Tag Archives | Nature

Monkey Captured After Two Years Of Eluding Authorities In Urban Florida

The monkey gave the forces of human society a good run for their money, remaining uncaught for two years. Over that time, it had a Facebook page and bit a random woman — in other words, it lived as a typical St. Petersburg resident. Via CBS Tampa:

The wild monkey that was on the lam in St. Petersburg for two years has finally been captured. Authorities say a wildlife official shot the monkey with a tranquilizer dart Wednesday.

The monkey eluded capture for years as it roamed neighborhoods in St. Petersburg. It even has a Facebook page and most recently bit a woman, causing trappers to ramp up their efforts to capture him.

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For Science: Watch Sea Lice Eat a Pig from Inside Out

Via New Scientist: In order to better understand how human bodies decompose in the ocean, Simon Fraser University forensic scientist Gail Anderson tracked the decomposition of a pig. The pig's body was caged (to prevent larger predators like sharks from swimming away with it) and then submerged. Time lapse photography documents the pig's remains as they're consumed to the bones by sea lice and other small scavengers.
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Pesticide Cocktail Killing Bees

Via Nature.com:
...in a study published in Nature, researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Egham, UK, show that low-level exposure to a combination of two pesticides is more harmful to bumblebee colonies than either pesticide on its own. The results suggest that current methods for regulating pesticides are inadequate because they consider only lethal doses of single pesticides. As ecologist Nigel Raine explains in the video, low doses of pesticides have subtle effects on individual bees and can seriously harm colonies. He hopes that his work will feed into consultations on pesticide regulations that are happening now in Europe.
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Chimps Attacking Humans In Revenge For Habitat Destruction?

Does this portend a future war between apes and humanity? Local media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are interpreting a spate of chimp violence perpetrated against people as motivated by revenge. Via New Scientist:

Habitat loss may be to blame for an apparent spate of violent attacks by chimpanzees on humans in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mistrust of chimpanzees has been heightened by local media reports, which suggest that as many as 10 people have been killed and 17 injured by chimps, in acts that were reported as “revenge attacks” for people encroaching on their territory.

Klaus Zuberbuhler, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews in Fife, UK, and scientific director of the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda, says restricting the chimps’ habitat can certainly affect their behaviour, though it is debatable whether the chimps’ aggression towards humans is a form of revenge.

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Giant Eyeball Washes Ashore On Florida Beach

The Orlando Sentinel reports on a monstrous find:

In Pompano Beach, Gino Covacci noticed a strange ball-like object at the high tide line. He kicked it over and found himself staring at the biggest eyeball he had ever seen. “It was very, very fresh,” he said Thursday. “It was still bleeding when I put it in the plastic bag.”

He notified a police officer, who gave him the phone number for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It will be preserved in formalin, a mixture of formaldehyde and water, before being sent for analysis to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, said Carli Segelson, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.

No one could say immediately what species the giant eye came from. Charles Messing, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center, said he couldn’t rule out a giant squid.

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A Science In Search Of A Subject

"Water's Early Journey in a Solar System" (Artist Rendition)

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ever wondered if we are not alone in the universe?

As this truly nerdgasmic crash-course by Robert A. Freitas Jr speculates, the scope for alien life could be positively astronomical.  Via xenology.info:

Xenology is the study of all aspects of life, intelligence, and civilization indigenous to environments other than Earth. Over the last three decades xenology has advanced rapidly on many fronts. Biochemists have studied the origin of life on this planet, knowing that if they can duplicate the major early steps of “abiogenesis” in the laboratory then the evolution of alien life is a very likely – maybe inevitable – event. NASA biologists have spent much time developing sophisticated life detection instruments such as the miniature biochemical automated test laboratories carried to Mars by Viking in 1976. There is growing interest in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, in which radio scientists look for powerful transmissions or leakage radiation from advanced extraterrestrial supercivilizations.

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Simple, Brainless Organisms Store Memories Externally

Barely-alive creatures, such as the slime mold at right, are able to produce “memories” — they just store them in their physical surroundings rather than a brain, Ars Technica has the latest news on the secret lives of simple beings:

Is it possible to know where you’ve been when you don’t have a brain? Depending on your definition of “know,” the answer may be yes. Researchers have shown that the slime mold, an organism without anything that resembles a nervous system (or, for that matter, individual cells), is capable of impressive feats of navigation. It can even link food sources in optimally spaced networks. Now, researchers have shown it’s capable of filling its environment with indications of where it has already searched for food, allowing it to “remember” its past efforts and focus its attention on routes it hasn’t explored.

In the course of studying the slime mold, some researchers noticed that the slime mold would avoid any areas covered in slime.

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New Zealand Grants Personhood Rights To River

In my eyes, this makes more sense than the Citizens United ruling. Via Care2:

In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, with legal personhood “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests”. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by the Whanganui River iwi, an indigenous community with strong cultural ties to the waterway.

Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

While it may seem an odd extension of rights, in many ways it harkens back to a time when mankind’s fate was more readily acknowledged as being intertwined with that of the rivers, lakes, and streams that sustained us.

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Birds Hold Funerals For Their Dead

Disputing the notion that the deaths of animals are insignificant or interchangeable, Discovery News writes that birds gather in vigil by their dead and join together in song:

Researchers have just observed what appears to be the avian version of a funeral. Teresa Iglesias and colleagues studied the western scrub jay and discovered that when one bird dies, the others do not just ignore the body. Multiple jays often fly down to gather around the deceased.

The subsequent ceremony isn’t quiet either. “Discovery of a dead conspecific elicits vocalizations that are effective at attracting conspecifics, which then also vocalize, thereby resulting in a cacophonous aggregation,” Iglesias and her team wrote.

Prior research suggests giraffes and elephants might also hold ceremonies for their dead. If so, perhaps there are shared factors with humans and birds. Solidifying group togetherness and social bonding appear to be key benefits, along with learning how to avoid (if possible) whatever did in the deceased.

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The Growing Silence Of The Natural World

The rich, complex musical symphonies produced by nature are now being irrevocably destroyed. The Guardian writes:

When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of Fiji, he picks up a raucous mix of sighs, beats, glissandos, cries, groans, tones, grunts, beats and clicks. The water pulsates with the sound of creatures vying for acoustic bandwidth. He hears crustaceans, parrot fish, anemones, wrasses, sharks, shrimps, puffers and surgeonfish.

But half a mile away, where the same reef is badly damaged, he can only pick up the sound of waves and a few snapping shrimp. It is, he says, the desolate sound of extinction.

Krause, whose electronic music with Paul Beaver was used on classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species, collecting 4,500 hours of sound from many of the world’s pristine habitats.

But such is the rate of species extinction and the deterioration of pristine habitat that he estimates half these recordings are now archives, impossible to repeat because the habitats no longer exist or because they have been so compromised by human noise.

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