Biosphere

  • Answering Darwin’s Dilemma
    Scientists have found that the appearance of large animals in the Earth's history may coincide with a huge increase of oxygen in the world's oceans. The research yields further clues about how life has interacted with and evolved alongside the planet's changing environment.
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  • A Sea of Complexity
    The earth experienced its biggest mass extinction about 250 million years ago, an event that wiped out an estimated 95% of marine species and 70% of land species. New research shows that this mass extinction did more than eliminate species: it fundamentally changed the basic
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  • Phytoplankton Cloud Dance
    Atmospheric scientists have reported a new and potentially important mechanism by which ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight away from our planet. "Studies like this one may help reshape the way we think about how the biosphere interacts with
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  • Tracing a Metal Link
    The use of trace metals by modern organisms probably derives from changes in ancient ocean chemistry. Their availability is believed to have been brought about by the biologically-caused rise in atmospheric oxygen some 2.3 billion years ago. The development of photosynthesis affected them also.
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  • The Oxygen Gap
    Vertebrate creatures first began moving from the world's oceans to land about 415 million years ago, then all but disappeared by 360 million years ago. The fossil record contains few examples of animals with backbones for the next 15 million years, and then suddenly vertebrates
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  • It Took More than One Punch to KO the Dinos
    There's growing evidence that the dinosaurs and most their contemporaries were not wiped out by the famed Chicxulub meteor impact, according to a paleontologist who says multiple meteor impacts, massive volcanism in India, and climate changes culminated in the end of the Cretaceous Period.
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  • Early Aerobes
    Scientists at the Carnegie Institution and Penn State University have discovered evidence showing that microbes adapted to living with oxygen 2.72 billion years ago, at least 300 million years before the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere.
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  • Reweaving the Food Web
    The recovery of biodiversity after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was much more chaotic than previously thought, according to paleontologists. New fossil evidence shows that at certain times and places, plant and insect diversity were severely out of balance, not linked as they are today.
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  • Calendrical Bacteria
    Every creature has its place and role in the oceans - even the smallest microbe, according to a new study.
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  • Predator, Prey, Parasite
    Scientists have discovered that parasites are surprisingly important in food webs. According to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, parasites may be the thread that holds the structure of ecological communities together.
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  • Jellyfish-Like Creatures Fight Global Warming
    Transparent jellyfish-like creatures known as salps, considered by many a low member in the ocean food web, may be more important to the fate of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the ocean than previously thought.
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  • Heat and Serve Species
    Comfortable living is not why so many different life forms seem to converge at the warmer areas of the planet.
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  • The Oxygen Imperative
    It's common knowledge that humans and other animals couldn't survive without oxygen. But scientists are now learning a good deal more about the extent of our evolutionary debt to a substance that was once a deadly poison.
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  • Sequencing the Seas
    Scientists have sequenced and compared the genomes of planktonic microbes living throughout the water column in the Pacific Ocean. The pioneering study yielded insight into the specialization of microbial communities at each depth--ranging from 40 to more than 13,000 feet.
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  • Eyes in the Ocean
    Scientists at Oregon State University have successfully cultured in a laboratory a microorganism with a gene for an alternate form of photochemistry an advance that may ultimately help shed light on the ecology of the world's oceans.
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