Arctic ground squirrels load up on steroids without feeling ‘The Hulk effect

Credit: Ficker/Colleen

Earth Touch News Nov 5, 2014 Image: Colleen/Flickr When the earth entered an ice age millions of years ago, Arctic ground squirrels had a problem. As the planet cooled, so too did their northern habitat. Permafrost set in and temperatures in their dens began plummeting to below -20 degrees Celsius during the winter months. In this chilly environment, burning fat stores like other hibernators just wasn’t enough for the squirrels to survive. The solution? Hormones. In the summer months prior to hibernation, high levels of androgen,…

Black Holes Don’t Suck, They Blow

Submitted by Rob Thacker

A CONVERSATION WITH ASTROPHYSICIST ROB THACKER Jasper Fitzhugh, October 16th, 2014 Ever wonder if people who study space have the same reaction as you do when they see a shooting star? Is it an exciting and potentially perspective-giving event, or simply a meteoroid burning up as it passes through the atmosphere? What is it like spending every day grappling with the physics of the universe, and does it change the way one sees life here on Earth? Rob Thacker is an astrophysicist with the perspective…

Cone Explosion

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Jasper Fitzhugh  August 06, 2014 When the wind blows through my Jasper cul-de-sac, the spruce trees brace themselves against the gusts, the way millions of years of evolution have designed them to. This year, however, the tops of some of the spruce are so laden with cones, it seems possible that with one good blast, they might just snap off. This phenomenon can be seen everywhere around the park, from the middle of the townsite, to the sub-alpine near the Columbia Icefield. From a distance…

Beyond the viral video: What happens after a grizzly bear encounter?

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Earth Touch News June 23 2014  Viral videos of bears seem to be everywhere on the web right now. From a black bear in Northern Alberta to a rather large grizzly in Alaska, millions of people have tuned in to view these close encounters. And while watching them from the safety of our desk chairs allows us to glimpse the awe and power of these animals, these encounters can be terrifying interactions between humans and bears, and can have serious consequences for both. So what happens…

Trout hybrids on rise as climate changes

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Posted by: Fitzhugh Posted date: June 04, 2014 The westslope cutthroat trout looks like a tough fish, but looks can be deceiving. Named for the red slashes that mark its lower jaw, the fish—the only cutthroat trout native to Alberta—is listed as threatened under both Alberta’s Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. And in the United States, it’s actually considered a “sensitive” species by the U.S. Forest Service, meaning its population has been seriously reduced by habitat loss and hybridization with other…

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