Last week saw a number of brilliant discoveries, revelations, births and recoveries from species all across the globe! All-in-all, while there were some more negative news pieces too, the week was a resounding success and it definitely made a nice change to read positive piece after positive piece! So, here is our (rather upbeat) weekly Frontier news roundup:
400-year-old Greenland Shark Is Cronwed The Oldest Vertebrate Animal
Researchers have been working hard for years to work out a way in which they can determine the exact age of the Greenland sharks and last week they finally had the breakthrough that they were aiming for! The ages of most fish are determined by counting the growth layers of calcium carbonate in their ears but sharks do not have these determinate markings and so it has been difficult to conduct the same kind of research on these creatures. However, recently scientists discovered that the lens of these sharks eyes are made up of proteins that are built up over time and by working out the date of these proteins, it is now believed that it is possible to achieve an estimate of the shark’s age! This newfound research has meant that the Greenland sharks have set a new record for longevity and conservationists have high hopes that their increased popularity will boost conservation efforts and further research developments in the future.
The First Montserrat Tarantulas Hatch In Captivity
Last week, one female from a batch of Montserrat tarantulas that were brought back to Britain by a zoo keeper in 2013 successfully produced 200 baby spiders at Chester Zoo. This is the first time that tarantulas have been bred in captivity and in a year or two the newly born spiders will become a part of the breeding program. There is still very little known about these creatures and so these spiders are crucial in both the breeding and the research programs for the species. What we do currently know is that the males only live for around 2 and a half years and die after mating, the females live for a much longer period of time and develop slowly – neither of which are factors that help to maintain the population numbers. However, this new birth shows hope for the future and it will definitely help to replenish the now depleted male Montserrat tarantula numbers at the zoo!
Scientists Prove That Badgers Do Not Spread TB To Cows Through Direct Contact
After years of believing that Badgers spread the infectious bovine TB to cows, a belief that has resulted in a mass culling of the former species, scientists have proven otherwise. Scientists from the Imperial College and the Zoological Society of London conducted an 18 month research project in which they attached GPS collars to hundreds of badgers and cows before monitoring how close they came to one another at 20 farms in Devon and Cornwall. The results proved that the badgers did not come within 16 feet of the cows and as it is believed that the animals would need to be within 5 feet of one another for the disease to be spread; it is now thought that the disease is spread through the environment rather than the animals. Researchers concluded that TB is actually passed through pasture contamination and through the cows themselves, which now means that vaccinating badgers may be a better way to tackle the disease than large scale culls!
An Island Fox Has A Record-Breaking Recovery And Is Taken Off The Endangered List
Last week a species of island fox that is unique to California was removed from the endangered species protection list. The government stated that this was the fastest recovery of any mammal that has been placed on the endangered list, which goes to highlight how successful the conservation efforts for these animals have been in the past few months. The island fox is only around the size of a domesticated cat and while it initially thrived due to a lack of predators on the Channel Islands located off Southern California, it suffered a rapid decline in the 1990s after the pesticide DDT depleted the Bald Eagles on the islands. These eagles were rapidly replaced by Golden Eagles, which prey on the foxes and quickly aided the decline of the fox species. The restoration of the island fox, an animal listed as one of America’s rarest mammals, now means that under the Obama administration, nineteen species have recovered enough to be removed from the protected list!
As you can see last week brought about plenty of news that was worthy of a celebration. With all of the negative news in the world at the moment, these pieces acted as a breath of fresh air and it is definitely comforting to see conservation and research efforts making a positive difference for species of all shapes and sizes!
If you would like to make a positive difference to our environment, check out Frontier’s environment conservation projects.
By Shannon Clark - Online Journalism Intern
See more from our volunteers #Frontiervolunteer