Author Archives: Dave White

Gaps in space useful for understanding the expansion of the universe

An interesting study shows that the voids of space, those areas of the universe in which galaxies are not present, could help to measure the expansion of the universe with greater precision than the classical methods.

The “voids” of space do not contain galaxies, or contain very few, and can be very large. They can also have different shapes but despite these characteristics that differentiate them from each other they can be considered as “standard spheres,” comparable to perfectly symmetrical objects and this because they are not characterized by a particular alignment direction.

However, researchers at the University of Portsmouth have noted that the forms these voids take may be distorted by the doppler shifts caused by the expansion and removal of neighboring galaxies as well as by the nature of the dark energy’s dark matter.

These factors produce distortion and the latter can be measured following theoretical modeling. The study shows that the measurement can be carried out with an excellent degree of precision, so that the same analysis can help to understand more about the way in which the cosmos is expanded.

The first results that the researchers obtained show a flat universe with constant dark energy at the cosmological level, results that further remove alternative theories.

However, Seshadri Nadathur, a researcher of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) of the University of Portsmouth and principal author of the study, declares that further future studies, especially those related to the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, will be able to provide even more important data to understand cosmic expansion through this method.

Skin disease caused by parasite spreads among African giraffes

A skin disease is spreading among African giraffes and causing concern. Identified for the first time in African giraffes in the early 1990s, the disease appears to have spread more widely in recent years. According to experts, it could be caused by several pathogens and could be represented by more skin diseases.

The pathology sees the formation of patches of dead tissue and sores transuding blood or pus on the skin of the animals and for the moment does not seem to be fatal. However, environmentalists strongly fear for the health of animals and above all for their reproduction considering that even giraffes could soon fall into the category of endangered animals like other endemic animals of the African savannah.

An infectious disease is the last thing we should wish for giraffes, animals in decline due to habitat loss but also due to poaching, as reported by Chris Whittier, a researcher at Tufts University, United States: “We cannot ignore threats secondary, like infectious diseases, because every little thing could become an event at the level of extinction when there are not many individuals of certain species left.”

By analyzing various skin samples taken from giraffes affected by this infectious disease in the Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, researchers have discovered the larval form of a very small parasitic worm, barely visible to the naked eye, inside the sick tissue. The parasite is still a subject of study (research should appear soon in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases) but researchers think it may belong to the genus Stephanofilaria.

To this genus belong parasites that commonly spread among domestic cattle through flies causing symptoms similar to those seen in giraffes as sores and various skin problems. In the animals of the African savannah, however, this parasite had always been considered quite rare and some cases had been found, in addition to giraffes, in hippos, rhinos or antelopes.

Further research will be carried out and the hope is to be able to stop the spread of this parasite among giraffes before it spreads in too many specimens of all East Africa.

New species of duck-billed dinosaur classified in Texas

In a new study published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, a team of paleontologists announced the identification of a new species, as well as a new genus, of a duck-billed dinosaur, the Aquilarhinus palimentus.

The name itself refers to the aquiline nose and the large lower jaw, characteristics of a very strange head as can also be seen from the artistic representations supplied with the press release. The analysis covers various bones collected during the 1980s near the rocky layers of the Rattle Snake Mountain, Texas.

During the 1990s, few studies were carried out regarding these remains and only the arched nasal crest was identified, which suggested that the dinosaur belonged to the genus of the gryposaurus. However, the new analysis, which later resulted in the article published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, led to a different identification.

According to paleontologists, it is a more primitive dinosaur than the gryposaurus, although belonging to the family of adrosaurids, the same family to which the genus of gryposaurus belongs.

It is “one of the most primitive hadrosaurids known,” as specified by Albert Prieto-Márquez from the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, the lead author of the study.

The duck-billed dinosaurs boast a particular lower jaw that meets the upper one forming a sort of U that supports a cup-shaped beak, especially useful for eating plants. However, the newly discovered Aquilarhinus boasts a lower jaw that meets with the upper one in a different way, forming a sort of W.