The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: Canadian Museum of Nature

Friday Science Review: Walk Before You Run Edition

Puijila the Primitive Pinniped:  Vertebrate paleontologist Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and her team found the first skeleton of a land-dwelling relative of seals, sea lions, and walruses. The 20-million- to 24-million-year-old Arctic fossil has webbed feet — the first fossil found in that family that shows an intermediate step between feet and flippers.  Rybczynski’s team found the fossil when their ATV ran out of gas on the way back from their actual dig site one day.  Seal-endipity?

Puijila darwini

Puijila darwini

A Carbon Sink that Grows On You:  Canadian researcher Marco Rondon is pushing for the inclusion of biochar in carbon trading schemes so that he can use the credits to subsidize poor farmers’ use of biochar as a fertilizer.  Biochar is an excellent fertilizer for acidic and nutrient-poor soil and it’s also an excellent carbon sink, sequestering carbon for thousands of years.  Although it was once widely used, biochar is no longer readily available to farmers in the Amazon, where the soil is now too poor to produce the raw materials for biochar and farmers don’t have the financial resources to bring them in from other places.  Rondon is hoping to start with small, monitored, pilot projects and eventually convince backers to address more of the two billion hectares of degraded farming soil in the world.

Smart Underwear:  A group of resesearchers, engineers and clinicians in Alberta will receive $5 million over the next five years from the Alberta Heritage Foundation and the province to work on improving movement by electrical stimulation.  Here’s one of their projects:

“A … device affectionately called ‘smart underwear’ is designed to help prevent pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, in people with spinal cord injuries … For Warren Fleury, who can’t fidget because of a spinal cord injury he suffered 20 years ago, the smart underwear makes the movements for him.”

Bit of a misnomer, though, since if the underwear was really smart maybe it would pick a different job…

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