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C O W  P A T S

EYE  OPENING  ECO  FACTS

Mating marathon

Marathon, journey, energyA great white shark travelled from South Africa to Australia and back again in just nine months! Conservationists were probing how far great whites wander, to find ways to save them from extinction. They say the journey is unparalleled among fish. Great whites keep to coastal regions, but this was a trek across the open sea. Experts assume that the shark went searching for a mate and not for food. There is plenty to go around in South Africa and she would not have extra energy to go to Australia to eat.

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(S)killed swimmer

SwimmerThe trick that a parasitic worm uses to brainwash its host into killing itself has been revealed. The nematomorph hairworm (Spinochordodes tellinii) develops inside land-dwelling grasshoppers until the time comes for the worm to transform into an aquatic adult. At that point it persuades the insect to jump into water, allowing the adult worm to swim away. French scientists have found the worms produce proteins that mimic some of the grasshoppers’ own. Some of the proteins transmit neurons and respond to gravity.

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Panda for dinner

dinnerAncient humans dined on giant pandas. Evidence from seven Chinese fossil sites suggests that pandas formed part of the human diet about 600,000 years ago. Today only about 1590 pandas live in the wild, most in mountainous areas in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces of China.

Sea glow

Sea, OceanThe ancient mariners were perhaps right. Tales of "milky seas" that glow bluish-white at night have been spun by sailors for centuries. Now this eerie glow has been spotted from space in the north-western region of the Indian Ocean, spanning over 15, 400 kilometres. Scientists suspect bioluminescent bacteria, which produce a continuous glow, as the reason behind this spectacle. These bacteria are supposedly thriving because of the algal bloom. Milky seas are most prevalent in the Indian Ocean, where there are many trade routes and the ghostly lights are likely to distract many.

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Himalayan thermometer

This could perhaps be a model to predict Chinese typhoons. It has been found that winter snowfall on the Tibetan plateau can influence the number and severity of typhoons the following year. Researchers say that heavy snowing cools the air above the plateau and weakens the pressure that can travel up towards China. So, fewer typhoons reach east Asia. Conversely, a mild Tibetan winter spawns more typhoons. Over 17 typhoons are expected to strike China this year.

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Leap frog

lead frog, AIDS,HIVA small red-eyed frog could be the key to getting rid of AIDS. Scientists have found a chemical in the skin of the red-eyed tree frogs (generally found in Australia), which can block the HIV virus from causing infection. Now they are studying it further and are hopeful of producing an "after exposure" lotion that could be applied for protection against the HIV virus.

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Ticking elsewhere

Three astronomers at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) at Pune have discovered the second most energetic or accurate celestial object in the Milky Way. This pulsar named J1833-1034 emits radio waves with extremely accurate periodicity and so it is being dubbed as the most precise natural clock. The pulsar, located almost 12,000 light years from the earth, is also the fourth highest among all pulsars. The scientists have also gathered proof that pulsars are born from the relics of supernova explosions — the ones that occur in the formation of stars like the Sun.

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