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Giant freshwater stingray

WORLD RECORD (and the Ocean Mysteries team) are so excited! Turns out this giant freshwater stingray maybe a world record for the largest freshwater fish ever captured! It measured over 14 ft long and over 8 ft wide! I will let you know the final results. FYI, this stingray was captured with the world’s leading specialist on these animals, Dr Ning, the information from her study is solely for conservation, and as you can see in the picture this is the moment of release, the animal is doing well and thriving. The entire story will be featured in a future episode of Ocean Mysteries on ABC.

Newly discovered form of animal life

Deep sea ‘mushroom’ may be new branch of life
Paul Rincon, Science editor, BBC News website

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom. Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years. The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One. The authors of the article note several similarities with the bizarre and enigmatic soft-bodied life forms that lived between 635 and 540 million years ago – the span of Earth history known as the Ediacaran Period. These organisms, too, have proven difficult to categorise and some researchers have even suggested they were failed experiments in multi-cellular life.

The authors of the paper recognise two new species of mushroom-shaped animal: Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides. Measuring only a few millimetres in size, the animals consist of a flattened disc and a stalk with a mouth on the end.

During a scientific cruise in 1986, scientists collected organisms at water depths of 400m and 1,000m on the south-east Australian continental slope, near Tasmania. But the two types of mushroom-shaped organisms were recognised only recently, after sorting of the bulk samples collected during the expedition.

“Finding something like this is extremely rare, it’s maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years,” said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen. He told BBC News: “We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where.”


Peanut allergy

Parents who have children with food allergies know all too well about the headaches in keeping their lives “nut-free.” But a new study suggests that peanut allergy can be prevented at a young age by embracing peanuts, not avoiding them. Eating peanut products as a baby significantly reduces the risk of developing the allergy by 80% in high-risk infants, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests. Peanuts are one of the leading causes of food allergy reaction and can be fatal. An estimated 400,000 school-aged children in the United States have this allergy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. So far, the research on the prevention of the peanut allergy is “without precedent,” according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But allergy specialists also warn that peanut consumption in high-risk infants should only be done after medical assessment.


Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy
George Du Toit,  et al. The New England Journal of Medicine, February 26, 2015 vol. 372 no. 9

related fact:  In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics withdrew its recommendation to withhold peanuts until age 3.


Paradigm shifts in Biology

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