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Education

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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Education

Vital support for job seekers and employers in West Wales

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TO MATCH job seekers with employers and career agencies across West Wales, a virtual jobs fair is taking place on Wednesday 9 September.

The free online event will be hosted by Working Wales, which is delivered by Careers Wales, and is in partnership with Job Centre Plus teams across West Wales and the south west and mid Wales Regional Learning and Skills Partnership.

Now, more than ever, job seekers and employers are relying on online support to find jobs and fill vacancies.

The event will run through Working Wales’ Facebook channels and will be split into two regional events covering West Wales mid and south. 10am-11am is for job seekers and employers in Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Powys and Neath Port Talbot. 2pm-3pm will focus on Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Swansea.

Attendees for the free event will have access to a wide variety of job vacancies from many sectors across West Wales as well as expert careers advice to support with job applications.

Working Wales is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and was launched by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates in May 2019.

Within the first year the service has directly assisted over 37,000 people across Wales. Careers Wales chief executive, Nikki Lawrence said “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the west to deliver a virtual jobs fair. Our careers advice and guidance is a vital part of supporting the economy during this pandemic, and these online events allow us to effectively and safely continue reaching and supporting our customers during these challenging times.”

To register your interest in these events, follow Working Wales on Facebook @WorkingWales. If you are an employer with vacancies to fill please also get in touch.

Available to anyone over the age of 16, Working Wales provides a one-to-one, tailored employability advice and guidance service, supporting people across Wales with job searching, CV writing, interview preparation, training and upskilling as well as with redundancy support.

For more information on Working Wales visit: www.workingwales.gov.wales or call 0800 028 4844

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Education

Oxbridge success for Pembrokeshire College students

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A-LEVEL students at Pembrokeshire College are celebrating after an impressive set of A-level results which has seen four students secure their places to study at either Oxford or Cambridge.

A breakdown of results shows 36% of students achieving A*-A grades and 88% achieving A*-C grades. With growing A-level numbers the College saw 278 results at A*-C grade out of a total of 315.

With the results for vocational courses now also out, over 260 A-level and Extended Diploma students are now hopeful of securing their places at university.

Students heading to the University of Oxford are Jessica Hillier (A*A*A*A) to read Biology at Jesus College, Lorna McEvoy (A*A*A) to read History at Trinity College and Lizzy Rowland (A*A*A) to read Law at Christ Church College. Meanwhile fellow student Alyssa Baker (A*A*A*) will be heading to the University of Cambridge to read Human, Social and Political Sciences at Sydney Sussex College.

Also heading to the University of Cambridge to read Modern Foreign Languages at Trinity College is Federation student Emma Nicholas. We would like to join Milford Haven High School in congratulating Emma on her results.

Other notable A-level successes include former Ysgol Bro Gwaun students Callum Harries who achieved four A* grades and Sam Rummery who achieved three A* grades. Congratulations also to former Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi students Tom Sheppard who achieved two A* grades and an A grade, and Caitlin Howe who achieved three A grades.

This year has also seen BTEC National Diploma students excelling once again with many students achieving Distinction grades and taking up places at universities across the UK to study a range of subjects including Cyber Security, Biological Sciences, Law, Pharmacology and Midwifery.

University destinations for Pembrokeshire College students span the length and breadth of the UK and include: Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Aberystwyth, Durham and Edinburgh.

After receiving this year’s A-level results, Principal Dr Barry Walters commented: “These results are testament to the hard work of our learners. With university places being offered prior to lockdown, based on each individual learner’s performance and achievements, we are mindful not to let the current situation detract from how hard these learners have worked throughout both their AS and A2 year to achieve the results that we see today.

“Grades were estimated based on work already submitted and it is important that the achievements of these learners are not underplayed. To have four students progressing to either Oxford or Cambridge is a huge achievement for the learners themselves, the teaching staff and the College as a whole.  We are also delighted to note an increase in the number of our students gaining places at other high profile Russell Group and Sutton Trust Institutions.

“To the significant number of learners, from both A-levels and vocational diplomas, now progressing to universities across the UK to study a vast array of programmes, we wish them all the best of luck and hope that they will keep in touch as they progress through their studies and into their future careers.”

For further information on the courses available at the College contact Admissions on 0800 9 776 778 or go to pembs.ac.uk/courses

 

Summary of Results:

Overall pass rate 100%

A*/A grade 36%

A*-C grade 88%

 

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Education

Young cleaners helped ensure schools safe

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YOUNG people are helping to ensure that all schools in Pembrokeshire meet the required Covid 19 hygiene safety standards as they re-open their doors to pupils.
Some 30 young people aged between 18 and 25 have been employed by Pembrokeshire County Council as additional cleaning staff to support schools with the extra work necessary to help keep pupils safe when they return to education.
Pembrokeshire Youth Service worked quickly with other PCC teams to mobilise the small army of cleaners as soon as the additional cleaning support was identified, says Chris Powles, Youth Team Manager.
“Young people have been disproportionately affected in the employment market during the pandemic, with the majority of summer employment they would have usually taken up in the tourism, leisure, and retail sectors being unavailable due to lockdown restrictions,” said Chris.
“By linking with secondary schools, Pembrokeshire College, the Youth Service Outreach and Cam Nesa teams, young people were contacted directly to be given the opportunity to apply for cleaning posts in primary, secondary and special schools across the county.
“The response was overwhelming. Young people have been keen not only to secure employment but to also play their part in supporting communities in dealing with the pandemic.”
One of the new employees, Courtney Cramb, said: “I love that this opportunity has been given to students especially during this time as many of us are unable to work but still have things like car insurance to pay for!
“I also think it will be a good experience and gives us the opportunity to help by giving back to the community whilst earning some money.”
The new staff are currently going through pre-employment checks and training to enable them to begin their casual contracts and start earning the incomes they thought that they had missed out on.
“This was a fast paced process with the requests for additional cleaning support from schools only coming in once they had been able to assess the need, whilst planning and risk assessing for their reopening on the 29th June,” said Cllr David Simpson, Council Leader.
“We are delighted to have given young people the opportunity to be part of the PCC workforce, and it shows the ability of Council departments to work together in responding quickly and effectively whilst trying to minimise the impact on those who are affected by the pandemic.”

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