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March '19

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March '19

⚡ Your monthly earth science-y news round up

🐛 Discovering there was life half a billion years ago in the Canadian seafloor

Half a billion years ago, an ancient sea covered the northernmost parts of Canada. The seafloor was thought to be a dead zone, no oxygen needed to support any life. But, turns out, minuscule worms lived quite happily in these ocean sediments — they even created their own "superhighway" of tunnels by burrowing through the soil. Traces were found in rocks from Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories.

🥔 We got two big blogs inside the earth, and we know nothing about them

Halfway between here and the centre of Earth, there are two continent-size mountains pierceing the gut of the planet — and scientists know almost nothing about them. “They're among the largest things inside the Earth and yet we literally don't know what they are, where they came from, how long they've been around, or what they do." said Ved Lekic, Geologist. All we know at the moment, is that one blob is deep below the Pacific Ocean, the other is under Africa and parts of the Atlantic. According to Duncombe, each blob stretches about 100 times higher than Mount Everest; if they sat on the planet's surface, the International Space Station would have to navigate around them. Wild, hey?!

🐙 Footage from 2017 of a sleeping octopus is stirring up buzz

The sleeping octopus seems to change colours with each breath as it sleeps. They’re known to rapidly shift their skin colour and texture to hide from predators, sneak up on prey and to communicate with each other. The mystery is if this sleeping octopus was actually dreaming of a threat? "It's been hypothesized that octopus species can exhibit something very similar to REM cycles in humans — but the jury's still out on whether they're achieving REM sleep," says Sara Stevens, an aquarist. There are no definitive answers to the questions: Are they dreaming? and What do they dream about?

🐋 Scientists finally filmed the elusive “type D” killer whales

These orcas, referred to as type D killer whales, were previously known from amateur photographs, fishermen’s descriptions, and one mass stranding—but never encountered in their natural state by experts. Unlike known types of orcas, they have a more rounded head, a pointier and narrower dorsal fin, and a very small white eye patch. They’re also shorter in length. A scientific team finally studied and filmed them in the wild, 60 miles off the coast of Cape Horn, Chile, at the very tip of South America—a region with the world’s worst weather. The team set sail and ventured to an area where fishermen had recently spotted the animals, and dropped anchor for more than a week. Finally, a pod of about 25 killer whales approached the ship. They are highly likely to be a new species.

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