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Environment

  • Annals of botany

    Annals of botany

    A plant that had no petals and lived underwater more than 125 million years ago could be the oldest known ‘flower’, scientists believe. The aquatic Montsechia vidalii was once abundant in freshwater lakes in what are now mountainous regions of...

  • Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls are equipped with state-of-the-art stealth technology to help them swoop on prey undetected, a study has shown. The night hunters have feathers that absorb aerodynamic sound and suppress the vibrations that occur when a bird flaps its...

  • Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls are equipped with state-of-the-art stealth technology to help them swoop on prey undetected, a study has shown. The night hunters have feathers that absorb aerodynamic sound and suppress the vibrations that occur when a bird flaps its...

  • Pope’s climate push at odds with US Catholic oil assets

    Pope’s climate push at odds with US Catholic oil assets

    Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of “highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced...

  • Rich nations’ climate plans fall short of hopes

    Rich nations’ climate plans fall short of hopes

    Developed nations are on track to cut their greenhouse emissions by almost 30 per cent by 2030, Reuters calculations show, falling far short of a halving suggested by a UN panel of scientists as a fair share to limit climate change. Last week,...

  • Severe ‘food shocks’ more likely due to extreme weather

    Severe ‘food shocks’ more likely due to extreme weather

    Extreme weather such as intense storms, droughts and heatwaves will cause more frequent and severe food shortages as the global climate and food supply systemschange, British and American experts have warned. The pressure on the world’s food...

  • Yes, we can save the planet – or can we?

    Yes, we can save the planet – or can we?

    On August 3, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to cut carbon emissions from American power stations, the country’s main driver of climate change. Calling for a 32 per cent cut on carbon dioxide...

  • Alien species in Maltese waters

    Alien species in Maltese waters

    Discoveries of new species in Maltese waters often turn out to be records of non-native (or ‘alien’) species, that is, species that do not occur naturally in local waters but were directly or indirectly introduced here through human...

  • Birdsong app reveals stereotypes

    Analysis shows that Brits don’t notice the weather, Germans talk too loudly and Swedes enjoy the great outdoors. Specialist nature app developers iSpiny weren’t expecting to uncover national stereotypes when they analysed the recordings sent in...

  • Armed and dangerous

    Armed and dangerous

    Scientists have unlocked the genetic secrets of one of earth’s underwater wonders – the octopus – whose eight sucker-studded arms bestow an otherworldly appearance and large brain place it among the smartest invertebrates. Researchers have...

  • Pacific striped octopus displays ‘incredibly unique’ hunting behaviour

    Pacific striped octopus displays ‘incredibly unique’ hunting behaviour

    Hunting for food is a pantomime for a species of octopus that reaches out and taps its prey on the shoulder. The tropical cephalopod may not utter the words “behind you” but startles the victim so much it becomes lunch. Professor Roy Caldwell,...

  • Insect sounds

    Insect sounds

    Insects, despite their small size, can produce surprisingly loud sounds. At this time of the year the most notable insect sound is the loud buzzing made by the cicada which can be heard throughout the day and occasionally at night. The cicada got...

  • Stripes ‘do not protect zebras from predators’

    Stripes ‘do not protect zebras from predators’

    A zebra’s stripes are unlikely to protect it from pursuing predators, contrary to the view of most experts, research has shown. Humans playing the part of predators in a computerised chase game showed they could “capture” striped targets more...

  • Tadpole disease threatens world frog populations

    Tadpole disease threatens world frog populations

    Tadpoles are contracting a new, highly infectious disease that may be threatening frog populations worldwide, British scientists have found. A parasitic disease caused by single-celled microbes known as “protists” was found in the livers of...

  • Rivers hit by orange-coloured toxic mine waste spill

    Townspeople watching millions of litres of orange-coloured mine waste flow through their communities have demanded clarity about possible long-term threats to their water supply. Colorado and New Mexico made disaster declarations for stretches of...

  • Malta hosts international conference on Med geo risks

    ‘Geo risks in the Mediterranean and their mitigation’ was the theme of a two-day international conference hosted by the University at its Valletta campus. Close to a hundred participants from 14 countries in Europe and North Africa came together...

  • Quake Watch

    Quake Watch

    Seven earthquakes took place off the coast of Birżebbuġa between July 29 and 30 (inset map, overlapping red stars). The largest quake had a magnitude of 3.3 on the Richter Scale, and was felt in a number of villages in the south. Over 80 reports...

  • Applied geophysics experience in Santa Fe

    Applied geophysics experience in Santa Fe

    Daniela Farrugia, a PhD student at the University’s Department of Geosciences, attended the Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience (Sage), a four-week course hosted by the National Security Education Centre and the Earth and Environmental...

  • Paper wasps

    Paper wasps

    Summer in Malta is a difficult time for nature. The high temperatures and lack of rainfall dry up all surface water and, except for a small number of springs, there are no natural aquatic habitats. The only open water is found in man-made...

  • Fish ‘swimming faster, evading capture in nets’

    Fish may be evolving to swim faster and evade capture in trawler nets, according to research. Scientists at the University of Glasgow found that fitter fish are better at evading nets and believe that, over time, it could lead to physiological...

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