Air Pollution

COVID-19 Pandemic Indirectly Leading To A Reduction In Air Pollution

The coronavirus pandemic has been causing a lot of industries to completely shut down, which is indirectly benefiting the environment. A lack of industrial activity is temporarily causing air pollution levels to decrease, according to the European Space Agency which released satellite images showing the fall in global nitrogen dioxide levels. 

The sudden shift in atmospheric levels is being referred to as the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of industrial emission rates in the atmosphere when certain businesses are shut down for long periods of time globally. According to the European Space Agencies (ESA) satellite images, over the past two months, levels of nitrogen dioxide over the planet’s most metropolitan and industrialized areas in Asia and Europe were marked much lower when compared to last year’s data. 

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This is massively significant, as a decrease in these levels is relatively uncalled for, especially considering how fast and advanced the world runs when it’s not in the middle of a pandemic. nitrogen dioxide in general is produced from car engines, power plants, and basically any industrial business that’s known for its gas emissions. nitrogen dioxide is also known to speed up the development of respiratory illnesses.

“We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen. Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy? Not to denigrate the loss of life, but this might give us some hope from something terrible. To see what can be achieved. A reduction in air pollution could also bring some health benefits, though it’s unlikely to offset loss of life from the disease [coronavirus],” said Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester.

While the health benefits of this reduction in air pollution may not offset the number of deaths as a result of COVID-19, it can help reduce the overall spread of the virus, as higher levels of pollution in the air causes those with pre-existing health conditions to have an even more compromised immune system. Additionally, individuals with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, living in these areas that are typically concentrated in nitrogen dioxide will benefit from the cleaner air in the long run. 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nitrogen dioxide as “a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways,” which is why it tends to intensify preexisting conditions, especially those of a respiratory nature. The biggest drop in pollution levels that also works to support the connection between the coronavirus and the improvement in air quality, comes from Wuhan, China, where the virus initially spread. The city itself has 11 million citizens and is one of the largest transportation hubs in the world, it also has hundreds of thousands of industrial factories throughout it. Now, according to NASA nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased up to 30% when compared to last year!

Other areas of Europe and Asia that support the “largest experiment in history” include South Korea, which is typically dependent on a multitude of power plants and industrial facilities in China. Milan, Italy, one of the most COVID-19 affected countries, has seen a 40% drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions. Many are crediting this to Italy’s current lockdown policy that the country is still enduring.  

In the United Kingdom, road traffic alone accounts for about 80% of all gas emissions, now that the UK has announced their own plans to lockdown, it’s predicted that they’ll see a similar drop as well. While coronavirus may be disrupting a lot of aspects of life right now, at least one small positive is coming out of this entire ordeal, and the planet is healing more and more everyday.


Researchers Break Down Potential Impact Of COVID-19 Treatments

Imperial College in London has recently analyzed the measures that the United Kingdom and United States are taking in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their research, they wanted to model the impact that these public health measures would actually have on the coronavirus in the long run. 

The analysis has found that we are currently involved in the worst public health crisis in generations, so it’s important to understand the exact estimations in regard to the scale of this threat. 

“We use the latest estimates of severity to show that policy strategies which aim to mitigate the epidemic might halve deaths and reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds, but this will not be enough to prevent health systems being overwhelmed. More intensive, and socially disruptive interventions will therefore be required to suppress transmission to low levels. It is likely such measures will need to be in place for many months, perhaps until a vaccine becomes available,” said Professor Neil Ferguson.

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Without a proper vaccine or any concrete drug treatment for coronavirus, all researchers have to work off is the several public health measures that different countries have taken. They’re able to compare and contrast how certain measures are working and how others aren’t. The main conclusion so far is that social-distancing and self-quarantining is the best way to ensure that COVID-19 isn’t spreading as aggressively as it could be. The five specific measures that scientists and researchers have been analyzing go as follows: 

  1. Home isolation of cases – whereby those with symptoms of the disease (cough and/or fever) remain at home for 7 days following the onset of symptoms
  2. Home quarantine – whereby all household members of those with symptoms of the disease remain at home for 14 days following the onset of symptoms
  3. Social distancing – a broad policy that aims to reduce overall contacts that people make
  4. Social distancing of those over 70 years – as for social distancing but just for those over 70 years of age who are at highest risk of severe disease
  5. Closure of schools and universities

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The team concluded that combinations of all five of these measures would likely result in two different scenarios, depending on how intense each measure actually is. In the first scenario, the focus would be to slow the spreading of the virus by using these measures. So while they may not be able to stop it completely from spreading, they could interrupt the fast rate that it’s doing so in the meantime. This would mean that there would be less pressure put on healthcare systems worldwide, and greater protections for those most at risk. 

In the second scenario, the focus is on suppressing the outbreak where it is currently. This would involve implementing the more intense interventions to stop the spread and reduce the number of cases worldwide to much lower levels. However, the risk with this focus would be that while it would give us a lower number of cases today, there’s no telling how much more it could spread in a month or so. 

If the focus was on the first scenario, slowing the spreading itself, then the most optimal policy would be a combination of home isolation/quarantine, and social distancing for any individual above the age of 60. The report states that this could result in a reduction of demand on the healthcare industry, and would likely reduce the amount of deaths by 50%. However, with this scenario there’s still a projected 250,000 deaths, which is staggering. 

On the other end, if the focus was on scenario 2 and suppressing the outbreak with where it is now, the research shows that a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation/quarantine, and college/university closures will likely slow the progression overall, and leave room for those who need treatment. 

Researchers concluded that they’re monitoring this situation constantly, and paying special attention to China and South Korea, where the virus first began spreading and also where the case numbers are beginning to decrease already. Only time will tell which scenario will play out for the rest of the planet.

Black Female Writing

How Octavia E. Butler Revolutionized Science Fiction

Octavia E. Butler was a science fiction author who revolutionized the genre with her ability to discuss African American spiritualism and issues of class, racism, misogyny, and inequality in general within her works.

Hand Sanitizer

How Effective Is Hand Sanitizer?

Coronavirus and flu-season in general has the world in a state of panic. Constant news updates and an over-saturation of illness related social media content is creating a lot of unnecessary worry, and the spreading of a lot of misinformation. As further developments continue to be made public, there is one fact that’s remained completely true; washing your hands and disinfecting commonly used surfaces is still the number one way to prevent the spreading of a virus/bacteria. However, many are also turning to hand sanitizer when out in public settings. Hand sanitization products aren’t as effective as actual hand-washing, but there’s still multiple benefits for those of us constantly on-the-go who find ourselves in multiple public settings throughout a given day. So what are the exact benefits of hand sanitizer and why isn’t it just as effective as hand-washing? 

The most commonly known fact about hand sanitizer is that its key ingredient is alcohol; specifically propanol and isopropanol are the kinds of alcohols found in disinfectants. Alcohol is known for its ability to kill disease-causing agents on surfaces known as pathogens. Pathogens typically carry things like the common-cold or flu, and when exposed to alcohol, they break down into smaller proteins that aren’t harmful. 

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According to a study published in the journal of Clinical Microbiology Reviews, solutions with as little as 30% alcohol in them can kill certain pathogens. However, most hand sanitizer’s or disinfectants are made up of at least 60% alcohol, as it’s been proven that this percentage of certain propanol can kill a wider variety of bacteria and viruses. Hand sanitizer is also so effective because the bacteria that it targets can’t develop an immunity to it, so once it’s broken down, it will stay that way. 

“But alcohol doesn’t work for all germs, such as norovirus. Hand sanitizers also don’t remove harmful chemicals like pesticides or heavy metals, nor does hand sanitizer work well on especially dirty or greasy hands. So, soap and water still win the contest overall. There are a few small-scale studies demonstrating that an alcohol-free hand sanitizer containing benzalkonium chloride is just as effective and even more effective than alcohol at getting rid of bacteria. However, hand sanitizer without alcohol may not kill as many germs and may only reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them outright,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says

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Research on hand sanitizer has also shown that it’s a “shelf-stable” chemical, meaning as long as it’s kept in a sealed container at room temperature, it won’t expire for a very long time. The FDA requires all of it’s regulated products to have an expiration date on it’s packaging, but that doesn’t mean that your hand sanitizer will just stop working once you reach that date, in fact, it will likely keep working effectively until you finish the bottle, assuming you use it frequently. 

A common misconception about hand sanitizer is that it contains toxic qualities due to the high alcohol percentage, as well as its extensive ingredient list that the common individual likely won’t understand. According to the Hazardous Substances Database, however, all the alcohols that are put into hand sanitizer’s are considered to be completely safe when applied to the skin, and shouldn’t cause any sort of toxic reaction. 

Alcohol in general when applied topically does have some dehydrating qualities to it, hence why some of us are more susceptible to breakouts of dry skin and irritation on our hands after using hand sanitizer. After some regular use, your skin should begin to develop a sort of “immune response” to the sanitizer, in the sense that it won’t be as sensitive to its drying qualities.  

While hand sanitizer may be an efficient way at preventing the spread of certain bacteria’s and viruses, it’s not 100% effective. The CDC still recommends hand-washing as the best way to protect yourself from getting sick. When it comes to the coronavirus especially, don’t reach for the tubs of hand sanitizer next time you’re shopping, and instead pick up a refillable hand soap container and one of the larger bottles of liquid soap. While hand sanitizer may be easier, your body will thank you in the long run for remembering to keep up with good hygiene.

Swarm of Locusts

China To Deploy 100,000 Ducks To Combat Swarms Of Locusts

When it comes to the detrimental effects of global warming on our planet, one of the most unexpected issues that needs combating is the plagues of locusts that are currently ravaging through the planet’s farmlands in countries such as Pakistan and Uganda.  Swarms of locusts are not uncommon in certain areas of the world, in fact, when they appear at their expected time in their expected numbers it actually benefits the planet and the species living in these areas.   

Most recently, Pakistan has declared a state of emergency regarding the swarms of locusts clouding the skies. Officials are stating that the numbers are the worst they’ve been in two decades for the country. This is a huge problem as locusts eat through vegetation so fast you can blink and an entire field will be cleared. Even a small swarm of locusts can eat enough food to feed over 35,000 individuals in just a day. 

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A single swarm of locusts can contain up to 150 million individual insects per square mile of farmland, where they like to feed the most. Some countries are attempting to combat the issue by using drones to spray pesticides amongst the plagues of locusts, and others are taking a more creative and predatory approach. 

China is looking to help aid Pakistan with this infestation problem by deploying 100,000 ducks to the country. Agricultural experts claim that a single duck can eat more than 200 locusts in a single day, and are much more effective, not to mention safer, than spraying pesticides from the sky and into the atmosphere.  

“The ducks are biological weapons, while chickens could eat about 70 locusts in one day a duck could devour more than three times that number. Ducks like to stay in a group so they are easier to manage than chickens,” Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences claimed

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Lu went on to explain how within the coming months the Chinese government will begin trial runs of duck deployment as a means of combating the locust issue. After they test how well the ducks do in western Xinjiang, they will be sent to Pakistan; specifically the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab, where the locusts populations are the highest. 

On paper, bringing a locusts predator to them to combat overpopulation sounds like a smart idea, however, there are still concerns, the main one being that the arid desert environment in Pakistan is not equipped to handle ducks, who rely heavily on water. 

“Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan’s desert areas, the temperature is very high. Although ducks have been used against locusts since ancient times, their deployment hasn’t yet entered the government assistance programme and is an exploratory method,” said Zhang Long, a professor from China’s Agriculture University. 

The United Nations reports that this heavy infestation was likely caused by the 2018-19 cyclone season in the areas that are being affected. Heavy rainfall in arid environments creates the perfect breeding ground for locusts, so when climate change causes natural disasters, such as cyclones, to become more frequent and intense, and unprecedented amount of locust breeding is the result. 

Currently parts of China, the Middle East, South Africa and South America are trying to deal with these “unprecedented” swarms of locusts clouding their skies and consuming their resources, only time will tell if the world’s troops of ducks can actually help.

Athlete Drinking Power Drink

Electrolyte Supplements Don’t Actually Prevent Dehydration, Study Suggests

According to a new study, the electrolytes that we all thought were keeping athletes hydrated and healthy during extensive periods of exercise shouldn’t actually be relied upon exclusively for that purpose. In general, beverages like Gatorade are meant to be ingested during high-endurance workouts, sports games, training etc. and its expected to help athletes keep their negative sodium levels low, and hydration levels high as a means of preventing serious illness brought on by overall strain to the body. 

A recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine focused on a group of 266 professional marathon runners who were participating in RacingThePlanet, which is known as an extreme sporting event that requires participants to run 155 miles over the course of a week. The route for the marathon is known to go through rough terrain and various deserts. Researchers from Stanford University, who performed the study, were focusing on something known as hypernatremia; which is basically a fancy term for when the sodium levels in your body are too high, or low, resulting in dehydration. 

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The researchers were focusing specifically on exercise-associated hyponatremia, or EAH, which is caused by a massive increase or decrease in sodium levels in the bloodstream as a result of physical activity. While a decrease in sodium levels may seem like it would have the opposite effect of dehydration, there are certain sodium compounds that are necessary for keeping our hydration levels balanced and body systems functioning to the best of their ability. 

EAH is a big problem amongst athletes, as it doesn’t just cause traditional dehydration symptoms like dizziness, headache or exhaustion. EAH can lead to an altered mental state, seizures, fluid to build in the lungs, and in some cases, death. The research found that things like hot weather can obviously increase the chances of an EAH associated illness from occurring, but it also concluded that the use of sodium and electrolyte supplements, like Gatorade, does little to prevent any EAH symptoms, contrary to what we’ve all thought. 

“In the past, athletes were told to make sure they’re taking electrolyte supplements. It was generally thought that that would prevent things like muscle cramping, electrolyte imbalances and dizziness. But there is currently no evidence to show this is true. Most electrolyte strategies end up with a drink that has a lower sodium concentration than what is found in the body. This is why drinking too much electrolyte solutions can result in EAH,” said Dr. Grant Lipman, the lead author of the study.

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The study itself included 61 women and 205 men, and researchers monitored each individual as they ran the RacingThePlanet course. The races took place over the course of two years at alternating times, most of the athletes competed in weather hotter than 93 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The process was quite simple, yet specific: data was collected from the athletes at the beginning and the end of a 50-mile portion of the race. Beforehand, each athlete was weighed and had to report what type of electrolyte supplement they were taking and what their overall drinking/hydration strategy was. The researchers needed to know how often they would be taking their supplements and drinking.

Once they finished the 50 miles, before they could hydrate or rest, researchers weighed them again and asked how closely they followed their hydration regime that was discussed beforehand, the team also took blood samples from everyone to get some more cellular data regarding the sodium levels in each athlete’s blood. 

The results showed that 41 of the 266 participants had notable sodium imbalances in their blood, 30 were considered to be dehydrated, and 11 had EAH. The conclusion based on these results worked to prove that while electrolyte supplements may promote themselves as hydrating, there really is no direct link to show that they prevent any sort of illness.

“Electrolyte supplements are promoted as preventing nausea and cramping caused by low salt levels, but this is a false paradigm. They’ve never been shown to prevent illness or even improve performance, and if diluted with too much water, can be dangerous. The takeaway is to listen to your body, no matter what sport you are participating in, and particularly pay attention in the heat,” Lipman concluded.


Lab-Grown Venom Works As New Treatment For Snake Bites

Every 5 minutes, 50 people are bitten by a venomous snake, and every day at least 200 people die from the bite. The main way to treat a snake bite is with antivenom; which is made by milking snake venom by hand and directly injecting it into a horse. The horse’s immune system will respond to the small doses of venom and evoke a response that produces antibodies that fight the poisonous effects of the venom. The horse’s blood is drawn and purified to collect the antibodies, this process can also be done within other large animals as well, however, it’s quite dangerous for all parties involved. 

The process of creating antivenom is messy, error prone, and extremely labor intensive, and if you’re not paying attention and doing everything 100% correctly, it can result in serious side effects for the snake, bitten human, the horse, and the individual performing the whole process. Antivenom production has been the same since the Victorian era and, up until now, it was the best way to treat severe snake bites. However, scientists have finally made major strides in producing snake venom in a lab environment using stem cells and genome mapping.

“[We] have created venom-producing glands from the Cape Coral Snake and eight other snake species in the lab, using stem cells. The toxins produced by the miniature 3-D replicas of snake glands are all but identical to the snake’s venom. These are massive developments because it’s bringing 2020 science into a field that’s been neglected,” said Nick Cammack, head of the snakebite team at UK medical research charity Wellcome.

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Hans Clevers has been the principal investigator at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research in the Netherlands in regard to creating a new antivenom, however, Clevers wasn’t even intending on tackling this issue originally. In 2009, Clevers and his team developed a technique to make miniature human organs out of stem cells called organoids. This made medical history at the time, as doctors were given the ability to test the specific effects of certain drugs safely outside of a patient’s body, but still using their specific DNA to know how they would react; these techniques really advanced certain cancer treatments as well. 

At the time, Clevers was teaching as well as creating these organoids, and when three of his PhD students asked about the logistics of what else stem cells could recreate, they all began brainstorming about different animal organs to make in a lab setting. Eventually, they all agreed that recreating a snakes venom glands would be the coolest development they could make, and although they all had low standards on their ability to do so, the lack of research, at the time, regarding stem cells and snake venom was enough inspiration to at least try. 

“[We] found we were able to take a tiny chunk of snake tissue, containing stem cells, and nurture it in a dish with the same growth factor we used for human organoids to create the venom glands. These snake organoids produced the same toxins as the snake venom. Open them up and you have a lot of venom. As far as we can tell, it’s identical. We’ve compared it directly to the venom from the same species of snake and we find the exact same components,” said Clevers, who posted about these findings in the Journal Cell.

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Once developed, Clevers and his team took their stem cell venom and some real venom that was extracted from the same snake that their lab-made venom emulated and compared how human muscle cells reacted to both on a genetic level. They found that the muscle cells had the same exact reaction to both, meaning they successfully created an “artificial” version of the venom that, genetically, is identical to the real thing. 

This is a huge development, as previously mentioned, current antivenom practices that involve horses has been the main method of treating snake bites since the Victorian era, so Clevers and all the other teams in Europe currently working on this are advancing science more than they know. Only 60% of the world’s venomous snake populations have successful antivenom treatments in the case of a bite. The goal is to begin developing snake organoids from the 600+ venomous snake species currently living on our planet. If successful, the mass production and distribution of these new treatments could have hundreds of thousands of lives every year. 

“The next step is to take all that knowledge and start investigating new antivenoms that take a more molecular approach. The lab now plans to make venom gland organoids from the world’s 50 most venomous animals and we will share this biobank with researchers worldwide. At the moment, we’re able to produce the organoids at a rate of one a week,” Clevers said.


Neanderthals Buried Their Dead With Flowers, According To New Discovery

Scientists are constantly looking into the history of humanity for any details they can gather regarding our culture and what it used to look like as it came into development. We evolved from Neanderthals, who evolved from monkeys, and as our consciousness came more into fruition as our genetics and brain capacities also continued to evolve, our ancestors were able to conceptualize things such as religion, art, and the basis of humanity as we know it today. 

Recently, in the Shanidar Cave located in Iraqi Kurdistan, archaeologist’s discovered Neanderthal remains that appeared to be over 70,000 years old; a discovery as monumental as this hasn’t occurred in over 20 years. According to the study posted in regards to this discovery, there’s a significant reason why it’s being labeled as “monumental” as it gave experts a real insight into how our ancestors processed death, and even a look at what could be the first use of cemeteries and other traditional ceremonious elements that one would do in times of death/grieving.

“So much research on how Neanderthals treated their dead has to involve returning to finds from 60 or even a 100 years ago. To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death, and whether they were similar to our own,”  said Emma Pomeroy, lead study author at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology.

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The 60-year-old data that Pomeroy is referring to in this quote regards famous archaeologist Ralph Solecki and his own experience with Shanidar Cave and Neanderthal death culture. In the mid-1950’s, Solecki discovered the remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children in the cave. Before this, there had been little to no discoveries of mass grave sites for Neanderthals, so the fact that Solecki found 10 was quite remarkable. 

Solecki also noted in his initial discoveries that he found ancient clumps of what appeared to be pollen within the bones of the remains. This is where the first theories regarding Neanderthal rituals began to emerge, as Solecki was quick to suggest that our ancestors likely buried their dead and did so with flowers as a part of their “funeral” traditions. At the time, it was hard for him to gain any credibility regarding this theory due to the fact that up until his discovery it was generally understood that all Neanderthal’s were the spitting image of how we stereotype them; brute, dumb, big and aggressive.

Due to a slew of political complications and his health getting the best of him, Solecki never was able to return to the caves before his death last year, however, between 2016 and 2019, the team who wrote the study in the scientific journal Antiquity were able to go back, make some new discoveries of their own, and even help to further prove Solecki’s theory. 

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When the team from Cambridge returned to the Shanidar Cave and discovered even more Neanderthal remains in a “unique assemblage” in regards to one another, they began to think that Solecki was definitely onto something. Their initial conclusion was that the Shanidar Z’s (what the team referred to the deceased Neanderthal group as) likely routinely returned to this specific cave location to bury their dead; creating what could be one of the world’s first ever cemeteries. 

Beyond just the bodies themselves, the team also discovered a large triangular rock prominently placed amongst the remains, which could’ve been used as a grave marker/tombstone. The clumps of pollen that Solecki mentioned in his initial studies were also found yet again, nearly 65 years later, within the rib fragments of the remains. 

Researchers want to move beyond the basic realm of the start of humanity and really dive into where the birth of human culture began. Our ancestors were one species, of one race/ethnicity, so at one point in time, there was a universally accepted way of life that all of our ancestors accepted. The goal is to get to the root of that creation, and discover where it all came from and why. 

“In recent years we have seen increasing evidence that Neanderthals were more sophisticated than previously thought, from cave markings to use of decorative shells and raptor talons. If Neanderthals were using Shanidar cave as a site of memory for the repeated ritual interment of their dead, it would suggest cultural complexity of a high order,” Pomeroy said.


The Reapers Of Death: New T-Rex Species Discovered in Canada

The fossil remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. Rex) “cousin species” have been uncovered in Alberta, Canada. Scientists are classifying the meat-eating dinosaur as Thanatotheristes degrootorum, and since they concluded that the remains are over 80 million years old, the T. Rex cousin is being deemed as the oldest known Tyrannosaur on record in North America; “Tyrannosaur” is the general term that covers all subspecies of the T. Rex. 

Scientists are also nicknaming the species the “reapers of death” based on the fact that their fossils show evidence of a “monstrous face”, vicious looking serrated teeth that were likely as sharp as steak knives and 3 inches long, and legs that were 8 feet in length from foot to hip. The fossil evidence also allowed scientists to estimate that the reapers measured in at 26 feet long from snout to tail. 

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“Like other tyrannosaurs, the ‘reaper of death’ had strange bumps on its skull that gave it a monstrous appearance. But it also had a one-of-a-kind feature, a distinct set of vertical ridges that ran from its eyes along its upper snout. These ridges are not like anything we’ve ever seen before in other tyrannosaur species. Exactly what the ridges do, we’re not quite sure,” said study lead researcher Jared Voris, a doctoral student of paleontology at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

Voris and his team also concluded that the reapers of death walked the Earth during the Cretaceous period, which was the final period of the dinosaur age on Earth before they all were wiped out. This also means that these creatures were likely alive 145 million years ago (when the Cretaceous period began). 

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The initial remains that were discovered were found by a Canadian couple on the shore of the Bow River in southern Alberta. That was back in 2010, and at the time it was believed that the only dinosaurs who lived in the Alberta area, hundreds of millions of years ago, were plant eaters. So 10 years ago it was believed that the mysterious skull remains that the couple found were just another Triceratops relative of sorts; even though the skull remains were abnormally three feet in length.

Once Voris began his own personal research regarding new dinosaur species he was able to determine that those decade old remains were actually the reapers of death, and not just another herbivore. In fact, based on their new conclusions they’ve determined that the reapers likely ate a majority of the herbivores that did live in Alberta. 

“The new discovery shows that Daspletosaurus-like tyrannosaurs were diversifying in the northern part of western North America about 80 million years ago. But these long- and deep-snouted tyrannosaurs appeared to stay in their neck of the woods. This seems to be a bigger theme: There were different subgroups of tyrannosaurs characteristic of certain times and places, and they did not all mix together,” said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. 

While the reapers of death weren’t as large as their more well known younger T. Rex cousins, their remains give scientists a great insight into the vastly diverse world of dinosaurs. Paleontologists and scientists alike can never be fully satisfied with their “conclusive” data regarding dinosaurs because they lived millions of years ago, making it close to impossible to know about every detail and subspecies that pertained to their time on Earth. However, discoveries such as this open dozens of doors in terms of possibilities for what other kinds of dinosaurs were roaming the Earth and where.


Bumblebees Are Facing Mass Extinction Thanks To Climate Change

Climate change has inflicted its fair share of damage on the planet within the past decade. It’s no surprise that the complete destruction of millions of acres of our natural world has led to a massive increase in endangerment and extinction rates for the species living within those habitats. Just recently over one billion animals fell victim to the devastating bushfires that have been blazing throughout Australia for over three months. 

Obviously, rebuilding what has been lost, and repopulating species that are dwindling in size are top priority for many scientists/environmentalists. One of the biggest concerns comes from the major loss of bumblebee’s throughout North America and Europe specifically. In fact, the likelihood of finding a bumblebee in their traditional habitats within those two continents has declined by a third since the 1970’s. 

Rising global temperatures are causing more species of bumblebee to move further north in both North America and Europe. Bumblebee’s are an obviously essential part of the food chain, as their work benefits all species on Earth. They’re responsible for pollinating fruits, vegetables, and wild plant life that feeds millions of other types of animals and insects. Without their pollination, a myriad of plant species that we use for food will die off, adding even more pressure on scientists who are already trying to combat the world’s growing food shortage issue. 

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“There had been some previous research showing that bumblebee distributions are moving northwards in Europe and North America, as you’d expect with climate change. But this was the first time that we have been able to really tie local extinctions and colonizations of bumble bees to climate change, showing a really clear fingerprint of climate change in the declines that we’ve seen,” Dr. Tim Newbold of University College London (UCL) stated

Global warming, habitat loss, disease, and strong pesticides are the main culprit when it comes to the considerable decline in both range and abundance of bumblebees. There are approximately 250 different species of bumblebees. Researchers and conservationists have done extensive studies of bumblebee population rates. In fact, in a study that specifically looked at more than half a million records of 66 bumblebee species from the 20th century, as well as from the years 2000 to 2014, researchers found that the greatest decrease in population size occurred between the latter years. 

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This isn’t surprising; while climate change has always been an issue, it’s devastating effects have sizeably increased within the 21st century thanks to advances in technology and industrialization. As previously stated, the likelihood of a normal habitat being occupied by bumblebees has dropped 30% more than what the rate was between 1901-1974 (according to the records that were studied).

Since bees are moving further north, in an attempt to move away from the extremely warm weather that has only gotten worse as the years have gone by, the southern areas of both North America and Europe have suffered the greatest loss. These migration patterns do mean that the bees aren’t dying, just inhabiting newer areas, which may seem like a silver lining, however, their survival in more northern areas of the world doesn’t compensate for the loss that the southern areas are enduring. 

Measures such as increasing the margins and buffer strips around agricultural fields that are rich in flowers and wildlife and the preservation of grasslands are deemed effective tools in alleviating the rapid decline in bumblebee species. They can provide bees with forage and help underpin stable populations of pollinators, whose survival is crucial for European food security,” wrote the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While systematic change is really the only way the planet can reach a turning point in terms of climate change, there are still things we can do at home to at least help our local bumblebees from facing mass extinction. Planting flowers, vegetables and any other type of vegetation in our outdoor living spaces will attract these friendly bees to come and get to work. Remember, bumblebees typically never sting, especially when they’re just left alone, so set out some plants to pollinate and help the world become a little greener, even if it is just in your backyard.