Amazing Cicada Life Cycle, presented (and bewitched) by the amazing Sir David Attenborough in this clip from the BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth.
“Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground 8” down is a steady 64°F,” reports Radiolab in this excellent Cicada Tracker DIY project page. And why 17 years underground? From Scientific American:
The curious phenomenon of the cicada’s periodical life cycle is the subject of much debate among scientists, who are limited to no small extent by the infrequency of the insect’s visits to the surface. Most agree, however, that climate shifts — notably the rapid warming following the end of the last ice age — have played a role.
There are seven species of periodical cicadas in North America, four bound to a 13-year cycle, three in a 17-year cycle. All are characterized by black and orange bodies, and males woo their mates with species-specific choruses that can be deafening in large numbers.
The genetic similarity of these seven species suggests a common ancestor in the last 8,000 years. And because emergence seems closely linked to soil temperature and moisture, it is likely that climate has played a role in both regulating their life cycles and cueing their appearance.
Cicadas don’t sting or bite. After a few weeks making noise up in the trees (measured at 94 decibles), eggs will be laid and will hatch. After feeding on sap, these hatchlings will drop down to burrow and live underground, next seen in the year 2030.
In this Science on the SPOT: Preserving the Forest of the Sea, watch Kathy Ann Miller, PhD, curator of the University Herbarium at the University of California - Berkeley, as she shares the wide variety of seaweeds in the collection.
We love when someone gives a personalized video tour of their work, especially when it mixes nature, science and beautiful, art-like specimens all together. Kathy and her team are digitizing samples of 80,000 kinds of seaweed collected from the North American west coast, so that they can be shared online with researchers from around the globe. You can read more about the project here.
PS. Need a DNA primer? Watch this vid.
When you drill 364 meters (1194 feet) down into Antarctic ice, taking out a cylindrical section called an ice core, you can find out about the Earth’s temperature and carbon dioxide levels from over 20,000 years ago. Information is held within the oxygen atoms in the ice and the air bubbles that formed within it.
Measuring ice cores is an effective form of time travel for scientists like the British Antarctic Survey team, who are studying how the Earth’s climate is changing. And Antarctica is full of untapped information:
Antarctica is thought to have been covered by ice for over 30 million years. So far, scientists have drilled ice cores stretching back 800,000 years, and they are now working to extend their records back to 1.4 million years ago.
In this video, Ice Core Scientist Nerilie Abram explains the process. You can also read more about the team’s work here.
Walruses are have a unique way of speaking… or really, singing! And this Pacific Walrus named E.T. is excellent at demonstrating this wide range of vocalizations. Thirty year old E.T. was found alone as a pup by Alaskan Oil Workers in 1982. He now weighs over 3,400 lbs and lives at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
After you watch the video above, head over to NOVA where there’s another great demonstration of walrus-speak:
Leah Combs, a trainer, and Colleen Reichmuth, a marine biologist, introduce us to three very charismatic walruses who are teaching scientists much about walrus vocalizations and communications. In this audio slide show, meet Siku, Uquq, and Sivuqaq and hear the remarkable range of sounds they produce both above and below water.
An important note from the NOVA video: “They really are the last living species in a much larger biogenetic group of animals. There are no other animals like walruses and we still know so very, very little about them and about their behavior.”
Partial population estimates by American and Russian researchers in 2006 counted only 130,000 Pacific walruses. Atlantic walrus numbers are likely below 20,000.
via Most Watched Today.