NASA Helps Unravel Mysteries of Venusian Atmosphere
by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought – which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.
Planet Venus, with its thick atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, its parched surface, and pressures so high that landers are crushed within a few hours, offers scientists a chance to study a planet very foreign to our own. These mysterious holes provide additional clues to understanding Venus’s atmosphere, how the planet interacts with the constant onslaught of solar wind from the sun, and perhaps even what’s lurking deep in its core…
(read more: NASA - Goddard)
Whale Fall (Afterlife of a Whale)
Globemallow Leaf Beetle - Calligrapha serpentina
The Globemallow Leaf Beetle may look like a type of Lady Bug, bit it is not. As a member of the leaf beetles family (Chrysomelidae) the diet of Calligrapha serpentina is plant-based, unlike the carnivorous diet of Lady Bugs. In fact, many leaf beetles are considered pests due to the extensive damage they inflict on the plants they are eating.
As its common name suggests, the preferred vegetation of Calligrapha serpentina are plants in the mallow family, specifically the bushy, bright, desert-growing Globemallow.
This species occurs in the southwestern of the United States and Mexico.
Photo credit: ©Dave Beaudette | Locality: Fort Huachuca, Cochise County, Arizona, US (2014)
Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)
…a common species of salamandrid salamander which is distributed throughout most of southern and central Europe, where they are common in more elevated areas. Fire salamanders typically inhabit deciduous forests where they will spend their time in moist hidden areas like under stones, tree trunks, and in leaf litter. Like other salamanders fire salamanders are carnivorous and will feed on a variety of arthropods, earthworms, and molluscs. They are also known to occasionally eat small frogs or salamanders.
If threatened fire salamanders are capable of exuding the neurotoxic alkaloid “Samandarin" from their skin, which will cause muscle convulsions and hypertension in vertebrates.
Golden-tailed Gecko - Strophurus taenicauda
Also referred to as Golden Spiny-tailed Gecko, Strophurus taenicauda (Gekkonidae) is a rare and beautiful species which is only found in Australia, from the Darling Downs to the coastal regions of central and south-eastern Queensland. This gecko’s eyes are especially amazing.
Currently, the Golden-tailed Gecko is listed as Near Threatened species on the IUCN Red List.
Photo credit: ©Stephen Zozaya | Locality: Arcadia Valley, Queensland, Australia (2013)
Rare Fish Species Found in Australian Outback Bore Drain
by Chrissy Arthur
A thriving population of a small endangered fish has been discovered on a drought-affected outback Queensland cattle station.The Edgbaston goby (Chlamydogobius squamigenus) was only known to live in natural artesian springs on Edgbaston Reserve near Aramac, north-east of Longreach.
But fish have now been discovered in a man-made artesian bore drain 40 km away at the Ravenswood Station at Aramac. Freshwater ecologist Dr Adam Kerezsy stumbled across the rarity when surveying local waters.The fish do not swim very well, so Dr Kerezsy believed they arrived in a flood…
(read more: ABC News - Australia)
photos: Dr. Adam Kerezsy
Cyclochila australasiae, commonly known as the green grocer, is a species of cicada and one of Australia’s most familiar insects. It is distributed through coastal regions of southeastern Australia. It is one of the loudest insects in the world. It measures about 4 cm.