The Great Snail Tale

The common name snail is also applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have a coiled shell that is large enough for the animal to retract completely into. When the word snail is used in this most general sense, it includes not just land snails but also thousands of species of sea snails and freshwater snails. They do not have a great reputation but the story goes that if a snail climbs a plant or post, rain is coming, research led by the University of York goes one better: it shows snails can provide a wealth of information about the prevailing weather conditions thousands of years ago. The researchers, including scientists from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center (SUERC), analyzed the chemistry of snail shells dating back 9,000 to 2,500 years recovered from Mediterranean caves, looking at humidity at different times in the past.

Crab’s Metabolism May be Affected by Noise Pollution

Sitting at the dock of the bay you might hear the crash of breaking waves and squawking seagulls flying overhead. As you take in all the sites and sounds, you next hear a speeding boat racing by and an oil tanker a mile away. Grinding engine noises and long, low, horn sounds can be deafening in any harbor. And while you can handle it for the hour or two you spend there, the continuous sounds of these noisy vessels are being found to have repercussions on marine life.

Spinning Holes

How fast does a black hole spin? And how does it matter? An international team including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists has definitively measured the spin rate of a supermassive black hole for the first time. The findings, made by the two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, solve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.

Shell suspends Arctic oil drilling for the year

Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday that it was setting "pause" on its exploratory drilling activities in the Arctic for 2013. Shell's operations are currently under review by the federal government after the oil company suffered numerous setbacks during last year's opening attempt to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, including running its drilling rig aground on Sitkalidak Island in southern Alaska in late December.

Reptiles Need Our Help NOW!

Reptiles have inhabited our planet for more than 250 million years, and are adapted to almost every part of it. Yet when it comes to conservation action, reptiles all over the world have been overlooked in favour of more charismatic animals. With only 35% of described reptile species evaluated for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, no one knew to what extent reptiles were being affected by our current extinction crisis.

Polar Snow Up

More snow in the Arctic is good. Less snow elsewhere may be a problem. A new cli­mate model pre­dicts an increase in snow­fall for the Earth’s polar regions and high­est alti­tudes, but an over­all drop in snow­fall for the globe, as car­bon diox­ide lev­els rise over the next century. The decline in snow­fall could spell trou­ble for regions such as the west­ern United States that rely on snow melt as a source of fresh water.

Is that really Red Snapper You’re Eating? Don’t be so sure!

From 2010 to 2012, Oceana conducted one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. DNA testing found that one-third (33 percent) of the 1,215 samples analyzed nationwide were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Why Long Necked Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs often are depicted with very long necks. Nowadays we have the giraffe with a long neck who seem to have evolved this feature due to the need to eat leaves higher up. So why and how the dinosaur with its long neck? Researchers say the how is helped by hollow neck bones. The largest creatures to ever walk the Earth were the long-necked, long-tailed dinosaurs known as the sauropods. These vegetarians had by far the longest necks of any known animal. The dinosaurs' necks reached up to 50 feet in length, six times longer than that of the current world-record holder, the giraffe, and at least five times longer than those of any other animal that has lived on land.

Siberian Stalactites and Stalagmites Suggest Permafrost Thawing

One of the greatest concerns of global warming is the effects temperature will have on snow and icecaps. With Arctic ice melt, many scientists predict sea levels rise, affecting coastlines and populations around the world. Not only will warmer temperatures affect ice caps, but according to a new study the thawing of permafrost in colder regions could eventually lead to the release of 1,000 giga-tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air which has the potential to further accelerate global warming.

Blink and you’ll miss it: how species are being lost before they’re even found

Asia's karst landscapes are yielding new biological discoveries at an astonishing rate, yet the majority of species found here remain unknown (and unloved) by the wider world. With limestone quarrying threatening these fragile ecosystems, is there anything we can do to stem the tide of unnoticed extinctions?