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weird biological news / Unforeseen Consequences

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by leashedForLife, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Humans have singularly failed to grasp that our ability to predict the effect/s of our collective actions today, has long-since withered to near-nil.

    Who'd have predicted that a driving pattern based on 17th & 18th century oxen hauling wagons, would affect the jet stream's habitual latitude across North America?...
    [driving on the right, which created vortices of a particular angle & velocity, moved the jet stream during more than a century of post-internal-combustion-engine & the rise of the household automobile. Who knew?]
     

    Who'd have thought that the Industrial Revolution, with its labor-saving engines & the spread of technology & the rise [& subsequent crash to near-extinction] of the middle-class, would lead to the highest concentration of CO2 & other hothouse gases in all of human history - or even pre-history?
    [400 ppm / 4-million years]
    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/antarctica-co2-400-ppm-million-years-20451

    I'm going to post some of these surprise events - some are old news, some are breaking oddities or recent bad shocks to the scientific community.
     - terry
     
  2. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    a marine invasion has arrived off Oregon & California -
    https://www.livescience.com/59660-pyrosomes-invading-oregon-coast.html

    Normally tropical, pyrosomes AKA 'sea pickles' are colony animals that resemble hollow cucumbers, from a few inches to 2.5-ft long.  Nobody knows why they are breeding in such masses in the chilly N Pacific, but millions upon millions are clogging the waters & fishing gear, from Calif up past Oregon, Washington, & into Alaska - anywhere from 40 to 200 miles from shore, & migrating vertically 100s of 1,000s of feet,  from daytime deeps to surface waters at night.

    They are filter feeders - & God only knows what effect they're having on the food web, but in these numbers, it must be a massive impact.
     
  3. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Spread of a parasite that can infect human -brains- in Florida is worrying -
    https://www.livescience.com/59651-rat-lungworm-florida.html

    'rat lungworm' affects rodents' lungs, but the skinny fettuccini-like worms are also carried by SNAILS & SLUGS, who can contaminate produce - & then ppl get infected when eating undercooked molluscs, or the contaminated produce [salad greens, lettuce, ground berries such as strawberries, any veg - broc, caul, etc].

    The problem is where the parasite goes in humans - we're not their usual host, & they don't go to human lungs, but to our BRAINS - a delicate critical area for physical & mental health, both.  

    QUOTE, bold added for emphasis - edited for brevity

    "...the parasite, originally tropical, will likely continue to expand its range in the U-S. Its ability to thrive in areas outside its historical range is "alarming", & as average temperatures rise with climate change, the parasite will likely spread into more-temperate areas.
    ... Angiostrongylus cantonensis can infect the brain & cause meningitis, per the CDC. Symptoms may include headaches, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, & abnormal sensations in the arms & legs. Most patients recover without treatment, but in some, neurological problems or death ensue.

    Although human cases of rat lungworm have yet to be reported in Florida, researchers called for increased awareness ... to help prevent infection, & properly identify infected patients.  Human cases have occurred in Hawaii for over 50 years; the parasite arrived on the continental U-S in the mid-1980s, found in New Orleans rats (who likely came by ship, from areas already parasitized). Rat lungworm then spread across Louisiana & into Texas.

    Previous small studies found the parasite in Florida, but this study tested over 1,500 samples ... from 18 counties, throughout the state.  Samples from 5 counties - Alachua, Leon, St. Johns, Orange, & Hillsborough - tested positive, but for certain species, they had a limited number of samples.  With more samples, "In reality, it's probably in more counties... & also probably more prevalent in the southeastern U-S than we think," Walden said.

    The parasite didn't seem picky about which snails it infects, said co-author Slapcinsky, collections manager of invertebrate zoology at the Fla. Museum of Natural History. It was found in both native & alien species.
    To prevent infection with rat lungworm, they recommend: wash produce, teach children not to eat raw snails, & wash hands after handling any snails. The CDC advises against eating raw or undercooked snails & slugs."
     
  4. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Green sea turtles, the 'main ingredient' in turtle soup, have been in serious trouble worldwide for decades.  Hunting, poaching, taking of eggs, bycatch in fishing nets, boat strikes, ingesting fish-hooks / fishing line / plastic bags & other trash, & more, have decimated their numbers - but a mysterious illness is among the worst fates.
    We're growing turtle skin in labs to try & solve the mystery, & save the species.

    https://www.livescience.com/59656-sea-turtle-skin-grown-in-lab.html

     

    QUOTE, edited for brevity -

    "...huge, warty tumors are the main symptom of fibropapillomatosis [FPT], found in green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) worldwide. Tumors grow all over their bodies - around the eyes & mouth, on internal organs... many infected turtles die of malnutrition or immune system complications.
    For at least 20 years, we've known chelonid herpesvirus 5 [ChHV5] is associated with FPT, but the herpesvirus would not breed in lab conditions, so study was impossible, nor was it proven as a cause of FPT.
    The new lab-grown skin could change all that. Through trial & error, skin cells from sea turtles with FPT who'd been euthanized were grown in the lab. The challenge was to reproduce the 3-D structure of turtle skin with two cell types: fibroblasts & keratinocytes. Techniques used to grow various mammal tissues were radically modified. Once they could sustain the skin in the lab, they could grow the virus within the 3-D skin structure.
    ChHV5 replicates differently in 3-D skin tissue vs other herpes viruses on single cell-layers in a Petri dish, with bizarre sun-shaped replication centers, surrounded by viruses encased in protein shells.
    Ultimately, they want to develop a blood test for the virus so that asymptomatic turtles can be tested. Such tests can reveal the virus's presence, to trace its occurrence, determine what variables are conducive to the disease, & then modify the environment to decrease infection."
     
  5. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    ...bought any Hatha Jodi lately?

    https://www.livescience.com/59572-dried-lizard-penises-illegal-trade.html

    QUOTE, edited for brevity -
    "Poachers are selling dried lizard penises to customers who think they're buying a rare Indian root, which looks like two praying hands, & is believed to be good luck.

    Hatha Jodi is used in religious ritual, & sold as a good-luck charm or to ward off spirits. It is native only to remote areas of Nepal & central India. World Animal Protection, a London-based non-profit, discovered hundreds of desiccated monitor lizard penises in the scam.  Monitor lizards are protected by the Indian Wildlife Protection Act; the Bengal monitor lizard & yellow monitor lizard are also listed by CITES.  
    Illegal trade is a major concern for the continued survival of the species involved.  Even a brief search reveals hundreds of items for sale, some priced over £200 GBP [$250 USD] each. Unchecked, this demand could push some wild populations over the edge.

    Along with genuine penises in place of plant roots, plastic models of the genitalia were peddled as "Hatha Jodi" on many retail websites - Amazon, eBay, Ali.baba & Etsy, among others. WPA is contacting the sites' Admins to ask for the ads' removal."
     
  6. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    this isn't an unforeseen consequence of human activity or behavior - but it over-qualifies as "weird".

    https://www.livescience.com/59493-fungus-turns-beetle-into-zombie.html

    a pathogenic fungus that attacks goldenrod soldier-beetles zombiefies them - they march up the stem, clamp to a flower by their mandibles, & die.  Between 14 & 22-hours later, they open their wings to help spread the spores of the fungus, which is now visibly sprouting from their abdomens, & the open-wings signal attracts other beetles to approach closer to the corpse.

    The flower-heads will be full of other beetles, feeding & mating - the fungus can kill 20% or more of a popn. // This isn't the only pathogen that affects behavior - however, so far as i know, it's the only one that moves its victims' limbs or body parts after death.
     
     
  7. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Another zombie-disease:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526127/

    Toxoplasma gondii  AKA T-gondii or just 'Toxo', is a parasite whose designated host species is the domestic cat; Toxo takes over rodent-brains & makes them behave in suicidal ways, moving out into the open instead of running under & behind things & staying on the extreme perimeter of open spaces.  Toxo-infected rodents find cat-pee SEXY - while uninfected normal rodents find it terrifying, & flee from the area, Toxo-vicitms hang around it.
    Because we've taken cats everywhere we went, Toxo is probly the most-widely distributed parasite in the world - it's found
     in water [fresh & brackish & salt], garden soil, farm fields & pastures, forest soils, wild grasslands, empty lots in cityscapes, children's sandboxes, etc - anywhere that cat-feces might have been, or where runoff from cat-feces might go. Cats live on 6 of the 7 continents, & virtually every island of the globe.

    It was believed that Toxo affected -only- rodents' behavior, but it turns out that humans are affected, too: the parasite doesn't stay in our guts, as it does with cats, it enters our BRAINS, & like rodents, we become risk-takers.

    For a long time, we thot the only danger was to a fetus in utero - serious damage can be done, revealed when the baby is born. So there was a lot of noise about "preg women shouldn't clean the litter box", which suited many mums-to-be just fine, & did no harm, but the MOST-COMMON way to get infected by Toxo is thru undercooked meat - especially hamburgers, with their large surface-area & fine crevices.
    But the FDA didn
    't put warning labels on burger-patty packs; everyone thot adults were at no risk.  Everyone was wrong.

    The prevailing wisdom was, if U'd been exposed to Toxo but had no overt symptoms, nothing was happening - U were fine. // The Toxo parasite holes up in the brain, & stays there - once exposed, U can't get rid of it.  HOWEVER - this asymptomatic infection doesn't produce physical symptoms, but behavioral symptoms.

    Turns out that humans infected by Toxo are "run by" the parasite as much as mice are - T-gondii makes us risk-takers, suicidal decisions are much-more likely.
    85% of ppl involved in head-on collisions & other fatal auto-accidents, motorcycle accidents, & driving-while-drunk accidents are Toxo-positive, either found during autopsy if they're dead, or via bloodtests if they're alive.
    Bungee-jumping, base-jumping, hang-gliding, & other extreme sports also have way-more than a representative fraction of Toxo-infected participants. Toxo-status is also strongly associated with schizophrenia - few sufferers of schizo are Toxo-negative, the majority are positive.

    What fraction of a popn is Toxo-positive varies by region, around the world - the U-S is relatively low, at 11%, while other countries have much-higher seropositive rates.

    Toxo is strongly correlated with many diseases, other than schizophrenia -
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963851/

    Feral / free-roaming cats have become a global pest, with enormous impacts on wildlife, whether they are owned or not, fed or not, socialized or born feral.
    Toxo is killing sea-otters off Calif & Oregon & Washington, & beluga whales, sea lions, & other marine mammals are also dying.  We spent centuries carrying cats & the Toxo in their guts around the globe - & only in the past decade, have we even begun to understand the whirlwind we sowed, & are about to reap - IMO.
    The consequences of our past ignorance are already serious, &, i think, will become more apparent as this saga unfolds. :(
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2017
  8. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    The Cat Parasite That Causes Toxoplasmosis Is Turning Up in Beluga ...









    www.smithsonianmag.com/.../cat-parasite-causes-toxoplasmosis-turning-beluga-whale...
    Feb 14, 2014 - 
    Native Inuits who eat Beluga whales risk infection if the meat is not thoroughly disinfected by cooking. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii is famous for effect on rodents. Cats are natural hosts to the parasite, and their feces can carry millions of the parasite's eggs.

    personal NOTE to above:
    Fuel is a scarce & expensive resource in the Arctic, with no trees nor brush to burn - most meat / fat / skin / organs are eaten raw, often sliced very-thin while frozen. Cooking is costly & wastes fuel.
    Sea otters off Calif, Oregon, & Washington state were necropsied in 2002, & they, too, were killed by Toxo - it was the first inkling of what we now know is a global uncontrolled experiment, the introduction of cats worldwide & the consequent global introduction of Toxo.
     - terry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2017
  9. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    about 10-years ago, something so odd was found that it needed a new word - kleptogenesis, literally 'stealing genes'.

    A line of all-female salamanders in the Ambystoma  genus developed around 10-million years ago, & they can mate with males from at least 4 different species, but lay eggs which develop only into daughters, essentially DNA-clones of Mom... BUT - they incorporate select bits of the males' DNA, not from one male but from several or all the males they mated with, & these snippets are inserted into their progeny's DNA, & function there.
    It's the only known case of this strange form of kaleidoscopic hybridization via genes co-opted from other species - no other species has been found to do this [yet].


    https://www.livescience.com/59639-salamanders-steal-genes.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2017
  10. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    filed under Unforeseen consequences -

    https://www.livescience.com/59705-oozing-methane-blasts-craters-in-siberian-tundra.html

    Methane leaking from melting former-permafrost in Siberia is blasting craters in the tundra - locals report "...fiery explosions".

    QUOTE,

    "Reindeer herders northwest of the village of Seyakha, in Siberia's far north, reported seeing an eruption of fire & smoke on the morning of June 28 -  an event caught on seismic sensors at 11-a.m. local time, per The Siberian Times. Scientists visiting the site photographed a fresh crater blown into the banks of a river.  
    Researchers also discovered a second, previously unknown crater in the Tyumen region of Siberia this month, the newspaper reported. Local herders told Aleksandr Sokolov, a researcher at the Russian Institute of Ecology of Plants & Animals, that they'd observed fire in the area of that crater in late winter or early spring."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2017
  11. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    more on methane-excavated craters from the Siberian Times

    http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/big-bang-and-pillar-of-fire-as-latest-of-two-new-craters-forms-this-week-in-arctic/

    Video, photos of the charred surroundings, interviews, etc - 
    http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/warnings-of-new-arctic-explosions-at-some-700-plus-sites-in-yamal-due-to-thawing-permafrost/

    The new crater in the river bank ALSO blew out the CHANNEL - a pool over 50-metres deep was gouged from the river's bottom.
    Icebergs, collapsed banks, & deep ravines are seen in the photos. // These were extremely violent events - locals are fearful that property damage, especially to expensive infrastructure [roads, bridges, _____ ]  & homes, will come next, & of course, there is danger to residents' safety & their very lives.

    A similar explosion along a river could just as easily block the channel rather than deepen it, & cause sudden disastrous flooding - with great loss of life to humans, their livestock, & local wildlife, & cause economic ruin to a small community.
    There are many small towns & villages, all over Siberia. Mining, trapping, & other extraction industries are the primary livelihoods - farming is not possible on a large scale, only home gardens can be raised, due to the high water table, infertile acid soils, etc.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2017
  12. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    flooding caused native rats in Myanmar to inundate local villages -

    QUOTE,
    "Hordes of opportunistic rats ... first appeared on June 3 on Haigyi Island in the village of Zee Chaing,  then emerged on June 5 in Kan Chai & Kyauk Chaung villages, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported.
    Volunteer exterminators from the infested villages labored from dawn to dusk, dispatching the rodents for a bounty of 50 Myanmar kyat (about 4 cents) per animal, using "sticks, slingshots, & rocks," according to Agence France Presse (AFP). Officials also sprayed pesticides in the area.


    By evening, the rats had retreated to trees "like flocks of birds", a villager told DVB, & in the end, a total of 1,667 rats 'were destroyed & systematically buried underground', [in one village], the Myanmar Ministry of Information said... "

    Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 4.39.01 PM.png
     
  13. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    You've been busy!
     
  14. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    nah, i cheat - 
    LiveScience & other science websites send me alerts about news-items, & i explore the ones that intrigue me. ;)  
      - t
     
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2017
  15. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    These look like they have been cut and pasted from other online resources.  Can you not do that on DF please?

    We are all for discussion, but we'd like it to be personal discussion, not just dredged from elsewhere.  A whole page of posts is really hard for others to discuss and answer and it actually puts them off, rather than stimulating discussion so you end up just talking to yourself.  If you make a point in one short post then you're far more likely to be talking with other people and can bring in further points as part of discussion later on.
     
    JoanneF likes this.
  16. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    I don't understand - these are links to sources of science data. :confused:  They are meant to allow anyone interested to explore further.

    I'm not a scientist - i can't do experiments & collect data, nor can i autopsy a beluga to find T. gondii Anyone who reads what i wrote as mere opinion could simply dismiss it as just that, personal opinion - I can't back it up as being factual without corroboration, & attributing a source.


    @eingana or any other Admin:

    please clarify, are links to sources banned on DF? --- if so, how could i even post a link to the maker of my favorite collar, etc?
    I don't understand why posting reputable sources is bad - i thought vetting information from accurate sources is preferred.  :huh:   Help!

    very confused,
     - terry
     
  17. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    OK - no links, just news:

    One of the largest icebergs ever recorded in history calved from the Larsen C ice-shelf in Antarctica, sometime in the last 48-hours.
    LiveScience has a photo. //  It's 2,240 sq-mi / 5,800 sq-km in area, & holds 2 Lake Eries' worth of freshwater as ice...
     or if U'd prefer weight, the berg weighs a trillion times 2,000 pounds... 1 trillion tons, or 1,000,000,000,000 tons.
    CORRECTION:
    metric tons, so 1T x 2,200 pounds. // My apologies, the metric stipulation was entered separately.

    No doubt the new E.P.A. head will have a rationalization
     an explanation soon to allay any suggestion that this could be heretofore-nonexistent "climate-change".
    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2017
  18. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    the 6th Great Extinction is now - & it's human-propelled.

    It's also, per a new study  published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 'more severe than perceived',  is a 'biological annihilation', & is in fact, a 'frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization'.
    The rate of loss - two species per year - takes no account that even surviving species are falling fast, in popn AND over shrinking geographic ranges - those areas where they can be expected to be found.

    Using range as a proxy for popn, the study looked at data on 27,600 terrestrial vertebrates, plus more-intensive analysis of 177 mammal species of concern, from 1900 to 2015.  They sampled almost HALF of all vertebrate species on Earth; of the 27K,600, 
     * 32% [8K,851 species] lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges.
     * over 40% of the 177 mammals suffered "severe range decline" - their home ranges shrank by 80% or more.

    The sharp decline in animal numbers 'is already damaging the services provided by ecosystems to civilization', per the authors.
     
  19. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    Links to sources are not banned.  However, this is a discussion forum, and that means that for a thread to thrive you really need other people to join in or risk looking like Terry no friends by talking to yourself.  There's a skill to starting threads which draw other people in for discussion, and one of the things to learn is that if people open a thread that is a great long list of text or links they simply won't read all the way down it and nobody will comment, leaving the thread totally empty apart from the OP.

    Emphasis on the 'discussion' part of discussion forum please.  There's no point in just telling people loads of unconnected things and it's much more fun to discuss one piece of good news that you have posted in your own words (maybe with a link, but not a cut and paste piece of text) than to end up with a thread that nobody apart from yourself looks at.

    This is a very small forum compared to the big one that I manage, which has somewhere around half a million discussion threads.  Threads such as this would just be removed as being a cut and paste exercise instead of a discussion thread over there. 

    More discussion and asking questions, less just telling people lots of things please :)
     
  20. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    @eingana -
    this is an off-topic thread about news releases; the likelihood that anyone  (other than myself)  is deeply engrossed in news of climate change, species loss, the new quantitative estimate of "extra deaths" we can expect from future heat increases, etc [another 1,300 persons per year in Boston, MA by 2025], & so on, ...  is vanishingly unlikely.

    This is a dog forum, & i know that.  Some members might read a post or 2 here, now & then, but the topic - IMO - will never be "popular".
    :)    Of course, i could be wrong.  :b    Maybe i should start a poll - 

    Please rate how interested U are, in the latest news on climate change, biology / botany, loss of species diversity, the spread of parasites / diseases, & related issues, using a scale from 0 [zero, no interest whatever] to 5 [deeply interested, I seek out such info independently at least once or twice a week], with 1 being occasional interest, 2 mild interest, etc.

    thanks in advance for any assistance,
     - terry
     

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