The first official register of what lives in the oceans has revealed that the marine environment may be home to as many as a million species of animals and plants, but only about a quarter of them have actually been formally described.
Previous estimates of the number of species living in the oceans have ranged wildly from a few hundred thousand of several million, but the latest estimate is based on the first proper attempt to draw up an accurate inventory of marine life.
Although more ocean species have been discovered in the past decade than in any previous 10-year period – and about 65,000 newly “discovered” species are still waiting to be given formal scientific names – scientists believe that at least a third of all the marine life forms may be completely unknown to science.
The World Register of Marine Species, an on-line international database, has been put together by 270 marine biologists from 146 institutions in 32 countries in an attempt to answer the age-old question: what lives in the sea?
It found that about 226,000 species have been formally described by scientists – about 20,000 in the last decade alone – but that the total number could be three or four times higher, although unlikely to be more than a million as some previous estimates have suggested.
“More species than ever before are being described annually by an increasing number of [scientists]. If the current trend continues, most species will be discovered this century,” the scientists say in a study published in the journal Current Biology.
“The question of how many marine species exist is important because it provides a metric of how much we do and do not know about life in the oceans. We have compiled the first register of the marine species in the world and used this baseline to estimate how many more species…may be discovered,” they say.
One of the biggest obstacles to working out the total number of marine species is the problem of synonyms – many animals and plants have been given more than one name, and in some cases multiple names.
“The occurrence of as yet unrecognised synonyms is one of the most significant problems in estimating the true number of described species,” the study says.
The sperm whale of Moby Dick fame, for instance, has 19 synonyms, nine of which were given to the species by just three experts, the study found.
Another problem was that some species have in fact been found when analysed genetically to consist of two species.
The killer whale and the common bottlenose dolphin, for instance, have each been split into two or more species as a result of genetic analysis.
“For the first time, we can provide a very detailed overview of species richness, partitioned among all major marine groups. It is the state of the art of what we know – and perhaps do not know – about life in the ocean,” said Ward Appeltans of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
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Prehistoric arms race started earlier than previously thought
Scientists have found evidence that human ancestors used stone-tipped weapons 200,000 years earlier than once thought, findings that may change notions about the capabilities of prehistoric people.
Spears topped with stone points were most likely used for hunting large game and self-defense and were an important advance in weaponry, according to Jayne Wilkins, lead author of the paper Thursday in the journal Science. The points came from one of the Stone Age archaeological sites in South Africa called Kathu Pan 1, and were used a half-million years ago.
Researchers first thought the early humans were using sharpened wooden spears or stone hand axes, Wilkins said. The steps required to put a sharp-tipped stone at the end of a wooden spear, called hafting, means these ancestors had to engage in planning and other goal-driven thought processes long before a hunt took place, she said.
Two More Obama-Backed Green Companies in Trouble
One of the reasons government should not be picking winners in the private sector is they are not as good as the market-place in selecting viable companies. Obama’s “green energy” program has wasted many federal dollars and the count goes way beyond the infamous Solyndra.
The latest green companies in trouble are two foreign outfits which received a combined $84,000,000 of our money in the form of Energy Department tax credits. The companies have announced layoffs.
One of the companies, German-owned SolarWorld, was integral in the fight for tariffs against the importation of Chinese photovoltaic solar panels. The other, Chinese company SunTech, blamed those tariffs for its own layoffs.
Both companies benefited from the Energy Department’s stimulus-funded Advanced Energy Manufacturing (48C) Tax Credit. The 48C credit is worth up to 30% of the cost of manufacturing qualifying green energy projects.
SolarWorld received a credit worth $82 million, while SunTech’s was worth $2.1 million.
Both companies announced this week that they will shed some employees. SolarWorld, which announced a 47% revenue decline in the third quarter, blamed a potential 37 layoffs at its Oregon plant on “illegal” Chinese trade practices.
SunTech said the U.S. International Trade Commission’s 35.95% tariff on Chinese solar panels was partially responsible for the 50 impending layoffs at its Arizona production facilities.
Obama Is a Narcissist Who Rules a Narcissistic Nation
Many of our populace are self-centered and just plain misinformed. We are becoming a nation of takers, enablers and ignoramuses.
We have lost the concept that to be concerned about others also means holding them and ourselves accountable.
We have forgotten what a Republic is. Our Constitution is being dissolved before our eyes and we remain silent. We have a former Speaker of the House who doesn’t know the 11th amendment from the 14th…whatever.
Worse yet, we want the government to take care of us and, in exchange for this false sense of security, we have given up much of our freedom, and will keep giving it up until there is no freedom left. It is inevitable if we don’t change course.
Governor Romney recently referred to the takers and givers in this nation and the role that played in his loss. Governor Romney was the candidate who emphasized individual responsibility over handouts. After he made his comments, he was attacked by Republicans! They are misguided, not Romney. He sees the direction we are headed in better than they do.
Some in the Republican Party are playing politics with reality in an effort to pander to the takers that they foolishly think they can win over. That thinking is dangerous. We need them to be clearheaded and courageous.
President Obama is a narcissist and that point can’t be emphasized enough. He sees all the world as an extension of himself. For example, he does not care enough about our embassies and diplomatic missions to provide them with security, but lest you think he doesn’t have time to consider those things, take notice of all the protection he and those close to him have.
A letter from 232 multi-industry organizations, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is calling on President Obama and Congress to restructure the nation’s entitlement programs and put them on a path toward financial sustainability.
These organizations recognize that the country’s rising debt poses grave economic risks. In the letter, they cite that near the end of 2008, debt held by the public was around 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); this is close to the historical average of about 37 percent of GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, though, debt held by the public in 2012 had risen to 73 percent of GDP. The future looks worse still, as debt is projected to skyrocket to over 100 percent of GDP in less than 10 years.
Israel – Gaza conflict – The Big Picture
Israeli airstrikes began November 14, following months of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. Monday, the top leader of Hamas dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict, as the Israeli military conducted a new wave of deadly airstrikes which included a second hit on a 15-story building that houses media outlets. What follows is just a small collection of images from the last few days of the conflict. – Paula Nelson ( 34 photos total)
The Tunnels of Gaza
The tunnels of Gaza are a lifeline of the underground economy but also a death trap. For many Palestinians, they have come to symbolize ingenuity and the dream of mobility.
By James Verini
Photograph by Paolo Pellegrin
For as long as they worked in the smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip, Samir and his brother Yussef suspected they might one day die in them. When Yussef did die, on a cold night in 2011, his end came much as they’d imagined it might, under a crushing hail of earth.
It was about 9 p.m., and the brothers were on a night shift doing maintenance on the tunnel, which, like many of its kind—and there are hundreds stretching between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula—was lethally shoddy in its construction. Nearly a hundred feet below Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, Samir was working close to the entrance, while Yussef and two co-workers, Kareem and Khamis, were near the middle of the tunnel. They were trying to wedge a piece of plywood into the wall to shore it up when it began collapsing. Kareem pulled Khamis out of the way, as Yussef leaped in the other direction. For a moment the surge of soil and rocks stopped, and seeing that his friends were safe, Yussef yelled out to them, “Alhamdulillah!—Thank Allah!”
Hamas’ Tactic: Require Israel to Cause Civilian Casualties
As the rockets continue to fall in Israel and Gaza, it is important to understand Hamas’s tactic and how the international community and the media are encouraging it. Hamas’s tactic is as simple as it is criminal and brutal. Its leaders know that by repeatedly firing rockets at Israeli civilian areas, they will give Israel no choice but to respond. Israel’s response will target the rockets and those sending them. In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. The Hamas fighters hide in underground bunkers but Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, whom they use as “human shields.” This unlawful tactic puts Israel to a tragic choice: simply allow Hamas rockets to continue to target Israeli cities and towns; or respond to the rockets, with inevitable civilian casualties among the Palestinian “human shields.”
Every democracy would choose the latter option if presented with a similar choice. Although Israel goes to great efforts to reduce civilian casualties, the Hamas tactic is designed to maximize them. The international community and the media must understand this and begin to blame Hamas, rather than Israel, for the Palestinian civilians who are killed by Israeli rockets but whose deaths are clearly part of the Hamas tactic.
I was at my bank today; there was a short line.
There was just one lady in front of me, an Asian lady who was trying to exchange yen for dollars.
It was obvious she was a little irritated . . .She asked the teller, “Why it change? Yesterday, I get two hunat dolla of yen. Today I only get hunat eighty? Why it change?”
The teller shrugged his shoulders and said, “Fluctuations.”
The Asian lady says, “Fluc you white people too”
(go ahead and laugh your ass off)