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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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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.