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Scientists find unexpected trove of life forms beneath Antarctic ice shelf


A team of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany has discovered a whopping 77 seafloor-dwelling species beneath an Antarctica ice shelf - a hint that this mysterious realm may be far more biologically rich than scientists realized.

Little is known about the environment beneath Antarctica's floating ice shelves, the seaward extensions of the continent's glaciers that span 1.6 million square kilometers. It's a harsh, cold environment shrouded in continuous darkness, and previous studies of life beneath the ice have only documented a few dozen hardy life forms.
 

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A fifth of world's reptile species deemed threatened with extinction


WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - About a fifth of reptile species - from the Galapagos tortoises to the Komodo dragon of the Indonesian islands, from West Africa's rhinoceros viper to India's gharial - are threatened with extinction, researchers said on Wednesday in the first comprehensive global status assessment for reptiles.

The study examined 10,196 reptile species including turtles, crocodilians, lizards, snakes and the tuatara, the only surviving member of a lineage dating back more than 200 million years. They found that 21% of species are critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of species. They also identified 31 species that already have gone extinct.
 

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Scientists discover polar bears adapting to live largely on glacier slush


Polar bears are highly dependent on sea ice as a platform to hunt their prey, and with record low concentrations continuing to be seen in the Arctic, these large carnivores face a real fight for survival. But scientists have uncovered new reason for optimism when it comes to their ability to adapt in the face of climate change, documenting a genetically distinct subpopulation of polar bears that instead survive on glacier slush for large parts of the year.
 

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California's trees are dying, and might not be coming back


The State of California is banking on its forests to help reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But that element of the state's climate-change solution arsenal may be in jeopardy, as new research from the University of California, Irvine reports that trees in California's mountain ranges and open spaces are dying from wildfires and other pressures-and fewer new trees are filling the void.
 

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Ships must slow down to save endangered whales, US gov't says


Vessels off the East Coast of the United States must slow down more often to help save a vanishing species of whale from extinction, the federal government has said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made the announcement on Friday via new proposed rules designed to prevent ships colliding with North Atlantic right whales.

Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the two biggest threats to the giant animals, which number less than 340 and are falling in population.
 

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