Together with a Ukrainian colleague, Senckenberg researchers examined the 120-year-old specimen of a “Crimean lizard.” Until now, these animals had been considered a species of green lizard restricted to the Crimean Peninsula. Based on the complete mitochondrial genome, the team was able to show that these reptiles actually represent a species introduced from Italy. The results emphasize the importance of historical collections. The study was published today in the “Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research.”
Tropical mosquito species such the yellow fever mosquito or the Asian tiger mosquito are potential vectors of serious tropical diseases and increasingly make themselves at home in North America and Europe. According to scientists from Senckenberg and the ETH Zurich, there soon may be a natural repellant against these mosquitoes. In the scientific journal “Applied and Environmental Microbiology” they report on the edible mushroom Agrocybe aegerita that is cultivated worldwide. The scientists were able to analyze a gene sequence in the mushroom’s genome that is used by the fungus to produce Ageritin – a new type of fungal toxin that is highly efficient against yellow fever mosquitoes.
Together with researchers from New Zealand, Senckenberg scientist Gerald Mayr described a new pelagornithid species. With an age of 61 million years, the fossil is the oldest and also the smallest representative of this group of birds, which includes species with a wingspan of more than 5 meters. The new species, described as Protodontopteryx ruthae, was discovered at a fossil site in New Zealand and represents the oldest record of a pelagornithid bird from the Southern Hemisphere. The fossil bird was no larger than a modern gull and is one of the most basal representatives of this highly specialized avian group. Contrary to previously described pelagornithids, the new species probably did not soar over long distances and presumably fed on fish. The study appears today in the scientific journal “Papers in Palaeontology.”
Humanity shares its living space with up to 20 million other species — animals, fungi, plants, protists and bacteria. Of these, less than 2 million species have been scientifically recorded.
Biodiversity and ecosystem functions are of the utmost importance to humans: They provide us - free of charge, so to speak - with clean water, food and raw materials, and they have a stabilizing effect on the climate.
The loss of biodiversity and climate change count amongst the greatest challenges of the era. These factors exercise a mutual influence on each other.
The dynamics of the 'System Earth' have remained a focal point of research at Senckenberg to this day. What role did the planet's geodynamic processes play in bringing about life?