Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category
The new flu virus that has exploded onto the global radar is already showing signs that it is adapting to mammals, suggesting what was once a bird virus is now probably spreading in a mammalian host, an influenza expert said Tuesday.
And while it’s not clear what that mammalian host is, the two most obvious choices are pigs or humans, said Dr. Richard Webby, head of the World Health Organization’s influenza collaborating centre at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
“I think that’s what’s concerning about this …This thing doesn’t any longer look like a poultry virus,” Webby, a swine flu expert, said in an interview.
“It really looks to me like it’s adapted in a mammalian host somewhere.”
Halt! Put down that leftover Easter candy. You might want to read this first.
Before today, the most of your worries were whether or not ants managed to dig their way into your colorful plastic eggs, but it turns out the most terrifying part of one popular Easter treat actually comes from within.
According to the Huffington Post, Cadbury Crème Eggs contain an artificial sweetener called castoreum, commonly listed as “natural flavoring” in vanilla and raspberry-flavored treats and which is derived from, yes, the anal gland excretions of beavers.
Except a look on the castoreum Wikipedia page says the anal glands and castor glands are separate and that castoreum is actually used along with beaver urine to mark territory, so I’m not really sure which to believe.
But if I had to choose, I think I’d much rather have the latter. I mean, that’s like choosing between eating poop and drinking pee right? And it only makes sense to pick . . . pee . . . right?
A rare four-inch fragment of a dodo bone will go on sale in Britain in April, around 300 years after the flightless bird and icon of obsolescence was hunted to extinction.
Auctioneers Christie’s said on Wednesday it was hoping to raise as much as 15,000 pounds for the piece of a bird’s femur.
The last sale of dodo remains the auction house could find took place in London in 1934 – and it was expecting considerable interest from a highly specialised band of collectors and enthusiasts.
“It is so rare for anyone to part with these prized items,” said James Hyslop, head of Travel, Science and Natural History at Christie’s auction house in South Kensington, London.
“From its appearance in “Alice in Wonderland” to the expression ‘dead as dodo’, the bird has cemented its place in our cultural heritage,” he added.
The Western world first heard of dodos in 1598 when Dutch
A Gulf of Mexico fisherman opened the uterus of an adult bull shark and found a two-headed shark pup inside. According to Michigan State University researchers, this is the first two-headed bull shark confirmed by scientists. “”Given the timing of the shark’s discovery with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I could see how some people may want to jump to conclusions,” Michael Wagner, MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife, wrote in a report in the Journal of Fish Biology. “Making that leap is unwarranted. We simply have no evidence to support that cause or any other.”
Birds do it, bees do it — but how did 3-ton dinosaurs with sharp, pointed spikes on their backs and tails get it on?
Very carefully, say some researchers, who believe mounting a female from behind would have proved deadly for the males of dinosaurs like Stegosaurus.
“The females could not raise their tails, because the bones at the top end were fused,” Brian Switek, a dinosaur researcher and writer, told the Sunday Times. “Also, some species had lethal spikes on their backs, which would have been impossible to get past.”
Deep in the heart of Assam, a remote northeastern province of India, a group of 150 guards watch for poachers in Kaziranga National Park, home to three-quarters of the world’s one-horned rhinoceroses.
But with an area of 330 square miles (855 sq km) to cover, the guards can’t be everywhere. Last year poachers killed 22 rhinos. And another 13 have already been killed this year.
The Indian federal government is granting $7 million in additional aid to help protect the rhinos, reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The state government has sent in another 500 special guards.
And it will soon deploy drones.
Drones are not a common sight in India’s skies. But as rhino sanctuaries go, Kaziranga is not unique—reserve administrators around the world are increasingly turning to unmanned aerial vehicles to help guard their beleaguered rhinos. In January, a reserve in Kenya used crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to raise half of the $70,000 it needed to buy a drone. The World Wildlife Fund, a conservation group, is also planning to deploy a drone somewhere in either Africa or Asia this year, followed by another one next year, backed by money from a Google grant.
A scientific research paper reviewed 400 YouTube videos of dogs chasing their tails. A close look showed that about a third of the dogs observed showed signs of clinical pathology (“neurological, compulsive or other pathological conditions”).
Habitual tail-chasers had 6.5+/?2.3 times the odds of being described as ‘Stupid’ than other dogs, and perseverative dogs were 6.8+/?2.1 times more frequently described as ‘Funny’ than distractible ones were. Compared with breed- and age-matched control videos, tail-chasing videos were significantly more often indoors and with a computer/television screen switched on. These findings highlight that tail-chasing is sometimes pathological, but can remain untreated, or even be encouraged, because of an assumption that it is ‘normal’ dog behaviour.
Another takeaway from this study is how YouTube can provide a vast and unsifted resource of behavioral observations to researchers of all kinds. Someday a scientist may be watching your behavior, either on video, in the description, or in the comments!
A police spokesman told Die Welt newspaper on Tuesday that it remained unclear whether the head, discovered on Sunday, was a veiled mafia-style threat, a macabre joke, or a particularly passive-aggressive neighbour’s way of protesting about the presence of the baby carriage.
The man told police that he had not received any complaints from neighbours about keeping the pram in the hallway.
The carriage and the blanket inside it were reportedly severely damaged by the large quantity of grease that had leaked out of the head.
German police called to a break-in had to deal with a runaway cow rather than robbers, after the bolshie bovine jumped through a window and landed in an old woman’s kitchen.
The cow had escaped from her field near Quickborn in Schleswig-Holstein on Wednesday, and wandered into the woman’s garden – where she spotted what she thought was another cow also on a midweek jailbreak.
Enraged, she charged into what was actually her own reflection in the window of the woman’s house and crashed through the double glazing, police said on Friday.
Passersby who saw the smashed glass called the police, who arrived to find the cow calmly chewing cud in the kitchen with just a few scratches to show for her mix-up.
There was glass all over the floor and the window was completely destroyed – but the woman who lived in the house was not at home at the time.
Here’s one for the “weird” column…
Horse trainers have been allegedly juicing up their horses with a performance-enhancing drug with an interesting origin: a frog’s back.
As for how the connection was made between horse racing and frog jumping, the world may never know.
According to the New York Times, racing regulators had been hearing reports about this kind of activity happening in darkened stables, but after months of post-race testing, no trace of painkillers or PEDs could be found. That is, until a lab in Denver changed the way they tested for these drugs. Now, more than 30 horses from 4 states have tested positive for the froggy substance.
While trainers haven’t been formally charged, the race regulators expect it to happen sooner rather than later.
Called “dermorphin,” the frog juice is said to be 40 times more powerful than morphine, helping the horses run even faster.
As it’s such as potent drug, able to affect the outcome of a race, the regulators are saying the use of dermorphin could be considered one of the industry’s most serious drug violations.
Director of testing at Louisiana State University, Dr. Steven Baker, gave the New York Times the money-quote: “We hear about some pretty exotic stuff. Frog juice — this is exotic.”
While these kinds of drug scandals are (sadly) commonplace in other sports, such as baseball and football, this news comes as the industry is trying to separate themselves from this kind of behavior.
Try as they might, these latest accusations of frog juicing are just the latest in a long line of illegal PEDs which have been found in racetracks.
For instance, Cobra Venom has also been found in post-race tests. This venom is said to act as a nerve block, deadening any pain the horses may feel. The less pain a horse feels, the faster they are inclined to run.