Tasmanian Devils, Toxic Shampoos and Tracking Sea Turtles

BY Jenny Marder  June 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM EST


Photo by Jamie Muchall via Flickr Creative Commons

Tasmanian devils were sitting ducks for deadly cancer

Another sad twist to the tale of the endangered Tasmanian devil. Human interference left these animals stripped of genetic diversity and prone to disease, which most likely contributed to the gruesome cancer-causing facial tumors that have devastated the population. This story looks at a team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University who sequenced the genomes of two of these marsupials to understand them better. (Michael Marshall, New Scientist)

West Coast Boasts Underwater Serengeti, Study Finds

To better understand the mysterious underwater world of the Pacific Ocean, conservationists have tagged more than 4,000 marine animals and seabirds. They used the tags to track the animals’ travel routes, study their behavior and to analyze the character of the water. One finding: Several animals, including leatherback sea turtles, black-footed albatrosses and salmon sharks followed similar routes from the South, central or western Pacific, which may explain why these creatures get caught in fishing nets targeted for other animals. (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

Is Your Shampoo Making You Fat?

OnEarth has an interesting online exclusive on scientists who are investigating the link between the environment and obesity. Namely, a long list of toxic chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors, including the oft-blamed Bisphenol A and PCBs. (Laura Fraser, OnEarth)

Power Grid Change May Disrupt Clocks

A tweak in the power grid could change the way that electric walls clocks and other systems powered by electricity keep time, Seth Borenstein reports. For nearly a century, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of electrical current, and power grid operators have corrected changes in frequency to make that time as precise as possible — an effort that is pricey and, some say, possibly needless. Officials are planning an upcoming test to determine just how much people do rely on the power grid to keep time. (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press)