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November 11 2014

47-Million-Year-Old Pregnant Mare Sheds Light on Ancient Horses


When a thirsty pregnant horse drank from a freshwater lake 47 million years ago, she was unaware that poisonous volcanic gases might lead to her sudden demise. Now, the fossilized remains of the mare and her tiny, unborn foal are revealing new insights into reproduction in ancient horses, including surprising reproductive similarities with today's horses, according to a new study.

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November 11 2014

Wild cats were tamed with strokes and treats, genetic analysis suggests


Cat owners will recognise the purr of pleasure from their pets when they are tickled behind the ears, but a new analysis comparing the domestic cat’s genome with that of its wild relatives suggests this may also have been key to taming the animals in the first place.

The analysis has identified some of the crucial changes in feline DNA that have occurred as the animals were domesticated over the past 9,000 years.

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November 11 2014

Killer whales can learn to “speak dolphin”


Even if you haven’t watched Star Trek IV, you are probably aware of the fact that cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are among the smartest animals on the planet. In fact, this study suggests that, given a chance, different species of cetaceans may be able to learn to communicate with each other. Scientists noticed that killer whales who had spent time with bottlenose dolphins incorporated more clicking and whistles in their vocalizations than other whales, making their “language” a mashup of the two.

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November 11 2014

Chimps plan for their morning meals, helping fuel their big brains


A big brain is a resource-hungry organ, demanding large amounts of energy-rich foods to keep it functioning. Understanding how species like humans and chimpanzees evolved large, energy-hungry brains is a difficult task: explanations must account for not only how the large brain provided an evolutionary advantage, but also how its energy demands could have been met.

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November 11 2014

Hummingbirds Use Their Delicate Beaks as Dagger-Like Weapons


Male hummingbirds use their beaks as deft, dagger-like weapons when fighting each other for territory, according to a study carried out by a group of scientists from the University of Connecticut and New Mexico State University.

The study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, focuses on the Long-billed hermit (Phaethornis longirostris) – a large species of hummingbird native to Costa Rica, central Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and western Ecuador.

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November 11 2014

'Roid rage and Arctic ground squirrels


When Arctic ground squirrels need to bulk up for winter, they get a boost from an enormous spike in the levels of steroids in their blood.

So why doesn't it lead to 'roid rage?

In humans, anabolic steroids are known to build muscle but also produce negative side effects such as aggressive behaviour and compromised immune systems. Yet Arctic ground squirrels have found a way to pump up with steroids without the risks, University of Toronto researchers say.

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November 11 2014

Bees Wage Surprisingly Violent Wars—And Females Do the Fighting


When two species of Australia's stingless bees go to battle, an extraordinary amount of carnage ensues, according to a new study.

During this extreme warfare, thousands of worker bees from both sides perish, and young from the losing side are dragged out of the nest to die—a previously unseen behavior described in the December issue of the American Naturalist.

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November 11 2014

Violent crime drops again to 1970s level: FBI report


U.S. violent crime including murders fell 4.4 percent in 2013, continuing a long-term downturn and marking the lowest number of violent crimes since the late 1970s, the FBI said on Monday.

The law enforcement agency’s annual Crime in the United States report showed property crimes also fell, by 4.1 percent, last year, the 11th yearly drop in a row, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

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November 11 2014

No link found between movie, video game violence and societal violence


Since the 1920s, scholars and politicians have blamed violence in movies and other media as a contributing factor to rising violence in society. Recently the responses to mass shootings in Aurora, CO and at Sandy Hook Elementary followed this theme as media consumption came into the equation. But can consumption of violent media really be a factor in real-world violence? A recent study published in the Journal of Communication by a researcher at Stetson University found that there were no associations between media violence consumption in society and societal violence.

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November 10 2014

Being Shown Pictures of Being Loved May Reduce Brain's Response to Threat


Being shown pictures of others being loved and cared for has been linked to a reduction in the brain's response to threat, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Exeter found that when individuals are briefly presented pictures of others receiving emotional support and affection, the brain's threat monitor, the amygdala, subsequently does not respond to images showing threatening facial expressions or words. This occurred even if the person was not paying attention to the content of the first pictures.

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November 10 2014

Man In 'Snake-Proof' Suit To Be Swallowed Live By An Anaconda On The Discovery Channel


If you thought you’d seen it all – then you’re wrong.

The Discovery Channel has announced an upcoming episode in which a naturalist and filmmaker will don a “snake-proof” suit and allow himself to be swallowed by an anaconda.


Related: Discovery channel urged to drop stunt in which man gets eaten by snake

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November 10 2014

Virus that 'makes humans more stupid' discovered


A virus that infects human brains and makes us more stupid has been discovered, according to scientists in the US.

The algae virus, never before observed in healthy people, was found to affect cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial awareness.

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November 10 2014

If ADHD brains are the most creative, why do we treat it like a disability?


In his 2004 book “Creativity is Forever“, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

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November 10 2014

Can Humans and Nature Co-Exist?


Students in classrooms with windows that open out to nature in all its glory may perform better on tests.

This is not fully established science, but Heather Tallis, an ecologist at the Nature Conservancy, is testing the idea in California and other states. She is using satellite data to image the sweeping California landscapes—mountains to deserts to inner cities—in the backyards of randomly chosen schools. And she is correlating the presence of nature to standardized test results. Her hypothesis, which may be disproved, is that students do well when they are surrounded by nature.

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November 10 2014

Insects evolved flight as plants grew taller


Insects developed wings before any other animals so they could keep up with the growing height of land plants, a new study suggests.

The discovery, by an international team of researchers, comes from a massive new analysis of insect genes which has provided the clearest picture yet of how and when insects evolved.

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November 10 2014

Weak Sun Poses Radiation Risk for Mars-Bound Astronauts


Decreasing solar activity could make the journey to Mars and back riskier for astronauts, a new study warns.

The sun's magnetic field acts as a barrier to high-energy galactic cosmic rays, which originate outside the solar system in supernova explosions. The magnetic field is stronger when the sun is more active, deflecting more of this potentially dangerous radiation.

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November 10 2014

3D-printing a lunar base


Could astronauts one day be printing rather than building a base on the Moon? In 2013 ESA, working with industrial partners, proved that 3D printing using lunar material was feasible in principle. Since then, work continues to investigate the technique. The shielding against radiation provided by a 3D-printed block of simulated lunar regolith was measured, providing important inputs for next-stage designss.


Alt: A home of our own - on the MOON: Esa reveals plans for first human settlement outside Earth - and says inflatable base will be made by 3D printing robots

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