Unusual creatures uncovered beneath an Antarctic ice shelf

The organisms were anchored to a boulder 900 meters beneath the ice, living a cold, dark existence miles away from the open ocean.

Credit: Huw Griffiths/British Antarctic Survey
  • A new study details the discovery of sessile organisms living under the Antarctic's Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.
  • In recent years, scientists have discovered more creatures living in environments once thought inhospitable to life.
  • It's currently unknown how these new organisms find food in such an environment, nor how plentiful they are beneath the continent's ice-blanketed coastlines.
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    Why do some species evolve to miniaturize?

    The island rule hypothesizes that species shrink or supersize to fill insular niches not available to them on the mainland.

    Credit: Frank Glaw
    • Brookesia nana, the nano-chameleon, may be the smallest vertebrate ever discovered.
    • The "island rule" states that when new species migrate to islands, they may shrink or grow as they evolve to fill new ecological niches.
    • It remains unclear whether the island rule can explain the nano-chameleon or nature's other extreme miniaturizations.
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    Citizen scientists are filling research gaps created by the pandemic

    Participation in community science programs has skyrocketed during COVID-19 lockdowns.

    Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    The rapid spread of COVID-19 in 2020 disrupted field research and environmental monitoring efforts worldwide. Travel restrictions and social distancing forced scientists to cancel studies or pause their work for months.

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    Finally, a world map for bees

    First picture of worldwide bee distribution fills knowledge gaps and may help protect species.

    Credit: Current Biology, open access
  • The first global picture of the world's 20,000 bee species holds a few surprises.
  • Unlike most other species, bees are less abundant at the tropics and more in dry, temperate zones.
  • Bees are endangered but crucial as pollinators – this study will help protect them.

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    NOAA discovers a new, beautifully weird sea creature

    Exceptionally high-quality videos allow scientists to formally introduce a remarkable new comb jelly.

    • Gorgeous simplicity characterizes the comb jelly recently discovered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.
    • The small denizen of the deep was spotted three times beneath the waters off Puerto Rico.
    • Though it's unusual to formally identify an animal strictly based on video observations, the quality of NOAA's video made it possible in a case where there's no better alternative.
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