Jul 22, 2019

American pocket shark that glows in the dark confirmed as new species

Photo: Mark Grace/National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center via AP

Researchers have uncovered a tiny new species of pocket shark in the Gulf of Mexico that glows in the dark, a Tulane University study reveals.

Details: The 5.5-inch creature has been named the American pocket shark, or Mollisquama mississippiensis. It secretes a glowing fluid from a tiny pocket gland near its front fins, the study says.

The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf."
Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, statement

The big picture: Scientists collected the male kitefin shark in 2010, the university said in a statement this week. The luminous specimen stood out among others when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher observed it in 2013, and the new species was later confirmed.

  • It is only the 3rd known shark species out of more than 500 that may squirt luminous liquid, R. Dean Grubbs, a Florida State University scientist who was not involved in the research, told AP.

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Trump administration rolls back protections for endangered species

The Endangered Species Act helped save the bald eagle from extinction. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Trump administration finalized sweeping changes on Monday to the Endangered Species Act that roll back protections for at-risk plants and animals and make it easier to delist species.

Why it matters: The landmark act from the Nixon administration contributed to saving the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator, per the New York Times. The Trump administration claims the changes will help reduce regulatory burden on the Interior Department.

Go deeperArrowAug 12, 2019

Florida's famous sabal palm trees under threat from invasive disease

Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Florida’s official state tree, the sabal palm, is under threat from a rapidly spreading, fatal disease. It turns trees to dried crisps in months — and they have no chance for recovery, AP reports.

Why it matters: Lethal bronzing disease has gone from a small infestation on Florida’s Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade, per AP, which notes that "some worry it will migrate to California and Arizona, infecting date palms and damaging that fruit crop."

Go deeperArrowAug 19, 2019

More healthy people are paying cash for elective genomic sequencing

2 of Boston's top hospitals are rolling out clinics that claim to predict potential diseases with elective (non-essential) genomic sequencing, Stat News' Rebecca Robbins reports.

Why it matters: Healthy people can pay up to thousands in cash, out of pocket, to visit similar genomics clinics at academic centers or hospitals. There is currently no strong evidence to show that healthy patients are benefitting from these clinics, most of which didn't exist more than 5 years ago.

Go deeperArrowAug 17, 2019