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- Mackerel sharks are large, fast-swimming apex predators that include Hollywood heavy hitters like great whites (Jaws), mako (Deep Blue Sea) and the now-extinct Megalodon (Meg). One of the smallest mackerel sharks is the porbeagle – on average less than two metres long – and it’s one of the most critically endangered species of shark too. A new study from Paul Mensink (Department of Biology) Western University along with collaborators at Queen’s University Belfast and Inland Fisheries Ireland presents findings that will be crucial in helping porbeagles recover from 50 years of overfishing. Published by ICES Journal of Marine Science, the study includes valuable insights into porbeagle migratory patterns which will help shape long-term solutions for population management.
- Questionable data cloud the potential discovery of the first known interstellar fireball. Two researchers—Avi Loeb, chair of astronomy at Harvard University, and Harvard undergraduate Amir Siraj—say that has changed, arguing that a modest meteor observed in January 2014 was actually an outcast from another star. For their study, Loeb and Siraj used a different method, looking for evidence of interstellar objects in more than three decades of data from the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). Peter Brown, (Western, Physics and Astronomy) pushes back on this claim stating "that even though the CNEOS catalog is on average of very high quality, the validity of any single data point—particularly for smaller meteors—remains questionable."
- Four Western research projects recently shared in more than $2 million in Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Partnership Grants, the funding body has announced. They are among 75 projects, with nearly $45 million in total funding, that will connect Canada’s brightest researchers with industry, government and other partners to transform fundamental science into tangible benefits for Canadians. The recipients are: François Lagugné-Labarthet (Chemistry), Mark Bernards (Biology), Abdallah Shami (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Danielle Way (Biology).
- North American beavers, which weigh between 25 to 75 pounds as adults, are the largest rodents living in Canada. That’s today. Go back 10,000 years to the last Ice Age and giant beavers – roughly three times larger than the modern North American beaver – walked the Earth with woolly mammoths and mastodons until they too became extinct. A new study has uncovered a possible reason why the giant beaver, like so many other species of large terrestrial fauna, went extinct at the end of the last Ice Age. More importantly, for the first-time ever, Western earth scientists have discovered that giant beavers did not eat wood – a distinct (and perhaps deadly) divergence from its dentally-endowed descendant.