News

No silver bullet for agricultural emissions, says Environment Commissioner

John Kerr Oct 19, 2016

New Zealanders need to work together to tackle the “complex problem of the biological greenhouse gases from agriculture,” warns the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in a new report.  The report Climate change and agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases, released today, aims to tease out various issues in the fraught area of biological emissions and signpost solutions. “In a way, my report … Read More

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Creating eggs from stem cells raises questions

John Kerr Oct 19, 2016

The successful production of functional mouse eggs entirely in cell culture by Japanese scientists has been lauded as a technical feat, but there might be some tricky issues to tackle before even thinking about progressing the technology to humans. In a paper published in Nature yesterday Katsuhiko Hayashi from Kyushu University and colleagues reported the results of their experiments … Read More

Swashbuckling NZ spider’s eight million year world tour

John Kerr Oct 14, 2016

Species of coastal New Zealand spiders likely rafted here as a part of an eight million year round-the-world trip, suggests a new study. The Amaurobioides genus of spiders has species dotted around the Southern Hemisphere, including New Zealand, Australia  and South America. These spiders eke out a tough life living in the coastal ‘spray zone’ on rocky shores. The genus includes the sea … Read More

Stunning photos from NIWA scientists

John Kerr Oct 12, 2016

Being a scientist out in the field can be hard work, with long days in sometimes uncomfortable (or even dangerous) settings collecting data. But it does come with the opportunity for some unbelievable photos. NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, has announced the winners of its annual photography competition: From one pole to the other, NIWA scientists work in some of the world’s most … Read More

NZ Sea Lion one of the world’s most murderous mammals

John Kerr Sep 29, 2016

The New Zealand Sea Lion ranks as one of the most murderous species on the planet, according to a new study examining lethal violence among mammals. Do dolphins duel to the death? Are hippos homicidal? And what about genocidal gerbils? Spanish researchers have mapped the extent of lethal violence across 1000 mammal species, from aardvarks to zebras, and their macabre analysis is … Read More

When did humans first leave Africa?

John Kerr Sep 22, 2016

Where did we come from and when did we leave there? These existential questions are at the heart of several human genetics studies published today in the leading journal Nature, all with links to New Zealand. Tracing our genetic roots The now widely accepted ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis puts Africa as the origin of all modern humans. However, there is still debate … Read More

Climate change: Biologists told to ‘pull on their boots’ and collect data

John Kerr Sep 11, 2016

An international team of 22 biologists have called on their colleagues to get cracking and collect certain types of data to help predict how the planet’s estimated 8.7 million species will handle a warmer future. “Our biggest challenge is pinpointing which species to concentrate on and which regions we need to allocate resources,” says Associate Professor Mark Urban from the University of Connecticut, lead author … Read More

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Peeking inside a volcanic avalanche

John Kerr Sep 06, 2016

New research has offered a glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most dangerous results of volcanic eruptions – pyroclastic flows. “They are basically mixtures of hot volcanic particles and gas that race down the flank of a volcano to destroy everything its path,” says Dr Gert Lube from Massey University, describing these volcanic juggernauts. He and his … Read More

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