A Contentious Mud Eruption

On May 26, 2006, an unusual volcano sputtered to life in Sidoarjo, Indonesia. Instead of spewing ash or lava, the volcano, known as Lusi, spits globs of mud high into the air. 11 years have gone by, 60,000 people have been displaced, and 13 people have been killed. The eruption shows no signs of stopping;…

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Placing comb jellies, such as these, as the relative to all animals changes our view of how complex features evolved. Image Credit: Tracie Hall, Flickr

Debate over Earliest Animal Relative Raises Questions of How Complexity Evolved

A new study published this October in Nature Ecology and Evolution closed a chapter on a decade-long debate in biology and raises questions about how we view the evolution of complex animal traits. Since 2008, biologists have argued whether sponges or comb jellies, marine jelly-like animals also called ctenophores (pronounced: TEEN-oh-fores), are the earliest relative…

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The varieties of wine grown in California may be completely different in the next 50 years thanks to rising temperatures.

Rising Temperatures Mean Napa Wines Could be a Thing of the Past

On a crisp Saturday in October I’m standing behind the bar at Byington Vineyard & Winery while pouring wine for a lively bachelorette party. I ask the ladies how they managed to find the bright pink Hummer limousine that dropped them off right at our door. One of the women, embarrassed, grins and explains it was their only option for a chauffeur with such short notice.   She goes on to say they originally…

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Scientists measure and tag a grouper before returning it to the water. Credit: Teresa L. Carey

Bringing Back the Nassau Grouper

When I first saw the acoustic tag, I couldn’t imagine inserting it under fish’s skin. It was the size and shape of the SPF 45 ChapStick that was melting in my pocket. The tag would soon be surgically implanted into a Nassau grouper, a medium-sized fish, but Dr. Rick Nemeth, and his team at University…

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The science of barefoot running: A personal journey

I first heard about Born to Run, the Chris McDougall book that sparked the barefoot running craze, during my freshman year of college in 2012. At the time, before I got bogged down with trivialities like torn anterior cruciate ligaments (turns out those really matter), I was a running fiend. I ran every day. On…

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Baby king crab hangs  onto its nanny sea pig. Credit: ©2011 MBARI

Why are Juvenile Crabs Hitching Rides on Sea Pigs?

On the muddy grounds of the deep ocean, sea cucumbers are playing nanny to young king crabs. But are they being compensated?’ These sea cucumbers, commonly known as sea pigs, are bottom-dwelling creatures that look like grapefruit jelly with legs and could fit in the palm of a hand. Juvenile King crabs are around half…

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Tree mortality at Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest. Source: U.S. Forest Service, Region 5

Historical narratives drive debate over California’s forests

  The latest news release by the U.S. Forest Service reads ominously: the Sierra Nevada has over 100 million dead trees. Swathes of standing dry trees infested with insects populate the Stanislaus, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Climate change, a five-year drought and bark beetle attacks have together resulted in what the Forest Service has called…

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