Ecologically sensitive area The Environment Ministry has identified an area of 56,825 sq.km in the Western Ghats as an ‘ecologically sensitive area’. The area is spread across six states, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
✪ This means that mining activities, major construction and highly polluting industries can no longer operate here
Oldest red algae
Scientists in India have uncovered a pair of 1.6 billion-year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae, which may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth. This discovery could lead experts to rewrite the tree of life, said lead author Stefan Bengtson, Professor Emeritus of palaeo-zoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.
✪ Until now, the oldest known red alga was 1.2 billion years old.
Great Barrier Reef will never recover
As per the scientists, parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will never recover from the impact of unseasonably warm waters as more of the World Heritage Site comes under renewed threat from a recent spike in sea temperatures.
✪ That was the worst die-off of coral ever recorded at the reef. Even the areas that survived will not recover to full health as unseasonable hot water becomes more frequent causing more incidents of bleaching.
David Attenborough, the famed British naturalist, has an ancient shrimp as a namesake. The fossil is named Cascolus ravitis. The crustacean was identified from a 430- million-year-old imprint in volcanic ash.
✪ To mark his 90th birthday, researchers from the Yale University and universities in England named in Mr. Attenborough’s honour a distant relative of today’s shrimp and lobster.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Kolkata will start its Ganges river dolphin count in November, 2017 after witnessing a dip in the number of the endangered species earlier this year.
✪ As per the previous survey, this species of dolphins are seen in the Ganga-Brahmaputra river system in India and their total estimated number is 1,600
Synchronized elephant census would be conducted from May 9-12, 2017 by Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The four States together have the maximum number of human-elephant conflict-prone regions in India
The Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave has launched the web portal for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone clearances in New Delhi. The objectives of the web portal includes, enhancing efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the process of CRZ clearances. The Portal enables submission of applications for CRZ clearance in a single-window interface.
According to new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), estimates that global carbon emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased out by 2060. The report also emphasizes the importance of considering the needs of those without energy access.
✪ Released at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD2017) held on March 20 and 21, the findings are significant for India as the country races to meet its target of 175 GW of power from renewables by 2020
★ A British-owned cruise ship carrying hundreds of tourists has crashed into one of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs. The 4,290-tonne Caledonian Sky caused “irreparable damage” in Raja Ampat, an idyllic island chain in the west of Indonesia’s Papua province.
✪ Roughly 1,600 square meters of the ‘underwater Amazon’ is thought to have been damaged in the incident
The Central government has launched the first ever across-the-river survey in the Ganga to determine the population of aquatic life, including that of endangered Gangetic dolphin.
✪ The first leg of the census was launched on March 1 from Narora in Uttar Pradesh to Bijnor (covering distance of nearly 165 km) to establish the number of the national aquatic animal.
Species in news
★ The world’s spiders eat 400-800 million tonnes of insects every year – as much meat and fish as humans consume over the same period, a study has found.
✪ The estimate suggests that the annual prey kill of the global spider community is in the range of 400-800 million metric tons.
★ Researchers from China, New Zealand and the U.S. have found four intact mushroom fossils, preserved in Burmese amber. The mushrooms, preserved for 99 million years, represent four species. The find pushes back the presence of agaric mushrooms by at least 25 million years.
★ The world’s first fluorescent frog has been discovered in the Amazon basin in Argentina. In normal light the frog appears to have a dull, mottled brown-green skin with red dots, but under UV light it glows a bright fluorescent green.
✪ Fluorescence – the ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths – is uncommon in creatures that live on land. The translucent frog was found to use a combination of lymph and glandular emissions to fluoresce.
★ A large international research team has found the oldest fossil human cranium in Portugal, marking an important contribution to knowledge of human evolution during the middle Pleistocene in Europe and to the origin of the Neandertals. The team has been directed by the Portuguese archaeologist Joao Zilhao and including Binghamton University anthropologist Rolf Quam.
✪ The cranium represents the westernmost human fossil ever found in Europe during the middle Pleistocene epoch and one of the earliest on this continent to be associated with the Acheulean stone tool industry.
★ A dead longcomb sawfish, a critically endangered species of shark, was hauled in Sindhudurg, a district in Maharashtra, on 26th March, 2017.
✪ The fish, a member of the shark family, is listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the Red List issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and falls under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
★ As per the recent study, Ostrich, the flightless bird native to Africa, inhabited India about 25,000 years ago.
✪ Several geologists have over time found ostrich egg shell pieces in India, mostly in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
Australia’s Jurassic Park
Steve Salisbury of the University of Queensland described a stretch of the remote northwestern coastline as Australia’s Jurassic Park. And world’s biggest dinasour footprint has been discovered in the Jurassic Park.
✪ An ‘unprecedented’ 21 types of dinosaurs frequented the area 127 million to 144 million years ago