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Latest Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Stories

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2010-05-17 12:32:30

The six-foot-long babies of the world's biggest shark species, Carcharocles megalodon, frolicked in the warm shallow waters of an ancient shark nursery in what is now Panama, report paleontologists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Florida. "Adult giant sharks, at 60-70 feet in length, faced few predators, but young sharks faced predation from larger sharks," said Catalina Pimiento, visiting scientist at STRI and graduate student at the University of...

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2010-04-19 12:46:56

The fifth Howler Monkey census at the Smithsonian's Barro Colorado Island research station in Panama, organized by Katie Milton, professor in the department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that monkey numbers have not changed significantly since the first census 33 years ago. Long before dawn on March 19 and 20, Katie Milton and a group of stalwart volunteers, each armed with flashlight and compass, spread out into the...

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2010-04-06 14:40:00

In the first survey of sand flies in Panama to use genetic barcoding, scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Gorgas Memorial Laboratories identified 20 sand fly species from Barro Colorado Island. Two species carried Leishmania naiffi, a parasite that causes cutaneous leishmaniasis: persistent, itchy skin lesions. Three species carried Wolbachia, a bacterial parasite of insects that could contribute to a strategy to control the flies and limit disease transmission. "We...

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2010-04-06 14:02:23

The discovery of a new fossil turtle species in Colombia's Cerrej³n coal mine by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the Florida Museum of Natural History helps to explain the origin of one of the most biodiverse groups of turtles in South America. Cerrejonemys wayuunaiki takes its genus name from Cerrej³n, and emys"”Greek for turtle. Its species name is the language spoken by the Wayuu people who live on the Guajira Peninsula in...

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2010-04-05 14:15:00

Lions, tigers and bears top the ecological pyramid"”the diagram of the food chain that every school child knows. They eat smaller animals, feeding on energy that flows up from the base where plants convert sunlight into carbohydrates. A new study examines complex interactions in the middle of the pyramid, where birds, bats and lizards consume insects. These predators eat enough insects to indirectly benefit plants and increase their growth, Smithsonian scientists report. "Our findings...

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2010-03-24 08:29:17

Who's in charge? Who's got food? The brain region responsible for learning and memory is bigger in social bee queens who may have to address these questions than in solitary queens, report scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute who study the tropical sweat bee species, Megalopta genalis in Panama. Their study is the first comparison of the brain sizes of social and non-social individuals of the same species. "The idea is that to maintain power and control in groups you need...

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2010-03-19 08:18:22

Leafcutter ant queens can live for twenty years, fertilizing millions of eggs with sperm stored after a single day of sexual activity. Danish researchers who have studied ants at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama since 1992 discovered that in both ant and bee species in which queens have multiple mates, a male's seminal fluid favors the survival of its own sperm over the other males' sperm. However, once sperm has been stored, leafcutter ant queens neutralize male-male...

2010-03-18 13:52:31

Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Earthwatch met in Panama from Mar. 1-5 to present mid-term research results from the HSBC Climate Partnership, a five-year initiative to identify and respond to the impacts of climate change. The program is supported financially by HSBC and involves a global team of bank employees "“ 'climate champions' "“ in vital forest research. The first-ever research program of its kind has so far: * Found rapid increases in...

2010-03-02 09:09:07

The first systematic study of surveillance techniques for the insect vector of Chagas disease in Amazonia, conducted by researchers from the Fiocruz Instituto Leônidas e Maria Deane, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and colleagues, concludes that tall palm trees with large amounts of debris on their crowns and stems should be targets for disease surveillance and control. Chagas disease, caused by a parasite...

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2010-02-16 11:51:20

Plants and people alike face critical choices as they reproduce: to make a few big, well-provisioned seeds"”or babies--or many small, poorly-provisioned ones. Different species make strikingly different choices, resulting in a great diversity of life forms: Darwin's "endless forms most beautiful. Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute argues that these diverse strategies coexist because different levels of stress favor different choices. "I...


Word of the Day
cruet
  • A vial or small glass bottle, especially one for holding vinegar, oil, etc.; a caster for liquids.
This word is Middle English in origin, and ultimately comes from the Old French, diminutive of 'crue,' flask.
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