Greek philosopher theophrastus d****d it with faint praise in terming it “pseudo-emerald.” but anyone who has seen photographs of the stunning malachite room in the winter palace in saint petersburg, designed in 1839 as a place where nicholas i’s wife, empress alexandra fyodorovna could receive state guests, knows that there’s nothing pseudo- about this striking and immediately recognizable copper carbonate mineral.
even on a small scale, the intricate rings of various tints of rich green make malachite among the most stunning and sui generis of earth’s lapidary offerings. it’s name, bestowed by pliny the elder, derives from the greek word for “mallow,” a green herbaceous plant; the present spelling dates to 1661. though its viridian hues invite such comparison, really, malachite is an imitation of nothing. calling it a pseudo-emerald is like calling a lake a pseudo-ocean. the contrast gives short shrift to its unique beauty. learn more at earth.com
Researchers at the university of tokyo are using a simple yet powerful technique to explore the diets, migrations, and conservation needs of endangered whale sharks, which are the world’s largest fish. the study revealed that these giant creatures experience periods of starvation and eat more plants than previously realized.
whale sharks are filter-feeders that prey on microscopic food in tropical waters. they can grow up to 39 feet long and can weigh as much as 46,297 pounds, which is the equivalent of three african elephants. learn more at earth.com
A study led by abel valdivia of the center for biological diversity in california has revealed that more than 75 percent of marine mammal and sea turtle populations have showed significant signs of recovery after being protected by the u.s. endangered species act (esa). the study findings suggest that conservation measures such as fishery regulations have been largely successful in promoting species recovery.
as extinction risks and threats across the ocean increase, the number of marine species protected by the esa is growing. prior to this study, however, there was very little research conducted to follow up on the recovery trends for marine mammals and sea turtles after they were listed. learn more at earth.com
While the idea of using insects as a protein-rich food alternative is growing into a multi-million dollar industry, experts at the swedish university of agricultural sciences are warning that there is “an overwhelming lack of knowledge” regarding the sustainability and safety of the production process.
the study authors are exploring many unknown aspects of insect rearing and the potential environmental impacts, yet they believe that suppliers can overcome these challenges. learn more at earth.com
Bees are not the world’s only disappearing pollinators.
essential pollinators like butterflies, honey bees, bats, and hummingbirds all face an increasing number of threats including habitat loss, climate change, and disease which are impacting biodiversity and populations.
without pollinators, the world’s food supply would suffer and ecosystems would quickly collapse. learn more at earth.com
Across the world, species are being pushed into the yawning void of extinction by humans. we’re mowing down rainforests at alarming rates. according to ecowatch.org, 3,050 square miles of the amazon was cut down between august 2017 and july 2018, the worst year yet for amazon deforestation. climate change is happening now, due to human pollutants. snowpack in the western us is down, icebergs are melting. air pollution is taking years off of people’s lives and causing acid rain. learn more at earth.com
Based on weather radar data as well as observations from citizen scientists, researchers have gained a new understanding of spring bird migration along the gulf of mexico. the experts also have new insights into how these migrations may be impacted by climate change.
study lead author kyle horton is an edward w. rose postdoctoral fellow at the cornell university lab of ornithology. this lab has a worldwide online database for bird observation reports called ebird. learn more at earth.com
Researchers at the university of cambridge and the university of helsinki have identified key networks which control radial growth in plants. the study findings could help experts engineer trees that are more efficient carbon sinks or develop crops that produce higher yields.
the radial, or outward, growth of a plant not only provides physical support, but also produces important resources like wood and cork and determines how much carbon a plant can store. in addition, radial growth is responsible for the development of vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and potatoes. learn more at earth.com
Researchers at the ohio state university are investigating a new disease that is killing beech trees. the experts report that the cause of “beech leaf disease” needs to be identified as soon as possible to stop it from continuing to spread.
the disease has already made its way into 11 ohio counties, eight pennsylvania counties, and five counties in ontario, canada. the first sign of the disease is the appearance of dark-green bands between the veins of the leaves. in later stages, the leaves become crinkly, leathery, and darker all over. ultimately, the tree limbs fail to form new buds and the tree dies. learn more at earth.com
Hummingbirds are always on the hunt for food. their specially designed long bills and tongues have evolved to dip into flowers and lap up nectar.
because hummingbirds are so active, they need a considerable of fuel to help support their energetic lifestyle, and the perfect bill shape provides a great advantage for maximum feeding efficiency. learn more at earth.com
A shark’s skeleton is made up of a material known as cartilage, which is extremely tough but also weighs less and has less density than bone. this allows sharks to swim with more flexibility and to grow to very large sizes.
scientists at florida atlantic university (fau) theorized that the cartilage in sharks would get tougher and stiffer with age, but were surprised to find that cartilage is actually tougher in young sharks. learn more at earth.com
Fireworks have been banned across the galapagos islands in an effort to protect the region’s wildlife. government officials in ecuador announced the ban on friday, just days before annual new year’s eve fireworks celebrations were to take place.
the local council said in a statement that it had passed “unanimously a resolution that prohibits the importation, sale, distribution and use of fireworks or pyrotechnics in the galapagos province.” learn more at earth.com