History of Agriculture Revealed

Open any history book and you’re likely to find that the practice of agriculture was invented 12,000 years ago in the Levant, an area in the Middle East that was home to some of the first human civilizations. But a new discovery recently made in Northern Israel seems to have shattered the myth on the advent of agriculture, offering up exciting evidence that trial plant cultivation, what we call agriculture, began far earlier – some 23,000-years-ago.

Good news for Bobcats in California!

In a momentous decision, the California Fish & Game Commission has voted to ban the trapping of bobcats.Assembly Bill 1213, prohibiting the trapping and killing of bobcats statewide, passed the California legislature in 2013, but for the past two years it has not been fully implemented.A Care2 petition demanding that California legislators and the Fish and Game Commission be more diligent in protecting the bobcat by fully enforcing the Bobcat Protection Act has garnered over 77,000 signatures. In a huge victory for Care2 members, the members of the Commission voted to implement a total ban on bobcat trapping.

Are insecticides more toxic than we think?

Insecticides that are sprayed in orchards and fields across North America may be more toxic to spiders than scientists previously believed. A McGill research team reached this conclusion after looking at changes in the behaviour of individual Bronze Jumping Spiders both before and after exposure to Phosmet, a widely used broad spectrum insecticide. It is a finding with far-reaching implications for agricultural production and ecosystem health.

Horses and humans share facial expressions

Horses share some surprisingly similar facial expressions to humans and chimps, according to new University of Sussex research. Mammal communication researchers have shown that, like humans, horses use muscles underlying various facial features - including their nostrils, lips and eyes - to alter their facial expressions in a variety of social situations.

Study shows some permafrost carbon transported by river to the ocean

As temperatures rise, some of the organic carbon stored in Arctic permafrost meets an unexpected fate—burial at sea. As many as 2.2 million metric tons of organic carbon per year are swept along by a single river system into Arctic Ocean sediment, according to a new study an international team of researchers published today in Nature. This process locks away carbon dioxide (CO2) - a greenhouse gas - and helps stabilize the earth’s CO2 levels over time, and it may help scientists better predict how the natural carbon cycle will interplay with the surge of CO2 emissions due to human activities.“The erosion of permafrost carbon is very significant,” says Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Associate Scientist Valier Galy, a co-author of the study. “Over thousands of years, this process is locking CO2away from the atmosphere in a way that amounts to fairly large carbon stocks. If we can understand how this process works, we can predict how it will respond as the climate changes.”

The benefits of eating spicy food

People who eat spicy foods nearly every day have a 14% lower risk of death compared with those who consume spicy foods less than once a week, according to a new study. Regular spicy food eaters are also less likely to die from cancer, heart, and respiratory diseases than those who eat spicy foods infrequently.“The findings are highly novel,” said Lu Qi, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the study’s co-lead author. “To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first reporting a link between spicy food intake and mortality.”

Can habitat protection save our disappearing bats?

In summertime, bats are a common feature in the night sky, swooping around backyards to gobble up mosquitos. Bats also help with crops: they act as a natural pesticide by feeding on harmful insects. But these winged mammals are now under threat. As agricultural intensification expands across the world, the conversion of their natural habitats has caused a dramatic decline in population. 

4 million years at Africa's salad bar

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according to a study led by the University of Utah.

How changing land use pattern in the Caribbean is impacting storm risks

Turning natural landscapes in the Caribbean into urban areas or farmland may increase the risk of people dying from floods and storms, scientists suggest. In a study published by Scientific Reports last month (8 July), researchers from Anguilla’s health ministry and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium investigate which factors make the region more prone to deaths related to these disasters. Out of 20 variables, they found that using a greater proportion of land for agriculture and having a higher percentage of people living in urban areas were consistently linked with deadlier floods and storms. 

Ending Wildlife Crime Becomes Top Priority

The past few weeks have been filled with headlines of crimes against our wildlife from the heartbreaking loss of Cecil the Lion to five more elephant deaths. But justice for our wildlife is on the horizon. The United Nations recently recognized that wildlife crime matters, and it’s on a similar level as human, arms and drug trafficking.