‘Plants caused end-Ordovician mass extinction’


This 12 May 2020 video says about itself:

How Plants Caused the First Mass Extinction

In the middle of the Cambrian, life on land was about to get a little more crowded. And those newcomers would end up changing the world. The arrival of plants on land would make the world colder, drain much of the oxygen out of the oceans and eventually, it would help cause a massive extinction event.

Dinosaur’s anti-predator armour, how strong?


This 19 May 2020 video says about itself:

Mechanical Dinosaur Jaws Vs. Replica Borealopelta Body

Scientists have created powerful mechanical jaws, modeled after the mid-Cretaceous predator known as Acrocanthosaurus. Now it’s time to test it out on a recreation of Borealopelta’s armored body.

COVID-19 infects British Premier League professional footballers


This 4 April 2020 video says about itself:

How a football match in Milan impacted the Covid-19 pandemic

This is the story of how a Champions League football match between Atalanta and Valencia became a “biological bomb” in Italy.

Dutch NOS radio reports today that at least six British Premier League professional footballers are infected with COVID-19. On Saturday, that number may increase when more test results will become known.

The six players play in three clubs. Names have not been published.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Men’s football PFA: BAME members are concerned about return

Troy Deeney has said he is not returning to training with Premier League club Watford

PLAYERS from ethnic-minority backgrounds have expressed their concerns about returning to action amid the coronavirus pandemic to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggests that black men and women are almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19 compared with non-whites, even when factors such as health, disability, household composition and area deprivation are taken into account.

Director of player welfare at the PFA Michael Bennett said that he has been called by players who are concerned about the risks. The PFA has called on the Premier League to conduct further research into the issue.

New fungus species discovered on Twitter


This 16 May 2020 video says about itself:

Scientist Discovers New Fungus on Twitter, called Troglomyces twitteri

New species of fungus that pierces its host to suck nutrients is discovered on TWITTER after biologists spot an image of an American millipede with bizarre red dots in a tweet.

From the University of Copenhagen in Denmark:

Bizarre new species discovered… on Twitter

May 15, 2020

Summary: A new species of fungus has been discovered via Twitter and christened accordingly — Troglomyces twitteri. This unique fungal parasite grows around the reproductive organs of millipedes.

While many of us use social media to be tickled silly by cat videos or wowed by delectable cakes, others use them to discover new species. Included in the latter group are researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum of Denmark. Indeed, they just found a new type of parasitic fungus via Twitter.

It all began as biologist and associate professor Ana Sofia Reboleira of the National Natural History Museum was scrolling though Twitter. There, she stumbled upon a photo of a North American millipede shared by her US colleague Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech. She spotted a few tiny dots that struck her well-trained eyes.

“I could see something looking like fungi on the surface of the millipede. Until then, these fungi had never been found on American millipedes. So, I went to my colleague and showed him the image. That’s when we ran down to the museum’s collections and began digging,” explains Ana Sofia Reboleira.

Together with colleague Henrik Enghoff, she discovered several specimens of the same fungus on a few of the American millipedes in the Natural History Museum’s enormous collection — fungi that had never before been documented. This confirmed the existence of a previously unknown species of Laboulbeniales — an order of tiny, bizarre and largely unknown fungal parasites that attack insects and millipedes.

The newly discovered parasitic fungus has now been given its official Latin name, Troglomyces twitteri.

SoMe meets museum

Ana Sofia Reboleira points out that the discovery is an example of how sharing information on social media can result in completely unexpected results:

“As far as we know, this is the first time that a new species has been discovered on Twitter. It highlights the importance of these platforms for sharing research — and thereby being able to achieve new results. I hope that it will motivate professional and amateur researchers to share more data via social media. This is something that has been increasingly obvious during the coronavirus crisis, a time when so many are prevented from getting into the field or laboratories.”

Reboleira believes that social media is generally playing a larger and larger role in research.

She stresses that the result was possible because of her access to one of the world’s largest biological collections.

“Because of our vast museum collection, it was relatively easy to confirm that we were indeed looking at an entirely new species for science. This demonstrates how valuable museum collections are. There is much more hiding in these collections than we know,” says Ana Sofia Reboleira.

Underappreciated parasitic fungus

Laboulbeniales-fungi look like tiny larvae. The fungi are in a class of their own because they live on the outside of host organisms, and even on specific parts of bodies — in this case, on the reproductive organs of millipedes. The fungus sucks nutrition from its host animal by piercing the host’s outer shell using a special suction structure, while the other half of the fungus protrudes.

Approximately 30 different species of parasitic Laboulbeniales-fungi attack millipedes. The vast majority of these were only discovered after 2014. According to Reboleira, there are most likely a great number remaining to be discovered. Research in the area of Laboulbeniales remains extremely scarce.

Nor is much known about their own biology, says Reboleira, who researches these fungi on a daily basis. She believes that these fungi can not only teach us about the insects upon which they live, but also about the mechanisms behind parasitism itself — that is, the relationship between parasites and their hosts. She hopes that the research will also provide useful knowledge about the parasites that attack and can be harmful to human health.

FACTS:

  • The new species Troglomyces twitteri belongs to the order of microscopic parasitic fungi known as Laboulbeniales. These fungi live on insects, arachnids and millipedes, and rely on their host organisms to survive.
  • The research was conducted by: Sergi Santamaria of the Departament de Biologia Animal, de Biologia Vegetal i d’Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; and Henrik Enghoff & Ana Sofia Reboleira from the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen.
  • Millipede specimens from the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris helped confirm the discovery of the new species of fungus.
  • The Natural History Museum of Denmark’s entomological collection is one of the world’s largest, housing more than 3.5 million pin-mounted insects and at least as many alcohol-preserved insect and land animal specimens. About 100,000 known species are represented (out of a total number of over one million species)