NASA Releases Historic 20-Year Earth Timelapse

NASA has released a glorious new 20-year time lapse video loop revealing the Earth as a living, ‘breathing’ entity, as cyclic meteorological events coupled with increasingly warm temperatures detail how our planet is rapidly evolving.

Detailing 20 years of constant satellite observation, the flora of the planet on land and at sea is clearly seen to cycle between cooler and warmer seasons, giving the rhythm of the video a breathing effect.

Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

The gas composition of a planet's atmosphere generally determines how much heat gets trapped in the atmosphere. For the dwarf planet Pluto, however, the predicted temperature based on the composition of its atmosphere was much higher than actual measurements taken by New Horizons spacecraft in 2015.

A new study proposes a novel cooling mechanism controlled by haze particles to account for Pluto's frigid atmosphere, according to Science Daily.

"It's been a mystery since we first got the temperature data from New Horizons," said first author Xi Zhang, assistant professor. "Pluto is the first planetary body we know of where the atmospheric energy budget is dominated by solid-phase haze particles instead of by gases."

Crested pigeons use feathers to sound the alarm

Many animals will sound an alarm to alert other members of their group of impending danger. Now, researchers reporting have shown that crested pigeons do this in a surprisingly non-vocal way. One of their main flight feathers produces a critical high-pitched sound as the birds fly away. As they flap faster to escape a predator, that alarm signal automatically increases in tempo, according to Science Daily.

Importantly, the researchers also show that other crested pigeons flee when they hear that sound. The findings confirm that the sound is a bona fide signal, not just a side effect of flight.

Deep-sea fish reveals twilight trick

A new type of cell has been found in the eye of a deep-sea fish, and scientists say the discovery opens a new world of understanding about vision in a variety of light conditions, according to Science Daily.

Scientists found the new cell type in the deep-sea pearlside fish (Maurolicus spp.), which have an unusual visual system adapted for twilight conditions.

Dr Fanny de Busserolles said the retina of most vertebrate animals -- including humans -- contained two photoreceptor types: rods for vision in dim light, and cones for daytime vision. Each had different light-sensitive proteins.

"Deep-sea fish, which live at ocean depths below 200m, are generally only active in the dark, so most species have lost all their cones in favour of light-sensitive rods," Dr de Busserolles said.

The secret lives of ancient land plants

The clues to our evolutionary ancestors? They're in our genes.

All organisms carry patterns in their DNA that scientists can analyze to decipher where and when a species diverged on the evolutionary tree. These studies can reveal how a particular species evolved to become the organism we know today, according to Science Daily.

In collaboration with over 40 universities and research institutes worldwide, Takayuki Kohchi and colleagues have unraveled the genome of the common liverwort gaining new insight into how the modest land plants evolved.

"All land plants, from moss on rocks to trees that flower, evolved from a common ancestral algal species that colonized land about 500 million years ago," explains Kohchi. "The liverwort diverged from other land plants at the earliest stage of evolution, and therefore still possess ancestral characteristics of plant species that followed."