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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: Hitchhikers From the Deep
24 May 2012 (All day)
Are deep-sea submersibles bringing back creatures from the ocean depths? Scientists have long discounted the notion, arguing that the immense pressure differences would kill any hangers-on. But a new report suggests that some organisms retrieved from sea-floor vent systems may survive long enough at the surface to be transported to another undersea oasis. In September 2004, researchers used the deep-sea submersible Alvin to collect samples from the sea floor at a site more than 2200 meters deep off the coast of Washington. Besides retrieving a couple of wooden objects left there 2 years earlier, the researchers slurped up some of the underlying sediments to collect the creatures living there. But some of the creatures—especially limpets (shown), a type of marine snail—seemed out of place at the site, which wasn't an active hydrothermal vent. Turns out, the creatures had hitched a ride on Alvin from a hydrothermal vent about 635 kilometers away, a site they'd visited just 2 days earlier. Evidence that the limpets were stowaways, reported online today in Conservation Biology, includes the ratios of carbon and nitrogen in the creatures' tissues and shells, as well as the ratio of males and females in the sample—a characteristic that varies from one hydrothermal site to another. The new findings point out the risk of transferring organisms, along with their parasites and diseases, from one vent site to another. Scientists could help prevent stowaways by drying their equipment between deployments, the researchers say, or by rinsing their equipment with fresh water or a peroxide solution.
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