SpaceX and Virgin Galactic space ships could destroy the Ozone layer again

SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have sparked a new era of space travel and although these joy rides to the final frontier are exciting, they have a dark side that is accelerating climate change, a new study reveals.

A team of scientists, led by the University of London College, found that black carbon particles emitted by rockets are almost 500 times more efficient at holding heat in the atmosphere than all other sources of soot combined – and this is enhancing global warming.

The findings are based on all rocket launches and re-entries in 2019, along with projected space tourism scenarios based on the recent billionaire space race.

Researchers found, under a scenario of daily or weekly space tourism rocket launches, the impact on the stratospheric ozone layer threatens to undermine the recovery experienced after the successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

And this is mainly due to Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s use of kerosene and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s hybrid synthetic rubber fuel, according to researchers.

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The Montreal Protocol, established in 1987, is an international treaty that protects the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

This includes cutting the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and Class II ODS, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in half.

The treaty came about to mend a giant hole in the ozone layer that appeared in the early 1980s.

Average people have been traveling to space since 2001 – the first was millionaire Dennis Tito – but there has been a boom of tourists in just the past year.

And this is due to SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic for making commercial flights possible.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have launched six tourists, including himself, in total, while Virgin Galactic also sent its founder Branson and five other passengers on July 11 and SpaceX sent four passengers on September 16, 2021 – Musk has yet to go to space.

Branson’s company, however, has sold at least 600 tickets for flights aboard its commercial launches to space.

With many more launches on the horizon, scientists are looking to see what damage this could have on our environment.

Study co-author Dr Eloise Marais (UCL Geography) said in a statement: ‘Rocket launches are routinely compared to greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions from the aircraft industry, which we demonstrate in our work is erroneous.

‘Soot particles from rocket launches have a much larger climate effect than aircraft and other Earth-bound sources, so there doesn’t need to be as many rocket launches as international flights to have a similar impact.

‘What we really need now is a discussion amongst experts on the best strategy for regulating this rapidly growing industry.’

Study co-author Dr. Robert Ryan said: ‘The only part of the atmosphere showing strong ozone recovery post-Montreal Protocol is the upper stratosphere, and that is exactly where the impact of rocket emissions will hit hardest.

‘We weren’t expecting to see ozone changes of this magnitude, threatening the progress of ozone recovery.

‘There is still a lot we need to find out about the influence of rocket launch and re-entry emissions on the atmosphere — in particular, the future size of the industry and the types and by-products of new fuels like liquid methane and bio-derived fuels.

‘This study allows us to enter the new era of space tourism with our eyes wide open to the potential impacts.

‘The conversation about regulating the environmental impact of the space launch industry needs to start now so we can minimize harm to the stratospheric ozone layer and climate.’

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  • 1 час, 58 минут назад 13.08.2022Science
    China poised to copy Putin’s squeeze over Taiwan and CRIPPLE the world with key metals ban

    Following top US democrat Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan despite China’s protestations, tensions between Beijing and Washington soared to new heights. Chinese premier Xi Jinping responded by hosting military drills with live fire all around the island, sparking fears that China could soon try to fulfil its promise to take back to state “by force if necessary”. But if a conflict were to break out between the US and China over Taiwan’s sovereignty, experts have warned it could have far-reaching consequences on global manufacturing, effectively shutting down industries overnight.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jason Kaplan, founder of Commodities Analysis and Insight noted that China has a lot of influence over many minerals and commodities that are vital to the world economy.

    He said: “Now one of the funny things is, China is fairly mineral light. It doesn’t have huge resources, it has all of the processing.

    “But for a couple of commodities, it is the biggest producer of molybdenum and other is rare earth elements.

    “Theoretically, in the past it has tried to use those to restrict the markets.”

    Rare earth elements are used in a number of different industries, like electric batteries, magnets, machinery, etc.

    Molybdenum, on the other hand, is a crucial element used in stainless steel, as it adds corrosion resistance and high-temperature strength to the alloy, making it vital to a wide range of industries.

    He continued: “There’s two sides to the market- one is the state-run large enterprises, and the other is a whole lot of smaller local mines, which was a disorganised part of the sector.

    “A few years ago they decided to clamp down on that, and as a result there was no molybdenum anywhere in the world.

    “It sort of dried up overnight because the government decided to stop producing molybdenum from the disorganised sector.

    “That got a lot of people very concerned that if China ever changes the rules, the impact will be profound.

    “And that’s without China trying to do anything on purpose. If they wanted to try, it will be much more serious.”

    He noted that “virtually everything” will be impacted if China and the West become involved in a sanctions war over Taiwan.

    If Xi were to use such tactics against the US, this would be a similar playbook to the way that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been squeezing gas supplies flowing into the EU over the past year.

    Mr Kaplan noted that China produces 55 percent of global steel, while “Ukraine and Russia together make up 14 percent of global steel exports.

    “The prices of steel went through the roof virtually overnight when the conflict started.

    “If 55 percent is taken out, it’s not enough steel, construction, wind farm, your cars, everything will be affected.

    “With China, we’re not talking about price rise we’re talking about an inability to get materials.”

    He noted that if the price of steel doubles, the price of construction, wind turbines etc would double as well.

    China has repeatedly made clear to the US that Taiwan is a red line and that Washington’s support for “independence forces” could lead to war.

  • 5 часов, 58 минут назад 13.08.2022Science
    Monkeypox: WHO to rename disease over stigmatisation concerns — invites suggestions

    Monkeypox — a close relative of smallpox — is a viral disease typically contracted from animal bites or the consumption of improperly cooked meat, but that can spread from person-to-person by close contact. Initial symptoms of infection can include chills, fatigue, fever, and muscle aches — with more severe cases often presenting with a rash on the face and genitals that can spread elsewhere on the body before scabbing over. The virus is known to cause severe disease among certain vulnerable groups, including young children, people who are immunosuppressed and pregnant women.

    In July, the WHO declared the current global monkeypox outbreak to be an international emergency — with an estimated 31,000 cases reported worldwide.

    The disease has been endemic in parts of central and western Africa for decades, but has only begun to produce large outbreaks around the world in recent months.

    Outside of Africa, the majority of cases have affected men who have sex with other men — with vaccine rollouts targeting this community.

    As of August 8, 2022, the UK Health Security Agency has reported 2,914 confirmed and 103 highly probable cases of monkeypox in the UK, with the majority detected in England.

    Monkeypox was given its name when the disease was first identified back in 1958 in research monkeys in a laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    It is thought, however, that monkeys do not provide a natural reservoir for the virus — with scientists suspecting such may be found among rodent populations.

    In a statement on Friday, a WHO spokesperson said that the decision to rename monkeypox was made this week following a meeting of experts — and is in line with the current best practices for disease nomenclature.

    These practices, they added, aim “to avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups”.

    They also strive to “minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare”.

    The WHO continued: “Assigning new names to existing diseases is the responsibility of [the] WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications.

    They added that the WHO “is holding an open consultation for a new disease name for monkeypox.

    “Anyone wishing to propose new names can do so here (see ICD-11, Add proposals).”

    It is not yet known if WHO officials have a timeframe in mind for announcing the new name for monkeypox.

    Global health equity advocate Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor of the Aspen Institute told NPR: “Monkeypox should be renamed for two major reasons.

    “First, there is a long history of referring to Blacks as monkeys. Therefore, ‘monkeypox’ is racist and stigmatises Blacks.

    “Second, ‘monkeypox’ gives a wrong impression that the disease is only transmitted by monkeys. This is wrong.”

    On Friday, the WHO also announced that in the interests of avoiding stigmatisation, it had also renamed two clades of the virus such that they use Roman numerals rather than geographical areas.

    (A clade is the name given to a group of organisms that comprises one common ancestor and all of its lineal descendants.)

    A WHO spokesperson said: “Consensus was reached to now refer to the former Congo Basin (Central African) clade as Clade one (I) and the former West African clade as Clade two (II).”

    Subclade IIb, they explained, refers primarily to the group of variants that have been dominant in the current global monkeypox outbreak.

    The WHO continued: “The naming of lineages will be as proposed by scientists as the outbreak evolves. Experts will be reconvened as needed.

    “The new names for the clades should go into effect immediately while work continues on the disease and virus names.”

    They added that “the naming of virus species is the responsibility of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses, which has a process underway for the name of the monkeypox virus.”

    Monkeypox’s former Congo Basin and West African clades are not the only diseases to take their names from the regions in which they first originated.

    Other examples include Japanese encephalitis, Marburg virus (named after the German town in the State of Hessen which saw an outbreak in late 1967), Spanish influenza and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

    To date, the WHO has not publicly mooted the idea of changing the name of any of these diseases.

  • 7 часов, 58 минут назад 13.08.2022Science
    Antarctica warning: Ice shelves could be melting up to 40 percent faster than thought

    Antarctica’s ice shelves jut out from the ice sheet that covers the continent, and float on top of the Southern Ocean. Each several hundred metres thick, the shelves serve as a buffer, protecting the ice sheet on the mainland from flowing into the ocean and drastically raising global sea levels. However, climate change is warming both the atmosphere and the oceans, accelerating the rate at which the ice shelves are melting.

    The increasingly rapid melting of Antarctica’s ice shelves is threatening their ability to hold back the flow of the ice sheet into the ocean.

    This warning comes from environmental scientist Professor Andy Thompson of the California Institute of Technology and his colleagues.

    Prof. Thompson said: “If this mechanism that we’ve been studying is active in the real world, it may mean that ice shelf melt rates are 20–40 percent higher than the predictions in global climate models.”

    These models, he added, “typically cannot simulate these strong currents near the Antarctic coast”.

    In their study, the researchers focussed on one area of the southernmost continent in particular — the West Antarctic Peninsula.

    While the majority of Antarctica is shaped like a disc that remains within high polar latitudes, the peninsula pokes out into lower, warmer latitudes.

    It is here, Prof. Thompson and his colleagues explained, that Antarctica sees the most dramatic impacts of climate change.

    Previous studies by the team using both autonomous vehicles and scientific instruments attached to elephant seals have collected data on the temperature and salinity of both the water and ice around the West Antarctic Peninsula.

    In their modelling, the team took into particular account the so-called Antarctic Coastal Current — a narrow and oft-overlooked flow of water that runs counter-clockwise around the entire southernmost continent.

    Paper author and oceanographer Mar Flexas, also of Caltech, said: “Large global climate models don’t include this coastal current, because it’s very narrow — only about 20 kilometres [12 miles] wide.

    “Most climate models only capture currents that are 100 kilometres [62 miles] across or larger.

    “So, there is a potential for those models to not represent future melt rates very accurately.”

    According to the researchers, their new model illustrates how the Antarctic Coastal Current traps the water released from ice melting on the West Antarctic Peninsula and transports it around the continent.

    Because this freshwater is less dense than the mostly saline waters of the Southern Ocean, it circulates quickly near the surface of the ocean.

    This, in turn, can serve to trap relatively warm ocean seawater against the underside of the ice shelves, helping them to melt from below.

    In this way, the team explained, increased meltwater release from the West Antarctic Peninsula can help to propagate the warming effect via the coastal current — thereby escalating the melting of the ice shelves elsewhere in the West Antarctic.

    This remote warming mechanism, the researchers noted, could explain in part why the loss of ice from the West Antarctic ice shelves has accelerated in recent decades.

    Professor Thompson added: “There are aspects of the climate system that we are still discovering.

    “As we’ve made progress in our ability to model interactions between the ocean, ice shelves, and atmosphere, we’re able to make more accurate predictions with better constraints on uncertainty.

    “We may need to revisit some of the predictions of sea level rise in the next decades or century — that’s work that we’ll do going forward.”

    The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science Advances.

  • 7 часов, 58 минут назад 13.08.2022Science
    Musk primed to hand UK huge Brexit boost with new Tesla gigafactory: ‘Open for business!’

    At a shareholder conference last week, Mr Musk announced that Tesla is looking to build an additional 10-12 large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing facilities, known as gigafactories. The world’s richest man noted that each of these gigaplants would aim for an output of between one and a half to two million units per factory. He also noted that the EV giant may be able to announce an additional factory this year, with Canada seemingly being the frontrunner.

    However, Britain could be eyeing to secure one of these gigafactories, with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen throwing his hat in the ring.

    Ben Kilbey, the chief communications officer for Britishvolt, noted that Tesla building an electric vehicle manufacturing facility would provide a major boost for the country.

    Britishvolt is building the UK’s first gigafactory, which is set to build around 300,000 electric battery packs a year, with a total capacity of over 38 GWh by the end of the decade.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Kilbey said: “Tesla coming to the UK would be a huge boost for the country and its roadmap for electrification.

    “If we look at recent intelligence from the Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh [200GWh by 2040] of battery output in the UK by 2030 to satisfy demand.

    “A brand like Tesla coming to the UK would boost employment and show the world that the country is open for business post Brexit.

    “Britishvolt would love to see companies such as Tesla joining the race to build UK Gigaplants.

    “At full capacity, Britishvolt will deliver around 40GWh, towards the end of the decade.

    “That means there’s another 60GWh [by 2030] of capacity required.”

    In a letter to the Tesla CEO, Mr Houchen promised that Tees Valley could offer him “hundreds of acres of ideal developable land” while avoiding “the bureaucratic entanglements seen at other sites”.

    This appears to be a dig at Germany, which hosted Tesla’s most recent gigafactory, which opened earlier this year, and was frequently criticised by Mr Musk for its red tape.

    The world’s richest man had previously been mulling over setting up a gigafactory, but pulled out over the “uncertainty” of Brexit.

    He told trade site Auto Express: “Brexit uncertainty made it too risky to put a gigafactory in the UK,” opting for Berlin instead.

    Mr Kilbey noted that if Britain wants to attract more foreign automobile investors, then the best approach “is to make the energy transition market as attractive as possible for any investor in the UK.

    “The more the private sector is incentivised to invest, the higher the probability of a successful energy transition.

    “This will lead to job creation and the industries of the future.

    “Forward facing policy, which the UK clearly has in terms of low carbon energy solutions, is essential.”

  • 22 часа, 7 минут назад 12.08.2022Science
    Antarctica’s ice shelves could be melting up to 40% FASTER than we thought

    Antarctica’s ice shelves could be melting up to 40 per cent faster than we thought due to coastal ocean currents, a new study warns.

    Scientists in California have created a new climate model that accounts for the impact of a coastal current called Antarctic Coastal Current (ACC).

    The researchers say this narrow current causes warm water to melt Antarctica’s ice shelves – floating platforms of ice around the Antarctic coastline.

    Their model suggests ice shelf melt rates are 20 to 40 per cent higher than previous predictions from other climate models.

    Ice shelves help guard against the uncontrolled release of inland ice into the ocean, so if they’re melting, this could eventually contribute to more rapid sea level rise.

    The new study, published on Friday in the journal Science Advances, has been led by experts at Caltech and JPL in California.

    ‘If this mechanism that we’ve been studying is active in the real world, it may mean that ice shelf melt rates are 20 to 40 per cent higher than the predictions in global climate models, which typically cannot simulate these strong currents near the Antarctic coast,’ said study author Andy Thompson at Caltech.

    Ice shelves are large floating platforms of ice that connect to a landmass, such as Antarctica, although they’re also found in other polar locations such as Greenland.

    The shelves act as a protective buffer for the mainland ice, keeping the whole Antarctic Ice Sheet from flowing into the ocean, which would dramatically raise global sea levels.

    However, a warming atmosphere and warming oceans caused by climate change are increasing the speed at which these ice shelves are melting, threatening their ability to hold back the flow of the ice sheet into the ocean.

    For their study, the team focused on one area of Antarctica, called the West Antarctic Peninsula.

    Antarctica is roughly shaped like a disk, except where the peninsula protrudes out of the high polar latitudes and into lower, warmer latitudes.

    It is here that Antarctica sees the most dramatic changes due to climate change.

    The team has previously deployed autonomous vehicles in this region, and scientists have used data from elephant seals with instruments attached to them to measure temperature and salinity in the water and ice.

    The team created a computer model that accounts for an often-overlooked narrow ocean current along the Antarctic coast, the Antarctic Coastal Current.

    Known for being the southernmost current in the world, the Antarctic Coastal Current runs anticlockwise around the entire Antarctic continent.

    But many climate models do not include the Antarctic Coastal Current because it is so narrow, relatively speaking – around 12.5 miles (20 km).

    ‘Most climate models only capture currents that are 100 kilometers [62 miles] across or larger,’ said study author Mar Flexas at Caltech.

    ‘So, there is a potential for those models to not represent future melt rates very accurately.’

    The computer model showed how rapidly flowing freshwater, melted from the ice shelves, can trap dense warm ocean water at the base of the ice, causing it to warm and melt even more.

    It illustrates how freshwater that melts from ice at the West Antarctic Peninsula is carried by the Antarctic Coastal Current and transported around the continent.

    The less-dense freshwater moves along quickly near the surface of the ocean and traps relatively warm ocean saltwater against the underside of the ice shelves, which in turn causes the ice shelves to melt from below.

    Essentially, increased meltwater at the West Antarctic Peninsula can generate climate warming via the Antarctic Coastal Current, which in turn can also escalate melting even at ice shelves thousands of kilometers away from the peninsula.

    This remote warming mechanism may be part of the reason that the loss of volume from West Antarctic ice shelves has accelerated in recent decades.

    ‘There are aspects of the climate system that we are still discovering,’ Thompson said.

    ‘As we’ve made progress in our ability to model interactions between the ocean, ice shelves, and atmosphere, we’re able to make more accurate predictions with better constraints on uncertainty.

    ‘We may need to revisit some of the predictions of sea level rise in the next decades or century – that’s work that we’ll do going forward.’

    The new findings follow another study published in Nature on Wednesday that said Antarctica’s ice shelves are ‘crumbling’ and have significantly reduced in area over the last 25 years.

    Around 12 trillion tonnes of ice being lost over the past 25 years, the study found, which is double the previous estimate.

    We know one cause of ice shelf retreat is the thinning of ice shelves, which is largely caused by relatively warm seawater eroding the base of these shelves,’ two of the authors wrote for The Conversation this week.

  • 1 день назад 12.08.2022Science
    From twerking bears to waggling bees: Meet the dancers of the animal kingdom

    Every year, celebrities of all ages, backgrounds and levels of talent throw their best shapes on Strictly Come Dancing.

    However, some of our furry and feathered friends could stand a chance at the Glitterball Trophy, with moves that actually benefit them in the wild.

    As this year’s line-up for the TV dance contest is announced, MailOnline looks at the best movers and shakers in the animal kingdom.

    Waggling honeybees tell each other the location of the freshest flowers, while the cockatoo’s ability to keep a beat has led to it being studied by neuroscientists.

    A skunk’s handstand may look impressive, but it does serve as a warning to step back lest you be sprayed by something unpleasant.

    A chimpanzee conga line would certainly spice up a boring wedding reception, while the pirouettes of the dung beetle are worthy of a 10 from Craig Revel Horwood.

    Waggling bees

    Honeybees are known to have a vast portfolio of dance moves that perform a range of functions within the hive.

    When one bee finds a patch of flowers, they return to the honeycomb and perform a figure-of-eight movement to tell others where to find them.

    This was first noticed by Aristotle, and later investigated by Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Karl von Frisch in the 1960s

    The waggle dance tells the watching bees two things about a flower patch’s location – the distance and the direction away from the hive.

    The dancing bee waggles back and forth as she moves forward in a straight line, then circles around to repeat the dance.

    The length of the middle line, called the waggle run, shows roughly how far it is to the flower patch.

    Bees know which way is up and which way is down inside their hive, and they use this to show direction.

    To do this, bees dance with the waggle run at a specific angle.

    Outside the hive, bees look at the position of the sun, and fly at the very same angle that they’ve just observed, going away from the sun.

    If the sun were in a different position, the angle would stay the same, but the direction to the correct flower patch would be different.

    Sometimes, instead of the waggle dance, the bee walks in a circle, turns around, then walks the same circle in the opposite direction.

    This tells the watching bees that the flower patch is nearby to the hive.

    It is thought the duration of this dance indicates the flowers’ quality.

    Honeybees have also been found to use a defensive dance to ward off predators, in what’s known as ‘shimmering’, that looks like a Mexican Wave.

    They thrust their abdomens at 90 degrees into the air in an effort to ward off smaller predators, such as wasps, and protect their hive.

    It is used by the Apis Dorsata, a honey bee prevalent in South and Southeast Asia, to repel wasps, hornets and other predators.

    The technique helps prevent a wasp from fixating on one bee or in trying to acquire honey from the hive of the colony.

    Twerking bears

    While they may not have such a sophisticated purpose, bears also have a few moves ready for the dance floor.

    Brown bears with an itch they just can’t reach have been seen ‘twerking’ against trees to alleviate the irritation.

    A 2018 video, captured by Andy Williams in British Columbia, Canada, shows a one stand on its hind legs as it drags its back up and down the tree.

    It then falls onto four paws, rubbing its rear end on the bark in an attempt to reach a faraway itch.

    However, wildlife experts believe bears also rub their thick fur against trees to scent mark an area, leaving their calling card for other bears.

    A 2007 study from the University of Cumbria concluded that grizzly bears may use the scents to get to know each other better while looking for females.

    This familiarity could act as a way of reducing fighting among adult male bears.

    Grooving cockatoos

    A cockatoo called Snowball went viral in 2009 after he was captured on video bobbing his head to the Backstreet Boys.

    That same year, scientists from The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, along with his owner Irina Schulz, studied the bird.

    They found Snowball was the first non-human animal proven to be able to dance along to a beat.

    Later, they noticed him displaying a greater range of movements than he had never been taught, and in 2019 he was the focus of a second study by scientists from the University of California, San Diego.

    Despite his lack of formal training, the cockatoo came up with 14 different moves by himself while listening to 80s classics.

    The researchers believe his ‘remarkably diverse spontaneous movements’ show that dancing is not limited to humans, but a response to music when certain conditions are present in the brain.

    Analysis of his moves revealed them to be clearly intentional but not an ‘efficient means of achieving any plausible external goal’.

    Writing in Current Biology, the authors said: ‘Snowball does not dance for food or in order to mate; instead, his dancing appears to be a social behaviour used to interact with human caregivers (his surrogate flock).’

    The researchers proposed that the reason humans and parrots share a natural ability to dance may arise from the convergence of five traits – vocal learning, the capacity for nonverbal movement imitation, a tendency to form long-term social bonds, the ability to learn complex sequences of actions, and attentiveness to communicative movements.

    Chimpanzee conga

    It can be hard to resist joining in a conga line when one passes you by, and it turns out chimpanzees have the same urge.

    Psychologists from the University of Warwick studied a dance similar to the conga performed by of a pair of chimps at Saint Louis Zoological Park in Missouri, USA.

    The double act initiated their dance seemingly for no other reason than an expression of emotion.

    Their synchronised body movements could reveal clues about how and why humans started to dance, according to Dr Adriano Lameira.

    Researchers say the levels of motor co-ordination, synchrony and rhythm between the two matched the levels shown by orchestra players performing the same musical piece.

    In the study the team concluded that the chimps’ ‘conga-line’ is the ‘first case of spontaneous whole-body entrainment between two ape peers’.

    This provides evidence that human dance may have been rooted in mechanisms of social cohesion among small groups that might have given stress-releasing benefits.

    Leaping lemurs

    Lemurs have a distinctive ‘sideways gallop’ which makes them look like they are dancing.

    A pair of pair of critically endangered Coquerel’s sifaka lemurs were caught on camera prancing across their enclosure at Chester Zoo last year.

    Primate Keeper Holly Webb said: ‘When down on the ground, Coquerel’s sifaka lemurs move around with a fascinating sideways gallop while gracefully holding up their arms for balance – it rather looks like they’re doing an elegant dance.’

    The lemurs have very long legs but short arms, making it impossible for them to run on all fours.

    Their prancing movement allows them to cross long distances while only using the minimum amount of energy.

    It is thought that, by crossing one leg in front of the other, the momentum from landing can help generate some of the energy for the next takeoff.

    Skunk du Soleil

    Don’t try this at home – the funky skunk has moves that would not seem out of place in a dance troupe on Britain’s Got Talent.

    The stinky mammal uses an elaborate warning dance, involving handstands and tail waving, to warn off aggressors before spraying them with its noxious liquid.

    The dance may make them seem bigger in size to a predator, and If it doesn’t back off, the aggressor could face a rapid-fire attack from its potent spray.

    When threatened, the skunk turns its body into a U-shape so its head and bottom face the attacker.

    This means the animal can aim an invisible jet of noxious liquid at a predator some 15 feet (five metres) away.

    Before they launch their attack, they stamp their front feet, raise their tail and hiss, or perform the warning dance.

    It then sprays a strong and unpleasant scent, via two ‘nipples’ located on the sides of the anus.

    Moonwalking manakins

    Just call him the ‘King of Peep’, as a particular kind of tropical bird has been known to ‘moonwalk’ to grab a mate’s attention.

    The male red-capped Manakin, found across Mexico and Central america, makes a clapping noise by beating its wings at a rapid pace.

    It will then land on a branch and slide across it in a moonwalk-like fashion to attract a potential mate.

    Male manakins have one of the fastest limb muscles ever recorded in a vertebrate animal, scientists have found.

    The muscle allows them to flap their wings more than 60 times per second to produce the rapid clapping or snapping noise

    Biologists have found the birds move their wings at more than twice the speeds needed to get airborne, suggesting the muscle has evolved purely to help them win a female partner.

    The humeral retractor muscle of red-capped manakins showed half-relaxation frequencies of around 80-100Hz.

    Shaking spiders

    The male peacock spider performs a unique dance routine involving his brilliantly coloured fan attached to his abdomen to attract a mate.

    The spider, native to Australia, will raise its third pair of legs to the sky before zig-zagging MC Hammer-style towards the female.

    He will also present and vibrate his abdominal fan, and clap his legs to attract his potential mate’s attention.

    The females, on the other hand, use the dance to help assess whether a potentially mate is strong enough to become her partner.

    While they are as small as a grain of rice, if the female does not deem the male worthy, she will kill and eat him.

    Sometimes the female will kill her partner after they have mated in order to provide nourishment for her babies.

    Dung beetle pirouette

    Dung beetles are more attune to rhythmic gymnastics than the other species, as they will only dance with their chosen prop of a tasty ball of manure.

    In order to transport their food, and protect it from predators, they will stand on top of the dung ball after it is rolled up.

    They will then perform an elegant 360-degree spin in order to get their bearings, by taking a mental ‘photograph’ of the sky.

    When the creature then starts to roll its dung, it is able to successfully navigate straight ahead by matching the stored snapshot with the present environment.

    Scientists at Lund University in Sweden used an artificial starry sky to test the beetle’s ability to navigate.

    They were able to regulate the amount of light, as well as change the positions of the stars, sun and moon.

    This allowed them to compare how the beetles changed direction depending on the placement of the celestial bodies.

    Reseacher Basil el Jundi said: ‘Other animals and insects also use the position of celestial bodies to navigate, but the dung beetles are unique.

    ‘They are the only ones to take a snapshot where they gather information about how various celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, are positioned.’

    Tap-dancing booby

    This stomping bird is the animal kingdom’s answer to Fred Astaire with its unique mating dance.

    The male blue-footed booby will raise one foot at a time with its wings extended and head raised to perform its ritual, while whistling through its beak.

    Its cerulean-coloured stompers also play their own part in its success when impressing a female.

    The bright blue colour comes from carotenoid pigments that the birds ingest through the fish they eat.

    A weaker or unhealthy bird will struggle to feed itself, and the colour won’t be as vivid, which a potential partner will notice during its dance.

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