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  • Researchers in India have identified a new species of pit viper and named it Trimeresurus salazar, after Salazar Slytherin, from the beloved Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling.
  • So what makes this species new? For one thing, males of the species have a reddish-orange stripe on their heads and bodies, according to Pensoft. They also have more teeth and the males’ reproductive organ has a different structure.
  • The finding also highlights the amazing biodiversity of a region threatened by development. Arunachal Pradesh has more than 50 of northeast India’s 110 snake species.
  • The team originally considered naming the new snake after another Harry Potter character, Nagini, the pet cobra of the series’ villain Lord Voldemort, but decided to save that name in case they discovered a new species of cobra. Read more here.


Treating Wastewater With Beer? 🍺

  • The town of Havre, Montana dealt with a wastewater treatment problem, estimated to cost millions of dollars but wastewater workers have found an upcycled solution, through chemistry and beer!
  • At the Havre Wastewater Treatment Facility, 1.5 million gallons of waste must be filtered before being released into the Milk River.
  • Until recently, the facility had issues with phosphorus and nitrogen. The nutrients can cause algae blooms in rivers, which suck up all the oxygen and kill aquatic life.
  • Triple Dog Brewing Company began dropping off buckets of barley, moist grain leftover from brewing beer. This was added into the wastewater treatment bringing the phosphorus levels down.
  • Bacteria play a big role removing nitrogen and phosphorus at wastewater treatment facilities. But to be really effective, bacteria need some extra food at the end of the treatment process when they’re starving for carbon and volatile fatty acids. Luckily, spent barley has both.
  • The facility was able to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus levels and save the town a lot of money: $16,000 annually for a specific chemical treatment and possibly a million dollar on another upgrade.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency gave Havre an honorable mention at the end of last year for its innovative solution.
  • We hope to see more facilities utilize this method, for the sake of our environment. Listen to the report here.


Navigating As The World’s Boxiest Fish

  • You might think cuboid creatures would have a hard time navigating the ins and outs of tight fitting coral reefs, but these boxfish are surprisingly agile. The secret is in the boxfish’s tail fin.
  • Boxfish are equipped with hard bony plates around their body, acting like an armor, protecting them from predators but limiting their flexibility. Recent research suggests that stabilization comes directly from the fishes’ fins, which act as a rudder for their naturally unstable body.
  • The study was conducted with 3D plastic models of finless boxfish finding that without the fin, the fish were at the mercy of the water flow. Read the study here.

How Trees Communicate

  • Ever wondered how trees talk? Trees have complicated social lives, learn more in ecologist Suzanne Simard’s TED Talk here.

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