Huge earthquakes are not significantly influenced by the moon, a new study says. The study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough, looked at earthquakes of magnitude 8 or greater over the past four centuries. And a review of more than 200 earthquakes demonstrated that there is no connection between the phase of the moon and the time when huge seismic events of magnitude 8 and greater strike. “That’s obviously a big earthquake myth: that big earthquakes happen on the full moon,” Hough said. Her study was published in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Anti-social marmots live two years longer

For many mammals, a busy social life can be an important contributor to a long life. But some animals need more alone time than others, and failure to get it could be lethal, according to new research. Consider the marmot. After spending 13 years tracking their interactions and life spans in Colorado, Daniel T. Blumstein, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues found in a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B that yellow-bellied marmots with more active social lives tended to die younger than those that avoided interactions. “The difference in life span between the most social and the least social marmot was about two years,” Blumstein said. That’s significant considering that the average life span of a yellow-bellied marmot is about 15 years. Marmots are known as socially flexible animals: They prefer to live solitary lives, but will peacefully coexist with one another if the habitat demands it. Why socializing might be detrimental to a marmot’s health is hard to say. Perhaps, Blumstein speculated, the animals are passing diseases among themselves. Maybe they are more likely to wake one another during hibernation, causing them to starve in the barren winter forest. Or perhaps time they spend socializing would be better spent looking out for predators.

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