Year in science: Global warming, new species

• A deep-water squid with 10 arms and huge fins like elephant ears.

• A giant rat, close to cat-size, in New Guinea.

But at the same time that scientists were seemingly finding new species everywhere they looked, they sounded the alarm about a coming wave of extinctions resulting from climate change.

Some scientists estimate that if global warming continues, 20% of the world's plant and animal species may vanish.

Feathered, flightless dinosaur

Archaeologists in China discovered the remains of a feathered, 16-foot-tall, 3,000-pound flightless dinosaur that stunned scientists. The 70-million-year-old Gigantoraptor erlianensis was found in Mongolia and could stand eye-to-eye with a tyrannosaur. Previously, the largest bird dinosaur, or oviraptor, found was the size of a horse.

Bee gone

And finally, 2007 was the year that scientists began to seriously study a serious problem: the dying off of the world's bee colonies. Beekeepers have reported losses of 30% to 90% of their honeybee hives. Researchers have dubbed it "colony collapse disorder."

The hard-working bee is crucial to the world of agriculture as well as to the natural world. The $15 billion-a-year honeybee industry pollinates 90% to 100% of at least 19 kinds of fruits, vegetables and nuts nationwide, from almonds and apples to onions and broccoli.

Beekeepers travel nationwide to supply pollinators to farmers.

When colonies collapse, bees abandon the hives, leaving behind the queen and young bees. The remaining bees have high levels of bacteria, viruses and fungi in their guts. Parasites wait unusually long to invade abandoned hives.

The American Beekeeping Federation estimates that 600,000 of 2 million hives have been lost nationwide.

One possible cause, suggested in September's Science, is Israeli acute paralysis virus, whose place of origin is unknown. Scientists have found a strong correlation between infected bees and those destroyed by the disorder.

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