Archive for November, 2003

Are Wild Jaguars Moving Back Into the U.S.?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 26, 2003   View Article

In southern Arizona, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, a heat- sensitive remote surveillance camera was recently triggered by a warm body. But it wasn’t an illegal immigrant in search of a job, or a courier in the drug trade. It was a jaguar (Panthera onca).

The photograph, taken on August 7, represents the second time in three years that the big cat has been imaged in the U.S. and it raises an intriguing question: Are jaguars seeking U.S. residency?

Black Bears Adapting to City Living, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 26, 2003   View Article

Black bears (Ursus americanus) have efficiently adapted to the urban couch potato lifestyle, according to a recent study that compared urban and wild land bears in the Lake Tahoe region of Nevada.

Given a readily available and replenishing food resource—garbage dumpsters—the urban bears are nearly a third less active and weigh up to thirty percent more than bears living in more wild areas, biologists with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society report.

Elusive Jaguars Remain a Mystery, Even to Experts

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 25, 2003   View Article

“Yaguara,” the South American Indian word for jaguar, literally means the animal that kills in a single bound.

The elusive, spotted-coat cats secretly stalk their prey until just the right moment. Then they pounce with a graceful thud: In one leap the cats must snap their prey’s spine or else go hungry.

Antarctic Eclipse: Fans Pay Big to Be Left in Dark

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 21, 2003   View Article

Penguin rookeries in Antarctica—weather permitting—will be audience to a total solar eclipse Sunday as the moon slips between Earth and the sun and casts a narrow band of the icy continent into daytime darkness.

A few hundred humans, too, hope to catch the celestial show. They’ve paid thousands of dollars to journey to—or over—Antarctica, the only landmass where the minutes-long event will be visible.

Are Asteroids History’s Greatest Killers?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 20, 2003   View Article

Catastrophic asteroid impacts are gaining a credible edge over violent volcanic eruptions as the greatest killers Earth has ever seen, according to two pieces of scientific detective work reported in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Science.

The first cataclysm in question occurred about 250 million years ago, when according to the fossil record more than 90 percent of Earth’s marine species and 70 percent of life on land perished. The event is known as the Permian-Triassic (P-T for short) mass extinction, named because it falls on the boundary between the two geological eras.

New Whale Species Announced by Japanese Scientists

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 19, 2003   View Article

The number of rorqual whale species swimming in the world’s oceans has jumped to eight from six, according to new research by a team of Japanese scientists published in tomorrow’s issue of the science journal Nature. The research shows that rorquals commonly referred to as Bryde’s whales actually represent three distinct species.

Rorqual whales (Balaenoptera) do not have teeth. Instead they have baleen, a horny substance found in rows of plates along their upper jaws, and they are thus classified as baleen whales. They range from about 26 to 92 feet (8 to 28 meters) in length and weigh upwards of 220,000 pounds (100,000 kilograms).

Meteor Show: “Better” Leonid Shower Starts Tonight

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 17, 2003   View Article

Shooting stars should be visible tonight, the traditional climax of the Leonid meteor shower. Sky watchers in the Americas, however, will observe peak activity early Wednesday morning.

The shower climaxed for viewers in eastern Asia late last week, but the nearly full moon washed out some meteors that would have otherwise been visible in a dark sky.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach