Tag Archives: News

Arms race between Ebola virus and bats, waged for millions of years

From the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Interesting new twist in Ebola research. The AECM states:

“We knew from our previous research that Ebola virus infects host cells by attaching its surface glycoprotein to a host cell receptor called NPC1,” said study co-leader Kartik Chandran, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology & immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology at Einstein. “Here, we show how bats have evolved to resist Ebola infection and how, in turn, the virus could have evolved to overcome that resistance.” The other study co-leaders are Sara Sawyer, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at CU-Boulder, and John Dye, Ph.D., Viral Immunology Branch Chief at USAMRIID.

Read the full article at AECM.com.

Canada Adds Three Bat Species to Endangered List

The Canadian Government announced yesterday that three bat species have been added to Schedule 1 of theCanadian Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) and the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) have all been listed as endangered, the most powerful designation, which protects species and their habitats on federal land.

Long in the works, this decision comes following a November 2013 re-examination by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) of theirinitial February 2012 emergency assessment. That assessment determined that rapid spread of White-nose Syndrome and associated evidence of population collapse was strong enough that it posed a serious and imminent threat to the survival of each of the species.

Since first being discovered in south-western Quebec and central and north-eastern Ontario in early 2010, the disease has now been confirmed in five Canadian provinces, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The new listing prohibits anyone from the killing, harming, or harassing and/or the damage or destruction to the residence of any bats on federal land, which includes protected areas, migratory birds sanctuaries, national wildlife areas, national parks, etc, as well as the prohibition of collecting, buying, selling or trading of any part of one of these species.

As visiting a bat hibernaculum in the winter could be construed as harassment, and visitation of a cave with contaminated gear could harm bats, cavers must take steps to ensure they familiarize themselves with and adhere to the new policies. For instance, in cases where there is a risk of a contravention of the listing people visiting caves would need to apply for a permit.

Thankfully, plenty of helpful guides have been released along with the announcement to make the transition easier.

In addition, we are quite happy to see the Canadian Government recognize the efforts of cavers, going as far to note in the official order “that many caving and speleological organizations already take and promote voluntary measures to reduce the spread of the fungus responsible for WNS.”

Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act [Canada Gazette]

Original Article: Canada Adds Three Bat Species to Endangered List – Caving News.

The Dark and Dangerous World of Extreme Cavers.

On his thirteenth day underground, when he’d come to the edge of the known world and was preparing to pass beyond it, Marcin Gala placed a call to the surface. He’d travelled more than three miles through the earth by then, over stalagmites and boulder fields, cave-ins and vaulting galleries. He’d spidered down waterfalls, inched along crumbling ledges, and bellied through tunnels so tight that his back touched the roof with every breath. Now he stood at the shore of a small, dark pool under a dome of sulfurous flowstone. He felt the weight of the mountain above him—a mile of solid rock—and wondered if he’d ever find his way back again. It was his last chance to hear his wife and daughter’s voices before the cave swallowed him up.

“Base camp, base camp, base camp,” he said. “This is Camp Four. Over.” His voice travelled from the handset to a Teflon-coated wire that he had strung along the wall. It wound its way through sump and tunnel, up the stair-step passages of the Chevé system to a ragged cleft in a hillside seven thousand feet above sea level. There, in a cloud forest in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, lay the staging area for an attempt to map the deepest cave in the world—a kind of Everest expedition turned upside down. Gala’s voice fell soft and muffled in the mountain’s belly, husky with fatigue. He asked his seven-year-old, Zuzia, how she liked the Pippi Longstocking book she’d been reading, and wondered what the weather was like on the surface. Then the voice of Bill Stone, the leader of the expedition, broke over the line. “We’re counting on you guys,” he said. “This is a big day. Do your best, but don’t do anything radical. Be brave, but not too brave.”

Matt Covington, a caver from Arkansas, who says that “a good caver is one who forgets how bad it really is.” PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCIN GALA

Gala had been this deep in the cave once before, in 2009, but never beyond the pool…

Read more:In Deep – The New Yorker.

Underground Explorers and the Shocking Dimensions of the World’s Deepest Cave

A project dubbed “The Call of the Abyss” took explorers to the deepest cave on Earth, and they ventured down to a breathtaking depth of nearly 2,200 meters — around 1.3 miles.

The depth of the cave, named “Krubera-Varonya,” is fascinating, but the winding length of the entire cave system also boggles the mind. Located in the Arabika Massif, of the Western Caucasus in Abkhazia, Georgia, it extends for 13.432 kilometers, or roughly 8.3 miles.

Read the whole article:

Underground Explorers and the Shocking Dimensions of the World’s Deepest Cave — How Far Could You Make It? | TheBlaze.com.