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August 24 2014

Crows and other animals grieve for their dead, new book claims


Crows and other animals experience grief at the loss of a loved one, according to a new book about people’s attitudes towards the biggest mass extinction for 65 million years.

In Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, Australian anthropologist and philosopher Thom Van Dooren argues that the idea of “human exceptionalism” – that people feel a range of emotions while animals do not – has damaged our attitude towards the environment.

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August 24 2014

Orcas and other animals may speak with complexity


From forest to ocean, the animal din of grunts, squawks, squeaks and squeals may be the product of complex vocal systems that are only an evolutionary step away from generating humanlike language.

The vocalizations of orangutans, finches, killer whales and four other animal species have some form of grammar and may be more language-like in structure than previously thought, researchers report August 20 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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August 24 2014

Chimps show empathy by mimicking pupil size


Chimpanzees and humans may share the same ability to empathise with other individuals by involuntarily matching their pupil size. The mimicry only appears to work between two humans or between two chimpanzees but not between species, suggesting the signalling reinforces social bonds within species.

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August 24 2014

These lizards may be able to learn from each other


PRINCETON, N.J. — Learning can be a quick shortcut for figuring out how to do something on your own. The ability to learn from watching another individual — called social learning — is something that hasn’t been documented in many species outside of primates and birds. But now a lizard can be added to the list of critters that can learn from one another. Young eastern water skinks were able to learn by watching older lizards, Martin Whiting of Macquarie University in Sydney reported August 10 at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University.

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August 24 2014

Surprising Survivor: Little Ancient Reptile Outlived Dinosaurs


Fossils discovered in South America are evidence of true survivors: a new species of lizardlike reptiles that lived through the event that killed the dinosaurs.

Dubbed Kawasphenodon peligrensis, the newly identified specieslived between 66 million and 23 million years ago in what is now Patagonia. K. peligrensis was a rhynchocephalian, a group of reptiles that was quite diverse worldwide until the end of the Cretaceous Period. Today, only one member of this group, the fearsomely toothed tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) survives. It lives only in New Zealand.

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August 23 2014

What Lies Beneath Stonehenge?


A groundbreaking survey of the site has turned up tantalizing new clues to what really went on there

We walked the Avenue, the ancient route along which the stones were first dragged from the River Avon. For centuries, this was the formal path to the great henge, but now the only hint of its existence was an indentation or two in the tall grass. It was a fine English summer’s day, with thin, fast clouds above, and as we passed through fields dotted with buttercups and daisies, cows and sheep, we could have been hikers anywhere, were it not for the ghostly monument in the near distance.

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August 23 2014

Sphinxes Emerge From Huge Ancient Greek Tomb


Two headless sphinxes emerged from a massive burial site in northern Greece as archaeologists began removing large stones from the tomb’s sealing wall.

The headless, wingless 4.8-foot-high sphinxes each weigh about 1.5 tons and bear traces of red coloring on their feet. They would have been 6.5 feet high with their heads, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement.

The statues are believed to have been placed there to guard the burial, which is the largest tomb ever uncovered in Greece.

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August 23 2014

Oldest metal object in Middle East discovered in woman's grave


A copper awl is the oldest metal object unearthed to date in the Middle East. The discovery reveals that metals were exchanged across hundreds of miles in this region more than 6,000 years ago, centuries earlier than previously thought, researchers say.

The artifact was unearthed in Tel Tsaf, an archaeological site in Israel located near the Jordan River and Israel's border with Jordan.

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August 23 2014

Who what why: How much gold can we get from mobile phones?


It's said that a bag of used mobile phones contains a gram of gold. There are a lot of mobile phones in the world, so how much of the gold we need can we get from them, asks William Kremer.

"The business case is clear," he said, as he launched revised waste and recycling targets for the EU. "There's gold in waste - literally. It takes a ton of ore to get 1g of gold. But you can get the same amount from recycling the materials in 41 mobile phones."

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August 23 2014

The Machine That Tried To Scan The Brain — In 1882


Everyone points to the Wright Brothers as the inventors of human flight. But centuries earlier, it was Leonardo da Vinci who , recognizing how birds used concepts like lift and wing shape to glide high above us.

Now scientists have uncovered new details about the man you might call "the da Vinci" of modern brain science. He was a physiologist named Angelo Mosso who lived in Italy during the 19th century, and until several years ago his manuscripts were mostly collecting dust in the archives of an Italian university.

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August 23 2014

5 days away from computer screens boosts preteens' social awareness


What happens when you take about 50 sixth-graders and send them to a nature camp with no access to computers, tablets and mobile phones? A new study suggests that after just five days their ability to understand nonverbal social cues improves.


Related: For City Dwellers, Stargazing Can Make For A Stellar Vacation

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August 23 2014

Is Fluoride in Private Wells Causing an IQ Decline?


Excess fluoride, which may damage both brain and bone, is leaching out of granite and into Maine's drinking water—and potentially other New England states.


Related: Colgate Total Ingredient Linked to Hormones, Cancer Spotlights FDA Process
Related: Antiperspirants Alter Your Armpit Bacteria and Could Actually Make You Smell Worse

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August 23 2014

Google Aims to Archive All Human Knowledge


New research details emerging this week suggest that Google is after the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

According to an intriguing report in New Scientist, Google is building a next-generation information database called Knowledge Vault that’s designed to index and store what we can reasonably term facts. And not just some facts — the Vault is intended to continually catalog and store all facts about our world and our history.

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August 23 2014

Disney thinks it could turn drones into flying TV screens and puppet masters


Disney has never lagged in animatronics or high technology for its shows and theme parks — they're more or less tiny, high-tech surveillance dystopias with classic rides, exorbitantly expensive food, and all your favorite TV and movie characters from childhood. But a handful of patent applications pointed out by MarketWatch are particularly interesting.

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August 23 2014

Introducing The Chairless Chair You Can Wear, So You Can Sit Anywhere


Those with desk jobs may be constantly looking for innovative ways to sit less, but Zurich-based startup noonee has configured a wearable technology that would allow workers who are constantly on their feet to sit more.

The "Chairless Chair" attaches to users' legs like an exoskeleton. When it's not being used as a seat, the device allows wearers to run and walk like normal.

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August 23 2014

Turning waste from rice, parsley and other foods into biodegradable plastic


Your chairs, synthetic rugs and plastic bags could one day be made out of cocoa, rice and vegetable waste rather than petroleum, scientists are now reporting. The novel process they developed and their results could help the world deal with its agricultural and plastic waste problems.

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August 23 2014

The power of salt: Power generation from where river water and seawater meet


Where the river meets the sea, there is the potential to harness a significant amount of renewable energy, according to a team of mechanical engineers. The researchers evaluated an emerging method of power generation called pressure retarded osmosis (PRO), in which two streams of different salinity are mixed to produce energy.

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