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What made The Meg so big?

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HAVE you ever wondered why the Megalodon shark became to be so big? Or wondered why some other sharks are much smaller?

In a paper published by Evolution, research led by Swansea University’s Dr Catalina Pimiento and co-authored by an international team of scientists from the UK, Europe and the USA examined the biological traits of all sharks and rays before running a series of evolutionary models to seek how gigantism evolved over time.

The results showed that for a shark to be giant, it would need to first evolve adaptations that enhance feeding such as the ability to control – at least to some degree – their own body temperature or become a filter feeder.

One of the most famous giant sharks, Megalodon – the topic of 2018 Hollywood film The Meg – was an active predator that could measure up to 18 metres in length and became extinct around two million years ago.

Meanwhile, the whale shark – which is still around today – can also reach 18 metres but isn’t an active predator. Instead, it is a filter feeder and eats tiny plankton from the sea.

These two subjects formed key parts of the research, which centred on the tree of life for sharks, where the authors mapped characteristics relating to body size, like their thermo-regulatory capacity, feeding mechanism and diet.

Researchers then found that sharks could become giants by following one of two possible evolutionary pathways; the mesothermic pathway, which consists of evolving the ability to self-control the temperature of their most important organs – or the filter-feeding pathway, which consists of evolving the ability to feed on microscopic plankton.

The mesothermic adaptation allows sharks to live in different types of habitats – including cold waters – and also hunt more effectively. The filter-feeding adaptation allows sharks to eat the most abundant food in the ocean – plankton.

However, there are risks involved for any shark following the evolutionary pathways that lead to gigantism.

The mesothermic species need to consume big prey to maintain their high energetic demands, but when these prey are scarce, giant sharks are more susceptible to extinction. The scarcity of large prey in times of rapid climatic change was the most likely cause of the extinction of Megalodon.

While the filter feeders have shown more resilience, they are at risk of eating large volumes of toxic microplastics that now can be found in the world’s oceans – thus threatening their extinction.
Dr Catalina Pimiento, lead researcher and Postdoctoral fellow at Swansea University, said: “Sharks provide an ideal case study to understand the evolutionary pathways leading to gigantism in the oceans because they display contrasting lifestyles and adaptations and because they have an evolutionary history of at least 250 million years.”

Notes:
Photo credit: Guillermo Torres. Banco de Imágenes Ambientales (BIA), Instituto Alexander von Humboldt.

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Cymraeg

Cadarnhau lleoliad ysgol ardal newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron

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Mae Ysgol Ciliau Parc yn un o'r ysgolion y bwriedir iddi gau

YN 2019, ymatebodd Cabinet Cyngor Sir Ceredigion i’r ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus helaeth ar leoliad ysgol ardal newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron.

Ers hynny, mae’r Cyngor wedi bod wrthi’n caffael tir ar gyfer yr ysgol ardal newydd, a gall gadarnhau bod tir wedi’i brynu at y diben hwn yn y lleoliad isod.

Ysgol Ardan Dyffryn Aeron lleoliad

Roedd barn gref bod rhanddeiliaid yn dymuno gweld yr ysgol yn cael ei lleoli ar safle newydd, ac nid ar gampws Theatr Felinfach yn unol ag un o’r opsiynau arfaethedig gwreiddiol.

Bydd ysgolion cynradd Ciliau Parc, Felinfach a Dihewyd i gyd yn cau er mwyn ffurfio ysgol newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron.

Y Cynghorydd Catrin Miles yw’r aelod Cabinet sy’n gyfrifol am Ysgolion, Dysgu Gydol Oes a Sgiliau, Cymorth ac Ymyrraeth. Dywedodd: “Rwy’n falch iawn o weld bod y Cyngor wedi llwyddo i brynu’r lleoliad hwn ar gyfer yr ysgol ardal newydd. Bydd yr ysgol newydd yn darparu offer a chyfleusterau modern ar gyfer disgyblion oedran cynradd a bydd yn sicr yn ychwanegiad cyfoethog i Ddyffryn Aeron.”

Gall y Cyngor nawr fwrw ymlaen â’r camau nesaf, sy’n cynnwys sefydlu Corff Llywodraethu Cysgodol ar gyfer yr ysgol newydd.

Bydd rhagor o wybodaeth yn cael ei chyhoeddi maes o law.

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Education

Location of new Aeron Valley area school confirmed

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Ysgol Ciliau Parc is one of the schools planned to close

IN 2019, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet responded to the extensive public consultation on the location of a new area school in the Aeron Valley.

Since then, the Council has been in the process of acquiring land for the new area school and can confirm that land has been purchased for this purpose at the location below.

Ysgol Ardan Dyffryn Aeron location

There was a strong view that stakeholders wished to see the school located on a new site, and not on the Felinfach Theatre campus as per one of the original proposed options.

Ciliau Parc, Felinfach and Dihewyd primary schools will all close in order to form a new school in the Aeron Valley.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning & Skills, Support and Intervention. She said: “I’m thrilled to see that the Council was successful in purchasing this location for the new area school. The new school will provide modern facilities and equipment for primary age pupils and will certainly be a rich addition to the Aeron Valley.”

The Council can now proceed with the next steps which includes establishing a Shadow Governing Body for the new school.

Further information will be announced in due course.

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Education

Ceredigion shortlisted for Youth Excellence Awards 2021

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THE YOUTH WORK EXCELLENCE AWARDS is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding youth work projects, youth workers and those involved in youth work across Wales including volunteers, managers and community partners.

Youth work provides and facilitates an environment within which young people can relax, have fun, and feel secure, supported and valued. Through non-formal and informal educational opportunities and experiences, youth work approaches challenge young people to enhance their life chances.

In 2019, Ceredigion Youth Service were successful in having two projects and one volunteer shortlisted with two winning their respective categories. This year, Youth Worker Rebecca Williams has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Youth Worker category.

Team Manager for Community Youth Work and Prevention, Gwen Evans said: “We decided as a service to nominate Rebecca because we recognised the outstanding efforts and commitment that she has shown throughout the pandemic and continues to have an exceptional impact on the lives of young people. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Rebecca has adapted her work to be both digital and in-person focussed depending on the needs of young people, ensuring that young people do not feel isolated and are included in online activities, phone calls and door step visits which have recently increased to wellbeing walks and structured activity groups.”

In addition to this, Ceredigion Young Farmers Club have also been shortlisted for the award ‘Demonstrating excellence at a local level in Partnership Planning and delivery’ for the collaborative approach that they’ve shown throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning & Skills, Support and Intervention. She said: “Young Farmers Clubs across Ceredigion have been supporting their local rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. From delivering essential groceries and collecting prescriptions to walking dogs and checking in on the most vulnerable, YFC members, young people, have stepped up and rallied around their communities. We feel that the response of Ceredigion YFC during the pandemic is an excellent example of how the firm foundations of good quality Youth Work has made a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable people and communities during an incredibly challenging year.”

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Porth Cymorth Cynnar said: “It is fantastic for the service to have these recognitions for the hard work and resilience that has been shown throughout this period. It’s a testament to them as individuals and the teamwork that has been shown for the benefit of young people and their communities. We have also recently been awarded with additional Youth Support Grant funding to develop Welsh language activities as well as developing the work around early emotional and mental health support for young people. This will enable us to continue to work closely and effectively with a wide range of voluntary and third sector partners to develop opportunities for children, young people and their families.”

All nominations will be assessed by a panel of judges made up of young people and representatives from the youth work sector in Wales. The Award Ceremony will take place virtually on 9 December where all finalists will be announced.

For more information about the work of Porth Cymorth Cynnar and the Support and Prevention Service, visit their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page at @GICeredigionYS. You can also visit their website at www.giceredigionys.co.uk or email porthcymorthcynnar@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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