Observing animals in the wild while not disturbing them is a classic challenge for behavioral ecologists. But as a new study shows, the use of remotely operated robots to observe penguins and seals in their natural habitats can result in significantly lower and shorter stress responses.
For the new study, Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France and colleagues sought to find out if remote-controlled rovers could substitute for intrusive human observers. Indeed, efforts to study these sensitive creatures have never been more important. The latest research suggests that global warming will reduce Antarctica's emperor penguin population by nearly 20% over the next 80 years.
A species of humpback dolphin previously unknown to science is swimming in the waters off northern Australia, according to a team of researchers working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and numerous other groups that contributed to the study.
The sprawling Caloris basin on Mercury is one of the solar system's largest impact basins, created during the early history of the solar system by the impact of a large asteroid-sized body. The multi-featured, fractured basin spans about 1,500 kilometers in this enhanced color mosaic based on image data from the Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft. Mercury's youngest large impact basin, Caloris was subsequently filled in by lavas that appear orange in the mosaic. Craters made after the flooding have excavated material from beneath the surface lavas. Seen as contrasting blue hues, they likely offer a glimpse of the original basin floor material. Analysis of these craters suggests the thickness of the covering volcanic lava to be 2.5-3.5 kilometers. Orange splotches around the basin's perimeter are thought to be volcanic vents.