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Dickinsonia is world’s oldest known animal
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Verisimilus
A new study has cast further light on a mystery fossil that scientists say is as ‘strange as life on another planet’.
Resembling a strange cross between a fungus, a lichen, a worm and a jellyfish, this peculiar organism was first described back in 1947 and has remained something of an enigma ever since.
Dickinsonia lived hundreds of millions of years ago on the sea floor and ranged in size from a few millimeters across to around half a meter. What’s particularly intriguing about the species is that it was one of the earliest known organisms to move around rather than simply staying rooted to the spot.
Now in a new study, scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have managed to learn more about these peculiar organisms thanks to the discovery of additional Dickinsonia fossils with organic tissue preserved within the impressions left behind by the creatures’ bodies.
“Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Ediacaran biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution or the earliest animals on Earth,” said study co-author Jochen Brocks.
“The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of palaeontology.”
Source: Live Science
More and Bigger Sinkholes Appear on Yamal Tundra, Russia
The formations believed to be created by eruption of natural gas from the ground are of growing concern both to researchers and the oil and gas industry in the far Arctic peninsulas of Yamal and Gydan.
One of the biggest formations is located only about four kilometers from a gas pipeline leading from the huge Bovanenkovo field, a project operated by Gazprom. This formation is now growing and has reached a diameter of more than 60 meter and a depth of about 200 meters.
The first sinkholes were discovered in 2014 and since then at least ten big-size holes have been mapped. In addition, there are indications that several more major holes are in the making. Researchers told RIA Novosti that they on the two Arctic peninsulas have discovered several small hills which they believe could be «gas bubbles» ready to burst.
According to researchers at the Institute of Earth Cryosphere in Tyumen, there is methane gas seeping out from the formations.
Several expeditions to the region have been made by institute representatives. The quick changes in the formations have been triggered by the abnormally warm summer of 2016, the researchers concluded after an expedition in 2017.
The areas in and around the peninsulas of Yamal and Gydan are believed to be the only in the world where the phenomena take place. They are triggered by melting of permafrost in the local unique geological and natural conditions.
One of the last eruptions of gas in the area came in late June 2017, when a group of reindeer herders suddenly saw flaring flames and a column of smoke in the distance from a village on the eastern coast of the Yamal Peninsula.
The gas eruptions could potentially create great damage to oil and gas installations in the area, and companies have over the last couple of years placed censors in the area which they hope will be able to tell about new and upcoming sinkholes. The measurement instruments are now on site in Bovenenkovo, Sabetta and Kharasavey, all of them key sites for the gas industry in the area.
The Barents Observer
Startup Giant Invests To Shut Down Factory Farms
- The Facts:More and more companies are investing in plant-baed meat alternatives or lab-grown meat.
- Reflect On:Could this be the beginning of the end of factory farming? By raising awareness we are directly creating change on the planet.
The startup accelerator Y Combinator, which was behind popular tech companies including AirBnb, Reddit, Dropbox and Instacart, is now looking to invest in ‘clean meat’ startups that are threatening to take on and take down the meat, dairy and egg industries.
This company works with promising startups in their early stages to provide funding, business tools and networking opportunities in order to help them succeed. Y Combinator has recently partnered with the Good Food Institute in order to assist companies that are working hard to create alternatives to traditional animal products, focusing on “cellular agriculture and clean meat” as their top funding priorities.
Partner at Y Combinator, Gustaf Alstromer, told Fast Company in an interview:
We actually believe that clean meat could replace nearly all animal meat at some point. We think that if it works, [clean meat] will revolutionize the entire meat industry, and we think that it will probably be entrepreneurs and startups that build the companies that produce that meat.
Y Combinator has already begun working with 132 new startups including Spero Foods, which makes plant-based cheese and eggs, Mylk Guys, Seattle Food Tech, known for their vegan chicken nuggets and Cytera CellWorks, who are assisting the laboratory work involving the automation of cell cultures for clean meat, more commonly known as “lab-grown meat.”
Conventional Suppliers Shutting Down
As more and more people move towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle, investing in meat alternatives and clean meat is a smart business move. Hundreds of dairy farms in the U.S. have been forced to shut down already this year as the demand for cow’s milk just isn’t there anymore.
The number of those who identify as vegan or vegetarian is growing rapidly. There are a few reasons for this, one being a growing concern for environmental degradation and the massive impact caused by factory farming; another is the health implications from eating a diet rich in meat and animal products; and finally, thanks to the internet, there is the growing compassionate awareness in regards to the ethical treatment of animals.
Even the meat industry is becoming aware of this massive shift taking place. In 2016, Tyson Ventures made an undisclosed investment in plant-based protein company Beyond Meat. Tom Hayes, Tyson Foods CEO, said, “Plant-based protein is growing almost at this point a little faster than animal-based so I think the migration may continue in that direction.”
Tyson Foods also recently invested in Memphis Meats, who specialize in clean meat. Another large meat manufacturer, Cargill, has also backed this company with a landmark investment just last year. Memphis Meats creates real beef burgers, chicken and duck without the need to actually slaughter any animals.
The Power Of The People
First there is awareness, then comes change. Because people are getting educated on the products they are consuming it is directly affecting massive industries, as we can clearly see with the meat industry. Never underestimate the power of voting with your dollar, this is one of the most effective ways to create the type of world we want. If you don’t agree with the morals, ethics and business practices of a certain company, don’t support it! It’s simple really, but it’s up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our actions.
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