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October 28, 2013

People Who Live Downwind Of Alberta's Oil And Tar Sands Operations Are Getting Blood Cancer

Tar sands mining is linked to leukemia. People Who Live Downwind Of Alberta's Oil And Tar Sands Operations Are Getting Blood Cancer | ThinkProgress
A new study has found that levels of air pollution downwind of the largest tar sands, oil and gas producing region in Canada rival levels found in the world’s most polluted cities. And that pollution isn’t just dirtying the air — it also could be tied increased incidence of blood cancers in men that live in the area. The study, published last week by researchers from University of California Irvine and the University of Michigan, found levels of carcinogenic air pollutants 1,3-butadiene and benzene spiked in the Fort Saskatchewan area, which is downwind of the oil and tar sands-rich “Industrial Heartland” of Alberta. Airborne levels of 1,3-butadiene were 322 times greater downwind of the Industrial Heartland — which houses more than 40 major chemical, petrochemical and oil and gas facilities — than upwind, while downwind levels of benzene were 51 times greater. Levels of some volatile organic compounds — which, depending on the compound, have been linked to liver, kidney and central nervous system damage as well as cancer — were 6,000 times higher than normal. The area saw concentrations of some chemicals that were higher than levels in Mexico City during the 1990s, when it was the most polluted city on the planet. “These levels, found over a broad area, are clearly associated with industrial emissions,” said Stuart Batterman,” one of the study’s co-authors. “They also are evidence of major regulatory gaps in monitoring and controlling such emissions and in public health surveillance.” . . .

October 26, 2013

This female barnacle injects herself into crabs and takes over their bodies

Science is more horrifying and way grosser than anything you can ever imagine. This may be the ocean’s most horrifying monster (and you’ve probably never heard of it) | Deep Sea News
When I first learned about rhizocephalan barnacles I lost my appetite. I was taking a parasitology course, and even though I’d developed a thick skin, something about this insidious creature deeply disturbed me. Even now, the thought of one makes me shiver. I’ve never watched a movie monster, heard a fairy tail, or seen a video game with a villain more horrifying than this one. And unlike those monsters, this one is real. To understand the full terror of this monster, you have to put yourself in the place of another animal. This poor creature is its victim, and you see them all the time. Imagine you’re a crab, and for full effect, imagine you’re male. You’re lingering on the shoreline, the warm sun on your back, cool water in your gills. You’re reached a large size, dodging the many dangers of youth. Life is going well. But today you begin to feel strange– maternal almost– as if there is something growing inside you, and in fact, something is. Can you feel the roots of this monster creeping within? Illustrated by Haeckel. From Wikipedia Commons. Can you feel her roots growing in your body? Illustrated by Haeckel. From Wikipedia Commons. Its roots are crawling through your tissue, your gut, your brain. Its a rhizocephalan barnacle, and it’s about to take you over. Your new tormenter is a member of one of the strangest groups of animals known. The adult female body of the rhizocephalan is twisted and deformed, not resembling in any way its barnacles cousins living on rocks near shore. She has lost her hard shell, her legs, her eyes, and transformed into sickly yellow roots and sinuous twisting filaments that are slowly grow like black mould through your tissues. But she looked normal once: when she was young. As a juvenile she looked like a normal barnacle larvae, only a few millimeters long. But her juvenile body had one terrible difference: her head was tipped with a needle protruding form her shell. When she found you, she used her body like a hypodermic syringe: stabbing you and injecting her own cells under your skin. All that’s left of her is now growing and spreading like a cancer through your system. You’ve stopped growing. Her fibrous tentacles are consuming your extra energy. . . .

October 23, 2013

Mummified Himalayan "yeti" revealed to be mummified polar bear

Genetic analysis shows that the Yeti was actually a polar bear hybrid
The latest blow comes from a UK geneticist who says hair samples from an alleged Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, actually came from another — albeit real — creature from the north: an ancient hybrid between polar bears and brown bears. The DNA analysis was conducted by Oxford University professor Bryan Sykes. He studied two different hair samples taken from two Himalayan animals, both identified by the local people as belonging to Yetis. One came from an alleged Yeti mummy in the Indian region of Ladakh, at the Western edge of the Himalayas, and taken by a French mountaineer 40 years ago. The other was a single hair found ten years ago in Bhutan, 800 miles (1,300 km) to the east. Sykes took these samples and compared them to to a database of animal genomes. He found a 100% match with an ancient polar bear jawbone found in the Norwegian Arctic that's at least 40,000 years old, and probably around 120,000 years old — a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as a different species. According to Sykes, these bears were not related to modern Himalayan bears, but were direct descendants of the prehistoric animal.