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In the harsh and inhospitable environment of Antarctic, there exists a bizarre waterfalls from which blood-colored water flows. Known (not surprisingly) as Blood Falls, the strange phenomenon was first discovered back in 1911 by Australian explorer Griffith Taylor who came upon the remarkable waterfalls seeping from the face of a glacier now called Taylor Glacier in his honor. But even more bizarre than the waterfalls itself, is what causes it to flow red.
A subglacial lake buried 400 meters beneath the glacier lacks heat, oxygen, and light. But an unusual group of microbes living within its waters have somehow adapted a way to survive in the harsh and super-salty environment by "breathing" iron or sulfur and converting those elements into energy. The high iron content, which the glacier accumulated by scraping up the bedrock, interacts with the air (oxidation) staining the ice around the outflow in a deep rust color.
The microbes have been trapped in the lake beneath Taylor Glacier for about 3 million years, and analyses found them to be similar in their robustness to microorganisms living in equally hostile environments in the depths of Earth's oceans. Jill Mikucki, a geomicrobiologist from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville discovered 17 types of microorganisms in water samples she collected from the lake.
The microbes seem alien in their behavior and could provide new insight into how organisms might be able to survive in the harshest of environments. They also enhance the possibility of finding similar life on Mars or other inhospitable bodies populating our Solar System.
Invasive species in Minnesota lakes is an ongoing problem. But this story – an alligator shot by Minnesota game officials in a Scandia-area lake – may just take the cake. Oh, and they think there might be one or two more gators still in the lake.
A dogfish shark and a sand tiger shark in Delaware Bay present a pretty good example of the old saying.
Courtesy Karen NybergIt's summer. You're toiling away at work while friends are out traveling, posting images of their fun and exotic discoveries on social media. But they can't beat Minnesota-native astronaut Karen Nyberg. From her perch aboard the International Space Station, she's created an extensive gallery of images from space including this image of Minnesota that includes her hometown of Battle Lake. There are come very artistic displays of global weather activities in these photos.
Bill Nye gives us a quick, and fun, lesson on how we can avoid problem asteroids of the future.
Courtesy Engbretson, Eric / U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceI confess, muskies freak me out. They're scary looking. And now I read that a guy caught a 46-inch albino muskie. No way am I going in that lake!!! You can read about, and see photos of, this rare catch here.
Courtesy Public domain via WikipediaKapil Bhagat, a graphic artist living in Mumbai, India, created a series of clever, minimal graphics honoring historic scientists and their discoveries for India's National Science Day. I especially like the one for Einstein. National Science Day is celebrated in the India each year on February 28. Go here to check out some of his very cool artwork on Tumblr.
Courtesy Mark RyanAccording to the World Wildlife Federation there are now literally more tigers in captivity in the United States than exist in the wild. That's about 5000 captive tigers versus 3200 wild ones. You might think, well sure, that's not surprising, there are a lot of zoos in America. But tigers held in zoos aren't even included in the estimate. The WWF is referring to tigers as exotic pets, held in American backyards, urban apartments, sideshows, truck stops and private breeding farms.
The "Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998" is new legislation introduced on May 15, 2013. The bill would prohibit private possession and breeding of not only tigers but also lions, cheetahs, cougars, leopards and other large, dangerous cats that could threaten public safety. The bill would not affect public zoos or wildlife sanctuaries, and would allow current private owners to keep their cats provided they register them with the US Department of Agriculture.