Earth news stories

Clever New Water Atlas is All Over the Map
3rd September 2017 | Ancient, Earth, Tech

A clever and unconventional new atlas by guerrilla cartographers, called Water: An Atlas, explores the importance of water in everything from ancient mythology to rising seas to modern warfare.  One map of the Dakotas, created by a team of activists and scholars, ties the threat to drinking water posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline to historical land seizures and the US federal government’s violence against Native Americans.

Tsunami-Sunk Roman Ruins Found off Tunisia
2nd September 2017 | Ancient, Earth

Vast underwater Roman ruins have been discovered off northeast Tunisia, apparently confirming a theory that the city of Neapolis was partly submerged by a tsunami in the 4th century AD.

Potato Cultivation May Have Begun in Utah 11,000 Years Ago
1st September 2017 | Ancient, Earth

New archaeological research from Utah shows that prehistoric inhabitants of the Escalante Valley could have been nourishing themselves with wild potato tubers for thousands of years.  This is the earliest evidence of potato use in North America to date.  The wild Four Corners potato can yield up to 125 small tubers on one plant.

New Energy in a Land of Clay, Tin, and Ancient Trails
1st September 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

This picturesque word-painting from Guardian’s Country Diary tells of Cornwall’s St. Dennis landscape then and now – the legendary hunting grounds of King Arthur form the waterlogged bog and headstreams of the river Fal, overlooked by a moss-covered fort. Tin working was recorded here in the 11th and 12th centuries; and from 1930 to 1950 sand and gravel were extracted.  The area is now designated a nature preserve.

Neolithic Caves of Turkey Being Intentionally Dynamited and Submerged
31st August 2017 | Ancient, Earth
The Tigris River gave rise to some of the world’s first settlements, and soon its waters will submerge some of their remnants as crews have begun dynamiting Neolithic-era caves near Hasankeyf, Turkey. The early Mesopotamian settlement will soon be submerged by a hydroelectric dam project.  According to the article, protestors believe the short-term gains in energy production do not justify the destruction of a 12,000-year-old settlement, especially when the dam is only expected to be operational for 50-70 years before being decommissioned.
Paleoclimate: Volcanism Caused Ancient Global Warming
31st August 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

A study published in Nature confirms that volcanism set off one of Earth’s fastest global-warming events called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.  This upheaval 56 million years ago was the result of Greenland separating from Europe during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Study Dates Corn as Staple Crop in Central America 4,300 years ago
31st August 2017 | Ancient, Earth

Corn, known also as maize, is a vital crop throughout the Americas. First domesticated in Mexico some 9,000 years ago, scientists are still working to determine when it became the staple crop we know today. In a recently published paper, a team of scientists suggests that maize was fully domesticated as a staple crop in Honduras around 4,300 years ago.

Louisiana’s Grassroots ‘Cajun Navy’ Brings its Fleet to Flooded Texas
31st August 2017 | Earth, Humans

Disaster volunteers from Louisiana’s Cajun Navy and Cajun Coast Search and Rescue Team don’t wait to be called. They know all about floods, and they dove right in, bringing with them a veritable armada of fishing skiffs, airboats, jonboats, even kayaks, to help rescue stranded humans and animals from the watery wrath of Hurricane Harvey.  Formed in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the Cajun Navy are literally life savers, and a reminder that our darkest tragedies often tend to reveal the best in humanity.  As their unofficial slogan says, “Not all superheroes wear capes.  Some wear hipwaders.”

NASA’s New Webb Space Telescope in Hurricane Harvey’s Path
31st August 2017 | | Earth, Space

As the stalled tropical storm that was once Hurricane Harvey continues to drench Houston, Texas, turning streets into muddy rivers, NASA workers are keeping watch over a giant $8.6 billion space telescope at the edge of the city.  The James Webb Space Telescope is currently sitting inside a massive, sealed cryogenic chamber at the Johnson Space Center, as floodwaters rise, and here’s how they are protecting it.

Apocalyptic Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
31st August 2017 | | Earth

A picture’s worth a thousand words… Article contains a link to watch trending NBC video footage of historic post-hurricane flooding in Houston, Texas.

Why 14 Ecology Labs Teamed up to Watch Grass Grow
31st August 2017 | | Earth, Tech

In an unusual reproducibility effort, 14 ecology labs across Europe have teamed up to watch grass grow, using identical soil and seeds shipped round the continent. Their study is part of a budding movement to bolster trust in ecological research. Following the reproducibility crisis that has gripped psychology and biomedical science, ecologists are starting to recognize that their own field might not be immune to doubts over the reliability of its findings.

Prehistoric Cannabis Seeds Discovered in Japan
30th August 2017 | Ancient, Earth

According to Japanese weed museum curator Junichi Takayasu, the earliest evidence of cannabis in Japan dates back to the Jomon Period (10,000-200 B.C.) with pottery relics recovered in Fukui Prefecture containing seeds and scraps of woven cannabis fibers.  Cannabis once played a key role in Japan’s religion, especially in Shintoism, which is the country’s indigenous religion, where it was revered for its cleansing abilities, which is why priests used to wave bundles of its leaves to bless believers and exorcise evil spirits.

Remembering the Future: How Ancient Maya Agronomists Changed the Modern World
30th August 2017 | | Ancient, Earth

Maya cultivars affected politics, laws, customs, technology and financial empires. They have spurred armed revolutions, initiated rebellions, altered political boundaries, inspired industrial, technical and scientific revolutions, started college systems, promoted deadly habits, sparked sporting empires and changed cultural speech, music and lifestyles.

These Five ‘Witness Trees’ Were Present at Key Moments in American History
30th August 2017 | | Ancient, Earth
A witness tree begins its life like any other tree. It sprouts. It grows. And then it’s thrust into the spotlight, playing an involuntary part in a significant historic event; often a devastating, landscape-scarring battle or other tragic moment. Once Civil War soldiers march on to their next battle, say, or a country turns its attention to healing after a terrorist attack, a witness tree remains as a biologically tenacious symbol of the past.   This article from Smithsonian spotlights five such significant and historic trees.
New Hurricane Harvey Threat: Millions of Venomous Floating Fire Ants
30th August 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Floating colonies of fire ants, as many as 500,000 in one group, are banding together to stay above water in flood-wracked Houston, Texas—and they bite.  “Floodwaters will not drown fire ants,”said a specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Floating fire ant colonies can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, rafts, or an actual ‘ball’ of ants floating on the water.”

Near-Extinct Mouse Beans: More Than a Reliable Food Source for Sioux Tribe
30th August 2017 | Earth, Humans

Mouse beans, makatomnica in the Lakota language, also called hog peanuts, are seeds from a perennial climbing plant native to areas cross the Great Plains.  Meaty and filled with protein, mouse beans were once an important, reliable food source for the Oceti Sakowin peoples, Lakota, Dakota and Nakota living along the Missouri River. Their near-extinction in that environment is a metaphor for the devastating impact of US development and flooding of tribal lands on Native peoples and cultures.  As explained by ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk, tribal elders tell stories of times gone by when women would dig up the large caches of beans gathered by mice on the floor of cottonwood forests along the Missouri River, singing beautiful songs that asked the mice’s permission to share their harvest.

News stories covering the environment, plant life, and the Earth itself.