal animals that spend their time in trees
Female olinguitos raise a single baby at a time
Found only in cloud forests of northern Andes in Ecuador and Colombia, at high elevations
Source: Smithsonian Institution
Many were collected more than a century ago and were often mislabelled or not properly identified. But recent advances in technology have enabled scientists to extract DNA from even the oldest remains.
The 35cm-long (14in) olinguito is the latest addition to the animal family that includes racoons. By comparing DNA samples with the other five known species, Dr Helgen was able to confirm his discovery.
“It’s hard for me to explain how excited I am,” he says.
“The olinguito is a carnivore – that group of mammals that includes cats, dogs and bears and their relatives. Many of us believed that list was complete, but this is a new carnivore – the first to be found on the American continent for more than three decades.”
Dr Helgen has used such mammal collections to identify many other new species, including the world’s biggest bat and the world’s smallest bandicoot. But he says the olinguito is his most significant discovery. Its scientific name is Bassaricyon neblina. The last carnivore to be identified in the Americas was the Colombian Weasel.
But even after identifying the olinguito, a crucial question remained: could they be living in the wild?
“We used clues from the specimens about where they might have come from and to predict what kind of forest we might find them in – and we found it!”
The olinguito is now known to inhabit a number of protected areas from Central Colombia to western Ecuador. Although it is a carnivore, it eats mainly fruit, comes out at night and lives by itself, producing just one baby at a time.
And scientists now believe an olinguito was exhibited in several zoos in the US between 1967 and 1976. Its keepers mistook it for an olinga – a close relative – and could not understand why it would not breed. It was sent to a number of different zoos but died without being properly identified.
Washington’s National Zoo had an olinguito in the 1960s but never identified it as a separate species
“The vast majority of the discoveries of new species are made in museum collections,” says Chris Norris, of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in Connecticut and president of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
“Often people working 70 years ago or more had different ideas of what constituted a new species – maybe they didn’t recognise things that we would as being distinct, or they might not have had access to technologies, such as being able to extract and sequence DNA.”
But there is no central museum database and scientists have little idea of what each collection contains. Many organisations are now putting their inventories online, and Dr Norris says that will make research faster and more accessible.
Another challenge is keeping specimens in good condition. Many are hundreds of years old and are prone to moth and insect infestations.
“But not all of it,” says Dr Norris. “There’s just the head and a foot left because everything else got eaten.
“It’s a cautionary tale for anyone working on museum collections today. You get to do exciting science but you have to take care of them or they won’t be there for people to use in the future.
“Our economy is in the middle of a rough period and spending on museums sometimes seems difficult to justify when you look for example at some of the more shiny or spectacular scientific tools that are out there. But it’s important to think of these things, not as rather bizarre collections of dried skins and pickled bats in jars and drawers full of snails, but as a research tool in the same way that you might think of a new telescope or a Large Hadron Collider.”
Scientists have catalogued only a fraction of the planet’s lifeforms. New species of insects, parasitic worms, bacteria and viruses are discovered on a regular basis, but new mammals are rare.
“This reminds us that the world is not yet explored and the age of discovery is far from over,” says Dr Helgen. “The olinguito makes us think – what else is out there?”
Press Association – A study found the seven new social classes range from the privileged ‘elite’ to the deprived ‘precariat’
British people no longer fit into three social classes, with only one in seven in the “traditional working class”, a new study has suggested.
The UK also has an “elite” – just 6% of the population – who have savings of more than £140,000, extensive social contacts and education at top universities, according to the BBC’s online Great British Class Survey.
More than 160,000 respondents took part in the survey, the largest ever of its kind in the UK, the BBC said.
Researchers found the established model of an upper class, middle class and working class has “fragmented” and there are now seven classes ranging from the “elite” to the “precariat”.
Representing 15% of the population, the “precariat” earn just £8,000 after tax, have average savings of £800, with fewer than one in 30 gaining a university education.
Professor Mike Savage, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, carried out the research with Professor Fiona Devine, of the University of Manchester, with the help of BBC Lab UK.
Prof Savage said: “It is striking that we have been able to discern a distinctive elite, whose sheer economic advantage sets it apart from other classes. At the opposite extreme, we have discerned the existence of a sizeable group – 15% of the population – which is marked by the lack of any significant amount of economic, cultural or social capital.
“The recognition of the existence of this group, along with the elite, is a powerful reminder that our conventional approaches to class have hindered our recognition of these two extremes, which occupy a very distinctive place in British society.”
Researchers found the “traditional working class” has fallen to just 14% of the total population, and “is fading from contemporary importance”. At one in four of the population, the “established middle class” is the largest group, with household income of £47,000 and some “highbrow” tastes. The “emergent service workers” are the sixth group and the youngest, with a mean age of 34 and high proportions of ethnic minorities.
The findings will be presented at a conference of the British Sociological Association on Wednesday, and will be published in this month’s Sociology Journal.
Scientists exploring a “lost world” near Loch Ness have discovered a host of tiny creatures never before recorded in the UK.
Biological surveys at conservation charity Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Estate in Glenmoriston found eight new species, bringing the total number of species recorded at the site where forest restoration is taking place to more than 2,800.
The new species discovered at the 10,000-acre estate in Inverness-shire are a sawfly, an aphid, two types of aphid parasites, three fungus gnats and a type of mite.
Surveys in 2012 also discovered a rare Lapland marsh-orchid, which had never been found in that area of Scotland before.
It brings the total of species recorded at Dundreggan to 2,815, including 269 plants, 341 lichens, 92 birds, 20 mammals, 354 beetles, 207 moths and 125 sawflies.
Species found at the estate include black grouse, pine martens and water voles and juniper stands, while research is on-going to establish whether the Scottish wildcat is present.
Trees for Life’s executive director Alan Watson Featherstone said: “The surprisingly rich variety of life at Dundreggan highlights the vital importance of conservation work, and of protecting and enhancing habitats across the Highlands.
“The discoveries are not only demonstrating that the estate is a special site for biological diversity – they are also revealing that there is still much to learn about Scotland’s biodiversity.”
Some 67 species which are considered to be a priority for conservation work have been identified on Dundreggan, which the charity said had been described as a “lost world” of wildlife.
Dundreggan was bought by Trees for Life in 2008, and with the help of volunteers, the charity is planting half a million trees on the estate as part of efforts to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of 1,000 square miles in the Highlands