Surely there are some things that I know for certain, aren’t there?  Maybe not!  Here are a few “facts” that have not stood up to the test of time.

  • Trees grow in the daytime when they can use the sun to photosynthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide, right?

    Majestic Tree
    Image by RegalShave from Pixabay

Not according to the latest research from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest.  Their studies show that trees actually do most growing at night.  They monitored seven common species for up to eight years.  Simply stated, what they learned was that air humidity was the key to tree growth.  During the day, when the air becomes drier, trees temporarily lose more water through transpiration than they absorb through their roots.  As a result, growth stops, regardless of photosynthesis.  

(As a reminder: The same amount of water vapor results in higher humidity in cooler air than warm air.)

  • If an animal is decapitated, it’s dead, right?

Not if we are talking about the sea slug (Elysia marginata).  Separate the head from the body and both sections can continue to live independently of the other for several weeks to a few months.  Eventually, the headless body will start to decay.  However, the head will regrow a new body, heart, and other organs.  

These Elysia marginatas are not the only organisms that can perform this magic.  At least one other slug species can do something similar. 

  • The Chesapeake Bay was formed when glaciers carved the channels and troughs a the end of the last Ice Age, right?
Chesapeake Bay
Image by mcfisher from Pixabay

That’s only part of the story.  Around 35 million years ago, a bolide (a very bright meteor) exploded near where the Bay sits today, creating a deep canyon.  The subsequent tsunami continued to redefine the area. The displaced water reached all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  

The impact’s effect was only confirmed in 1993.   Oddly, it was missed when the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel was built because the excavation didn’t go deep enough to reveal the evidence.

Thanks to @DrAndrewThaler for the tweet that clued me in to this information.  

I can’t wait to find out what new information will dispel the next set of facts!

Sources: 

More about tree growth at night — https://www.wsl.ch/en/news/2021/06/why-trees-grow-at-night.html

More about beheaded slugs — https://www.newscientist.com/article/2270397-some-sea-slugs-behead-themselves-and-then-regrow-their-bodies/

 For more information about Chesapeake Bay formation — https://www.nps.gov/chba/learn/geological-formation.htm

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