Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leapin' lemurs! New species discovered

Two new species of lemur look so similar that it's impossible to tell them apart without sequencing their genes, scientists said. The itsy-bitsy primates are both mouse lemurs, which are tiny, nocturnal lemurs that measure less than 11 inches from nose to tail. The newly discovered Madagascar natives weigh only 2.5 to 3 ounces. Researchers want to preserve lemurs not only for their own sake, but for humans' sake as well. As a primate, the mouse lemur is more closely related to humans than rats or mice, which are commonly used in medical research.
Which animal do you think is most in danger of becoming extinct?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ancient Egyptian Sundial Discovered

A sundial discovered outside a tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings may be the world's oldest ancient Egyptian sundials, say scientists.
Dating to the 19th dynasty, or the 13th century B.C., the sundial was found on the floor of a workman's hut, in the Valley of the Kings, the burial place of rulers from Egypt's New Kingdom period (around 1550 B.C. to 1070 B.C.).
"The significance of this piece is that it is roughly one thousand years older than what was generally accepted as time when this type of time measuring device was used," said researcher Susanne Bickel, of the University of Basel in Switzerland. Past sundial discoveries date to the Greco-Roman period, which lasted from about 332 B.C. to A.D. 395.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yellowstone: Looking great at 141 years old

Happy birthday Yellowstone National Park! In March of 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law an act establishing Yellowstone. Since that time, the U.S. has created 59 protected areas as national parks. Twenty seven states have national parks, as do the American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But it all started with Yellowstone! Widely known for its geothermal springs and geysers, Yellowstone sits atop a large volcanic stratum. Many unique and once endangered species of animals make their home in the park including grizzly bears, wolves and bison. Discovery Student Adventures offers amazing educational trips to Yellowstone.
Which national park would you most like to visit?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Extreme isolation: remote tribe embraces seclusion

Perhaps no people on Earth remain more genuinely isolated than the Sentinelese. They are thought to be directly descended from the first human populations to emerge from Africa, and have probably lived in the Andaman Islands for up to 55,000 years. The fact that their language is so different even from other Andaman islanders suggests that they have had little contact with other people for thousands of years.

This does not mean, however, that they live just as they did 60,000 years ago. Commonly described, for instance, as belonging to the ‘Stone Age’, they do in fact make tools and weapons from metal, which they recover from ships wrecked on the island’s reefs.

What modern convenience would you miss most if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sharks, Manta Rays Win Global Protection

Several shark species and the manta ray recently won international trade protection in a move hailed by conservationists as a breakthrough in efforts to save them from being wiped out by overfishing.
The deal at a major wildlife conference in Bangkok marked a rare victory in the fight by environmentalists to reverse a slump in populations of sharks -- the world's oldest predator -- due to rampant demand for its fins. Rather than a complete ban, the 178-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to restrict cross-border trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle, three types of hammerheads and the manta ray.

The agreement, which must still be formally approved by the CITES plenary session, delighted conservationists who warn that Asia's voracious appetite for shark fins is causing their population to plunge.

Travelers with Discovery Student Adventures cage-dives with sharks in South Africa. Would you be willing to take this plunge?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bees love caffeine buzz, study shows

Honeybees, like tired office employees, like their caffeine, suggests a new study finding that bees are more likely to remember plants containing the java ingredient. Caffeine occurs naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers. Bees that fed on caffeinated nectar were three times more likely to remember a flower's scent than bees fed sugar alone. The findings, detailed Thursday in the journal Science, show how plants can manipulate animals' memories to improve their odds of pollination.
Plants produce caffeine as a defense mechanism — a bitter-tasting brew to fend off insects. Fortunately for the bees, the caffeine levels are below the threshold that they can taste, but high enough to affect their memory, according to the Science article.

The mention of bees is a reminder that summer is just around the corner. That means Discovery Student Adventures is preparing to jet away to amazing destinations around the world.

What would be your ultimate getaway this summer?

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