SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- While hiking a lowland forest in 2009, not far from Ho Chi Minh City (map),Vietnam, "we came across a huge green frog, sitting on a log," said Jodi Rowley, an amphibian biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney and lead author of a new study on the frog.
Rowley later discovered that the 3.5-inch-long (9-centimeter-long) creature is a relatively large new type of flying frog, a group known for its ability to "parachute" from tree to tree thanks to special aerodynamic adaptations, such as webbed feet, Rowley said. (Also see "'Vampire Flying Frog' Found; Tadpoles Have Black Fangs.")
Rowley dubbed the new species Helen's flying frog, in honor of her mother, Helen Rowley, "who has steadfastly supported her only child trekking through the forests of Southeast Asia in search of frogs," according to a statement.
The newfound species—there are 80 types of flying frogs—is also "one of the most flying frogs of the flying frogs," Rowley said, "in that it's got huge hands and feet that are webbed all the way to the toepad."
"Females even have flappy skin on their forearms to glide," added Rowley, who has received funding from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.) "The females are larger and heavier than males, so the little extra flaps probably don't make much of a difference," she said.
As Rowley wrote on her blog, "At first it may seem strange that such a fantastic and obvious frog could escape discovery until now—less than 100 kilometers [60 miles] from an urban centre with over nine million people."
Yet these tree dwellers can easily escape notice—they spend most of their time in the canopy, she said.
Flying Frog On the Edge
Even so, Helen's flying frog won't be able to hide from development near Ho Chi Minh City, which may encroach on its existing habitats.
So far, only five individuals have been found in two patches of lowland forest hemmed in by rice paddies in southern Vietnam, Rowley said. The animals can probably tolerate a little bit of disturbance as long as they have large trees and temporary pools, she added.
But lowland forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world, mostly because they're so accessible to people, and thus chosen for logging and development. (Get the facts on deforestation.)
"While Helen's flying frog has only just been discovered by biologists," Rowley wrote, "unfortunately this species, like many others, is under great threat from ongoing habitat loss and degradation."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Eight bodies and the remains of others were found in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua over the weekend, sources and state news said.
The eight bodies showed signs of torture, according to sources from the state prosecutor's office. The victims were likely killed where they were found -- along a road in the municipality of Satevo. Their identities were not known.
Also in Chihuahua, authorities discovered the remains of an indeterminate number of victims in secret graves in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's state-run Notimex news agency said. The remains reportedly date from 2010.
Chihuahua, which borders the United States, has been hard-hit by drug-related violence.
May: Dismembered bodies found
More than 47,500 people have died across Mexico in such violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and announced plans to deploy federal troops to help the government's fight against organized crime.
According to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, more than 5,300 people have disappeared throughout the country in that same time period, and the bodies of 9,000 dead have not been identified.
Calderon is set to wrap up his term as president this week. He will be replaced by Enrique Pena Nieto, who was elected in July and will be sworn in Saturday.
FBI Top 10 fugitive arrested in Mexico
Calderon proposes changing Mexico's name. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It’s cold and young and massive. And they call it the wanderer.
Astronomers recently discovered a new planet, named CFBDSIR2149, that is the closest planetary body to our solar system. It is also the first convincing evidence of an accepted but yet unsubstantiated theory of roaming planets.
Astronomers have theorized for the last decade about the presence of wandering planets that do not orbit stars, and they’ve found a number of objects that could potentially fit the bill. But without the ability to accurately date these objects, scientists couldn’t positively identify them as planets. They could just as easily have been failed stars called brown dwarfs.
Luckily for astronomers, CFBDSIR2149 has certain qualities that made identification possible. The wandering planet acts as a groupie to the AB Doradus Moving Group—a band of 30 young stars that travels through space together. These stars are all the same age, so astronomers were able to deduce the age of the planet traveling with them. At 50 to 120 million years old, CFBDSIR2149 is still pretty young.
For astronomers, another handy quality of the cosmic nomad’s starlessness is the resulting lack of light reflected from its atmosphere. This allows astronomers to study the planet’s atmosphere in detail using infrared telescopes, something that would not be possible with star-orbiting planets. Finding CFBDSIR2149 and identifying it as a planet was a coup in and of itself, and astronomers believe that observing this wandering planet will also help them better understand its more rooted counterparts.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It's no tall tale—the first complete ancient skeleton of a person with gigantism has been discovered near Rome, a new study says.
At 6 feet, 8 inches (202 centimeters) tall, the man would have been a giant in third-century A.D. Rome, where men averaged about 5 and a half feet (167 centimeters) tall. By contrast, today's tallest man measures 8 feet, 3 inches (251 centimeters).
Finding such skeletons is rare, because gigantism itself is extremely rare, today affecting about three people in a million worldwide. The condition begins in childhood, when a malfunctioning pituitary gland causes abnormally growth.
Two partial skeletons, one from Poland and another from Egypt, have previously been identified as "probable" cases of gigantism, but the Roman specimen is the first clear case from the ancient past, study leader Simona Minozzi, a paleopathologist at Italy's University of Pisa, said by email.
Piecing Together a Giant
The unusual skeleton was found in 1991 during an excavation at a necropolis in Fidenae (map), a territory indirectly managed by Rome.
At the time, the Archaeological Superintendence of Rome, which led the project, noted that the man's tomb was abnormally long. It was only during a later anthropological examination, though, that the bones too were found to be unusual. Shortly thereafter, they were sent to Minozzi's group for further analysis.
To find out if the skeleton had gigantism, the team examined the bones and found evidence of skull damage consistent with a pituitary tumor, which disrupts the pituitary gland, causing it to overproduce human growth hormone.
Other findings—such as disproportionately long limbs and evidence that the bones were still growing even in early adulthood—support the gigantism diagnosis, according to the study, published October 2 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
His early demise—likely between 16 and 20—might also point to gigantism, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems, said Minozzi, who emphasized that the cause of death remains unknown. (Explore an interactive of the human body.)
A Giant of the Stage?
Charlotte Roberts, a bioarchaeologist at the U.K.'s Durham University, said she's "certainly convinced with the diagnosis" of gigantism. But she'd like to know more.
"You can't just study the disease, you have to look at the wider impact of how people functioned in society, and whether they were treated any differently," Roberts said.
Goods buried with a body, for example, can offer hints to the person's role in life and how they were treated in their community.
The Roman giant, though, was found with no funerary artifacts, study leader Minozzi said. And, she added, his burial was typical of the time, suggesting he was included as part of society.
"We know nothing about the role or presence of giants in the Roman world," she said—other than the fact that the second century A.D. emperor Maximinus Thrax was described in literature as a "human mountain."
Minozzi noted, though, that imperial Roman high society "developed a pronounced taste for entertainers with evident physical malformations, such as hunchbacks and dwarfs—so we can assume that even a giant generated enough interest and curiosity."
Whatever the Roman giant's lot in life, the information to be gleaned after his death might someday further science.
"Normally a doctor will be looking at a patient with a disease over short term span," Durham University's Roberts said. "We've been able to look at skeletons from archaeological sites that are thousands of years old. You can start to look at trends of how diseases have changed in frequency over time." (See pictures of ancient Egyptian mummies with heart disease.)
If by studying ancient remains "we can teach the living and help them plan for the future," she said, "that's a good thing."— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: National Geographic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Honey-bees are known for their sting, but scientists have now discovered they can also bite.
Bees resort to biting when faced with pests, such as parasitic mites, that are too small to sting.
Close study of the biting behaviour has revealed that they secrete a chemical in their bite that stuns pests so they are easier to eject from a colony.
Tests suggest the chemical could also have a role in human medicine, as a local anaesthetic.
Dr Alexandros Papachristoforou, a biologist at Greece's Aristotle University of Thessaloniki told the BBC honey-bees had previously been seen dealing with pests that lived alongside them in colonies but this had always thought to be part of their grooming behaviour.
"Everybody thought that was it. Full stop," Dr Papachristoforou said. "But that's not the case. It's something totally different and was just there and we could not see it.
"I think we know too many things about the pathology of honey bees," he said. "We are still missing a lot of basic knowledge on their biology and behaviour."
The pests that honey-bees bite include varroa mites as well as wax moth larvae.
The varroa mite is endemic throughout both feral and cultivated honey-bee colonies.
If the population of mites in a hive is left unchecked they can sap the strength of workers, making them much more susceptible to viruses, disease and other debilitating conditions.
Wax moth larvae burrow through the comb in hives gradually destroying the cells where broods are raised and honey stored.
The knock-out effect of the chemical secreted in the honey-bee bite, known as 2-heptanone, was discovered as Dr Papachristoforou and colleagues observed bees dealing with pests.
Dr Papachristoforou recovered wax moth larvae that had been ejected from a hive, assuming the bees had killed them. Instead, he said, the larvae had started wriggling again soon after being ejected.
Before now bees were thought to secrete 2-heptanone as an alarm pheromone to tell other colony members about a potential threat.
However, said Dr Papachristoforou, this had never seemed an entirely satisfactory explanation because 2-heptanone was so volatile that it quickly lost its potency. In addition, he said, bees had at their disposal a much more powerful chemical alarm signal.
To stun pests, the 2-heptanone is injected at the site of the bite a bee inflicts on a mite, moth or larvae.
Early tests suggest 2-heptanone may also find a role in humans as a local anaesthetic. It could be an alternative to well established treatments such as lidocaine that can provoke allergenic reactions in some people. The researchers published their results in the journal Plos One.
"The potential implications of this new research for honey-bees and their interactions with varroa mites and wax moth larvae will need to be looked at in more detail, but the initial results look really interesting," said Giles Budge, senior researcher with the UK's National Bee Unit.
"I think it is amazing that despite all the years of intensive study there are still massive discoveries to be made about fundamental honey-bee physiology such as the ability to paralyse small insects and mites," he said.
Dr Papachristoforou, said the good news about the research was that bees would not inflict any damage on humans if they bit them.
"Humans cannot be bitten by bees," he said. "They have such small mandibles they can only use them against larvae and mites."— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The shooter suspected of killing three people and wounding four others at a spa near a mall in Brookfield, Wisconsin, has been found dead with a reportedly self-inflicted gunshot wound, a local police chief told the media.
The body of the suspect, Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, has been found by police after a six hour extensive manhunt. Radcliffe is thought to have gone on a shooting spree on Sunday morning, opening fire at the Azana Day Spa near the Brookfield Square Mall.
The shooting occurred at 11 am local time, with three people dead and four rushed to a nearby hospital. A spokeswoman at the local Froedtert Hospital says it has received four patients from the shooting, none critical and expects three more.
Authorities have been looking for a suspect described as a heavy-set, bald black male in military fatigues who was possibly driving a 2003 Black Mazda. Several roads in the area were blocked off and police are holding tactical positions at the scene of the shooting. The manhunt in suburban Milwaukee continued for six hours.
The Brookfield Square Mall and an adjacent country club were initially put on lockdown. As of 1:20 PM local time, however, people were allowed to leave the mall. Several entrances at hte Froedtert Hospital have been blocked off as the location of the shooter remains unknown.
Milwaukee FBI spokesman Leonard Peace told AP its SWAT team, hostage negotiators, command staff and victims specialists had been dispatched to respond to the shooting.
ATF spokesman Robert Schmidt said 10 agents were at the scene. The area was also swept for bombs.
David Josh, a witness to the incident, said they said a woman run out into a nearby road screaming amidst the traffic.
"She ran right out into the street was pounding on cars," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes him as saying.
Gosh said a large black man armed with a handgun ran onto the street in pursuit of the woman. Police then showed up, at which point the alleged shooter ran back into the building, or possibly the woods behind the building.
"He was the shooter," Gosh said. "He was looking for an escape route," Gosh continue.
Several other witnesses reported seeing a barefoot woman fleeing the scene
Christopher Pfeiffer, who was parked outside a nearby Barnes & Noble bookstore, said he saw a young woman running between the parked vehicles.
She was screaming, yelling, crying hysterical. She was pleading for help," said Pfeiffer said. "She kept saying, 'My mother was shot.' And she mentioned that there was a gunman. She ran into the bookstore and I followed her. But I watched her from afar."
The Brookfield Patch reports the suspect is apparently the estranged husband of one of the hair stylists at the spa. The unemployed man had allegedly slashed tires in the parking lot of the complex and put up signs on the spa's doors warning employees to keep them locked.
Sunday's incident was the second mass shooting in Wisconsin this year. In August, Army veteran and white supremacist Wade Page killed six people and injured three others before taking his own life at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee.
Brookfield was also the scene of another infamous mass shooting. In 2005, Terry Ratzmann walked into a local Sheraton Hotel and shot dead seven members of the Living Church of God before turning the gun on himself.
Four others were wounded in the shooting, one critically. Ratzmann, who was reportedly about to lose his job, had been sent into a rage by a sermon given at the church two weeks prior.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Electronics manufacturer Foxconn said Tuesday it found underage interns as young as 14 working at one of its factories in China.
Foxconn Technology Group said the interns were found by a company investigation at its factory in the eastern city of Yantai and were sent back to their schools. China's minimum legal working age is 16.
Foxconn, owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., is best known as the manufacturer of Apple Inc.'s iPhone but said the Yantai factory had no connection with its work for Apple.
The company said it is investigating with schools how the interns were sent to its factory. It didn't say how many underage interns it found.
"We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action," Foxconn said in a statement.
"Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated."
Other clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard
Foxconn produces iPhones and iPads for Apple and also assembles products for Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The company gave no indication what products were made in facilities where the interns worked.
The company said it had a policy of not commenting on its customers or their products, "however we can confirm that our Yantai facility has no association with any work we carry out on behalf of Apple."
A labour rights group, China Labor Watch, said in a statement that primary responsibility lay with the schools involved but "Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers."
Conditions in factories in China are a sensitive issue for foreign companies that outsource production of shoes, consumer electronics and other goods to local contractors.
Last month, Foxconn suspended production for one day at a factory in the city of Taiyuan following a brawl by as many as 2,000 employees that injured 40 people.
Foxconn is one of China's biggest employers, with about 1.2 million employees in factories in several cities. The company has an internship program that takes vocational students who work for three to six months in its factories, accompanied by teachers.
Foxconn faced a complaint in August that vocational students were compelled by their schools to work in its factories in China. Foxconn said the students were free to leave at any time.
The Fair Labor Association, which was hired by Apple to audit working conditions at Foxconn factories, said in August that improvements it recommended in March were being carried out ahead of schedule.
That included verifying the ages of student interns.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Word that a giant eyeball washed up on a South Florida beach has created a buzz on the Internet and in the marine biology community.
The huge, blue eyeball may have come from a deep sea squid or a large sword fish, said Heather Bracken-Grissom, an assistant professor in the marine science program at Florida International University in Miami.
A man found the eyeball while taking a morning stroll along Pompano Beach just north of Fort Lauderdale. He contacted state wildlife officials, who took possession of the softball-sized eyeball.
As soon as pictures hit the Internet on Thursday, Bracken-Grissom said she started talking with her colleagues.
"Any time something weird and crazy washes up on the beach, it's definitely interesting," she said.
The professor and her colleagues concluded that the eyeball's lens and pupil are similar in shape to that of a deep sea squid. She noted that a deep sea squid's eyeball can be as large as a soccer ball and can easily become dislodged.
The mystery likely won't be solved until testing on the eyeball is completed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
"It's going to be very interesting to see what the genetic analysis shows," Bracken-Grissom said.
She said news of the giant eyeball traveled quickly. Relatives from California even called, asking her opinion.
"Something like this gets the public very excited about the mysterious realm of the ocean," she said.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Astronomers claim they have found two black holes lurking inside a 12-billion-year-old cluster of tightly-packed stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
The international team was taken by surprise when noting what appeared to be two black holes, each about 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun, near the core of a star cluster named Messier 22 (M22), they wrote in Nature.
The finding challenges much of the accepted science on globular star clusters, which are about 10 billion years old on average and contain around a million stars.
Theorists had believed that no more than one matter-sucking black hole could exist in a globular cluster, of which there are dozens in the Milky Way.
"We were searching for one large black hole in the middle of the cluster, but instead found two smaller black holes a little way out from the centre," study co-author James Miller-Jones from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research said of the "very surprising" find.
This meant that "all the theory and simulations need refinement," he added.
Simulations of cluster evolution had shown that many black holes are created early in a cluster's history.
Scientists had believed the black holes sink towards the middle of the cluster where they start a gravitational "dance" - most of them being flung out of the cluster with only one remaining.
But the team said their evaluation of X-ray, radio, optical and infrared images of M22 led them to conclude that the objects they spotted were indeed black holes.
Black holes are very dense regions in spacetime with a gravitational force so strong that even light cannot escape. Scientists who study them hope to learn more about the evolution of galaxies.
A black hole is what is left when a massive star dies and collapses in on itself.
Commenting on the paper, Stefan Umbreit of the Northwestern University in Illinois' astrophysics centre wrote in Nature that the team's interpretation of the data was "compelling".
If correct, the pair of black holes in M22 are the first to be found in a globular cluster in our galaxy. M22 is about 10,000 light years from Earth.
"M22 may contain as many as 100 black holes but we can't detect them unless they're actively feeding on nearby stars," Miller-Jones said in a statement.
Black holes normally lurk dormant and undetected at the centre of galaxies, but can occasionally be tracked by the scraps left over when they feast on stars that venture too close.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A new superterran exoplanet (aka Super-Earth),a rock-water world, was found in the stellar habitable zone of the red dwarf star Gliese 163 by the European HARPS team. The planet, Gliese 163c, has a minimum mass of 6.9 Earth masses and takes nearly 26 days to orbit its star. Superterrans are those exoplanets between two and ten Earth masses, which are more likely composed of rock and water.
Gliese 163 is a nearby red dwarf star 50 light years away in the Dorado constellation. Another larger planet, Gliese 163b, was also found to orbit the star much closer with a nine days period. An additional third, but unconfirmed planet, might be orbiting the star much farther away.
Gliese 163c could have a size between 1.8 to 2.4 Earth radii, depending if it is composed mostly of rock or water, respectively. It receives on average 40% more light from its parent star than Earth from the Sun, making it hotter. In comparison, Venus receives 90% more light from the Sun than Earth. We do not know the properties of the atmosphere of Gliese 163c but, if we assume that it is a scaled up version of Earth's atmosphere, then its surface temperature might be around 60°C. Most complex life on Earth (plants, animals, and even humans) are not able to survive at temperatures above 50°C, however, plenty of extremophilic microbial life forms can thrive at those temperatures or higher.
The detection of potential habitable exoplanets is pacing up. There are now six including the debated Gliese 581g, most of them detected just in the last year. Four of these bodies, Gliese 581d, Gliese 667Cc, Gliese 581g, and now Gliese 163c are around red dwarfs stars (M-star). HD 85512 is around a K-star (a middle star between the smaller red dwarfs and the Sun). Only Kepler-22b is around a Sun-like star (G-star). All of these planets are bigger than Earth but still considered potentially habitable, at least to simple life forms.
Scientists are trying to construct better ground and space observatories in the next decades to be able to detect smaller worlds, those more resembling Earth. The Habitable Exoplanet Catalog of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo (phl.upr.edu), which was not involved in the discovery, now includes and ranks Gliese 163c as number five in its main list of best objects of interest for life. Enlarge Current six potential habitable exoplanets ranked by similarity with Earth (Earth = 1.00). Four of these objects have been detected in the last year, from September 2011 to today.
The potential for habitable planets around red dwarf stars has been and issue of much debate. Tidal effects on the planets around these stars might cause extra surface heating or even tidal locking (always giving the same face to its parent star). Also, these stars are more active and their stellar wind might erode planetary atmospheres much faster. These factors might preclude the potential for life on smaller planets but not for planets with thicker atmospheres, something expected for superterran planets.
Our Solar System lacks an example of a superterran. Its eight planets are either the smaller terrestrial kind, like Earth, or the larger gas giants, like Jupiter. Understanding superterrans around red dwarf stars, a non Sun-like star, just adds to the challenge of assessing their habitability.
The NASA Kepler Mission has detected about 27 potential habitable exoplanets candidates out of their over 2,300 exoplanets that are waiting to be confirmed. Some of these bodies seem very Earth-like. Unfortunately, they are much farther away from us than Gliese 163 and it will be nearly impossible to determine if they are really habitable worlds by future observations.
However, the statistical analysis of Kepler suggests that these planets are very common in the galaxy. Therefore, many more Earth-like worlds are waiting to be discovered in our solar neighborhood too, such as Gliese 163c. The new exoplanets around Gliese 163 were discovered by the European HARPS team leaded by Xavier Bonfils from the UJF-Grenoble/CNRS-INSU, Institut de Plane ́tologie et d'Astrophysique of Grenoble, France.
Other participating scientists are from France, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and Belgium. Gliese 163c was announced by team member Thierry Forveille from the Observatoire de Grenoble during the International Astronomical Union session Formation, Detection, and Characterization of Extrasolar Habitable Planets from August 27th to 31st, 2012 in Beijing, China. —www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Daily Galaxy