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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Marine Mud Is High in Fish Poop
22 February 2011 2:43 pm
Will you still enjoy feeling the beach between your toes this summer knowing it's partly fish feces? In a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that 14% of the calcium carbonate that makes up the muddy floors of shallow tropical seas is fish poop. Fecal samples from 11 common tropical fish, including barracudas and snappers, reveal that calcium carbonate forms a key component of the excrement. The team estimates that every year, tropical fish excrete 6.1 million kilograms of calcium carbonate, equivalent to the weight of 1000 adult elephants, over an area of 111,577 square kilometers. Each fish may even have its own unique "fecalprint", with specific sizes and shapes of calcium carbonate crystals (as seen in the black and white image), which could allow future oceanographers to analyze an ocean's mud to track changes in the numbers and diversity of fish species.
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*This item has been corrected to reflect that every year, tropical fish excrete 6.1 million kilograms of calcium carbonate.