The Week: Most Recent Nature:Nature Gone Awry recent posts.en-usMon, 08 Oct 2012 17:05:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Nature:Nature Gone Awry from THE WEEKMon, 08 Oct 2012 17:05:00 -0400Why are French bees producing colored honey?<img src="" /></P><p><strong><strong>The story</strong>: </strong>Beekeepers in&nbsp;Ribeauville, a small town in France's Alsace region, were baffled when they discovered that their bees were producing honey in unnatural shades of green and blue. When apiarists spotted the bees carrying a colorful substance back to their hives, they traced it to a nearby&nbsp;bio-gas plant that processes waste from an M&amp;Ms factory. The theory: The bees opted to collect the sugary waste instead of sourcing pollen from flowering plants because it's easier. The British Beekeepers Association says that the harsh winter of 2011-12 may have affected the bees' ability...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 08 Oct 2012 17:05:00 -0400Is a major earthquake going to hit Oregon?<img src="" /></P><p>Over the past 10,000 years, 22 major earthquakes have struck the southern part of the Cascadia fault, which runs off the Oregon coast from Coos Bay to Newport. And apparently, Mother Nature may be ready to strike Oregon again. After analyzing 13 years of research, scientists at Oregon State University&nbsp;have announced&nbsp;that this region has a 40 percent chance of suffering a massive earthquake in the next 50 years. And if Oregon is rocked by a temblor, researchers suggest that it could even be the same magnitude as the tremor that devastated Japan last year. Scientists have long warned that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/frances-r-catanio" ><span class="byline">Frances R. Catanio</span></a>Fri, 03 Aug 2012 08:05:00 -0400America's worst drought in decades: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>If you've felt like this summer has been spitefully torturing you with dry heat, it's not in your head: The National Climatic Data Center said this week that more than half of the U.S. spent June in a moderate or extreme drought, the widest incidence of drought in half a century. The heat and lack of rain are wreaking havoc on crops in the Midwest, forests in the West, and households across big stretches of the Great Plains, Midwest, and the Eastern seaboard. Here, a drily statistical look at our long, hot summer:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>54.6<br /></strong>Percent of the lower 48 states experiencing at least a moderate drought...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 18 Jul 2012 11:02:00 -0400Wisconsin's 'baffling' booms: A concise guide<img src="" /></P><p>It was a sleepless week for the 4,600 residents of Clintonville, Wis. In an unsettling twist on things going bump in the night, the city&nbsp;has endured since Sunday a series of loud booms whose source is as maddeningly elusive as a phantom itch. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) claims that a recent "swarm" of low-grade earthquakes might be the culprit, but even USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso says he's "skeptical" that such small temblors could yield this kind of noise. Here, a guide to Clintonville's "baffling" booms:&nbsp;</p><p class="p1"><strong>What do they sound like? </strong><br /> Some locals have likened the noise to thunderclaps...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 23 Mar 2012 15:31:00 -0400The 'freakishly warm' winter: 4 unwelcome side effects<img src="" /></P><p>There's no such thing as a free lunch, even when it comes to the weather. So while people around the world are celebrating the light winter, which has seen temperatures drop in nearly every state in the U.S., the animal world isn't quite as happy. The earth's beasts and creeping things have been "thrown for a loop," as the warm weather shakes up their "natural hibernation and reproduction cycles," says Jeremy A. Kaplan at <em>Discovery News</em>. And people may soon pay the price, thanks to what scientists are calling the "Jumanji effect," named after the Robin Williams movie in which wild animals emerge...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 08 Mar 2012 15:00:00 -0500Why are dolphins beaching themselves? 4 theories<img src="" /></P><p>From New England to Peru, dolphins have been beaching themselves in unprecedented numbers in recent weeks. More than 177 short-beaked dolphins have been stranded on Massachusetts' Cape Cod &mdash; more than five times the normal annual number &mdash; and 124 have died. Researchers have screened the marine mammals for bacteria and viruses, analyzed tissue samples, and put tracking devices on some survivors released back into the sea, looking for a cause. "Gosh, it's a puzzle," biology professor Richard Connor tells <em>The Boston Globe</em>. "It's really strange." What's going on? Here, four theories:<br /><br /><strong>1....</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 17 Feb 2012 17:35:00 -0500Europe's freakishly cute six-legged lamb<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> A newborn lamb is the toast of the village in Velistsikhe, Georgia, for being born with six legs &mdash; four in front, two in back &mdash; all of which the lamb can at least partially control. It also apparently has both male and female sex organs. "Most probably there were twins, but then the embryos were united," explains veterinarian Otto Zardiashvili. So "we've got a strange lamb." (Watch a video below.) "I have been asking the other shepherds, but none of them remember such case," says lamb owner Albert Abadzhanoz, who has raised sheep for 25 years. "There were three-legged lambs...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 27 Jan 2012 12:39:00 -0500The return of Arkansas' mass bird deaths<img src="" /></P><p>Here we go again? Last New Year's Eve, some 5,000 blackbirds dropped from the sky in Beebe, Ark., a small town about 35 miles from Little Rock. The subsequent media frenzy fueled plenty of dire apocalyptic theories.&nbsp;This weekend, the New Year once again brought scores of dead blackbirds to Beebe. Here, a concise guide to the seemingly eerie coincidence:</p><p><strong>Why did the birds die last year?</strong><br />The conventional wisdom says: Fireworks. The celebratory explosions unexpectedly caused the birds to become disoriented and "fly all over the place," according to Arkansas officials. Birds slammed into buildings...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 02 Jan 2012 16:28:00 -0500San Diego's 'dazzling' glow-in-the-dark waves<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video: </strong>Wide-eyed surfers in Southern California are paddling out long after sunset these days. That's because a phenomenon known as red tide that turns the ocean a reddish clay color during the day &mdash; thanks to large masses of algae &mdash; is causing something peculiar at night, too: Glow-in-the-dark waves that flash "spectacular neon blue," says Tony Barboza of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>. (Watch a video below.) The "dazzling" effect is due to creatures lurking in the algae bloom: Bioluminescent phytoplankton, which have been floating along San Diego coasts since late August. When huge numbers...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 06 Oct 2011 15:49:00 -0400The 'crazy hairy ants' invading America<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> "It sounds like a horror movie," says Janet McConnaughy at the Associated Press. <em>&nbsp;</em><em>&nbsp;</em>Hordes of super-fast, flea-sized ants with a nasty bite are swarming the U.S. South, from Texas to Florida. (Watch a news report below.) These so-called "crazy hairy ants" are probably native to South America, and their victims in the U.S. so far include everything from industrial plants &mdash; the ants can short out heavy equipment &mdash; to beehives. They travel in "cargo containers, hay bales, potted plants, motorcycles, and moving vans" &mdash; and there are now millions in the U.S. These...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 05 Oct 2011 11:43:00 -0400The giant crabs invading Antarctica<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Antarctica has a bad case of crabs &mdash; king crabs, that is. The scarlet-red monsters are each about 3 feet wide, and devour almost everything in their path. (Watch a video below.) Three years ago, scientists predicted that the crabs, which usually haunt the sea floor farther north, would start moving toward Antarctica sometime in the next 100 years as the Earth's climate warmed. But much, much sooner than expected, millions of the king crabs are taking over the oceans around Antarctica. In the process, the voracious carnivores have "wiped out the local wildlife and now threaten to...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 13 Sep 2011 17:48:00 -0400Does El Ni&ntilde;o cause civil wars?<img src="" /></P><p>In the run-up to a civil war, a number of factors &mdash; political instability, economic policy, and racial or ethnic differences &mdash; can play an important role in triggering the violence. Add one more potential contributor to that list: El Ni&ntilde;o, and the drastic weather changes that come with it, according to a new study published in <em>Nature</em>. Here, a guide to this research:<br /><br /><strong>What is El </strong><strong>Ni&ntilde;o</strong><strong>?</strong><br />The weather cycle known as El Ni&ntilde;o occurs roughly every three to seven years. When the trade winds that typically blow over the Pacific Ocean slow or stop, the usual upwelling of cold...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 26 Aug 2011 07:25:00 -0400Stoned animals: A slideshow<img src="" /></P><p>Government officials in Australia are complaining about wallabies &mdash; small marsupial mammals that resemble kangaroos &mdash; who are invading poppy fields in order to get high off the narcotic effects of the plants. Roughly 50 percent of the world's legally grown poppies, which are used to make morphine and other pain-killing drugs, come from Australia. Lately, strange crop circles have been appearing in the fields, and are being blamed on the marsupials' unseemly behavior. "We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite, and going around in circles," says...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 08 Aug 2011 18:30:00 -0400The 'apocalyptic' time-lapse video of Phoenix's dust storm<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Near sundown on Tuesday, the people of Phoenix were swallowed in a massive cloud of dust that knocked out power to almost 10,000 people, shut down the airport, and turned swimming pools into mud pits. Although such storms are very difficult to predict, several intrepid photographers had enough warning to ready their cameras for the mile-high, 100-mile-wide <em>haboob</em> &mdash; the Arabic term for this kind of dust storm, used in the Sahara and Arizona. The 100-mile-wide storm "moved like a giant wave" through the city, temporarily burying skyscrapers.&nbsp;In this time-lapse video (Watch it...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 07 Jul 2011 10:08:00 -0400Real-life Angry Birds?<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> The Everett, Wash., Police Department parking lot has come under attack from a flock of courageous crows. Like a scene pulled from the video game <em>Angry Birds</em>, the crows "dive-bomb" officers as they walk from their cruisers into the precinct building. (Watch a news report below.) "They're like velociraptors," says one lieutenant, as quoted by the <em>Associated Press</em>. Retaliation from the officers has only resulted in a torrent of droppings from above. Worse, the birds are conspiring: Three birds have been seen working as a team, with two causing a distraction while the other strikes. Despite...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 14 Jun 2011 14:10:00 -0400London's 'ludicrous' parakeet problem<img src="" /></P><p>London's suburbs are being besieged by thousands of rose-ringed parakeets. The once-exotic birds, native to India and Africa, have relocated to England in droves and have emerged as a nuisance to many residents &mdash; and a potential threat to British crops. Here, a guide to London's parakeet problem:</p><p><strong>What type of parakeets are we talking about?</strong><br />Rose-ringed parakeets are bright green with pink beaks and "voluble personalities that have long made the tropical species a popular household pet," says Elisabeth Rosenthal in <em>The New York Times</em>. The birds are a hardy breed, "able to withstand extreme...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 17 May 2011 07:25:00 -0400