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Coral Reefs: Nature's Underwater Pharmacies
Biologists have begun to discover just what a treasure trove the oceans' coral reefs are in terms of finding potential cures to some of humanity's worst diseases, despite threats to the reefs' existence.
What's the Latest Development?
Biologists have begun to discover just what a treasure trove the oceans' coral reefs are in terms of finding potential cures to some of humanity's worst diseases. Tens of thousands of chemicals have already been identified and, of those thousands, hundreds are currently under medical investigation. "Sponges are particularly rich sources of chemicals," said professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, "particularly anti-cancer chemicals. Many have been shown to be tumor suppresents and one has already been licensed for use in the treatment of leukemia."
What's the Big Idea?
Coral reefs naturally represent nature's largest pharmacy thanks to evolutionary processes which have endowed a wide variety of species with vastly different and highly complex chemical makeups in their intense competition for a limited amount of underwater real-estate. Currently, however, coral reefs are under pressure from a variety of man-made hazards including pollution, over-fishing and climate change. "To lose those possible treatments through the destruction of coral reefs would be an unparalleled act of folly," said Roberts.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Certain water beetles can escape from frogs after being consumed.
- A Japanese scientist shows that some beetles can wiggle out of frog's butts after being eaten whole.
- The research suggests the beetle can get out in as little as 7 minutes.
- Most of the beetles swallowed in the experiment survived with no complications after being excreted.
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.