Animal Kingdom

Why malaria-spreading mosquitoes are so hard to kill – and how scientists found a way to kill them without impacting the environment or other living creatures.

Almost half of the people in the world live in an area where malaria parasites can infect and kill them. Malaria parasites enter the body via a mosquito. The parasites travel to the liver where they it can remain undetected for as long as a year. While in the liver, malaria parasites develop and release toxic substances that infect red blood cells. These toxins are dumped into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. This is when symptoms begin to show. Symptoms of someone infected with malaria include fever, chills, headache, vomiting, sweating, cough, and chest, stomach, and muscle pain. Often these symptoms appear in waves or “attacks” that come and go. Fighting the mosquitoes that transfer malaria to humans has been difficult. Mosquitoes have…
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Animal Kingdom

35,000 walrus unable to find sea ice to rest on – beach themselves instead

Pacific walrus are looking for sea ice in Arctic waters and finding that available ice is now much harder to come by. The walrus seek the sea ice to rest on. When they cannot find sea ice, they take the next best thing – an empty beach. In the photo above, an estimated 35,000 walrus beached themselves on a beach north of Point Lay in Alaska (just north-west of Anchorage) after being unable to find an ice sheet to rest upon. Pacific walrus spend winters in the Bering Sea. Unlike seals, walrus cannot swim indefinitely and must rest. The female walrus also uses the sea ice as a platform to give birth on and as a “home base” as they search for snails, clams, and…
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Animal Kingdom

Slow down people! Scientists say we are consuming ecological goods of one-and-a-half Earths

Scientists say we are now consuming the ecological goods of one-and-a-half Earths and if we don’t slow down, there will be nothing left to sustain us. According to a new report, wildlife populations have been cut in half over the past 40 years. More specifically, 39 percent of wildlife on land, 39 percent of wildlife in the ocean and 76 percent of freshwater wildlife have disappeared over the last 40 years.  Those are scary numbers. The main threats to wildlife are habitat loss, exploitation, and climate change – all of which are attributed to humans. Habitat loss occurs when people cut down forests for the wood or clear land for development. Exploitation refers to the illegal hunting and fishing of animals. In some cases, both threats combined…
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Plants

What to do with all those dirty diapers? Grow mushrooms in them!

They’re smelly, icky, stinky, nasty, and gross – dirty baby diapers. And not only do they account for a significant volume of waste in our landfills, they are nearly indestructible and remain in the landfills for hundreds of years without degrading. Short of throwing out the baby with the waste water (a suggestion one of the lab rats put forth), what do we do with all those nasty diapers? Researchers think they may have an answer – grow mushrooms in them! Diapers are made from polyethylene, polypropylene, an absorbent gel made from sodium polyacrylate, and a plant-based material called cellulose. Luckily, disposable diapers contain a significant portion of cellulose, a substance that mushrooms love to consume. Researchers took the dirty diapers and sterilized them with high-pressure steam.…
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