Notes from a rare planet: First new seabird species in 55 years discovered in Chile

First new seabird discovered in 55 years. There is so much we still have to discover about our own planet (Los Angeles Times)

  • “This is the first new species of storm petrel discovered in 89 years, and the first new species of seabird discovered in 55 years –- and if we had won the lottery we could not feel better.”
  • “We believe this is a relic population that was completely missed by Darwin himself, who sailed along that very coast a century ago.”

Plants hoarding water as CO2 rises, study finds (this could have serious effects on rainfall) (MSNBC)

  • “The team predicts that further increases in carbon dioxide will halve the amount of water lost to the atmosphere. That reduction in water could have serious effects on rainfall and other weather events.”
  • “The researchers found that the density of stomata packed on plants leaves has decreased by 34 percent over the past 150 years. The team concludes that while plants can alter the number of stomata on their leaves from season to season, the effects of such long term, sustained changes in stomata numbers are driving changes in the water cycle.”

Love the sea? Scientists find a gene associated with people who love the sea (Genotopia)

  • “Researchers at Mystic University in Connecticut have identified a gene associated with seafaringness, according to an article to be published tomorrow in the journal Genetic Determinism Today. Patterns of inheritance of the long-sought gene offers hope for “sailing widows,” and could help explain why the sailing life has tended to run in families and why certain towns and geographical regions tend historically to have disproportionate numbers of sea-going citizens.”

Are you smarter than an elephant? Maybe not. In this test, the elephants outwit the humans (Discovery News)

  • “An experiment reveals that elephants not only cooperate, but that they understand the logic behind teamwork.”
  • “Some elephants even figured out shortcuts that researchers hadn’t thought of to obtain food rewards.”
  • “Elephant intelligence and ability to cooperate at least equal these same skills in chimpanzees and dolphins, scientists believe.”

“If left unchecked, more than 90% of reefs will be threatened by 2030 and nearly all reefs will be at risk by 2050″ (

  • “The World Resources Institute (WRI) and several international environmental groups recently released a study, Reefs at Risk Revisited, showing that 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by local pressures such as unsustainable fishing, coastal pollution and development.”
  • “Ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures also contribute to coral bleaching and death, the study said.”