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Standards BEHIND 

ANSI takes a look at some of the standards behind the scenes driving the advancement of innovative technologies and ingenious solutions for global challenges.

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A Dive into Oceanic History: Were Ancient Corals the First Glowing Animals?


In news from the depths of the ocean, research reveals that deep-sea corals that lived 540 million years ago may have been the first bioluminescent animals—millions of years earlier than previously estimated. By comparison, non-bird dinosaurs lived between about 245 and 66 million years ago.

Many animals and sea life glow, including eels, fireflies, jellyfish, lanternfish, and glow worms (to name a few), but deep-sea corals may have been the first to exist. They glow thanks to the bioluminescent process, which occurs when light is produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism. To that end, most bioluminescent or “glowing” organisms live in the ocean, and the reason these organisms glow vary, from tricking predators to attracting mates.

Scientists for the newest research are unclear if the ancient glowing coral was meant to attract or repel organisms, or both. How did researchers backtrack so far into history? They utilized genetic data from 185 species of luminous coral to build a detailed evolutionary tree, and discovered that the common ancestor of all soft corals today lived 540 million years ago, and most likely had the ability to glow, the Associated Press reported.

Prior to the recent findings, researchers had found that glowing ancient shrimp were the earliest organisms of the seas to glow.

“Light signaling is one of the earliest forms of communication that we know of — it’s very important in deep waters,” said Andrea Quattrini, a co-author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Earlier this year in another coral reef discovery, scientists announced that they mapped the largest coral reef off America’s Atlantic coast, covering 6.4 million acres—an area larger than Vermont.

Standards Support Marine Studies

There a number of standards that support ocean research and discovery, including IEEE 2402-2017, IEEE Standard Design Criteria of Complex Virtual Instruments for Ocean Observation, a framework of building a distributed ocean observing software system based on complex virtual instruments (CVIs), which are used for processing and displaying the collected data from ocean instruments and the related metadata. The standard was developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer IEEE’s working group: Instrumentation and Measurement Society.

Standards also support scientific analysis, including ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International’s ASTM D3694, Standard Practices for Preparation of Sample Containers and for Preservation of Organic Constituents, and ASTM D6517, Standard Guide for Field Preservation of Ground Water Samples.

The international standard ISO 21851:2020, Marine technology - Ocean observation systems - Design criteria of ocean hydro-meteorological observation systems reuse and interaction, specifies the overall framework of ocean hydro-meteorological observation systems. These systems support automatic measurement of buoy, submersible, and shore station instruments with output interfaces, and provide observations on water temperature, salinity, depth, current, ocean wave, temperature, pressure, humidity, wind, visibility, and precipitation. The standard was prepared by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 8, Ships and marine technology, Subcommittee (SC) 13, Marine technology. The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to this TC and SC is the U.S. Coast Guard.

Read more about the oceanic research and about how new deep-sea discoveries shed light on the largest coral reef and new octopus species.

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