On the horizon

Unmarked tiger

A rare white tiger with blue eyes and no stripes has been born in Spain.

"It's an exceptional case," said Serafin Domenech, director of the Arca wildlife center near the southeastern coastal resort of Alicante, on Monday.

Named Ártico - the Spanish word for Arctic - the male cub was born three months ago to normal-colored Bengal tigers, which are orange with black stripes.

At birth, Ms. Domenech said, the cub weighed only 1.5 pounds (their normal birth weight is 3 to 4 pounds), leading caretakers to fear he would not survive.

He now weighs 20 pounds, but still needs special treatment due to digestion problems.

Only 20 such tigers are believed to exist, all in captivity, since the strange white color makes them easy prey for other animals, or candidates for rejection and attacks by other tigers, Domenech said.

Hubble trouble

An instrument that helped the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope look at black holes, newly forming stars, and far-off galaxies has broken down, and NASA said it is looking at possible ways to fix it.

The instrument, called the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, was installed in 1997 and was designed to operate for five years. The spectrograph, which separates light into its component spectra, provides about 30 percent of all Hubble scientific observations.

NASA said Monday an electrical malfunction may be to blame and that it may be possible to rescue some of its operations. "A final decision on how to proceed is expected in the coming weeks as analysis of the problem progresses," NASA said in a statement.

NASA has been thinking about letting Hubble fall apart and fall out of orbit, because it otherwise must be maintained by space shuttle astronauts or some kind of robotic mission. But astronomers, who rely heavily on Hubble, have objected.

Surrogate salmon

In an unprecedented bit of reproductive manipulation, scientists in Japan have engineered Asian salmon to spawn not baby salmon, but North American trout.

The team, from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, dissected newly hatched embryos of rainbow trout and removed small batches of "primordial germ cells."

They then injected the cells into newly hatched Pacific salmon embryos. Some of those cells made their way into the developing ovaries and testes of the recipient salmon, where they matured into rainbow trout eggs and sperm.

A year later, the team collected the milt - the sperm cloud that mature male fish release into the water - of one of the primordial germ cell-injected salmon and mixed the milt with trout eggs. The result was a crop of purebred baby trout.

Similar transplants have been done from one fly species to another and between bird species. But the new experiment, described in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal Nature, marks the first such success in fish - and the first to create progeny in any species.

Rainbow trout are plentiful, but the technique could help rare species. For example, salmon take one year to become sexually mature while trout take two, suggesting endangered species may be aided through reproduction by faster-breeding species.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to On the horizon
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today