A shifting diet of two flightless birds inhabiting Australia tens of thousands of years ago is the best evidence yet that early humans may have altered the continents interior with fire, changing it from a mosaic of trees, shrubs and grasses to the desert scrub evident today, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder-led team.
Nearly intact eggshell of the extinct giant bird Genyornis newtoni, discovered near Port Augusta, South Australia in 2002. Note puncture hole from predator in upper left. The egg has been dated by both Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and Amino Acid Racemization (AAR) at 60,000 years, about 10,000 years before megafaunal extinction. Photo by G H Miller
7 Plant ecosystems in monsoonal Australia burn frequently through natural ignition by lightning strikes during the build up to the wet season, when dry lightning storms are common. But burning is also promoted by human ignition, from both traditional burning practices of Aboriginal Australians and governmental land managers. In Kakadu, a World Heritage Area east of Darwin, ecosystems have adapted to millennia of Aboriginal burning. Consequently, land managers strive to maintain the "natural" vegetation through prescribed burns in consultation with Aboriginal advisors. Land managers deliberately set this fire, 100 km south of Darwin. Photograph by Gifford H. Miller, Sept. 1998.
The unprecedented ecosystem disruption is now thought to have led to the extinction of Australias large terrestrial mammals, which disappeared shortly after humans colonized the continent about 50,000 years ago, said Professor Gifford Miller of CU-Boulders Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Scientists have shown there were no significant swings in the continents climate during that period, leading most to believe that humans had a hand in the extinctions through over-hunting, spreading disease or by altering the vegetation of the vast interior through systematic burning.
Using isotopic studies of fossil eggshells from both indigenous emus and the extinct, ostrich-sized Genyornis, a new study by Miller and colleagues publishing in the July 8 issue of Science magazine shows that the ecosystems flora changed swiftly and dramatically after humans arrived.
Gifford Miller | EurekAlert!
Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress
05.12.2017 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems
28.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
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