What difference does half a degree Celsius of global warming make? To many plants and animals, it could mean the difference between life and death, said a study published in Science. Researchers with the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, analyzed how the geographical ranges of about 100,000 species of terrestrial plants and animals would be affected by different scenarios. The researchers found that 18 percent of insects, 16 percent of plants and 8 percent of vertebrates will lose more than half their geographical range if the average global temperature is 2 degrees hotter than it was before the industrial revolution. If the warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees, only 6 percent of insects, 8 percent of plants and 4 percent of vertebrates would be expected to see more than half their geographical range disappear. If Earth warmed by 3 degrees by 2100, 49 percent of insects, 44 percent of plants and 26 percent of vertebrates would see more than half of their range disappear.
Lizards bleed green after evolutionary shift
For some lizards it’s easy being green. It’s in their blood. Six species of lizards in New Guinea bleed lime green thanks to evolution gone weird. It’s unusual, but there are critters that bleed different colors. The New Guinea lizards’ blood — along with their tongues, muscles and bones — appear green because of large doses of a green bile pigment. The bile levels are higher than other animals, including people, could survive. Scientists don’t know why this happened, but evolution is providing some hints into this nearly 50-year mystery. By mapping the evolutionary family tree of New Guinea lizards, researchers found that green blood developed inside the amphibians at four independent points in history, likely from a red-blooded ancestor, said a study in journal Science Advances. This isn’t a random accident of nature but suggests this trait of green blood gives the lizards an evolutionary advantage of some kind, said Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University. “The natural world is a fascinating place.”