​Thousands of robotic submarines will explore the oceans of Enceladus and Europa ● Half of bird species are rapidly heading for extinction ● Dogs can smell you when you’re stressed ● Jaws appeared a little earlier than thought

enceladusPhoto: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thousands of robotic submarines will explore the oceans of Enceladus and Europa

Don’t think that NASA will send who knows what nuclear submarines on Lent, that is not feasible! Furthermore, even if they did, it would still be nearly impossible to get them under the kilometers-thick ice that covers the oceans of the moons Enceladus and Europa. But here is a more handy solution.

And it consists in sending hundreds, maybe even thousands, of mini submarines, no bigger than a cell phone. NASA has already announced $600,000 in funding for projects that have entered the second stage of designing these mini submarines. Obviously, the project is long-term, considering that only this second stage will last about two years.

The submarines will most likely be placed in small wells that will drill their way through the ice to the oceans below. From there they will begin to explore everything they can in search of traces of life, because it was announced the other day that Enceladus, for example, one of Saturn’s moons, has all the components necessary for life.

This second stage that I mentioned comes together with two other projects under discussion, namely the creation of small robots to explore the underground caves on Mars, but also a method to supply future space vehicles with energy nuclear. As they say, there is still a long way to go, there is work to be done, but it is clear that the plans sound good. That even if we don’t find anything, it’s still a discovery, we know not to go there again.

Half of the bird species are rapidly heading towards extinction

Until we go off to look for new species on other planets and their moons, let’s rip these loco’s mouths off. At least that’s what a study published by BirdLife International tells us. As the name suggests, this organization deals with the study of birds from all over the world, and what it has to tell us does not sound good at all.

For example, 49% of known bird species are in sharp decline, and one in eight species is on the brink of imminent extinction. It has just been discovered that even species that did not seem to be threatened are beginning to feel unwell.

In principle, man is to blame for this whole situation. Deforestation, the expansion of agricultural areas, the destruction of habitats, the introduction of invasive species, hunting and, of course, global warming. BirdLife announces that from the 1970s to the 1980s, 2.9 billion birds, or 29% of the total, have disappeared in North America alone. In Europe we are talking about 600 million, that is somewhere around 18%.

Most of them are migratory birds. What to do? Well, in principle, it would be about protecting habitats, recreating those that have been destroyed, banning hunting and other such actions. And these are good plans, but wait to see them implemented.

Dogs can smell you when you are stressed

Stress produces all kinds of changes in the body, and these changes are felt externally through breathing and perspiration. Your dog, if you have one, can detect the changes with 93.75% accuracy, reports a team of researchers from the University of Belfast in a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Given that there are canine species that specialize in providing support to people suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress panic attacks, researchers thought to see if they could also sense the chemical changes that occur in the human body with occasion of stress. I feel them, sir! In 675 cases out of 720, i.e. 93.75% as I said, the dogs felt that the man was stressed.

How he does, how he looks into your eyes, but look how the dog (dogs, please) could tell the difference between the breath and sweat of a stress-free human and a stressed one. Many even went to offer support. Great work!

Although the study did not take into account other animals near, or especially in, the human house, it is very likely that the cat can also feel these changes. She too has a highly developed sense of smell and still incompletely studied senses. But, very likely, the cats would be sore from your stress, that’s why no one even bothered to study their reactions.

Jaws appeared a little earlier than thought

If you’re on your way to the dentist and you’re thinking with horror that another torture with burs, drills, hooks and other things reminiscent of medieval torture awaits you, we have two news, one good and one bad. The bad part is that no one cares. The good thing is, we found out who you can blame.

The culprit is called Qianodus duplicis, and it is a species of fish that lived about 439 million years ago. It is, according to the latest data, the oldest specimen in which the evolution of the jaws and related teeth can be observed. By the way, it was discovered in China. Until him, the oldest profile proofs had “only 420” million. It doesn’t seem like a big sizzle, but remember that 19 million isn’t exactly from there.

Now, when it comes to this major evolutionary step, you don’t have to take things simplistically. That is to say that if it wasn’t for Q. duplicis this would have been much better for you. You had a suction cup instead of a mouth, a trumpet, something like that, and you stopped butting heads with the dentist. Possible. But surely you could no longer eat such a wide variety of foods, nor would you have followed the same evolutionary steps. Please, the last one is valid for the distant ancestors of our species.

Speaking of ancestors from the evolutionary depths, it must be said that the specimen Q. duplicis has just become the main candidate for the position of common ancestor of cartilaginous fish (see the case of sharks) and those with a bony skeleton. From the latter evolved the first vertebrates that left the aquatic environment, and from these, through many evolutionary episodes spanning hundreds of millions of years, the first mammals appeared. From there, it was only a stone’s throw, or about 180 million years, until both you and the endowment dentist appeared.

Photo source: profimediaimages.ro

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