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Global hotspots for alien invasions revealed

Global hotspots for alien invasions revealed

Science
Great Britain is in the top 10% of areas for harbouring alien species, according to a study.Animals that have moved in from afar include the grey squirrel, rose-ringed parakeet and the noble false widow spider.The UK also has more established alien plants than elsewhere in Europe, such as Himalayan balsam.Scientists say islands and mainland coastal regions are global "hotspots" for alien species.They are calling for more effective measures to stop further introductions of plants and animals into vulnerable ecosystems."We need to be much better at trying to prevent the introduction of species that can be harmful in the first place," said Dr Wayne Dawson of Durham University, UK. "Prevention is better than cure with invasive species."Alien species are plants or animals that are non-native (o...
Paleontologists find Cretaceous-era baby bird trapped in amber

Paleontologists find Cretaceous-era baby bird trapped in amber

Science
June 9 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered the remains of a Cretaceous-era baby bird inside a piece of 99-million-year-old amber. The amber fossil was found in Myanmar and purchased by scientists from local amber hunters.The baby bird became trapped in tree sap just a few days after hatching. The resin hardened into amber, preserving roughly roughly half of the tiny bird, including its neck bones, claws, a single wing and toothed jaws. It's the most complete Burmese amber fossil yet recovered.Scientists say the specimen belonged to a group of birds called Enantiornithes, which disappeared along with the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago."Enantiornithines are close relatives to modern birds, and in general, they would have looked very similar. However, this group of birds still had teeth ...
The oldest living thing on Earth

The oldest living thing on Earth

Science
Mayflies live a day, humans live a century, if we're lucky, but what is the oldest living organism on the planet? For scientists, accurately proving the age of any long-lived species is a hard task.Under the boughs of a 300-year-old sweet chestnut tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum, confirms that trees are capable of outliving animals. Proving this can involve some traditional detective work, as he explains: "First of all we can look at previous records, to find out if a tree was growing there at a set date. Then we look at paintings and artwork, to look to see if that tree was present. And old ordinance survey maps quite clearly show ancient trees, especially important ones."A well-known way of measuring the age of a tree is by counting the rings...