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The Spill: A Rare Tree Finally Flowers

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Just When You Think You Have Seen It All

Missouri has come to the rescue of an endangered tree species. A team of botanists protecting the Karomia gigas says the tree has a flower that has just been seen for the first time.

This means the plants can now cross-pollinate with each other, which is critical to the long-term survival of the plant.

The tree is so rare it only grows wild in Kenya and Tanzania, and there is no name for it in English. It is related to oregano, mint, rosemary, and thyme plants but grows to around 80 feet tall.

Andrew Wyatt of the Missouri Botanic Gardens thinks the endangered tree can be saved:

“As far as survival, we’ve got this one. We can actually make sure it does not go extinct. The idea of actually preserving the species is entirely possible. It’s protected in Tanzania. We have collections in the botanical garden. Once we’ve got enough seed, we hope we can store it [in a freezer] and create a buffer between loss.”

The tree was discovered in 1977 in Kenya and then later in Tanzania. As Wyatt stated, “It is such an honor to use one’s skill to save a species from extinction.”

Brood X Cicadas Make a Rare Appearance

Most Cicadas are annual insects – meaning they come out each year, usually in Spring or Summer – but some broods are periodical. These spend 13 to 17 years underground, drinking sap from trees before coming above ground to mate.

This year, Brood X Cicadas are appearing. While many people are annoyed by the extra bugs, many more are excited to see them.

Entomologists – scientists who study insects – are thrilled to study these unique, red-eyed creatures. Professor Michael J. Raupp said: “Brood X is one of the most amazing phenomena on planet earth. For millions of Americans, you don’t have to go to Tanzania, you don’t have to go to Botswana – you can go right in your own backyard and have a cicada safari.”

Periodical cicadas are only found in two other countries besides the United States – India and Fiji.

There could be around 1.3 million cicadas per acre in the main hotspots, including the District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia.

Once cicadas emerge from underground, the females shed their exoskeletons and inflate their wings. After a few days, their new shells harden, and they start looking for mates. The males fly to the treetops and call to their possible mates. The female cicadas return the call by clicking their wings.

If you live in a hotspot, now is the time to see the Brood X Cicadas. The next time this type of cicada can be seen will be in 2038, 17 years away.

COVID-19 Probe Heats Up

Where did the COVID-19 virus come from? Scientists thought that it came from bats, but some suggested the outbreak could have begun in a science lab in Wuhan, China. President Trump said so, but the idea was dismissed, even being banned on social media sites.

Now, America is starting an investigation into whether the virus did come from the lab after all. It will also look at whether it was caused on purpose, or by a simple accident. President Joe Biden called  for a “renewed” look at ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Members of Congress have started making laws to investigate the matter. The “Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act” blames China for the outbreak.

Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick and Conor Lamb are introducing a second bill, called the “Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act.” If passed, this will let people sue China over the virus.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) is now investigating the origins of the virus.

Try an online crossword with clues from this week’s news!

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