Life on earth has been evolving for a long time – billions of years! The timing of when different kinds of life developed is controversial, but can tell us about the conditions of earth in the past. A group of scientists in Sweden looked at ancient fossils from India, and found what they describe as red algae. This is important because at 1.6 billion years old (that’s 1,600,000,000 years) this is the oldest fossil of this type of algae described to date. These red algae fossils are also much older than most biological models said they should be. This could mean that more types of organisms have been around longer than we thought!
Young penguins living along the southwestern coast of Africa typically follow cool, nutrient rich water to find food as they grow up. This used to lead them to ‘delicious’ fish such as anchovies and sardines. However, in this ecosystem – the Benguela Upwelling Zone – climate change and overfishing have reduced these fish populations. This forces the young penguins to eat less nutritious fish so fewer of them survive to adulthood. This threatens the African penguin’s future. Conservation efforts are needed to ensure this important (and adorable!) species survives.
Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas made by environmental microbes. In the ocean, microbes making this greenhouse gas live in zones with little to no oxygen. Scientists always thought that Bacteria were making this gas. Recently, a team from the UK set out to explore this hypothesis in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and found that actually a totally different type of microorganism, Archaea, were making the nitrous oxide. These are important findings since global warming and increased human inputs in the ocean are causing low oxygen zones to expand, potentially making even more greenhouse gas!