Scientists Document Rare Giraffe Dwarfism for First Time
Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.
Giraffes have an average height of around 16 feet. Their necks alone can measure six feet. So why was this giraffe so much shorter?
"The initial reaction was disbelief," Brown, who is a conservation science fellow with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, told The New York Times.
Scientists first spotted the Nubian giraffe, named Gimli, in 2015. Three years later, researchers found another short giraffe living on a private farm in central Namibia. That one, named Nigel, is an Angolan giraffe measuring eight-and-a-half-feet tall.
The researchers compared the two giraffes to each other, along with those of average height, The Hill explained. The comparisons revealed that the two giraffes had shorter legs than their similarly aged peers, caused by skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism.
This is the first time that dwarfism has been documented in wild giraffe populations, Brown and his GCF colleague Emma Wells wrote in a paper published in BMC Research Notes last month. They noted how dwarfism has been observed in domestic animals, but rarely in the wild. Other incidents include a red deer in Scotland and an Asian elephant in Sri Lanka.
"Instances of wild animals with these types of skeletal dysplasias are extraordinarily rare," Brown said in a statement to GCF. "It's another interesting wrinkle in the unique story of giraffe in these diverse ecosystems."
The researchers are unsure what caused dwarfism in the two giraffes. In domestic animals, it is usually associated with inbreeding or a lack of genetic diversity, The New York Times explained. Researchers don't know if this is the case for the giraffes, but GCF noted that the giraffes in Uganda suffered significant population decline in the 1980s due to unrest and poaching.
While the giraffe population in Uganda is recovering, the overall population is in trouble across Africa. Their numbers have fallen 40 percent in the last 30 years, according to The Hill. GCF estimates that there are about 111,000 left in the wild in Africa.
"Giraffe are undergoing a silent extinction in Africa. The fact that this is the first description of dwarf giraffe is just another example of how little we know about these charismatic animals," GCF Director and Co-Founder Dr. Julian Fennessy said in a statement.
As for Nigel and Gimli's individual chances, Brown told The New York Times it was a good sign that both had survived to adulthood, since more than half of giraffes die beforehand. However, Brown thought they might have problems later in life because of their size.
"It's easy to imagine how this might make them more susceptible to predation since they lack the ability to effectively run and kick, which are two of the giraffe's most effective anti-predator tactics," Brown told The New York Times. "Additionally, given the mechanics of giraffe mating, I'd speculate that for both of these giraffes, mating would be physically challenging."
Nigel was last seen during a July 2020 survey but Gimli has not been seen since 2017. Researchers hope he will appear again soon.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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