Date: 4/14/2019

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  • The only known female member of one of the world’s rarest turtle species has died at a zoo in southern China, officials said on 14th April.
  • The animal was one of four Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to be remaining in the world. The Suzhou zoo, where the female turtle lived since 2008 when she was moved from the Changsha Ecological Zoo, also houses a male Yangtze giant softshell turtle.
  • She was moved to mate with the male turtle, who is reportedly over 100 years old, a zoo employee told China’s Global Times on condition of anonymity.The other two turtles live in Vietnam, but their genders are unknown.
  • The turtle died on 13th April afternoon, the Suzhou city government said in a statement, citing the zoo. It said experts have already used technology to collect the turtle’s ovarian tissue for future research.
  • The state-run People’s Daily reported that the turtle was over 90 years old and had undergone a fifth attempt at artificial insemination shortly before she died.
  • A medical examination found the turtle to be in good health prior to the procedure, the People’s Daily said, and the artificial insemination appeared to go smoothly.But the turtle died the following day.
  • The Rafetus swinhoei, more popularly known as Yangtze giant softshell turtles, originated in China, making their homes in the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, according to the People’s Daily.
  • The species is often referred to as the most endangered turtle in the world.Loss of habitat and poaching are among the reasons for the decline of the species’ population, according to a report by Mongabay, a conservation and environmental science news service.
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  • Scientists have discovered a unique oil eating bacteria in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans, a finding that may pave way for sustainable ways to clean up oils spills.
  • The Mariana Trench is located in the Western Pacific Ocean and reaches a depth of approximately 11,000 metres. By comparison, Mount Everest is 8,848 metres high.
  • “We know more about Mars than the deepest part of the ocean,” said Xiao-Hua Zhang of the Ocean University in China, who led the study.
  • To date, only a few expeditions have investigated the organisms inhabiting this ecosystem.
  • One of these expeditions was organised and led by noted marine explorer and Academy Award-winning film director James Cameron, who built a specialised submersible to collect samples in the trench.
  • “Our research team went down to collect samples of the microbial population at the deepest part of the Mariana Trench some 11,000 metres down. We studied the samples that were brought back and identified a new group of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria,” said Jonathan Todd, from the University of East Anglia in the UK.
  • “Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that are made of only hydrogen and carbon atoms, and they are found in many places, including crude oil and natural gas,” Todd said in a statement.
  • “So these types of microorganisms essentially eat compounds similar to those in oil and then use it for fuel. Similar microorganisms play a role in degrading oil spills in natural disasters such as BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
  • “We also found that this bacteria is really abundant at the bottom of the Mariana Trench,” he added.
  • In fact, the team found that the proportion of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria in the Trench is the highest on Earth.
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  • The world’s largest airplane a Stratolaunch behemoth with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines made its first test flight on Saturday in California.
  • The mega jet carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert.It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites.
  • It is supposed to provide a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets because this way all you need is a long runway for takeoff.It was built by an engineering company called Scaled Composites.
  • The aircraft is so big its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380.Specifically, the wing span is 117 meters; that of an Airbus A380 is just under 80.
  • The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.
  • It hit a top speed of 304 kilometers per hour (189 mph) and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet, or 5,182 meters.
  • Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites.But Allen died in October of last year so the future of the company is uncertain.

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