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Life Adapts.
Just the kind of dog a Wookie would have as a pet then!

Neither have got to master the English language yet, but they're
damn good at out-of-Earth-body experiences!

Wookies prefer blueberries though.

..."Hints that some mental illness may be linked to infectious agents and/or autoimmune processes "...

I've suspected that since I was a teenager. In the past I have severally told people that I thought stupidity was an infectious disease, and they had the bug .....

Socially inept and all that, you know.
I am what I am and that's all what I am - Popeye the Sailor Man<br />From simplicity make not complexity without necessity - John of Ockham<br />The realities of water and life on Mars are SERIOUS BUSINESS
Reply ... women.html
Crows can tell the difference between men and women
Crows are capable of distinguishing between men and women's faces, according to new research carried out in Japan.
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Reply ... ws-it.html
Bereaved animals grieve – if their lifestyle allows it
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
I guess that just goes to prove those crows are smarter than me.
Last time I was in Frisco..........I couldn't.
So I stayed in the car.
So, the words Autumn and Fall are not to be capitalized?
They are in my world!

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new?"It has been already, in the ages before us. Ecc 1: 9-10

Aggressive wolves spark fear in Alaska town       
Outdoors - Week of Dec 15, 2010 
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 17:30 
Courtesy of

Mayor Scott Anderson doesn't travel around his small town of Port Heiden unarmed. Neither do his neighbors.

That's because hungry wolves have been wandering into town in search of food, sneaking into yards and snatching dogs and cats.

More evidence of that was found Tuesday morning. A pool of blood was discovered on a village road, and Anderson said you could see where wolves dragged the animal away. Another dog had been killed.

It is hunger that is bringing the wolves to this town of about 100 people. While wolves have sneaked into Port Heiden for food before, it is usually just one or two of the animals, and they arrive at night.

This is different. These wolves are bold and hard to scare off. Sometimes they just sit and stare.

Now, the wolves are showing up during the day. And residents are scared.
..."You won't see anybody walking around without a gun around here," said lifelong Port Heiden resident James Christensen, 45, "You could open any car door in this town and you will see a rifle sitting on the seat."

Wolves coming into Port Heiden has residents thinking about what occurred in the village of Chignik Lake last March: A teacher out jogging was killed by two hungry wolves.


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Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Too funny.
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Polar bear's epic nine day swim in search of sea ice 
By Ella Davies
Earth News reporter 

[Image: _50899887_polar_bear_swim_mila_zinkova.jpg]

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Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
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Deer protecting a mother Goose nesting.
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[Image: big-wolf-1.JPG]
Hi… I live in Buck lake Alberta Canada…. 20 min from Drayton Valley where the big wolf was shot… I found more photos of it and its said to weighed 197 pounds… The hunters were said to been baiting bear and the wolf chased off a large bear… we had a malamute husky that was this big.. as big as this wolf… the tracks are from a wolf that been eating our cows 2 or 3 a week… I’m sure if we fed our husky a large calf every couple days he would of been larger than the wolf…

remember the camera angle can make things look bigger… like a hunter sitting behind a elk… makes the elk look bigger… believe it or not my brother who weighed 190 pounds grabbed my cousin who weighed 250 pounds and bench pressed him off the ceiling, he worked the service rigs… any man can easily lift a 200 pound wolf like these men are…

I’ve seen the wolfs twice that have been taking down the cows and they look large to me… wolf hunter are welcome… happy hunting
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Tests show Arctic reindeer 'see in UV'
By Neil Bowdler
Science reporter, BBC News

Arctic reindeer can see beyond the "visible" light spectrum into the ultra-violet region, according to new research by an international team.

They say tests on reindeer showed that the animal does respond to UV stimuli, unlike humans.

The ability might enable them to pick out food and predators in the "UV-rich" Arctic atmosphere, and to retain visibility in low light.

Details are published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Seeing predators

UV light is invisible to humans. It has a wavelength which is shorter (and more energised) than "visible" light, ranging from 400 nanometres down to 10nm in wavelength.

The researchers first established that UV light was able to pass through the lens and cornea of the reindeer eye by firing light through a dissected sample. The tests showed that light down to a wavelength of about 350nm passed into the eye.

Continue reading the main story
Start Quote
Humans and some other mammals are actually a minority in not having UV sensitivity”
End Quote
Professor Lars Chittka

Queen Mary University London
They then sought to prove that the animals could "see" the light, by testing the electrical response of the retina of anaesthetised reindeer to UV light.

"We used what is called an ERG (electroretinography), whereby we record the electrical response to light by the retina by putting a little piece of gold foil on the inside of the eyelid," co-author Professor Glen Jeffery of University College London told BBC News.

The tests showed that photoreceptor cells or "cones" in the retina did respond to UV light.

"If you're a bumblebee, you wouldn't think much of what this animal is doing because it's seeing in what's called 'near UV' (about 320 to 400nm), but that's still very high energy stuff."

UV vision might enable reindeer to "see" their traditional predator, the wolf The researchers believe UV vision could enable the reindeer to distinguish food and predators in the "white-out" of the Arctic winter and the twilight of spring and autumn.

Lichen, on which the animal feeds, would appear black to reindeer eyes, they say, because it absorbs UV light. The animal's traditional predator, wolves, would also appear darker against the snow, as their fur absorbs UV light.

Urine in the snow would also be more discernable in UV vision, which might alert reindeer to the scent of predators or other reindeer.

Neither did the animal appear to suffer any damage as a result of seeing in UV, say the researchers, or suffer the "snow blindness" humans can experience in the UV-rich Arctic environment.

Polar vision

Professor Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University London, who has explored the UV capabilities of bees, said the study showed what we call the "visible" spectrum did not apply to most of the animal kingdom.

"It's further evidence that UV sensitivity across animals is the rule rather than the exception, and that humans and some other mammals are actually a minority in not having UV sensitivity," he said.

Professor Chittka was not surprised the UV light appeared to do no damage to the reindeer retina. He said the tests suggested the eye would only admit lower-frequency UV light ("UV-A light") rather than more damaging higher-frequency light ("UV-B").

Further modelling and behavioural tests would also be needed to verify that reindeer's apparent capacity to detect UV light really did result in "better detection of predators and arctic lichens", he said.

The same research team which conducted the reindeer tests will soon repeat the same experiments on seals to see whether they can see into the UV region. Professor Jeffery believes many Arctic animals are likely to have the capacity.

"There's no evidence that Arctic foxes or polar bears suffer from snow blindness, so I bet you that most of the Arctic animals up there are seeing into UV."
More on This Story
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Quote:Worms from Hell? Deepest Multicellular Life FoundStephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior WriterDate: 01 June 2011 Time: 01:00 PM

The nematode H. mephisto lives nearly a mile (1.3 km) underground in rock fractures near South African goldmines.
CREDIT: Property of the University Ghent, Belgium - Gaetan Borgonie

View full size image
How low can worms go? According to a new study, at least 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) below the Earth's surface.

That's the depth at which scientists discovered a new species of worm, dubbed Halicephalobus mephisto in honor of Faust's demon Mephistopheles. The worm, reported this week in the journal Nature, is the deepest living multicellular organism ever found.

"We tried to get the title of the paper to be 'Worms from Hell,'" said study author Tullis Onstott of Princeton University. "But Nature didn't go for that."

The Moby Dick worm
Onstott and his colleagues have been searching for subsurface life for 15 years, focusing on the ultra-deep mines of South Africa, which penetrate more than 1.8 miles (3 km) into the Earth. They and other teams of scientists have found that life has very deep roots, with single-celled organisms found miles underground. Some of these organisms are quite extreme: One 2008 study found life thriving a mile under the seafloor, surviving in temperatures between 140 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit (60 and 110 degrees Celsius). [Read Extremophiles: World's Weirdest Life]

But finding the multicellular, 0.02-inch-long (0.5 millimeters) H. mephisto is a different story. The worm, or nematode, lives in fluid-filled rock fractures, where it grazes on bacteria, Onstott told LiveScience.

"It's kind of like finding Moby Dick in Lake Ontario," he said. "It's so volumetrically big. It's 10 billion times the size of the bacteria upon which it feeds."

To find the worm, Onstott and his team sampled water from mine boreholes as deep as 2.2 miles (3.6 km). They also sampled soil around the mine boreholes and filtered about 40,000 gallons of surface water to ensure that the nematodes weren't coming into the mine from above.

In the Beatrix gold mine, they found their quarry: the tiny, simple nematode, alive and capable of asexual reproduction. The researchers were able to get H. mephisto to reproduce, and the species is still "squirming around in the lab," Onstott said. [See a picture of the nematode]

The researchers found no evidence of the nematode in surface waters or soils, indicating that it is native to deep rock fractures. Chemical analysis revealed that the water in which H. mephisto lives dates back at least 2,900 years, meaning it's been down there for a while, said Rick Colwell, a microbiologist who studies subsurface organisms at Oregon State University.

"They have been quite careful in measuring the environment that these organisms come from," Colwell, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience.

In lab experiments, the research team found that H. mephisto prefers to snack on the bacteria found in deep rock fractures, turning up its wormy nose at aboveground buffet options such as E. coli.

Worms in space?

The find could encourage researchers to expand the search for life under our own feet, said Colwell, who along with others is working on a project called the Census of Deep Life, dedicated to cataloguing what lies beneath Earth's surface.

"As we initiate this census of deep life," Colwell said, "I can see expanding it in the direction of some more complex life forms, like these nematodes."

Farther from home, the discovery of very deep multicellular worms opens up possibilities in the search for extraterrestrial life, said Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for Mars exploration at NASA, who was not involved in the study. Researchers have assumed that any subsurface life on a planet like Mars would be unicellular, Meyer told LiveScience.

"This kinds of opens it up to, well, even multicellular life could be possible," Meyer said.
Quote:No mountain is too tall if your first step is belief. -Anonymous
...Because even if there were no artifacts anywhere, not studying things of interest is an extreme disservice to science. -Tarius
Science & Environment

21 June 2011 Last updated at 11:35 ET

Human eye protein senses Earth's magnetism

The cryptochrome protein comes in more than one type - and the human one can perform as the fly's
Continue reading the main story Related StoriesMagnetic field puts bats on trackPigeons 'sense magnetic field'Butterfly 'GPS' found in antennae
A light-sensitive protein in the human eye has been shown to act as a "compass" in a magnetic field, when it is present in flies' eyes.

The study in Nature Communications showed that without their natural "magnetoreception" protein, the flies did not respond to a magnetic field - but replacing the protein with the human version restored the ability.

Despite much controversy, no conclusive evidence exists that humans can sense the Earth's magnetic field, and the find may revive interest in the idea.

Although humans, like migratory birds, are known to have cryptochrome in their eyes, the idea of human magnetoreception has remained largely unexplored since pioneering experiments by Robin Baker of the University of Manchester in the 1980s.

Dr Baker used a long series of experiments on thousands of volunteers that suggested humans could indirectly sense magnetic fields, though he never definitively identified the mechanism. In subsequent years, several groups attempted to repeat those experiments, claiming opposing results.

Time, flies

At the heart of the current study is a molecule called cryptochrome - an ancient protein present, in one of its two major forms, in every animal on Earth.

The protein is implicated in the regulation of circadian rhythms - the "body clocks" of humans and other animals - and in the navigational skills of several species including migratory birds, monarch butterflies, and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

The exact mechanism behind animals' navigational abilities remains a mystery, however, and an active area of research.

Continue reading the main story “Start QuoteI would be very surprised if we don't have this sense... the issue is to figure out how we use it”
End Quote Steven Reppert University of Massachusetts Medical School
Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and his colleagues have been following the roles that cryptochrome plays in some of these species for a number of years.

D. melanogaster flies can be genetically engineered to produce cryptochrome-2, the version of the protein present in monarch butterflies and in vertebrate animals including humans.

Last year, Dr Reppert's team showed in a Nature paper that flies without either cryptochrome were unable to align themselves with magnetic fields, but that the magnetoreception ability was recovered when the flies produced the non-native cryptochrome-2.

"We developed a system to study the real mechanism of magnetosensing in fruit flies... we can put these proteins from other animals into the fly and ask, 'do these proteins in their different forms actually function as magnetoreceptors?'," Dr Reppert told BBC News.

"Of all the vertebrates, the one that seemed to make the most sense was trying to put in the cryptochrome from humans."

The results mirrored the experiments with monarch butterflies. D. melanogaster flies with no cryptochrome showed no evidence of magnetoreception, but when genetically engineered to produce the human version, they recovered their abilities.

Dr Reppert said that the difficulty in unpicking the nature of human magnetosensing - if it exists - was that, like the circadian rhythms that cryptochromes are also implicated in, we react to it without knowing that we are.

"I would be very surprised if we don't have this sense; it's used in a variety of other animals. I think that the issue is to figure out how we use it."

Dr Baker, who maintains his results proving human magnetoreception were "overwhelming", hopes that the find re-invigorates the pursuit of a final word on the matter.

"I think one of the things that put people off accepting the reality of human magnetoreception 20 years ago was the lack of an obvious receptor," he told BBC News.

"So these new results might actually be enough to tip the balance of credibility. I shall be fascinated to see."

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Shrimp's natural 3D glasses inspire new material
19:48 28 June 2011
Caitlin Stier, contributor

[Image: ShrimpEyes2-thumb-600x480-131160.jpg]

Image: Norbert Wu/Getty)

This colourful shrimp sports not only good looks, but a natural pair of 3D glasses. It is one of only a few animals that can process circularly polarised light, the special light used to create 3D movies. Now Pennsylvania State University researcher Akhlesh Lakhtakia and his colleagues at National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan have mimicked the peacock mantis shrimp's design.

Copying the multilayered structure of the shrimp's lens, Lakhtakia and his team developed a material that could one day be used to filter a broader spectrum of light than the optical devices inside today's DVD players.

Journal reference: Nature Communication, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1358
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Polar bears have maternal Irish brown bear ancestors
By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter  Bones found in Ireland include those of juvenile brown bears
Continue reading the main story Related StoriesWhen bears go badGrizzlies encroach on polar bearsPolar bear plus grizzly equals?
The maternal ancestors of modern polar bears were from Ireland, according to a DNA study of ancient brown bear bones.

Scientists in the UK, Ireland and the US analysed the teeth and skeletons of 17 brown bears that were found at eight cave sites across Ireland.

The new research has been reported in the latest edition of Current Biology.

Previously, it was believed that today's polar bears were most closely related to brown bears living on islands off the coast of Alaska.

However, analysis of mitochondrial DNA - which is passed from mother to child - has shown the extinct Irish brown bears are the descendants of all today's polar bears, the scientists said.

Their work provides evidence of the two species mating opportunistically during the past 100,000 years or more.

Continue reading the main story “Start QuoteIt's amazing to think that Irish brown bears are the ancestors of the modern maternal polar bear lineage”
End Quote Dr Ceiridwen Edwards Oxford University
Hybridisation has been recorded recently in the wild where grizzly bears have encroached on polar bear territories.

The bears split from a common ancestor to become separate species between two million to 400,000 years ago.

However, just before or during the last Ice Age the two species came together and polar bears mated with female Irish brown bears, the scientists said.

The maternal lineage can still be traced to all polar bears today, they added.

Prof Daniel Bradley, of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Dr Ceiridwen Edwards, formerly of TCD and now at Oxford University, collaborated with Prof Beth Shapiro, of Pennsylvania State University, in the study.

Previously, Dr Edwards attempted to carry out DNA analysis of a sample taken from bones of a polar bear washed into caves in north west Scotland 18,000 years ago.

However, DNA had not survived in the remains from the Bone Caves at Inchnadamph in Sutherland.

'Environmental stresses'

Brown bear bones have been found across Ireland, with some of the best preserved examples recovered by cavers at Poll na mBear - Cave of the Bears - in County Leitrim, in May 1997.

Eoghan Lynch and Barry Keenan made the first finds, followed by later discoveries by other speleologists.

Continue reading the main story Bear fact fileCaves in County Leitrim were named Poll na mBear following the discoveries made by cavers in 1997 According to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) there were 200 polar bears registered in zoos worldwide in 2008Figures from the same year estimated that there might be 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild
An adult bear's skull with the teeth still in place and the bones of young bears were among the finds made.

These have since been dated and are the last recorded bears in Ireland.

The scientists who carried out the DNA analysis said the caves' constant and cool temperatures protected genetic material within the bones.

Dr Edwards, the research paper's lead author, sequenced the mitochondrial DNA from different time depths and from bones recovered from the eight sites.

She found that the older bears in Ireland - from between 43,000 and 38,000 years ago and before the last Ice Age arrived - had the same genetic signature as brown bears living today in eastern Europe.

But DNA from bears that roamed Ireland in cooler times, 38,000 to 10,000 years ago, have sequences that are the closest match yet to modern polar bears.

Bone isotope analysis revealed that despite the maternal genetic link, the Irish ice bears did not share the polar bears' marine diet.

All today's polar bears' maternal ancestors were from Ireland
Prof Bradley said ancient samples offered a means of going back in time and measuring the movement of species in response to past climate change.

Dr Edwards added: "It's amazing to think that Irish brown bears are the ancestors of the modern maternal polar bear lineage.

"As the hybridisation between the two species occurred at a time when their home ranges overlapped, most likely during environmental stress, this has implications for polar bears in today's climate."

Prof Shapiro said the results of their research pointed to the bears hybridizing opportunistically throughout the past 100,000 years and probably longer.

She said: "While brown bears and polar bears are hybridizing today, our results suggest that a recent hybridisation led to the capture of a mitochondrial DNA sequence that was present in the population of brown bears that were living in Ireland before the peak of the last ice age.

"That mitochondrial sequence replaced the previous sequence across the entire polar bear population."

Previously it was thought modern polar bears were most closely related to brown bears living on the islands of Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof in Alaska's Alexander archipelago.

Scottish site

What are believed to be the only polar bear remains to have been found in Britain were in caves in Inchnadamph in Sutherland.

The bear's skull was found in 1927 and is held in the collections of the National Museum of Scotland.

An almost complete skeleton of another bear was recovered after years of work from the same Scottish site and later confirmed as that of a male brown bear.

The first pieces were discovered in 1995 by cavers exploring a network of caves.

But it was only in 2008 that Edinburgh-based caving club, Grampian Speleological Group, reached some of the final fragments.

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Villagers and veteran hunters have captured a one-ton saltwater crocodile which they plan to make the star of a planned ecotourism park in a southern Philippine town, an official said Monday.

Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said dozens of villagers and experts ensnared the 21-foot (6.4-meter) male crocodile along a creek in Bunawan township in Agusan del Sur province after a three-week hunt. It could be one of the largest crocodiles to be captured alive in recent years, he said, quoting local crocodile experts.

[Image: 1315230621_7646__480x300.jpg]
why God created hand grenades
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i thought they are going to eat it  Drool  and make some shoes...
Quote:The monster 21-foot (6.4-metre) male saltwater crocodile was placed in a penned pond after it was caught in a remote southern creek on September 3, with officials planning to use it as a tourist attraction once it adapts to its cage.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals senior Asia-Pacific campaigner Ashley Fruno on Saturday said that despite suspicion it is a man-eater, the reptile was better off being returned to the wild, away from human settlements.

"(The government) should do the compassionate thing and order this crocodile to be returned to his natural habitat, as taking him away to be locked up in an animal prison is just plain wrong," she wrote to AFP.

Penned animals are prone to psychotic behaviour and its immense size and power could prove dangerous to visitors and those caring for it, she warned
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Fish Uses Tool to Dig Up and Crush Clams
ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — The first video of tool use by a fish has been published in the journal Coral Reefs by Giacomo Bernardi, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In the video, an orange-dotted tuskfish digs a clam out of the sand, carries it over to a rock, and repeatedly throws the clam against the rock to crush it. Bernardi shot the video in Palau in 2009.

"What the movie shows is very interesting. The animal excavates sand to get the shell out, then swims for a long time to find an appropriate area where it can crack the shell," Bernardi said. "It requires a lot of forward thinking, because there are a number of steps involved. For a fish, it's a pretty big deal."

The actions recorded in the video are remarkably similar to previous reports of tool use by fish. Every case has involved a species of wrasse using a rock as an anvil to crush shellfish. A report published in June in Coral Reefs included photos of this behavior in a blackspot tuskfish on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Bernardi said he first heard of the phenomenon in 1994, when a colleague (James Coyer) observed a yellowhead wrasse in Florida doing the same thing. Similar behavior was also reported in a sixbar wrasse in an aquarium setting.

"Wrasses are very inquisitive animals," Bernardi said. "They are all carnivorous, and they are very sensitive to smell and vision."

Wrasses are one of the largest and most diverse families of marine fishes. Bernardi noted that several of the species observed using tools are not closely related, but cover a broad range of evolutionary history within the wrasse family. "They are at opposite ends of the phylogenetic tree, so this may be a deep-seated behavioral trait in all wrasses," he said.

Tool use was once considered an exclusively human trait, and Jane Goodall's reports of tool use in chimpanzees in the 1960s came as a stunning revelation. Since then, many other animals have been observed using tools, including various primates, several kinds of birds, dolphins, elephants, and other animals.

Bernardi, who studies fish genetics, said there may be other examples of tool use in fish that have not yet been observed. "We don't spend that much time underwater observing fishes," he said. "It may be that all wrasses do this. It happens really quickly, so it would be easy to miss."

The paper was published online on September 20.

Video on YouTube.

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Local darwinism in the Czech Republic
Scientists have found evidence that residents of Ostrava have built up a genetic resistance to the effects of air pollution

by Alex Ballingall on Monday, November 21, 2011 11:10pm - 0 Comments
Evolution, as it is popularly conceived, is a snail’s-pace process in which each genetic tweak can take thousands of years. But a recent study from Prague’s Institute of Experimental Medicine has put that concept to the test. Scientists there found evidence that residents of the Czech city of Ostrava have built up a genetic resistance to the damaging effects of air pollution. Ostrava is one of Europe’s smoggiest urban centres, known for posting pollution levels four times higher than EU limits.

The study compared residents of Ostrava and Prague. Geneticist Pavel Rossner told the Telegraph that Ostrava residents had “higher expressions” of XRCC5, a gene that helps repair DNA that is damaged due to exposure to air pollution. “They are more able to repair the breaks in the DNA than people in Prague,” Rossner explained. That means, since the Industrial Revolution brought smokestacks and steel manufacturers to the area 150 years ago, people there have begun to adapt to their polluted environment. Their genes started to behave differently in a matter of decades, suggesting evolutionary developments don’t always move at a glacial pace.
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Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
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Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
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The Department of Psychology researchers showed that pigeons can compare pairs of images picturing up to nine objects and order them by the lower to higher number with a success rate above chance.

Study lead author Dr Damian Scarf says that up until now, only humans and primates were thought to share the ability to use abstract numerical rules in this way.

“Our research not only shows that pigeons are also members of this exclusive club, but, somewhat surprisingly, their performance is on a par with that of monkeys.”

The researchers initially trained the pigeons by presenting them with 35 sets of three images, each with one, two, or three objects of different sizes, colours and shapes.

They were rewarded with wheat when they pecked the images in the correct ascending sequence.

Next, the researchers sought to test if the pigeons could take what they had learnt from ordering the three images and apply it to images with higher numbers of objects than they had seen before. The pigeons were presented with pairs of images with between one and nine objects and tested on their ability to respond to them in ascending order.

As well as performing above chance in these tests, the pigeons also demonstrated a ‘distance effect’ comparable to that found in landmark US research in 1998 involving rhesus monkeys performing similar tasks. The greater the distance between the numbers in the pairs, the faster and more accurate the pigeons were, Dr Scarf says.

“While this is obviously a long way away from how humans can count, it shows that an animal with a brain structured quite differently to ours is still able to perform complex mental tasks of which only humans were once thought capable. Our findings add to a growing body of evidence that pigeons are among a number of avian species exhibiting impressive mental abilities that really do give the lie to the old ‘bird brain’ insult,” he says.

The next phase of Dr Scarf’s pigeon research includes investigating the neural underpinnings of their numerical abilities by recording their brain cell activity when they undertake numerical tasks.

He also plans to test kea, which have been claimed to have some of the intelligence of a six-year-old child. He is currently setting up a project that will utilise the two keas and other parrot species housed at the Dunedin Botanic Garden aviary.

More information: “Pigeons on par with primates in numerical competence,” by Damian Scarf, Harlene Hayne, Michael Colombo. 23 December 2011, Vol 334, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1213357

Provided by University of Otago

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Found in British waters: The sea creature that lights up like a Christmas decorationRare and elusive species found in marine surveys

Includes prehistoric 'brainless' fish

Quill-like 'sea pen' lights up when touched

By Rob Waugh

Last updated at 2:36 PM on 29th December 2011

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This phosphorescent sea pen was literally the highlight of a series of finds marine surveyors off the coast of Scotland announced in their annual report today.
The studies, using acoustic multi-beam scanners and hi-def cameras, captured several rare and elusive species, including the sea pen - so named because resembles a writer's quill as well as a Christmas tree. The sea pen is a colony of seabed dwelling polyps that lights up when touched.

Other finds included the prehistoric 'faceless and brainless fish' Amphioxus - a modern representative of the first animals that evolved a backbone half a billion years ago.

[Image: article-2079733-0F4AAEA500000578-121_634x422.jpg]
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[Image: _59889299_59889298.jpg]
Researchers have spotted a group of 53 cells within pigeons' brains that respond to the direction and strength of the Earth's magnetic field.

The question of how birds navigate using - among other signals - magnetic fields is the subject of much debate.

These new "GPS neurons" seem to show how magnetic information is represented in birds' brains.
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Dinosaur cold-blood theory in doubt
By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

One of the strongest lines of evidence that dinosaurs were cold-blooded, like modern reptiles, has been knocked down.

Prior studies of dinosaur bones uncovered what are known as "lines of arrested growth".

The creatures were presumed to be cold-blooded because modern cold-blooded animals show these same lines.

But scientists reporting in Nature have studied the bones of 41 modern mammal species from around the world, finding every one had these lines as well.

A number of discoveries in recent years have challenged the 40-year-old notion that dinosaurs were cold-blooded.

But because soft tissues such as organs and skin are not preserved, much of what is known about dinosaurs must be inferred from their bones, and comparisons made with modern animals that can be studied in greater detail.

Lagging behind

Lines of arrested growth, or Lags, occur because organisms tend to suspend their growth and rally their resources during seasonal periods of environmental stress such as cold or dry conditions.

This forms a boundary from one season to the next as growth resumes when conditions are more favourable.

Lines of arrested growth were found in mammals irrespective of environment, from Svalbard reindeer...
They are familiar in creatures such as molluscs, whose slow annual accumulations can be seen as ridges in their shells.

Lags have also been found in the bones of reptiles and amphibians and have until now been assumed to be limited to ectotherms - cold-blooded animals - that are more subject to the whims of harsh environments.

Meike Koehler of the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology in Barcelona and her colleagues were therefore suprised by what they found.

"Originally this was not a paper that we aimed to do," Dr Koehler told BBC News.

"We were very curious to know how environmental conditions and changes affect bone growth in fossil and extant mammals, to get a good idea about... how they may have coped with these changes in the past."

As the team studied the thigh bones of animals from all over the world - ranging from the Svalbard reindeer in the Arctic to muntjac deer species from South Asia - Lags showed up in every one.

"These lines of arrested growth have been used a lot in dinosaurs, but nobody has ever had a really deep look at mammals," Dr Koehler explained. muntjac deer of South Asia and beyond
David Weishampel, a palaeontologist at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland called the new work "a wonderful paper" and said it was a welcome addition to the debate.

"I think most (palaeontologists) regard dinosaurs as being [warm-blooded] but there's a lot of waffling in the data that appeared before that wasn't conclusive," he told BBC News.

"It's about time we have a connection between the modern bone histology and fossil bone histology, through a very nice ecological and metabolic comparison."

While Prof Weishampel considers it a closed case, Dr Koehler herself is more reserved about the result.

"I don't think that this debate is really settled," she said. "But this is the first time that you can say that Lags do not say anything about warm- or cold-bloodedness."

She and her team will go on and put the Lags to use in studies of modern animals instead.

"It's like dendrochronology - the rings in trees. You can do skeletal chronology in bones and infer things like longevity, age at maturity, juvenile states - traits which are very, very important to get an idea about the health of a population and whether it is vulnerable.

"It is very good to know now that mammals do show these Lags and we can use them in the same way that we do in amphibians and reptiles to understand the situation of a population."
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Interesting thought here. Some dinosaurs are said to have evolved into birds. Birds are not cold-blooded.
Quote:No mountain is too tall if your first step is belief. -Anonymous
...Because even if there were no artifacts anywhere, not studying things of interest is an extreme disservice to science. -Tarius
I always thought the T-Rex was designed more like a overgrown polliwog on steroids
but Science has got many things wrong
that are being revisited today
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Quote:In December, we reported on a new species of spider discovered in Peru. Tiny, and likely a new member of the genus Cyclosa, the spider builds large, spider-shaped decoys — and vibrates its web, acting as a master puppeteer.

Here is a video shot at the moment the spiders were discovered.
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
Dung beetles guided by Milky Way
By Jonathan Amos

Science correspondent, BBC News  Dung beetles manage to maintain straight roll paths even on moonless nights Continue reading the main story
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Animal navigates by moonlight

They may be down in the dirt but it seems dung beetles also have their eyes on the stars.

Scientists have shown how the insects will use the Milky Way to orientate themselves as they roll their balls of muck along the ground.
Never invite a Yoda to a frog leg dinner.
Go ahead invite Yoda to a Frog leg dinner
It's certainly looks better than what they're rolling, so maybe that's how their sky watching got started . . .  Smoke

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