суббота, 10 ноября 2018 г.

Bad Contacts This unpleasant character is the single-celled…


Bad Contacts


This unpleasant character is the single-celled micro-organism Acanthamoeba, seen here emerging from its protective casing, known as a cyst. Acanthamoeba usually lives in the soil or water, but it can occasionally set up home in the eyes, causing a rare condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis and leading to sight problems or even blindness. Worryingly, the number of cases seems to be rising, particularly in wearers of contact lenses. Researchers are concerned that poor hygiene, contaminated tap water or dodgy contact lens solutions may lead to Acanthamoeba infection. They recommend always washing and drying hands properly before handling contact lenses, being careful not to let tap water splash into lens cases, and to avoid swimming, showering and face washing while wearing lenses. Daily disposable lenses appear to pose less risk than reusable contacts, but there’s still an increased chance of infection so it’s best to be careful, whichever lenses you wear.


Written by Kat Arney



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Light Painting at Nine Stones Close Prehistoric Site, Derbyshire, 10.11.18.



Light Painting at Nine Stones Close Prehistoric Site, Derbyshire, 10.11.18.


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2018 November 10 The Old Moon in the Young Moon’s Arms …


2018 November 10


The Old Moon in the Young Moon’s Arms
Image Credit & Copyright: Stan Honda


Explanation: Tonight the Moon is young again, but this stunning image of a young Moon near the western horizon was taken just after sunset on October 10. On the lunar disk Earthshine, earthlight reflected from the Moon’s night side, is embraced by the slim, sunlit crescent just over 2 days old. Along the horizon fading colors of twilight silhouette the radio telescope dish antennas of the Very Large Array, New Mexico, planet Earth. The view from the Moon would be stunning, too. When the Moon appears in Earth’s sky as a slender crescent, a dazzlingly bright, nearly full Earth would be seen from the lunar surface. A description of earthshine, in terms of sunlight reflected by Earth’s oceans in turn illuminating the Moon’s dark surface, was written 500 years ago by Leonardo da Vinci.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181110.html


Elephant Rock, Iceland | #Geology #GeologyPage #Iceland This…


Elephant Rock, Iceland | #Geology #GeologyPage #Iceland


This basalt sea-cliff on the island of Heimaey in Southern Iceland looks just like a giant elephant or wooly mammoth dipping its trunk into the sea.


Read More & More Photos: http://www.geologypage.com/2018/11/elephant-rock-iceland.html

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp_pB-xFi0p/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=2hwlwzutxgqa


Ellison’s Cave, United States | #Geology #GeologyPage…


Ellison’s Cave, United States | #Geology #GeologyPage #Cave


Ellison’s Cave is a pit cave located in Walker County, on Pigeon Mountain in the Appalachian Plateaus of Northwest Georgia. It is the 12th deepest cave in the United States and features the deepest, unobstructed underground pitch in the continental US named Fantastic Pit. The cave is over 12 miles long and extends 1063 feet vertically.


Read more & More Photos: http://www.geologypage.com/2016/05/ellisons-cave.html


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp_qjA5F0HO/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=x7t12knb4z52


Vivianite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Morococala…


Vivianite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Morococala Mine, Santa Fe Mining District, Dalence Province, Oruro Department, Bolivia


Size: 8.5 x 6.5 x 4 cm


Photo Copyright © Anton Watzl Minerals


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp_r5CmFPZA/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=qrnsj5f78eid


Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks

Thailand is hoping to recover 60 looted Thai artefacts from overseas, the Culture Ministry announced this week.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks
Thailand is calling for the return from the US of a prominent 11th-century stone lintel
from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew province. [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

“The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of dozens of artefacts that originated in Thailand from leading US museums and a UK museum,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said at a press conference at the National Library in Bangkok.
“After a one-year investigation aimed at bringing hundreds of looted Thai art pieces from the US, we are expecting to get back more that 60 heritage artworks in the near future,” he said.


Vira said the Prayut Cha-o-cha government had called for the return of 705 looted artefacts from museums in the US and Australia.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks
Thailand calls for returns of 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions
as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California,
as well as the Asian Art Museum [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

Fine Art Department director Ananda Chuchoti said the pieces are expected to be coming home include two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in |Buri Ram and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew.
They are currently in the permanent collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Also anticipated are 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, as well as the Asian Art Museum.


“These masterpieces include an 8th-century bronze statue of the preaching Buddha called Avalokitesvara, taken from Prasat Hin Khao Bat II in Buri Ram,” archaeologist Tanongsak Hanwong, a member of the ad hoc ministry committee, told The Nation. “It is currently with the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York.”











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks
Thailand calls for retruns of two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram, right,
and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew. They are currently in the permanent collection
of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

Four other stone architectural artefacts taken from Buri Ram’s Prasart Panomrung and Nakhon Ratchasima’s Prasat Hin Pimai are also expected to return.
“More importantly,” said Tanongsak, “the government also determined that a 13-century Buddha statue now at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies is Thai art and is in the process of calling for its return.”


Ananda said the government was able to provide photographic and other verification of several artefacts’ origin to the US Department of Homeland Security as requested.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks
Thailand is calling for return of from UK’s SOAS of  the 13th-century Lopburi Buddha torso
[Credit: Angela Chiu]

American collector Lisette Christiansen and Thai physician Santi Viboonmongkol, who both keep collections in the US, intend to return 38 prehistoric artefacts, including Baan Chiang pottery, to the government.


Source: The Nation [November 07, 2018]



TANN



Archive


Prehistoric Rock Art, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria, 4.11.18.


Prehistoric Rock Art, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria, 4.11.18.


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Roman Religious Sacrificial Kit, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria,...




Roman Religious Sacrificial Kit, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria, 4.11.18.


Needing to sacrifice the odd animal to honour the Gods whilst you are on the move? Then this kit may be just the thing. A decorated container for the blood, a sharp knife for the deadly deed and a small flask for washing those hands or anointing with oil. Ideal for appeasing the all powerful whilst travelling light.


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HiPOD (9 November 2018): Pitted Material and Mounds in Chryse…



HiPOD (9 November 2018): Pitted Material and Mounds in Chryse Planitia


   – This rough-looking material has many meter-length pits. What exactly is this stuff? Chryse Planitia shows evidence of water erosion in the past, and is the bottom end for many outflow channels from the southern highlands as well as from Valles Marineris and the flanks of the Tharsis bulge. (316 km above the surface. Black and white is less than 5 km across; enhanced color is less than 1 km.)


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Oxia Planum favoured for ExoMars surface mission


ESA & ROSCOSMOS – ExoMars Mission patch.


9 November 2018


The ExoMars Landing Site Selection Working Group has recommended Oxia Planum as the landing site for the ESA-Roscosmos rover and surface science platform that will launch to the Red Planet in 2020.



Oxia Planum texture map

The proposal will be reviewed internally by ESA and Roscosmos with an official confirmation expected mid-2019.


At the heart of the ExoMars programme is the quest to determine if life has ever existed on Mars, a planet that has clearly hosted water in the past, but has a dry surface exposed to harsh radiation today.



ExoMars rover 360

While the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched in 2016, began its science mission earlier this year to search for tiny amounts of gases in the atmosphere that might be linked to biological or geological activity, the rover will drive to different locations and drill down to two metres below the surface in search of clues for past life preserved underground. It will relay its data to Earth through the Trace Gas Orbiter.


Both landing site candidates – Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis – preserve a rich record of geological history from the planet’s wetter past, approximately four billion years ago. They lie just north of the equator, with several hundred kilometres between them, in an area of the planet with many channels cutting through from the southern highlands to the northern lowlands. Since life as we know it on Earth requires liquid water, locations like these include many prime targets to search for clues that may help reveal the presence of past life on Mars.


“With ExoMars we are on a quest to find biosignatures. While both sites offer valuable scientific opportunities to explore ancient water-rich environments that could have been colonised by micro-organisms, Oxia Planum received the majority of votes,” says ESA’s ExoMars 2020 project scientist Jorge Vago. 


“An impressive amount of work has gone into characterising the proposed sites, demonstrating that they meet the scientific requirements for the goals of the ExoMars mission. Mawrth Vallis is a scientifically unique site, but Oxia Planum offers an additional safety margin for entry, descent and landing, and for traversing the terrain to reach the scientifically interesting sites that have been identified from orbit.”


The Landing Site Selection Working Group also emphasised that the discoveries generated during the landing site selection process are essential to guide the science operations of the ExoMars rover.



ExoMars landing sites in context

The recommendation was made today following a two-day meeting held at the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK, which saw experts from the Mars science community, industry, and ExoMars project present and discuss the scientific merits of the sites alongside the engineering and technical constraints.


The quest to find the perfect landing site began almost five years ago, in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidate locations. Eight proposals were considered in the following April, with four put forward for detailed analysis in late 2014. In October 2015, Oxia Planum was identified as one of the most compatible sites with the mission requirements – at that time with a 2018 launch date in mind – with a second option to be selected from Aram Dorsum and Mawrth Vallis. In March 2017, the down-selection identified Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis as the two candidates for the 2020 mission, with both undergoing a detailed evaluation over the last 18 months.



ExoMars landing site candidates – elevation

On the technical side, the landing site must be at a suitably low elevation level, so that there is sufficient atmosphere and time to help slow the landing module’s parachute descent. Then, the 120 x 19 km landing ellipses should not contain features that could endanger the landing, the deployment of the surface platform ramps for the rover to exit, and the subsequent driving of the rover. This means scrutinising the region for steep slopes, loose material and large rocks.


On the science side, the analysis had to identify sites where the rover could use its drill to retrieve samples from below the surface, and to define possible traverses it could make up to 5 km from its touchdown point in order to reach the maximum number of interesting locations.



A slice of Oxia Planum

Oxia Planum lies at the boundary where many channels emptied into the vast lowland plains. Observations from orbit show that the region exhibits layers of clay-rich minerals that were formed in wet conditions some four billion years ago, likely in a large body of standing water. The channels that transported material into the lower-elevation ‘sink’, where the landing ellipse is situated, cover an area of 212 000 square kilometres. Layers of material that have been recently exposed through erosion are accessible from any of the touchdown points, giving a window into the early history of this area.


The minerals in Oxia Planum are representative of those found in a wide area around the region and so would provide insight into the conditions experienced at a global scale, putting constraints on the climate and habitability potential of Mars in this period.


Diverse aqueous episodes were followed by late volcanic activity, covering over the clay-rich deposits. Some lava material has resisted erosion until today, so the underlying materials may only have been exposed recently, initially protecting them from space radiation and later making them accessible to the rover and its analytical tools.


The landing ellipse has low elevation and contains very few topographic obstacles or challenging slopes.



How big is the ExoMars 2020 mission?

The ESA-led rover and Roscosmos-led surface science platform will launch in the 25 July–13 August 2020 launch window on a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and cruise to Mars in a carrier module containing a single descent module, arriving at Mars 19 March 2021.


The descent module will separate from the carrier shortly before reaching the martian atmosphere, and will use two large parachutes, along with thrusters and a damping system, to slow its descent to land on the Red Planet. While the rover will drive to different locations to analyse the surface and subsurface, the stationary platform will provide context imaging at the landing site, and long-term climate monitoring and atmospheric investigations.



Rover laboratory inside test chamber

The test campaign for preparing the rover for Mars is in full swing. The rover structural and thermal model test campaign has been successfully completed, and a six-week qualification test on the Analytical Laboratory Drawer – the onboard laboratory where the rover’s drill samples will be processed and analysed – is also nearing completion. The test included verifying the functionality of the sample processing mechanisms using Mars analogue samples under simulated Mars environment conditions – a low pressure, carbon dioxide atmosphere and a range of temperatures.


Tests to characterise the rover’s ability to tackle different types of terrain are also ongoing with the locomotion verification model. The delivery of flight hardware has also started, including the rover’s computer, battery and deployable mast, along with the majority of science instruments.


“Our ExoMars mission combines extreme performance with the novel design features of the rover, and we are looking forward to operating the first European mission on the surface of Mars,” says Francois Spoto, ExoMars Programme team leader.


“Landing on Mars has a long chain of risks, but thanks to the combined skills and expertise of European and Russian industries working with reliable technologies, we are focused on a safe landing.”


Notes for editors:


More information about the Landing Site Selection Working Group is available here: http://exploration.esa.int/mars/53454-exomars-2018-landing-site-selection-working-group/


Related links:


Robotic exploration of Mars: http://exploration.esa.int/


ExoMars: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/ExoMars


Roscosmos: http://en.federalspace.ru/


ExoMars at IKI: http://exomars.cosmos.ru/


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/IRSPS/TAS; NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/USGS/TAS-I/ESA/Jorge Vago/Francois Spoto/Markus Bauer.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 5, 2018


ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.


November 9, 2018


The Expedition 57 crew members aboard the International Space Station said farewell to a Japanese resupply ship Wednesday, and are getting ready to welcome U.S. and Russian space freighters in less than two weeks. In addition to preparation for the arrival of cargo vehicles, the crew spent time maintaining space-grown plants, continuing research on DNA and RNA sequencing in microgravity and studying the formation of plasma crystals in a weightless environment.



Image above: The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) over the coast of Chile. Image Credit: NASA.


Learn about some of the science launching aboard the Northrop Grumman Commercial Resupply-10 mission here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ng-10_research_highlights


Here’s a look at some of the science conducted this week aboard the orbiting lab:


Direct RNA sequencing initialized


Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) seeks to advance use of sequencing in space in three ways: identifying microbes aboard the space station that current methods cannot detect, assessing microbial mutations in the genome because of spaceflight and performing direct RNA sequencing.


This week, part three of the experiment was completed to demonstrate direct RNA sequencing with the MinION miniature DNA sequencer.


Learn more about the BEST investigation here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/BEST_DNA_RNA


Investigation monitors plant growth progression


Future long-duration missions into the solar system will require a fresh food supply to supplement crew diets, which means growing crops in space.


The Veg-03 investigation expands on previous validation tests of the new Veggie hardware, which crew members used to grow cabbage, lettuce and other fresh vegetables in space. The latest crop marks the first time that Red Russian Kale and Dragoon Lettuce are being grown on station.



Image above: Plant pillows containing Red Russian Kale and Dragoon Lettuce are currently growing within the Veggie plant growth facility. Image Credit: NASA.


This week, the crew placed markings on the watering syringes in preparation for future plant watering and checked Veg-03 plants for growth progression, watering them as necessary.


Investigation studies plasma formation in space


Plasmas are found throughout the universe, from the interstellar medium to the heat shields of spacecraft re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding how plasma crystals form in microgravity could shed light on plasma phenomena in space. The Plasma Kristall-4 investigation (PK-4) is a scientific collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), performing research in the field of “Complex Plasmas”: low temperature gaseous mixtures composed of ionized gas, neutral gas, and micron-sized particles.


This week, as a part of PK-4, the crew:


– Performed video setup and checkout, connected gas supply hoses (Argon and Neon) and verified valve functionality.


– Initiated the second of four experiment runs with the start of Particle Trapping via the European Physiology Module (EPM) laptop commanding using Neon Gas. This will allow clouds of particles to be captured inside the PK-4 chamber: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=328


– Performed particle trapping activities using the Argon Gas line. Experiment was initiated via the EPM laptop.


– Exchanged the hard drive containing data from experiment run two and inserted a new hard drive for the third run. The crew then reconfigured the gas chamber from Neon to Argon gas usage.


Other work was done on these investigations:


– Meteor is a visible spectroscopy instrument used to observe meteors in Earth orbit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1174


– JAXA LT PCG contributes to the development of new drugs by revealing disease-related protein structure, and to the production of new catalysts for the environmental and energy industries: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2031


– The Advanced Plant Habitat Facility (Plant Habitat) is a fully-automated facility used to conduct plant bioscience research and provides a large, enclosed, environmentally-controlled chamber aboard the space station: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=2036


– BCAT-CS studies dynamic forces between sediment particles that cluster together: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7668


– Food Acceptability examines changes in how food appeals to crew members during their time aboard the station. Acceptability of food – whether crew members like and actually eat something – may directly affect crew caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562



Space to Ground: Surviving the Plunge: 11/09/2018

Related links:


Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html


Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7687


Veg-03: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1159


Veggie: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=374


Plasma Kristall-4 investigation (PK-4): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1192


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 57/58.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Dry conditions may have helped a new type of plant gain a foothold on Earth

In the dramatically changing conditions of ancient Earth, organisms had to evolve new strategies to keep up. From the mid-Oligocene, roughly 30 million years ago, to the mid-to-late Miocene, about 5 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere fell by a roughly a third. This same period saw the emergence of a new form of photosynthesis in a subset of plants, the C4 pathway. Present in a subset of plants, the C4 pathway supplemented the earlier C3 photosynthetic pathway, meaning those species now reaped energy from the sun using two different strategies.











Dry conditions may have helped a new type of plant gain a foothold on Earth
Biochemical and paleoclimate modeling revealed that plants with a new photosynthetic pathway known as C4, present
 in several important crop species today, emerged when atmospheric carbon dioxide was still quite high, roughly
30 million years ago. Water limitations, rather than Co2, drove its initial spread, a Penn-led team found
[Credit: Penn State University]

Researchers have long believed that falling carbon dioxide levels drove the origin of plants with this innovation, but a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, based on biochemical modeling by a group led by University of Pennsylvania biologists and paleoclimate modeling by a group at Purdue University, indicates that water availability may have been the critical factor behind the emergence of C4 plants.


“The initial origin of C4, which happened when atmospheric carbon dioxide was still very high, seems driven by water limitation,” says Haoran Zhou, a graduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Biology Department and first author on the paper. “Then later, about 5 to 8 million years ago, there’s a large expansion of C4 grasslands. That’s because carbon dioxide was getting lower and lower. Carbon dioxide and light intensity were actually the limiting factors favoring C4 at that time.”


“What we show,” says Erol Akçay, an assistant professor of biology at Penn, “is that the increased water efficiency of the C4 pathway is enough to give it an initial ecological advantage in relatively arid environments. That’s the benefit of doing this type of physiological modeling. If you were only looking at temperature and carbon dioxide, you might miss this role of water and light.”


The researchers’ work also suggest that C4 plants may have had a competitive advantage over C3 plants even when carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were still relatively high, in the late Oligocene.


“The inference is that C4 could have evolved quite a bit earlier than we previously thought,” says Penn’s Brent Helliker, an associate professor of biology who, along with Akçay, serves as Zhou’s advisor. “This supports some molecular clock estimates for when C4 evolved as well.”


In plants with a C3 photosynthesis pathway, the first stable compound produced in photosynthesis contains three carbon atoms; in C4 plants, the first compound has four carbon atoms. The C3 pathway evolved first, functioning efficiently when the atmosphere was rich with carbon dioxide. However, C4 plants evolved independently from C3 plants dozens of times, able to photosynthesize efficiently in spite of lower carbon levels thanks to an extra step in the process that serves to pump carbon from the air into an internal layer of cells where the rest of the cycle runs. By running this “closed” system, where the photosynthetic machinery doesn’t interact directly with the outside air, C4 photosynthesis enables plants to make more food with less water loss than the C3 pathway.


Today, roughly a quarter of the planet’s vegetative cover is composed of C4 plants. Several important crop species, including maize and sugar cane, possess the C4 pathway. Findings from the fossil record and isotope studies have helped scientists estimate when this pathway evolved, though these estimates have been later than those suggested by molecular clock data from phylogenetic analyses of various plant species, leading to some confusion about when the pathway emerged and when it came to dominate in certain ecosystems.


To look closer at the factors that may have favored the spread of the C4 photosynthetic pathway, Zhou, Akçay, and Helliker created a multi-layered model. They considered variables that affect photosynthesis along with those that influence the hydraulic system, in which plants “decide” to either devote more energy into growing roots to take up water, or into building more leaf matter that can help take in light and carbon dioxide but also exposes them to greater water loss. In addition, plants can determine the optimal balance of carbon gain and water loss. Coupling these two systems, the scientists’ model included four factors that could either favor the C3 or the C4 lineages: carbon dioxide concentration, light, temperature, and water availability.


According to their model, C4 evolution appeared to play out in two phases. When carbon dioxide was still high, C4 emerged in areas of the globe that had become warmer and drier. But it didn’t reap its competitive advantage over C3 plants until several million years later, when carbon dioxide was very low and the expansion of grasslands provided open habitats with ample light. In these regions, C4 grasslands expanded and replaced C3 grasslands.


To see how this model interacted with paleoclimate in the early days of C4 plants, the Penn team collaborated with Purdue University’s Matthew Huber, a paleoclimate modeler funded by the National Science Foundation to model Miocene climate, and graduate student Ashley Dicks. Using climate model output and paleoclimate data including carbon dioxide levels, temperature, and rainfall, the researchers predicted the likely geographic distributions for C3 versus C4 plants through the period from the late Oligocene to the early Miocene, roughly 30 to 5 million years ago. They found two regions that had not previously been identified where C4 plants would have been likely to dominate after first evolving, thanks to their water efficiency: northwestern Africa and Australia.


“These are two previously unrecognized pockets of the world where C4 plants could have had an ecological advantage and really taken over,” Akçay says.


“It was a really exciting opportunity,” says Huber, “when the Penn group reached out to us because this is a really novel application of paleoclimate model output. It helps make the connection between what climate models tells us about past and future climates and verifiable patterns from the geological record.”


Though the study did not investigate what might happen in the future as atmospheric carbon levels rise once again, it can help boost an understanding of why plants are distributed the way they are today and how they might respond to future conditions.


“The climate conditions that were present when C4 evolved are possibly still important today,” says Helliker. “If a lineage of C4 plants evolved primarily because of water limitations when carbon dioxide was high, then those plants may be found in dry environments today, whereas if it was more carbon dioxide that led to their evolution and dominance then those plants might be found in wetter spots today.”


In addition, some scientists believe engineering other agriculturally significant species, such as rice, to have C4 photosynthesis, may help boost food production, so the model could help forecast where such plants could optimally grow.


Source: University of Pennsylvania [November 07, 2018]



TANN



Archive


Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks from overseas

Thailand is hoping to recover 60 looted Thai artifacts from overseas, the Culture Ministry announced this week.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks from overseas
Thailand is calling for the return from the US of a prominent 11th-century stone lintel
from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew province. [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

“The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of dozens of artefacts that originated in Thailand from leading US museums and a UK museum,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said at a press conference at the National Library in Bangkok.
“After a one-year investigation aimed at bringing hundreds of looted Thai art pieces from the US, we are expecting to get back more that 60 heritage artworks in the near future,” he said.


Vira said the Prayut Cha-o-cha government had called for the return of 705 looted artefacts from museums in the US and Australia.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks from overseas
Thailand calls for returns of 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions
as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California,
as well as the Asian Art Museum [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

Fine Art Department director Ananda Chuchoti said the pieces are expected to be coming home include two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in |Buri Ram and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew.
They are currently in the permanent collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Also anticipated are 18 Buddha statues and sculptures in the collections of such top institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Art Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, as well as the Asian Art Museum.


“These masterpieces include an 8th-century bronze statue of the preaching Buddha called Avalokitesvara, taken from Prasat Hin Khao Bat II in Buri Ram,” archaeologist Tanongsak Hanwong, a member of the ad hoc ministry committee, told The Nation. “It is currently with the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York.”











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks from overseas
Thailand calls for retruns of two 11th-century stone lintels, one from Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram, right,
and the other from Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew. They are currently in the permanent collection
of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco [Credit: Thai. Culture Ministry]

Four other stone architectural artefacts taken from Buri Ram’s Prasart Panomrung and Nakhon Ratchasima’s Prasat Hin Pimai are also expected to return.
“More importantly,” said Tanongsak, “the government also determined that a 13-century Buddha statue now at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies is Thai art and is in the process of calling for its return.”


Ananda said the government was able to provide photographic and other verification of several artefacts’ origin to the US Department of Homeland Security as requested.











Thailand calls for return of over 60 looted ancient artworks from overseas
Thailand is calling for return of from UK’s SOAS of  the 13th-century Lopburi Buddha torso
[Credit: Angela Chiu]

American collector Lisette Christiansen and Thai physician Santi Viboonmongkol, who both keep collections in the US, intend to return 38 prehistoric artefacts, including Baan Chiang pottery, to the government.


Source: The Nation [November 07, 2018]



TANN



Archive


Marine Protected Areas overlook a large fraction of biodiversity hotspots

Current marine protected areas (MPAs) leave almost three-quarters of ecologically and functionally important species unprotected, concludes a new performance assessment of the Finnish MPA network.











Marine Protected Areas overlook a large fraction of biodiversity hotspots
Credit: Thinkstock

Published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the study finds the MPAs were designated with little knowledge of local marine biodiversity — and that increasing existing networks by just 1% in ecologically most relevant areas could double conservation of the most important species. In addition to identifying areas of high conservation value, the methodology — which uses a unique new dataset of 140,000 samples — can also be used in ecosystem-based marine spatial planning and impact avoidance, including siting of wind energy infrastructure, aquaculture and other human activities.


Marine ecosystems are facing an unprecedented loss of biodiversity from habitat destruction, changing marine environments and increasing extraction of marine resources.


“This means now, more than ever, protected areas are crucial for sustaining marine ecosystems”, says Elina Virtanen, lead author of the study from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Finland.


Marine Protected Areas — which can encompass estuaries, seas and oceans — safeguard these natural resources from human activities. In Europe, EU member states use the EU Habitats Directive to designate protected areas based on a list of habitats and species deemed important for conservation.


In Finland, which has one of the most complex marine environments worldwide, around 10% of seas are currently protected. But the assessment of Finnish MPA efficiency reveals this has still left important parts of the ecosystem completely unprotected — with an average of only 27% of marine biodiversity currently protected.


So how has this happened?


“Establishment of these protected sites has relied on certain important habitats, such as lagoons, shallow bays and reefs, or the presence of seals or important bird areas, rather than knowledge of underwater species present or the ecological value of those areas,” explains Virtanen.


While the current Marine Protected Areas serve to protect many important habitats, they give too little consideration to underwater nature, especially functionally important species. But because extensive protective coverage has already been implemented in Finnish seas, clear evidence is required for any changes to be made to existing MPAs.


“It was therefore important to indicate the areas that are the most important hotspots for marine biodiversity,” says Virtanen.


The researchers had access to almost 140,000 recently collected samples of data on species and habitat distribution, as well as data on human pressures and the marine environment. These data were input into ecological distribution models to get a comprehensive view of the current marine environment.


These distribution models were then applied to a spatial prioritization technique called Zonation, which grades areas based on their ecological importance. This can be used to identify areas of high conservation value.


“We found that increasing the protected area from just 10% to 11% in the most biodiverse areas would double conservation of the most ecologically important species,” says Virtanen. “This means increased protection of rare and threatened species, functionally important species and fish reproduction areas.”


However, the researchers emphasize that increasing protected areas is not the only means for safeguarding the integrity of the marine ecosystem. Human activities threatening biodiversity can also be reallocated to areas of low biodiversity and conservation value using ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.


“We felt it is also important to highlight where sea usage can be allowed, such as the extraction of seabed materials, aquaculture, or wind energy,” says Virtanen.


This means a big win for marine protection, as well as a cost-effective MPA designation method that can keep policy-makers happy.


Provided sufficient data exist, the approach can be used globally to show that small but targeted changes can have massive effects on the efficiency of protected areas — and a major boost for sustainable use of the sea.


“There is a need to reassess current MPA boundaries to ensure they focus conservation efforts to the most valuable areas, and an increased emphasis on ecological efficiency is essential when designating or expanding MPAs,” says Virtanen. “This way we can ensure that Marine Protected Areas achieve global conservation objectives meaningfully and efficiently.”


Source: Frontiers [November 08, 2018]



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Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change

A team of more than 100 scientists has assessed the impact of global warming on thousands of tree species across the Amazon to discover the winners and losers from 30 years of climate change. Their analysis found the effects of climate change are altering the rainforest’s composition of tree species but not quickly enough to keep up with the changing environment.











Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change
Dying forest in Central Amazon, Brazil, 2016 [Credit: Adriane Esquivel Muelbert/University of Leeds]

The team, led by University of Leeds in collaboration with more than 30 institutions around the world, used long-term records from more than a hundred plots as part of the Amazon Forest Inventory Network (RAINFOR) to track the lives of individual trees across the Amazon region. Their results, published in Global Change Biology, found that since the 1980s, the effects of global environmental change – stronger droughts, increased temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – has slowly impacted specific tree species’ growth and mortality.
In particular, the study found the most moisture-loving tree species are dying more frequently than other species and those suited to drier climates were unable to replace them.


Lead author Dr Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, from the School of Geography at Leeds, said: “The ecosystem’s response is lagging behind the rate of climate change. The data showed us that the droughts that hit the Amazon basin in the last decades had serious consequences for the make-up of the forest, with higher mortality in tree species most vulnerable to droughts and not enough compensatory growth in species better equipped to survive drier conditions.”











Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change
Measuring Amazon tree growth in forest plot, Peru (2009)
[Credit: Roel Brienen/University of Leeds]

The team also found that bigger trees – predominantly canopy species in the upper levels of the forests – are outcompeting smaller plants. The team’s observations confirms the belief that canopy species would be climate change “winners” as they benefit from increased carbon dioxide, which can allow them to grow more quickly. This further suggests that higher carbon dioxide concentrations also have a direct impact on rainforest composition and forest dynamics – the way forests grow, die and change.
In addition, the study shows that pioneer trees – trees that quickly spring up and grow in gaps left behind when trees die – are benefiting from the acceleration of forest dynamics.


Study co-author Oliver Phillips, Professor of Tropical Ecology at Leeds and founder of the RAINFOR network said: “The increase in some pioneer trees, such as the extremely fast growing Cecropia, is consistent with the observed changes in forest dynamics, which may also ultimately be driven by increased carbon dioxide levels.”











Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change
Measuring big trees in Central Amazon, Brazil, 2016 [Credit: Adriane Esquivel Muelbert/University of Leeds]

Co-author Dr Kyle Dexter, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “The impact of climate change on forest communities has important consequences for rain forest biodiversity. The species most vulnerable to droughts are doubly at risk, as they are typically the ones restricted to fewer locations in the heart of the Amazon, which make them more likely to be extinct if this process continues.


“Our findings highlight the need for strict measures to protect existing intact rainforests. Deforestation for agriculture and livestock is known to intensify the droughts in this region, which is exacerbating the effects already being caused by global climate change.”


Source: University of Leeds [November 08, 2018]



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One million years of precipitation history of the monsoon reconstructed

Months of heavy rainfall followed by half a year of drought – the South Asian Monsoon with its seasonally changing rainfall and wind directions has always strongly influenced the lives of people around the Indian Ocean. It is of crucial importance for agriculture and thus the food supply of several billion people. At the same time, floods and landslides in densely populated areas can be catastrophic.











One million years of precipitation history of the monsoon reconstructed
The graph shows precipitation (minus evaporation) over the Indian Ocean from June to August. The points mark
the places of origin of previously used climate archives. The two points in the Andaman Sea mark the
new sediment cores that have been used for the first time [Credit: Daniel Gebregiorgis]

But how exactly does this important climate system work? And how will it change in response to future global warming? “Even the best coupled ocean-atmosphere models still have problems to simulate the precipitation of the South Asian Monsoon,” says lead author Dr. Daniel Gebregiorgis from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, who is now working at Georgia State University in Atlanta (Georgia, USA). Together with colleagues from Kiel and the USA, he investigated new climate archives of the history of the South Asian Monsoon, which point to connections and monsoon drivers in the southern hemisphere that have previously received little attention. The study has been published today in the international journal Nature Communications.
In its simplest form, the monsoon is driven by pressure and temperature differences between the Asian continent and the southern subtropical Indian Ocean. “The variability of the monsoon over recent geological time periods is thought to be driven by changes in solar insolation in the northern hemisphere caused by the regularly changing inclination of the Earth’s axis,” explains Dr. Gebregiorgis.


So far, the longer reconstruction of the monsoon history is based mainly on two climate archives: sediment cores from the Arabian Sea and stalagmites from caves in China. “The former, however, only provide information on wind conditions and not precipitation over the Indian subcontinent, while the latter has long been thought to reflect precipitation from the East Asian Monsoon. And both respond distinctly different to changes in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation on orbital timescale,” explains Ed Hathorne of GEOMAR, co-author of the study.


He and his colleagues have now for the first time evaluated sediment cores from the eastern Indian Ocean that had been obtained as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program. The chemical analysis of the shells of tiny plankton that settle and are preserved on the seafloor allows the reconstruction of temperature and the amount of fresh water at the sea surface during the organisms’ lifetimes. “Using this we have been able to reconstruct precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean for the past one million years,” says Dr. Hathorne.


The new record generally shows that the precipitation of the South Asian Monsoon was weaker during the peak ice ages and strongest during the interglacial warm periods like today. “However, we were only able to associate 30 percent of the variability of monsoon precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean with fluctuations in the Earth’s axis inclination. This means that it only plays a subordinate role in the fluctuations of the monsoon,” emphasizes Dr Gebregiorgis. Instead, the results of the scientists pointed to important connections with warming phases in the southern hemisphere and moisture transport across the equator to the north. “This process has hardly been considered so far,” says Dr. Gebregiorgis.


“The evaluation of the new climate archives shows that we have still not fully understood the monsoon. As long as this is not the case, it is difficult to estimate the reactions of this important climate system to a globally warming atmosphere,” summarizes working group leader Prof. Dr. Martin Frank from GEOMAR.


Source: Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel GEOMAR [November 08, 2018]



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Tiny footprints, big discovery: Reptile tracks oldest ever found in Grand Canyon

A geology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has discovered that a set of 28 footprints left behind by a reptile-like creature 310 million years ago, are the oldest ever to be found in Grand Canyon National Park.











Tiny footprints, big discovery: Reptile tracks oldest ever found in Grand Canyon
UNLV geologist Stephen Rowland discovered that a set of 28 footprints left behind by a reptile-like creature 310 million
years ago are the oldest ever to be found in Grand Canyon National Park [Credit: Stephen Rowland]

The fossil trackway covers a fallen boulder that now rests along the Bright Angel Trail in the national park. Rowland presented his findings at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.


“It’s the oldest trackway ever discovered in the Grand Canyon in an interval of rocks that nobody thought would have trackways in it, and they’re among the earliest reptile tracks on earth,” said Rowland.


Rowland said he’s not prepared to say that they’re the oldest tracks of their kind ever discovered, but it’s a possibility, as he’s still researching the discovery.


“In terms of reptile tracks, this is really old,” he said, adding that the tracks were created as the supercontinent Pangaea was beginning to form.


Rowland was first alerted to the tracks in spring 2016 by a colleague who was hiking the trail with a group of students. The boulder ended up along the trail after the collapse of a cliff.











Tiny footprints, big discovery: Reptile tracks oldest ever found in Grand Canyon
An illustration by Stephen Rowland shows how the reptile-like creature might have made
the sideways tracks in the ancient sand dune [Credit: Stephen Rowland]

A year later, Rowland studied the footprints up close.


“My first impression was that it looked very bizarre because of the sideways motion,” Rowland said. “It appeared that two animals were walking side-by-side. But you wouldn’t expect two lizard-like animals to be walking side-by-side. It didn’t make any sense.”


When he arrived home, he made detailed drawings, and began hypothesizing about the “peculiar, line-dancing gait” left behind by the creature.


“One reason I’ve proposed is that the animal was walking in a very strong wind, and the wind was blowing it sideways,” he said.


Another possibility is that the slope was too steep, and the animal sidestepped as it climbed the sand dune. Or, Rowland said, the animal was fighting with another creature, or engaged in a mating ritual.


“I don’t know if we’ll be able to rigorously choose between those possibilities,” he said.


He plans to publish his findings along with geologist Mario Caputo of San Diego State University in January. Rowland also hopes that the boulder is soon placed in the geology museum at the Grand Canyon National Park for both scientific and interpretive purposes.


Meanwhile, Rowland said that the footprints could belong to a reptile species that has never yet been discovered.


“It absolutely could be that whoever was the trackmaker, his or her bones have never been recorded,” Rowland said.


Author: Natalie Bruzda | Source: University of Nevada, Las Vegas [November 08, 2018]



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Most complete study on Europe’s greatest Hadrosaur site published

The Basturs Poble site is what is known in English as a bone bed, a geological stratum containing a great amount of fossils. The stratum dates back some 70 million years. It is the only one to have been found in Europe exclusively containing hadrosaur remains. The excavations conducted during the past ten years have yielded approximately one thousand fossils. The remains are disjointed and possibly belong to only one species: the Pararhabdodon isonensis.











Most complete study on Europe's greatest Hadrosaur site published
The journal PLOS ONE recently published the most complete study of fossils recovered from the site of Basturs
Poble and reveals the presence of many young individuals. Palaeontologists from the ICP, the UAB and
the Museum of Conca Dellà participated in the study [Credit: UAB]

“We think the individuals died due to unfavourable environmental conditions, perhaps an extreme dry spell. After their death, the remains got washed away by water and then began to fossilise, but we know that the place where they died was not far away from the site”, explains Víctor Fondevilla, researcher at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and first author of the paper.
The research recently published in PLOS ONE analysed the 270 fossil remains at the site which were prepared to be studied, including skulls, jaws, teeth, vertebrae and limb bones. Researchers however did not have enough with describing and measuring each specimen, they also analysed the interior of the fossils to extract information on the age of each individual. “We can cut open the fossils and analyse their inner structure. It gives us a lot of information on the vital cycle of each of the animals”, says ICREA research lecturer at ICP Meike Köhler. Similar to the rings of trees, in sections of elongated bones we find lines of arrested growth (LAGs) which are indicators corresponding to the alternation between favourable and unfavourable periods. In this way we can calculate at what age they died.


Using this system, palaeontologists detected that at the site were a large number of young individuals and, to a lesser extent, sub-adults and adults. But no recently hatched dinosaur fossils were found. “We estimated that the youngest individuals died at two years of age and that the adults were 14 to 15”, Fondevilla explains. The fact that researchers found so many young samples makes them think that the accumulation of bones at Basturs Poble represents a natural population of herbivores, where young individuals are more abundant. “It may also be that the abundance of young remains is due to these individuals being more vulnerable to crises and therefore dying in larger quantities than adults would”, the main researcher of the study comments.


Also participating in the study were researchers from the Museum of Conca Dellà and the Friulian Museum of Natural History in Udine, Italy.


Hadrosaurs, A Well-Known Group in Catalonia


Hadrosaurs, also known as “duck-billed” dinosaurs, are a group of ornithischian herbivorous dinosaurs which lived in the Late Cretaceous period. This is probably the most well-known group of dinosaurs. Among the subfamilies there are the lambeosaurines, which can be found in Catalonia’s sites. They characteristically had a robust medium to large-sized body (weighing one kilogramme when hatching and reaching up to 3000 kilogrammes as adults), with smaller front limbs and larger hind limbs. This last trait made it possible for them to walk on two or four feet indifferently.











Most complete study on Europe's greatest Hadrosaur site published
Pararhabdodon isonensis [Credit: Oscar Sanisidro/ICP]

The skull is long and duck-billed shaped, and the jaw holds rows of stacked teeth. Their most distinctive characteristic was their cranial crest, formed by several more or less developed cranial bones. What the crest was used for remains unclear, but scientists believe it could have acted as a resonating chamber with which to amplify sounds and facilitate recognising members of the same species. Other hypotheses point to the possibility of only males having crests which aimed to attract the females.
The Pararhabdodon isonensis species is only known to have existed in the Pallars Jussà region. The species was described in 1985 after the discovery of remains found at Sant Romà d’Abella and its specific name – isonensis – refers to the town of Isona located near the site. These dinosaurs measured from 6 to 7 metres in length and it is estimated that the adults weighed some three tonnes.


The Pyrenees, Home to the Last Dinosaurs in Europe


Catalonia is very rich in fossiliferous sediment. Of the most relevant are the pre-Pyrennean basins, which conserve remains of different life forms from the Late Cretaceous Period (between 70 and 66 million years ago). In geological terms, that is very shortly before the great extinction which marked the end of many life forms, including non-avian dinosaurs. Located at the Pyrennean sites, therefore, are the last dinosaurs to have lived in Europe, a few hundreds of years before they disappeared from the world entirely.


The Basturs Poble site was located by scientific communicator Marc Boada in August 2001. Upon discovering fossils on the surface, he contacted palaeontologists from the Museum of Conca Dellà. Few months later a palaeontology dig was conducted which confirmed the exceptional nature of this site. After a first research dig, twelve more campaigns have been conducted as part of research projects led by Àngel Galobart, Head of the Mesozoic Fauna Research Group at ICP, and Rodrigo Gaete from the Museum of Conca Dellà.


The fossils found at Basturs Poble are conserved at the Museum of Conca Dellà. The museum’s dinosaur exhibition hall contains a sample of the most outstanding bones found at the site and a life-size recreation of a Pararhabdodon isonensis dinosaur.


Source: Autonomous University of Barcelona [November 08, 2018]



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Jovian Close Encounter


NASA – JUNO Mission logo.


Nov. 8, 2018



A multitude of magnificent, swirling clouds in Jupiter’s dynamic North North Temperate Belt is captured in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Appearing in the scene are several bright-white “pop-up” clouds as well as an anticyclonic storm, known as a white oval.


This color-enhanced image was taken at 1:58 p.m. PDT on Oct. 29, 2018 (4:58 p.m. EDT) as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 4,400 miles (7,000 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops, at a latitude of approximately 40 degrees north.


Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager.


JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and to process into image products at: http://missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam.  


More information about Juno is at: http://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu.


Image, Text,  Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran.


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