Comments Off on A bird of prey faces extinction in Central America, the voracious Magellanic penguins of Patagonia, and a new electric car in Chile.

12 June 2013

A bird of prey faces extinction in Central America, the voracious Magellanic penguins of Patagonia, and a new electric car in Chile.

ARGENTINA

Argentine researchers looking at the eating habits of Magellanic penguins discovered that each penguin can capture an astounding number of prey items per foraging trip. These include anchovy, hake, sardines, mackerel, octopus and squid in Argentine waters. Considering this level of consumption and the number of penguins that inhabit the Argentine coast (900,000 pairs), the scientists calculated that the penguins extract 1.5 million tons of fish per year (87% more than commercial fishermen). However, when the numbers of prey is low, the penguins decrease the amount they eat and thus maintain a balance in the marine ecosystem. The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

      The red-throated caracara bird of prey faces extinction in Central America. Credit: Sean McCann via EOL.

The number of southern right whales dying in Patagonia is rising. In 2012, there was a record number of calf deaths (a third of calves) off the Peninsula Valdes in southern Argentina. According to researchers, deaths have been on the rise in the last decade though toxicity has been ruled out.

CHILE

A Chilean engineer has created a personal electric car that should be on the streets by October. The automobile was developed based on touch-screen Android technology to control the electronics.

ECUADOR

Scientists at the 3rd World Summit on Evolution in the Galapagos have created an Iberoamerican Academy of Evolutionary Biology to promote education on the subject. Headquartered on San Cristobal island, the academy will use educational tools like the Internet to promote the theory of evolution. It’s fine to use a cell phone to listen to reggaeton or the music they feel like, but it can also be used to disseminate the theory of evolution in Spanish, said Antonio Lazcano, a biology professor at Mexico’s UNAM.

Researchers are trying to revive two species of Galapagos tortoises from Pinta and Floreana islands that went extinct 150 years ago. By breeding tortoises that are their closest genetic relatives (they share 80-90% of the genes), the project hopes to revive them in 120 years, as these animals reach sexual maturity at 20-25 years in females and 25-30 years in males.

HONDURAS

U.S. and Honduran researchers have located an endangered bird of prey species in the forests of Agalta after a 15 year search. The red-throated caracara (Ibycter americanus), commonly known as the cocoa, is disappearing in Central America. There are fewer than 100 left. Deforestation has destroyed much of the bird’s habitat.

LATIN AMERICA

An international consortium of scientists including Brazilian, Ecuadorian and Costa Rican researchers have sequenced the genome of Matina cacao, the most world’s most widely-grown cacao due its high yield and good flavor. Genetic analysis and comparison with other varieties detected a gene involved in the coloring of the sheath. Sequencing showed that a single nucleotide change intensifies the color and could be used as a marker for breeding programs.

MEXICO

The way matter behaves on the nano-scale is being explained to the public in central Mexico with a new book entitled “Tatanunio Kixiva’a Ndachuun.” The book, written by Noboru Takeuchi, a physicist and science advocate at Mexico’s UNAM, will be distributed initially in schools throughout Baja California and Oaxaca. The author is also looking at translating the book into indigenous languages​.

A new mathematical algorithm was developed at the UNAM and the Mexican Social Security Institute with the objective of automating insulin dosing in patients with type I diabetes, which affects children especially. So far tested in laboratory rats, the insulin pumps automatically adapt to the needs of the “patient” regardless of carbohydrate intake or physical activity.

PERU

A billboard in Lima that pulls water from humid air using electrical generators and reverse osmosis has won a publicity award from Adweek and Hewlett Packard.

Peru is set to build Dinopark, a paleontology museum-park in Lima. The park will host more than 1,200 fossils of dinosaurs dating back 600 million years.