Can you smell time? Your dog can.
On a very basic level, so can you: When you crack the lid on that old quart of milk, tentatively sniff and—peeyouu!—promptly dump that foul stuff down the sink, you are, in effect, smelling time. Specifically, you can smell that far too much time has elapsed since that milk was fresh.
But a dog can smell time with a sophistication that puts our simple sniffers to shame. “Odors exist in time, and dogs perceive that,” explains cognitive scientist and canine researcher Alexandra Horowitz of Columbia University. “Dogs use smell to ‘tell time,’ in some sense, because a more recently laid odor smells stronger, and an older odor smells weaker.”
A dog’s nose is a notoriously sensitive piece of equipment. With up to 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our lousy 5 million, a dog can detect a single teaspoon of sugar dissolved into a million gallons of water, the equivalent of two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Unlike us, dogs are able to take in scent continuously, even as they exhale. What’s more, a dog’s nostrils are smaller than the distance between them, effectively giving dogs “stereo” sniffing power that carries subtle grades of information, including directionality.
Read full article at Strange Attractor
Bird nests, even without knowing which birds constructed them, seem hardly possible. Creations of spider’s web, caterpillar cocoon, plant down, mud, found modern objects, human and animal hair, mosses, lichen, feathers and down, sticks and twigs–all are woven with beak and claw into a bird’s best effort to protect their next generation.
But survival for so many birds is tenuous in a modern world where habitat loss is as common as the next housing development, and even subtle changes in climate can affect food supply. It is my hope that capturing the detailed art form of the nests in these photographs will gain appreciation for their builders, and inspire their protection.
The nest and eggs specimens, collected over the last two centuries, were photographed at The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. While few nests are collected today, these nests and eggs are used for research, providing important information about their builder’s habitats, DNA, diseases and other survival issues.
The nests shown here, some collected over a century ago, were photographed by Sharon Beals. They were taken at the western foundation of vertebrate zoology in Los Angeles, which, with 18,000 specimens, now holds the world’s largest collection.
The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, directly and indirectly producing about 14.5 percent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and global meat consumption is on the rise. People generally like eating meat—when poor people start making more money, they almost invariably start buying more meat. As the population grows and eats more animal products, the consequences for climate change, pollution, and land use could be catastrophic.
Attempts to reduce meat consumption usually focus on baby steps—Meatless Monday and “vegan before 6,”passable fake chicken, andin vitro burgers. If the world is going to eat less meat, it’s going to have to be coaxed and cajoled into doing it, according to conventional wisdom.But what if the convincing were the easy part? Suppose everyone in the world voluntarily stopped eating meat, en masse. I know it’s not actually going to happen. But the best-case scenario from a climate perspective would be if all 7 billion of us woke up one day and realized that PETA was right all along. If this collective change of spirit came to pass, like Peter Singer’s dearest fantasy come true, what would the ramifications be?
Read Full Article at SLATE
Portuguese designer Susana Soares has developed a device for detecting cancer and other serious diseases using trained bees. The bees are placed in a glass chamber into which the patient exhales; the bees fly into a smaller secondary chamber if they detect cancer.
Scientists have found that honey bees – Apis mellifera – have an extraordinary sense of smell that is more acute than that of a sniffer dog and can detect airborne molecules in the parts-per-trillion range.
Bees can be trained to detect specific chemical odors, including the biomarkers associated with diseases such as tuberculosis, lung, skin and pancreatic cancer.
Aristotle famously defined man as the rational animal (zoon echon logon), and as the political animal (zoon politikon). But there are also passages in his work that indicate another less remarked upon, though no less profound, definition. In Parts of Animals, he writes: “When people are tickled, they quickly burst into laughter, and this is because the motion quickly penetrates to this part, and even though it is only gently warmed, still it produces a movement (independently of the will) in the intelligence which is recognizable. The fact that human beings only are susceptible to tickling is due to the fineness of their skin and to their being the only creatures that laugh.” Perhaps this notion of the “ticklish animal” was further elaborated in the second book of the Poetics, the lost treatise on comedy; indeed, the relationship between ticklish laughter and comic laughter remains an open question. Should tickling be investigated under the heading of comedy or of touch? Touch, Aristotle argues, is the most primary sense, and human beings are uniquely privileged in possessing the sharpest sense of touch thanks to the delicate nature of their skin. Though other animals have more advanced smell or hearing, “man’s sense of touch … excels that of all other animals in fineness.” We might view tickling as a side effect of the hyper-sensitivity of human touch. Our peculiar vulnerability to tickling is the price to be paid for more sophisticated and discriminating access to the world.
Excerpt via Cabinet. Continue THERE
Scientists have found a new way to grow hair, one that they say may lead to better treatments for baldness. So far, the technique has been tested only in mice, but it has managed to grow hairs on human skin grafted onto the animals. If the research pans out, the scientists say, it could produce a treatment for hair loss that would be more effective and useful to more people than current remedies like drugs or hair transplants.
Present methods are not much help to women, but a treatment based on the new technique could be, the researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Currently, transplants move hair follicles from the back of the head to the front, relocating hair but not increasing the amount. The procedure can take eight hours, and leave a large scar on the back of the head. The new technique would remove a smaller patch of cells involved in hair formation from the scalp, culture them in the laboratory to increase their numbers, and then inject them back into the person’s head to fill in bald or thinning spots. Instead of just shifting hair from one spot to another, the new approach would actually add hair.
The senior author of the study is Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and dermatology professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who has become known for her creative approach to research. Dr. Christiano’s interest in the science of hair was inspired in part by her own experience early in her career with a type of hair loss called alopecia areata. She has a luxuriant amount of hair in the front of her head, but periodically develops bald spots in the back. The condition runs in her family.
Excerpt from an article written by Denise Grady at NYT. Continue THERE
A picture taken on April 13, 2012 and released by the Tsuji Lab Research Institute for Science and Technology of the Tokyo University of Science shows a hairless mouse with black hair on its back at the laboratory in Noda, Chiba Prefecture.
Time doesn’t fly if you’re a fly, a new study suggests. In fact, flies excel at dodging our slaps and swats because they perceive the passage of time more slowly than we do. Animals with smaller bodies and faster metabolic rates perceive time more slowly than we do, researchers say, letting them soak up more information per second.
We tend to assume time is the same for everyone, but according to research published in the journal Animal Behaviour, it has different speeds for different species. Small-bodied animals with fast metabolic rates — whether they’re house flies or hummingbirds — perceive more information in a unit of time, the study finds, meaning they experience action more slowly than large-bodied animals with slower metabolism, including humans.
If this reminds you of a certain 1999 science-fiction movie, you’re on the right track. The study was led by scientists from Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin, which issued a press release that explains the findings with a dusty pop-culture reference: “For example, flies owe their skill at avoiding rolled-up newspapers to their ability to observe motion on finer timescales than our own eyes can achieve, allowing them to avoid the newspaper in a similar fashion to the ‘bullet time’ sequence in the popular film ‘The Matrix.”
Excerpt from an article written RUSSELL MCLENDON at MNN. Continue THERE
Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.
Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.
Text and Image via Columbia Press.
To the best of our knowledge, the mechanical gear—evenly-sized teeth cut into two different rotating surfaces to lock them together as they turn—was invented sometime around 300 B.C.E. by Greek mechanics who lived in Alexandria. In the centuries since, the simple concept has become a keystone of modern technology, enabling all sorts of machinery and vehicles, including cars and bicycles.
As it turns out, though, a three-millimeter long hopping insect known as Issus coleoptratus beat us to this invention. Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton, a pair of biologists from the University of Cambridge in the U.K., discovered that juveniles of the species have an intricate gearing system that locks their back legs together, allowing both appendages to rotate at the exact same instant, causing the tiny creatures jump forward.
Excerpt from an article written at The Smithsonian. Continue THERE
Since 3-D printing technology has become more accessible, the magic of manifesting an object before your eyes has yet to lose its luster. When Dewar’s decided to create a sculpture to mark the launch of its Highlander Honey whiskey, however, it took the concept of 3-D printing to a whole new level, employing the services of nature’s original three- dimensional crafters: bees.
Via Fast CoCreate. Continue THERE
Ant colonies show remarkably coordinated behavior, despite lacking any direction from a well-informed central controller. Each worker instead applies simple decision rules to limited knowledge, and exchanges information with her neighbors using rudimentary cues and signals. From this process emerge the construction of complex nests, collective decisions among food sources, the adaptive allocation of labor across tasks, and many other group accomplishments. To identify the underlying decision rules requires a detailed description of the behavior of individually identifiable ants. The ant species Temnothorax curvispinosus is especially useful for this kind of study, because they form small colonies of only a few hundred workers, and they thrive in thin, glass-walled laboratory nests, facilitating detailed video records of their behavior. Most importantly, as shown in these images, workers can be individually marked with tiny drops of paint. Ants are first immobilized with carbon dioxide, and then marked with a distinctive pattern of four drops. They soon emerge unharmed from narcosis, and retain their marks for several months to years. This approach has been particularly useful in showing how emigrating colonies can choose the best among several new homes, even when few individual workers are aware of all the options under consideration.
Credit: Stephen Pratt
Cure Down syndrome with a single injection? Well, maybe–if you’re a mouse. A team of scientists from John Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health have cured newborn mice of Down syndrome by injecting them with a drug that stimulates what’s called the Sonic Hedgehog pathway (so-named because in flies, a lack of the Hedgehog signaling protein causes embryos to become prickly, hedgehog-like balls).
People with Down syndrome usually have smaller brain volumes than control groups, including significantly smaller cerebellums, a portion of the brain involved in motor control. The researchers, led by Roger Reeves of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, treated newborn mice that had been genetically engineered to have Down syndrome-like characteristics with a small molecule called SAG.
Excerpt from an article written by Shaunacy Ferro at POPSCI. Continue THERE
he Poo Printer consists of a wooden cage sized 170x120cm and 100cm high with a removable tray in the center. This tray has interchangeable parts looking like tree branches with integrated food dispensers. According to the order of placement of these pieces it creates the shape of each of the characters of the Latin alphabet. The birds will hang out there most of the day, eating, pooing and even eating and pooing simultaneously.
Directly under the cage an extended roll of paper is located over the entire surface of the cage. The birds in their pooing performance from the mobile structure, with an angle of 90° to the paper surface, are generating, one by one, poo after poo, the latin character shape desired.
A group of male zebra finches underwent this experiment with rigorous commitment. The author/captor, taking the role of some kind of 1984´s Big brother, is providing the implementation guidelines for the transformation of this countercultural attitude into a marketable artsy product. The observation of this group of non-breeding birds in captivity and the experimentation with induced behaviors has been rigorously documented for this task. This project researches in a hybrid, artistic and scientific framework the physiological, mechanical and social dynamics of birds under captivity in a simulated factory-chain environment.
The result is the Poo Printer, an analog generative typography printer using the bird-poo as the particle substance in order to slowly generate the Latin alphabet characters over a large paper roll.
Text and Images via POO PRINTER by Fabrizio Lamoncha.
Kindness and patience seem to have a clear moral dimension. They are forms of what we might call ‘concern’ — emotional states that have as their focus the wellbeing of another — and concern for the welfare of others lies at the heart of morality. If Nina and Tess were concerned for the welfare of my son then, perhaps, they were acting morally: their behaviour had, at least in part, a moral motivation. And so, in those foggy, sleepless nights of early fatherhood, a puzzle was born inside of me, one that has been gnawing away at me ever since. If there is one thing on which most philosophers and scientists have always been in agreement it is the subject of human moral exceptionalism: humans, and humans alone, are capable of acting morally. Yet, this didn’t seem to tally with the way I came to think of Nina and Tess.
Many scientists (and more than a few philosophers) would have no hesitation in accusing perhaps several billion people of such delusional anthropomorphism. A growing number of animal scientists, however, are going over to the dark side, and at least flirting with the idea that animals can act morally. In his book Primates and Philosophers (2006), the Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal has argued that animals are at least capable of proto-moral behaviour: they possess the rudiments of morality even if they are not moral beings in precisely the way that we are. This was, in fact, Charles Darwin’s view, as developed in The Descent of Man. In a similar vein, the American biologist Marc Bekoff has being arguing for years that animals can act morally, and his book Wild Justice (2009) provides a useful summary of the evidence for this claim. Perhaps scientists such as Darwin, de Waal and Bekoff are also guilty of anthropomorphism? The evidence, however, would suggest otherwise.
Excerpt from an article written by Mark Rowlands at AEON. Read it THERE
A 90-second daily show highlighting the songs of British birds has started on BBC Radio 4 this week. But birdsong isn’t just beautiful to listen to, it is increasingly being used in surprising ways.
Can a nightingale’s song help you pass an exam or a blackbird’s twittering encourage you to open a bank account? Sound experts are using it to do both.
They argue the positive results speak for themselves even though researchers say there is little hard scientific evidence to show people respond positively to birds singing. Most support for the theory is anecdotal.
So what are the innovative ways it is being used?
Via BBC. Read article THERE
In the past few decades, scientists studying the eating habits of Earth’s creatures have noticed something strange: the babies of several species, from tiger sand sharks to fruit flies, are eating each other.
Thing is, they aren’t freaks of nature. And in fact, the mechanisms behind animal cannibalism are helping scientists ask–and answer–some important evolutionary questions. These three recent studies provide a glimpse into this gruesome diet and what it means for evolution.
Why paternity might still matter after fertilization
Sand tiger sharks have been known to have cannibalistic embryos since the 1980s, when detailed autopsies revealed embryos in the stomachs of other shark embryos. But a new study published in Biological Letters could give some clues as to why.
Female sand tiger sharks aren’t the most faithful–they tend to mate with multiple male partners. And if you’re a male sand tiger shark trying to further your lineage, it’s not just about the speed and strength of sperm. The competition continues even after the eggs turn to embryos. After about five months of gestation, the embryo to first hatch from its egg in utero (the female sand tiger shark has two uteri) begins to feed on its smaller siblings–specifically those fathered by a different male. Some litters may start at 12 but this alpha embryo will eat all but one, leaving its brother or sister from the same mister alive. So despite the litters starting out with various fathers, the offspring that make it through the gestational massacre tend to be from the same father–and they’re large and strong enough to survive potential predators after birth. “It’s exactly the same sort of DNA testing that you might see on Maury Povich to figure out how many dads there are,” Stony Brook University marine biologist and study author Demian Chapman told LiveScience.
Text and Image via POPSci. Continue THERE
The other day I walked into my gym and saw a dog. A half-dozen people were crowding around him, cooing and petting. He was a big dog, a lean and muscular Doberman with, I later learned, the sort of hair-trigger bark you’d prize if you wanted to protect a big stash of gold bullion.
“This is Y.,” the dog’s owner said. No explanation was offered for the pooch’s presence, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have a dog in a place usually reserved for human beings. Huh, I thought.
The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond. The dog pushed his long face toward my hand, the canine equivalent of a high five. And so—in the same way it’s rude to leave a high-fiver hanging, especially if the high-fiver has big teeth and a strong jaw—I was expected to pet him. I ran my hand across his head half-heartedly. I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened—for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
Anyway, happily, I survived. But wait a second. Come on! Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here? When this beast was barking at passersby through the window as we were all working out, why did no one go, Hey, just throwing this out there, should we maybe not have this distracting, possibly dangerous animal by the free weights?
Excerpt from an article written by y Farhad Manjoo at SLATE. Continue THERE
Scientists have built a digital camera inspired by the compound eyes of insects like bees and flies. The camera’s hemispherical array of 180 microlenses gives it a 160 degree field of view and the ability to focus simultaneously on objects at different depths.
Human eyes, and virtually all cameras, use a single lens to focus light onto a light-sensitive tissue or material. That arrangement can produce high-resolution images, but compound eyes offer different advantages. They can provide a more panoramic view, for example, and remarkable depth perception.
The new artificial version, created by by John Rogers and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and described in Nature, could potentially be developed for use in security cameras or surgical endoscopes.
“The resolution is roughly equivalent to that of a fire ant or a bark beetle,” Rogers wrote in an email to Wired. “With manufacturing systems more like those in industry, and less like the academic, research setups that we are currently using, we feel that it is possible to get to the level of a dragonfly or beyond.”
In an accompanying editorial, Alexander Borst and Johannes Plett of the Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany suggest the cameras could also provide visual capabilities for tiny aircraft called micro aerial vehicles. “One major application is disaster relief,” they wrote. “Picture the following: a palm-sized MAV uses an artificial faceted eye to navigate autonomously through a collapsed building while other sensors on board scan the environment for smoke, radioactivity or even people trapped beneath rubble and debris.”
Presumably the engineers who build these future rescue MAVs will come up with a way to make sure the people they’re trying to help don’t mistake them for flies and swat them down.
Representative imaging results for four different line art images captured with a hemispherical, apposition compound eye camera and rendered on a hemispherical surface that matches the shape of the device.
Australian scientists made headlines last month when they revealed that they were close to cloning a frog, Rheobatrachus silus, last seen in the wild three decades ago. If they succeed, it may take another emerging technology to keep that frog alive.
Synthetic biology aims to endow organisms with new sets of genes and new abilities. Along with cloning, it has been portrayed in the press as a hubristic push to do fantastical things: bring back woolly mammoths or resurrect the passenger pigeons that darkened the skies of North America before they were eradicated by nineteenth-century settlers.
But at a first-of-its-kind meeting, held on 9–11 April at the University of Cambridge, UK, leading conservationists and synthetic biologists discussed how the technology could be applied in less fanciful ways to benefit the planet: to produce heat-tolerant coral reefs, pollution-sensing soil microbes and ruminant gut microbes that don’t belch methane. Also on the list were ways to help frogs to overcome chytridiomycosis, the fungal disease threatening amphibians worldwide that is thought to have contributed to the extinction of R. silus.
Excerpt from an article written by Ewen Callaway, at Nature. Continue HERE
Are you among the millions of people whose only opportunity to observe wildlife comes after it has been run over and pressed into a patty by big rigs, then desiccated by the elements until even flies don’t recognize it? This is the field guide for you! Roger Knutson, a biologist at Luther College, IA, fills an important gap in our natural history knowledge and fosters a heightened respect for the ecology of the paved environment. FLATTENED FAUNA is a classic field guide to the 36 most common species of roadside remains in North America. The book includes descriptions and silhouetted illustrations of the top squashed avian, mammalian, reptilian, and amphibian species. Due to rabid interest from overseas, the expanded new edition includes global ramifications of international necrology.
“At a time when the total world fauna is surely shrinking in both absolute numbers and species complexity, the road fauna is clearly increasing. Before 1900, in the United States, its presence was recorded by only the most fragmentary references to the occasional horse-stomped snake. With the development in the twentieth century of a much elongated road network and dramatically increased traffic speed, the flattened fauna has increased in both species and total numbers.” — Roger M. Knutson
Text and Image via Amazon
No animals were harmed in the making of these cameras. These cameras were handcrafted by the Swiss duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs as part of their Camera Collection. They are part of a two volume publication, As Long As It Photographs It Must Be A Camera.
Mosquito If there’s one creature who’s climate change gain is our loss, it’s mosquitoes. No longer restricted to strictly tropical environments, mosquitoes have spread as warmer temperatures have crept into environments they had never previously been. More mosquitoes means higher potential to spread diseases, including malaria, West Nile virus and dengue fever. This greater risk of disease is not only bad news for humans, but also some animals, including certain bird species, who had previously been unexposed to these pests. In fact, even some of the world’s largest creatures are not immune to the disease transmitted by these tiny insects. Last month, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society revealed that two whales kept in captivity died as a result of diseases carried by mosquitoes.
Jellyfish Acidifying oceans and warmer waters might be encouraging swells in populations of jellyfish around the world. Although the notion that jellyfish are benefiting from climate change has been subject to debate, studies have shown that coastal jellyfish populations are generally on the rise. More jellyfish would be bad news for any species that relied on the oceans for its food supply, including humans. Jellyfish can essentially reorder the food web by eating the same plankton that would otherwise be consumed by fish, restricting the transfer of energy on the food chain since predators tend to avoid them. The increase in jellyfish populations could also lead to an ecological disaster by resulting in an increase in carbon beyond what oceans can cope with, according to a report from The Guardian. When jellyfish die, they break down into biomass with considerably higher levels of carbon than their vertebrate counterparts. Bacteria that thrive on decaying organisms cannot absorb carbon as well and instead breathe it out into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Gray Nurse Shark Worldwide, around one third of oceanic shark species are at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These animals are primarily at risk as a result of human intervention, particularly the overfishing of sharks for their fins. But there is one species of shark that may stand to benefit from man-made climate change, the Australian gray nurse shark. Like many shark species, gray nurse shark populations have been under pressure. This species could disappear entirely by 2050. However, thanks for warmer waters surrounding Australia, two separate populations of this nurse shark on each side of the continent may reunite for the first time in 100,000 years.
Text and Images via Discovery. Click HERE to see more.
Before the Florida Keys meant sun, sea, and Jimmy Buffet, they were famous for mosquitoes—dense, black clouds of them that hummed and bit without pause, spread malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, and drove visitors temporarily insane with irritation.
In the 1920s, hordes of mosquitoes were the major obstacle standing between Richter Clyde Perky, a real estate developer from Denver, and the success of his fishing resort on Lower Sugarloaf Key. The construction manager Perky had hired to oversee the project complained that “in the late afternoon, you would just have to rake the bugs off your arm” and that “they’d form a black print on your hand if you put it against a screen and suck all the blood right out of it.
In his search for a solution, Perky came across a book called Bats, Mosquitoes, and Dollars by Dr. Charles Campbell. A doctor and “city bacteriologist” based in San Antonio, Texas, Campbell had been experimenting with attracting bats to artificial roosts since the turn of the century, in the belief that they were the natural predators of mosquitoes. As an article in BATS magazine explains, Campbell initially thought that the design of bat architecture would be a simple matter:
“Can bats like bees be colonized and made to multiply where we want them?” he wondered. “This would be no feat at all!…Don’t they just live in any old ramshackle building? They would be only too glad to have a little home such as we provide for our song birds…”
After a handful of expensive failures, followed by several months spent in the caves of West Texas, observing bats in their natural environment, Campbell came up with his pioneering design for a Malaria-Eradicating Guano Producing Bat Roost, “built according to plans furnished by the greatest and only infallible of all architects, Nature,” and equipped with “all the conveniences any little bat heart could possibly desire.”
Excerpt from an article via VENUE. Continue THERE
These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness. On what seems like a monthly basis, scientific teams announce the results of new experiments, adding to a preponderance of evidence that we’ve been underestimating animal minds, even those of us who have rated them fairly highly. New animal behaviors and capacities are observed in the wild, often involving tool use—or at least object manipulation—the very kinds of activity that led the distinguished zoologist Donald R. Griffin to found the field of cognitive ethology (animal thinking) in 1978: octopuses piling stones in front of their hideyholes, to name one recent example; or dolphins fitting marine sponges to their beaks in order to dig for food on the seabed; or wasps using small stones to smooth the sand around their egg chambers, concealing them from predators. At the same time neurobiologists have been finding that the physical structures in our own brains most commonly held responsible for consciousness are not as rare in the animal kingdom as had been assumed. Indeed they are common. All of this work and discovery appeared to reach a kind of crescendo last summer, when an international group of prominent neuroscientists meeting at the University of Cambridge issued “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals,” a document stating that “humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” It goes further to conclude that numerous documented animal behaviors must be considered “consistent with experienced feeling states.”
Excerpt from an essay written by John Jeremiah Sullivan at Laphan’s Quarterly. Continue HERE
Many extinct species—from the passenger pigeon to the woolly mammoth—might now be reclassified as “bodily, but not genetically, extinct.” They’re dead, but their DNA is recoverable from museum specimens and fossils, even those up to 200,000 years old.
Thanks to new developments in genetic technology, that DNA may eventually bring the animals back to life. Only species whose DNA is too old to be recovered, such as dinosaurs, are the ones to consider totally extinct, bodily and genetically.
But why bring vanished creatures back to life? It will be expensive and difficult. It will take decades. It won’t always succeed. Why even try?
Excerpt from an article written by Stewart Brand for National Geographic News. Continue THERE
Will humans be compared to lichen, sea slugs and salamanders in the future? With the future in mind, U.K.-based designers Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton study and design alternative ways to fuel the body. Algaculture offers a symbiotic relationship between humans and algae. It proposes humans to be semi-photosynthetic allowing us to gain food from light, the way plants do and, apparently, lichen, sea slugs and salamanders. Burton and Nitta have come up with an Algaculture Symbiosis Suit enabling the mutually beneficial relationship with algae to occur. Last September, one of these suits was used in The Algae Opera at the V&A in London. An opera singer sang using her large lung capacity to produce high-quality algae-product. The photosynthetic plant-like organisms fed on the carbon dioxide from the singer’s breath, creating a sample of the future food source. The audience was not only invited to appreciate her music, but also to savor her unique blend of algae. If you think this sounds unappealing, think again; Burton & Nitta’s Republic of Salivation is much harder to swallow.
Text and Image via Collabcubed
If these lizards were larger, they’d look like featherless dinosaurs: With spiky spines and gleaming red eyes, two newly described species of wood lizard look a bit like stegosaur-evil velociraptor hybrids.
The lizards, reported Mar. 15 in ZooKeys, live in the Peruvian mountains and belong to the genus Enyalioides, which includes 10 previously described species. After comparing the lizards’ morphology and genetic sequences with known wood lizards, a team of scientists concluded that they could add two new members to a group most commonly found in Central and South America.
One of the lizards is now named E. azulae, after the Cordillera Azul mountain range in northeastern Peru, where it was first discovered in 2010. The 10-centimeter long lizard lives in montane forests at 1,100 meters elevation, near the Rio Huallaga basin. Males are flecked with bright green, while females are more dusty brown and resemble juveniles in color.
The other newly described lizard is E. binzayedi, after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates, who created a conservation fund to support international conservation projects. This 12-centimeter long lizard bears more pronounced dorsal spikes, and is more colorful, than E. azulae — though not as colorful as E. rubrigularis, another species described by several of the same authors in 2009.
Text by Nadia Drake. See more at WIRED