While bioluminescence — the ability to glow in the dark — is a fairly common occurrence in fish and squid that live in the ocean's darkest depths, its presence in sharks is not as well-documented or understood. Now, the discovery of the largest-known luminous vertebrate — the six-foot-long kitefin shark — and two other glowing shark species has enabled researchers to gain valuable insights into the luminescent abilities of the deep-sea creatures.
Though it is not unusual to find marine animals thriving under the Antarctica seafloor, researchers had always assumed that all life would become less abundant farther away from open water and sunlight. However, the discovery of filter-feeding organisms — 160 miles (260 km) away from the open ocean, with temperatures of −2.2°C and under complete darkness — suggests that life in the world's harshest environment may be more adaptable and diverse than previously thought.
On July 31, 1697, a French lawyer named Jacques Sennacques wrote an urgent message to remind a cousin in the Netherlands to send him a relative's death certificate. To prevent others from reading the confidential memo, the note was carefully folded, or "letter locked." The ancient technique, which transformed the letter into its own secure package, was prevalent before the invention of envelopes.
Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, has been erupting regularly since 2011. However, the latest series of explosions, which began on February 16, 2021, has been particularly noteworthy. Emanating from the youngest of the volcano's four craters — the Southeast Crater— they have spewed spectacular fountains of lava as high as 0.9 miles (1.5 kilometers). To put it in perspective, that is about three times the height of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States.
A team of Swedish scientists has successfully extracted and reconstructed the world's oldest DNA from the tooth of a Siberian mammoth, which roamed Earth over a million years ago. Also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, the all-important molecule — which contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living things. — provides new insights into the evolution of the ancient Ice Age giants. Prior to this, the oldest DNA sequenced came from the bone of a horse that trotted around Canada about 700,000 years ago.
The over 48,000 orange trees that permeate all corners of Seville, Spain, not only fill the city's air with the pleasant smell of azhar, or orange blossoms, in spring; they also yield over 16,500 tons of fruit every winter. Though that gives the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region the bragging rights of being Europe's top orange-producing city, the fruit is too tart to be consumed fresh. While some of the produce is used to make marmalade and orange liqueur, most of it ends up in Seville's landfills. However, that may change soon thanks to an ingenious idea to use the oranges to produce clean energy.
In 2011, conservationists moved eight Rothschild's giraffes to Longicharo Island, a rocky peninsula on Lake Baringo in Western Kenya. The scientists hoped the isolated area would save the endangered animals from poachers and allow their numbers to multiply. However, intense rainfall in August 2020 caused the lake water levels to rise substantially, cutting the area off from the mainland and reducing the once lush, 100-acre habitat to about eight acres.
On March 21, 2021, Earth will have its closest encounter with 2001 FO32 — the largest and fastest-known asteroid scheduled to fly past our planet this year. The space rock, estimated to be between 2,526 feet ( 0.47 miles) and 5,577 feet (1.05 miles) in diameter, will zip past Earth at a staggering speed of 76,980 miles per hour (123,887 km/h). To put it in perspective, that is about 100 times faster than the speed of sound!