Archive for December, 2002

When Mistletoe Attacks: Investigating a Forest Parasite

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 24, 2002   View Article

It’s that time of the year when a white-berried, leafy green plant hangs above doorways around the world and provokes lovers and serendipitous strangers to share a kiss.

There are more than 1,300 species of mistletoe, including the two varieties popularly hung as a lure to sweethearts. All species can grow as parasites on trees and shrubs, stealing their food and water.

Utah Dinos May Have Been Killed by Drought

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 20, 2002   View Article

Drought—not the perils of a muddy bog—may explain why millions of years ago hundreds of large, lumbering meat-eating cousins to Tyrannosaurus rex perished in what is now a dusty, rocky desert in southern Utah.

The site, named the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, is one of the world’s most prolific dinosaur fossil sources. It has yielded more than 70 partial skeletons, 12,000 individual bones, and single dinosaur eggs.

Tetrapod Fossil Found – First Ever in Asia

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 18, 2002   View Article

Tetrapods, Earth’s oldest four-limbed creatures, walked along the ancient Chinese coastline as early as 355 million years ago, according to a fossilized jaw bone discovered and analyzed by an international team of scientists.

The fossil is evidence that the first vertebrates with limbs—not fins—colonized most of the planet and evolved a diverse range of forms within a relatively short period of time, the team reports in the December 19 issue of the journal Nature.

Full Moon Effect on Behavior Minimal, Studies Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 18, 2002   View Article

Beware: The moon is full tonight. People will party. Dogs will bite. Robbers will steal. Murderers will kill.

Contrary to popular belief, however, the frequency of these behaviors will probably be no more significant tonight than on any other night of the year, according to scientific reviews of the theory that the full moon alters the way humans and wildlife behave.

Freshwater Runoff Into Arctic on the Rise, Scientists Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 13, 2002   View Article

The six largest Eurasian rivers are dumping a lot more freshwater into the Arctic Ocean now than they were several decades ago, according to an international team of scientists.

Their finding gives teeth to the long-held prediction that freshwater runoff into the ocean would increase in the Arctic as a result of global warming.

U.S. Navy Looks to Bats, Dolphins for Better Sonar

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 12, 2002   View Article

The ability of bats and dolphins to see at night and navigate the murky depths of the sea has long garnered the interest of the United States military.

“We would like to emulate this capability for the quick, accurate detection and classification of buried mines,” said Harold Hawkins, a program manager with the biosonar program at the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia.

Meteor Shower to Peak on Saturday

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 11, 2002   View Article

If clouds and a bright moon obscured your view of last month’s Leonids meteor shower, take heart. Meteor gazers have another chance to catch a show this year. The annual Geminid meteor shower is reaching peak force, streaking from a mysterious object known as 3200 Phaethon.

The shower began on December 7 and is predicted to reach peak intensity of 120 meteors per hour at 10:00 Universal Time (5:00 a.m. ET) on December 14, according to Bill Cooke, an astronomer at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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