Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Strong indicators Plans are underway to install lightning detector on Mount Cleveland this summer. Researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA, have found that lightning is a good indicator of volcanic activity. Their paper documents the electrical activity that occurred during the January 2006 eruption of Mount Augustine.

While it has long been known that volcanic eruptions can produce vigorous lightning, there are few direct observations of the phenomena, the paper says. Following the initial eruptions of January 11 and January 13, 2006, two of which produced lightning, two electromagnetic lightning detectors were set up.

Later, the volcano erupted again, with the first of four eruptions producing a 'spectacular lightning sequence', say the researchers.

Social spiders US scientists studying two species of whip spiders, or amblypygids, have discovered sociability not expected otherwise in the aggressive species. Cornell University researchers discovered mother whip spiders caress their young with long feelers and siblings remain in social groups until they reach sexual maturity.

The scientists said social behaviour is extremely rare in arachnids, a class that includes spiders, amblypygids, scorpions and mites. Only 76 species of the more than 93,000 known arachnid species have been observed living in social groups.

The researchers' findings mark the first time social behaviour has been reported in amblypygids. The groups are constantly exploring one another and interacting with their siblings, said a researcher.

Burrowing dinosaur Researchers have uncovered the world's first fossil evidence of burrowing behaviour in dinosaurs. The 95-million-year-old skeletal remains of the diminutive dinosaur, along with the bones of two juveniles, were found tucked into a fossilised chamber at the end of a sediment-filled burrow in southwestern Montana. "The presence of an adult and two juveniles within a denning chamber represents some of the best evidence for dinosaur parental care," say researchers. The burrows are likely to be protected by the adult and young oryctodromeus from predators and harsh environmental conditions. Burrowing may have allowed other dinosaurs to survive in extreme environments such as polar regions and deserts, and questions some end-Cretaceous extinction hypotheses.

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