Why so Many Saiga Antelope Died in 2015?
When E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the University of Oxford visited a central Kazakhstan in 2015, the sight was horrific. The saiga antelope were behaving normally until suddenly they became lethargic. Sudden collapse and mysterious death soon followed. According to the wildlife veterinarian Richard Kock from the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, mothers died first and helpless calves were distressed and eventually died hours later. He said:
“It was like a switch was turned on in each animal.”
Two years later, Milner-Gulland, Kock, and dozens of their colleagues from Kazakhstan found the main reason for this massive and mysterious die-off. The team diagnosed hemorrhagic septicemia or blood poisoning, which is caused by Pasteurella multocida type B bacteria. The bacteria is a normal inhabitant of the saigas.
“They have it naturally in their noses, just like we all have various bacteria living harmlessly in our bodies,” Milner-Gulland says.
She explained that even newborns have the bacteria which is probably passed on from their mothers. However, high temperatures and humidity can cause the microbes to multiply which turned the bacteria deadly according to the statistical analysis.
It is estimated that 10,700 saigas remain globally, but scientists are optimistic about the antelope’s future.
Dark Matter Could be Lurking Undetected in Our Galaxy
Clumps of dark matter could be present in the Milky Way and other galaxies undetected. A new study proposed that dark matter could collapse into smaller clumps and condense into planets and stars. According to researchers from Rutgers University in Piscataway N.J., collapsed dark matter could constitute 10% of the Milky Way’s dark matter.
According to the study, dark matter is necessary to explain the motion of stars in galaxies. Astronomers cannot explain how stars move at the speed they do, without an extra source of mass.
Matthew Buckley, theoretical physicist and co-author of the study said:
“We don’t really know what dark matter at smaller scales is doing.”
The researchers found that small clouds of dark matter could collapse, however, the large clouds of dark matter couldn’t since they have too much energy to get rid of. The study suggests that the Milky Way could have a vast halo, with a small part of dark matter clumps lurking undetected.
Dan Hooper of Fermilab, a theoretical astrophysicist, and co-author of the study said:
“Interesting and novel … but it also leaves a lot of open questions.”
Without having more knowledge about the dark matter, it’s difficult for scientists to predict what kind of clumps dark matter might actually form.
Life on Earth May Have Been Possible in the most Hellish Eon
During the first eon, asteroid strikes bombarded our planet, but the heat released was not as sterilizing as scientists thought it was. Simulations done by scientists suggest the during the first few hundred million years of bombardment, the Earth could be habitable for mesophiles, microbes that are able to live in temperatures between 20° to 50° Celsius, which leads us to believe that the Earth was habitable much earlier than we thought. Mesophiles could persist at 20% of the top kilometer of a surface under those conditions.
Our planet was born during the earliest eon called Hadean, which started about 4.6 billion years ago when our planet was born. The Hadean is the Greek god of the underworld, and the name pretty much reflects the original conception of the age: hellish and impossible for any form of life to develop.
According to Stephen Mojzsis, a geologist at the University of Colorado Boulder:
“There has been an assumption that the Hadean was mostly an uninteresting slag heap until the sky stopped falling and life could take hold.”
The first 150 million years of the Hadean was a very much dramatic period when the moon was formed, but after those first 150 million years, things have settled down considerably and some forms of life could be possible.
First hints of possible life found date back to 4.1 billion years ago.