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Crafty_Dog
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« on: February 02, 2007, 07:13:40 PM »

Britain's Top Woman Paraglider Attacked by Eagles Mid-Flight
Friday, February 02, 2007

By Bernard Lagan


Britain’s top woman paraglider told today how she cheated death after two huge Australian eagles attacked her 8,200 feet above the Outback.

Nicky Moss, 38, said she thought “Why me?” when the eagles came screeching out of the sky and began shredding the wing of her paraglider over New South Wales this week.  She spun out of control and into a terrifying freefall for 1600 feet when one of the eagles became entangled in the lines suspending her beneath the glider’s wing, causing it to collapse and sending them diving toward earth before it managed to free it itself.

The wedge-tailed eagles are Australia’s largest bird of prey and are among the world’s biggest eagles. They swoop upon sheep and have wing spans of more than 7 1/2 feet.

Ms Moss, who was training with the British team for the World Paragliding Championships, to be held in Australia, said the first she knew of the eagles was when she heard a screeching sound from behind. Until then she had been soaring on air currents above the border area of New South Wales and Queensland.

“I looked around and couldn’t see anything, and then the next moment the top surface of my wing deformed as an eagle flew straight into the top of me. It quite possibly ripped the canopy and then wheeled around and continued to have other goes for quite a long period of time,” Ms Moss said.

“Another eagle actually came in and joined it. It was a pair of them. I was getting bombarded by wedge-tailed eagles. They tore my glider. There were quite big rips in it from their talons. At one point one of them dived at me from behind and actually hit me on the back of the head and flew through the lines of my glider and got all tangled up.  It collapsed the glider completely. So we were plummeting for 500 meters (1600 feet), probably something like that, before the eagle got himself out,” she said.

Ms Moss said that she considered deploying her emergency parachute but decided that the eagles might also attack and damage that, leaving her with no back-up.  She regained control of her paraglider after the eagle escaped from her control lines. But the birds continued to attack her.

“I screamed at the eagles quite a bit. I just had to carry on flying. I got out of the skies as quickly as I could by doing some maneuvers, and about 300 feet from the ground the eagles left me alone. I landed quite easily and safely in a paddock.”

Her dramatic brush with the eagles was seen from the ground by other competitors.
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2007, 09:08:56 AM »

NY Times

2007
MOIESE, Mont. — An effort to have two Indian tribes assist government officials in operating a federal wildlife refuge that is surrounded by their reservation has collapsed amid accusations of racism, harassment, intimidation and poor performance. But top federal officials say they are determined to resurrect it.

The plan for the tribes and the government to jointly run the National Bison Range in western Montana, just north of Missoula, had long been viewed as unworkable by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Interior branch that manages wildlife refuges.

But top Interior Department officials say that despite the objections, they are committed to transferring some responsibility for the range from the wildlife service to a tribal government.

“There’s a shared sense of mission between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the tribes,” said Shane Wolf, a department spokesman.

Representative Denny Rehberg, Republican of Montana, asked the Government Accountability Office and the House Resources Committee in late January to investigate the disagreement and the problems plaguing the range. Among them is whether political appointees at the Interior Department pressured the wildlife service into the pact. The department’s inspector general and its Office of Equal Opportunity are also investigating.

The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 allows tribal involvement in the management of federal lands, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, which have strong cultural links to bison, wanted the authority to manage the refuge.

The Fish and Wildlife Service opposed ceding control over the bison range, and the Interior Department and tribal officials decided to split the mission. The federal government maintained management authority but hired members of the tribes to feed and care for the bison. Federal managers, who did not have authority over the tribal workers, had to ask a tribal manager to relay orders.

The project leader at the range, Steve Kallin of the wildlife service, said tribal employees failed to do their assigned tasks and that this led to the cancellation of the agreement.

For example, Mr. Kallin said, tribe members failed to feed the bison properly in preparation for their transfer to another refuge, at which point, he said, the wildlife service resumed responsibility for feeding.

Tribal employees also did not maintain fences, Mr. Kallin said, allowing bison to wander into pastures that were being rested from grazing.

Wildlife agency employees also said that relations grew strained and that tribal employees started to threaten them. They also said they felt excluded because tribal employees prayed together during work hours. The wildlife agency hired a retired special agent-in-charge of the National Park Service for the Rocky Mountain region, Jim Reilly, to look into the situation.

Mr. Reilly’s findings, which were not made public but appeared on a Web site run by a group opposed to tribal management, supported many of the federal employees’ accusations. Mr. Reilly wrote that work conditions at the range “were as bad as he had ever seen in his career,” according to a letter from the service’s deputy regional director, Jay Slack, to the regional director that cited the investigation.

Tribal officials denied many of the accusations and said they were surprised by the list of complaints. Cancellation of the agreement “came completely out of the blue,” said the chairman of the tribal confederation, James Steele Jr. “We didn’t know until the day that they did it.”

While he was aware of some problems, Mr. Steele said, he thought they were being dealt with.

A lawyer for the tribe, Brian Upton, said tribal officials did not allow Mr. Reilly to interview members who worked at the range “because they never told us why they were investigating us.”

“We do not have any corroborating details for any of the complaints,” Mr. Upton said.

Tribal officials said that the Fish and Wildlife Service never liked the arrangement because it meant that the agency had to cede some control over the range, so the agency always wanted it to fail.

“It was a decision looking for an excuse,” said Clayton Matt, head of the tribal confederation’s natural resources department.

“We work with almost every federal agency you can think of and we have a great relationship with all of them,” he said. State and federal officials have also publicly praised the tribe’s management of natural resources, including the grizzly bears and other wildlife on the reservation.

Regarding praying at work, the tribe’s bison range coordinator, Sheila Matt (no relation to Mr. Matt) said, “When we rode through the bison, I asked the volunteers to pray for our safety and the safety of the bison.”

Critics say the decision to allow tribal management was a political one made by Interior Department appointees who favor reducing the federal role in management of parks and other properties. Such an agreement, they say, leaves no one accountable because authority for the workers lies with a tribe, which is a sovereign nation.

“The evidence of incompetency is overwhelming,” said Susan Reneau, a member of the Blue Goose Alliance, which advocates for wildlife refuges. “They did not perform their duties; they did not do their work. Yet they are not accountable.”

The federal government took control of much of the reservation land from some tribes around the turn of the century and allocated each tribal member 160 acres. The rest was open to settlement, and white settlers moved in. As a result, 30 percent of the reservation is owned by people who are not tribal members and there is longstanding enmity between the tribe and some nontribal residents.

“There’s a deep-rooted fear of tribal control,” a tribal spokesman, Rob McDonald, said.

But Mr. Kallin said he saw the matter from the opposite perspective.

“At what point,” he said, “does the Fish and Wildlife Service retain the ability to manage, according to Congressional mandate?”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2007, 06:09:57 PM »

It is not my intention that this thread be a series of posts about misadventures with nature, but, , , , well , , , here's another one:


Cheetahs Maul Woman to Death at Zoo in Belgium

Tuesday , February 13, 2007

BRUSSELS, Belgium —

An animal lover was mauled to death by cheetahs after entering their cage at a zoo in northern Belgium, authorities and zoo officials said Monday.  Karen Aerts, 37, of Antwerp, was found dead in the cage, Olmense Zoo spokesman Jan Libot said. Police said they ruled out any foul play.

Authorities believe Aerts, a regular visitor to the zoo, hid in the park late Sunday until it closed and managed to find the keys to the cheetah cage.
"Karen loved animals. Unfortunately the cheetahs betrayed her trust,"  rolleyes cheesy Libot said.
One of the cats that killed Aerts was named Bongo, whom the woman had adopted under a special program. She paid for Bongo's food, Libot said.  Animal rights group GAIA called for the immediate closure of the zoo, located 55 miles northeast of Brussels, saying it was unsafe for both visitors and the cats.  rolleyes cheesy

Rudy Demotte, the Belgian minister responsible for animal welfare, sent a team to investigate.
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2007, 08:56:02 PM »

Scientists Find Fossilized Rainforest in Coal Mine

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jeanna Bryner



Scientists exploring a mine have uncovered a natural Sistine chapel showing not religious paintings, but incredibly well-preserved images of sprawling tree trunks and fallen leaves that once breathed life into an ancient rainforest.

Replete with a diverse mix of extinct plants, the 300-million-year-old fossilized forest is revealing clues about the ecology of Earth’s first rainforests.

The discovery and details of the forest are published in the May issue of the journal Geology.

“We’re looking at one instance in time over a large area. It’s literally a snapshot in time of a multiple square mile area,” said study team member Scott Elrick of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS).

Forest find

Over millions of years as sediments and plant material pile up, layer upon layer, the resulting bands become time indicators with the newest, youngest layer on the top and the oldest layer at the bottom.

Typically geologists peel away a vertical slice of rocky material to look at material, including fossils, over a period of time. A coal mine offers a unique view of the past. Instead of a time sequence, illuminated in the layer upon layer of sediments, the roof of an underground mine reveals a large area within one of those sediment layers, or time periods.

Miners in Illinois are used to seeing a few plant fossils strewn along a mine’s ceiling, but as they burrowed farther into this one, the sheer density and area covered by such fossils struck them as phenomenal, Elrick said.

That’s when they called paleobotanist Howard Falcon-Lang from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and William DiMichele, a curator of fossil plants at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

"It was an amazing experience. We drove down the mine in an armored vehicle, until we were a hundred meters below the surface,” Falcon-Lang said.

“The fossil forest was rooted on top of the coal seam, so where the coal had been mined away the fossilized forest was visible in the ceiling of the mine."

Forest snapshot

Here’s what the miners and other scientists saw underground: Relatively narrow passageways wind through the “cave,” marked off with stout 100-foot-wide pillars to ensure the roof doesn’t collapse.

“It’s like in some bizarre Roman temple with tons of Corinthian pillars that are 100 feet across and only 6 feet tall,” Elrick told LiveScience. “As you’re walking down these passageways you see these pillars of coal on either side of you and above you — imagine an artist’s canvas painted a flat grey and that is sort of what the grey shale above the coal looks like."

The largest ever found, the fossil forest covers an area of about 40 square miles, or nearly the size of San Francisco. This ancient assemblage of flora is thought to be one of the first rainforests on Earth, emerging during the Upper Carboniferous, or Pennsylvanian, time period that extended from about 310 million to 290 million years ago.

A reconstruction of the ancient forest showed that like today’s rainforests, it had a layered structure with a mix of plants now extinct: Abundant club mosses stood more than 130 feet high, towering over a sub-canopy of tree ferns and an assortment of shrubs and tree-sized horsetails that looked like giant asparagus.

Flash freeze

The scientists think a major earthquake about 300 million years ago caused the region to drop below sea level where it was buried in mud. They estimate that within a period of months the forest was buried, preserving it “forever.”

“Some of these tree stumps have been covered, geologically speaking, in a flash,” Elrick said.

Because the spatial layout of the forest has been maintained, the scientists can learn about entire plant communities, not just individual plants.

"This spectacular discovery allows us to track how the species make-up of the forest changed across the landscape, and how that species make-up is affected by subtle differences in the local environment," Falcon-Lang said.

 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2007, 11:13:58 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

Absolutely amazing!
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 08:28:47 AM »

NY Times

Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wildcat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats.

The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication (Science)

The rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey. Seeing that she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.

At least five females of the wildcat subspecies known as Felis silvestris lybica accomplished this delicate transition from forest to village. And from these five matriarchs all the world’s 600 million house cats are descended.

A scientific basis for this scenario has been established by Carlos A. Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues. He spent more than six years collecting species of wildcat in places as far apart as Scotland, Israel, Namibia and Mongolia. He then analyzed the DNA of the wildcats and of many house cats and fancy cats.

Five subspecies of wildcat are distributed across the Old World. They are known as the European wildcat, the Near Eastern wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat and the Chinese desert cat. Their patterns of DNA fall into five clusters. The DNA of all house cats and fancy cats falls within the Near Eastern wildcat cluster, making clear that this subspecies is their ancestor, Dr. Driscoll and his colleagues said in a report published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science.

The wildcat DNA closest to that of house cats came from 15 individuals collected in the deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the researchers say. The house cats in the study fell into five lineages, based on analysis of their mitochondrial DNA, a type that is passed down through the female line. Since the oldest archaeological site with a cat burial is about 9,500 years old, the geneticists suggest that the founders of the five lineages lived around this time and were the first cats to be domesticated.

Wheat, rye and barley had been domesticated in the Near East by 10,000 years ago, so it seems likely that the granaries of early Neolithic villages harbored mice and rats, and that the settlers welcomed the cats’ help in controlling them.

Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants. “The cats were adapting themselves to a new environment, so the push for domestication came from the cat side, not the human side,” Dr. Driscoll said.

Cats are “indicators of human cultural adolescence,” he remarked, since they entered human experience as people were making the difficult transition from hunting and gathering, their way of life for millions of years, to settled communities.

Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal. But three years ago a group of French archaeologists led by Jean-Denis Vigne discovered the remains of an 8-month-old cat buried with its human owner at a Neolithic site in Cyprus. The Mediterranean island was settled by farmers from Turkey who brought their domesticated animals with them, presumably including cats, because there is no evidence of native wildcats in Cyprus.

The date of the burial far precedes Egyptian civilization. Together with the new genetic evidence, it places the domestication of the cat in a different context, the beginnings of agriculture in the Near East, and probably in the villages of the Fertile Crescent, the belt of land that stretches up through the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and down through what is now Iraq.

Dr. Stephen O’Brien, an expert on the genetics of the cat family and a co-author of the Science report, described the domestication of the cat as “the beginning of one of the major experiments in biological history” because the number of house cats in the world now exceeds half a billion while most of the 36 other species of cat, and many wildcats, are now threatened with extinction.

So a valuable outcome of the new study is the discovery of genetic markers in the DNA that distinguish native wildcats from the house cats and feral domestic cats with which they often interbreed. In Britain and other countries, true wildcats may be highly protected by law.

David Macdonald of Oxford University, a co-author of the report, has spent 10 years trying to preserve the Scottish wildcat, of which only 400 or so remain. “We can use some of the genetic markers to talk to conservation agencies like the Scottish Natural Heritage,” he said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2007, 08:46:52 PM »

The June 25th entry on David Gordon's blog has an awesome clip of a tiger ambushing an elephant with human riders.

http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2007, 09:04:53 AM »

Lions and human friends:

http://clipaday.com/videos/lion-reunited-with-humans-after-years

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=452820&in_page_id=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y90H77aPt0
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2007, 05:55:17 AM »

If you have ever observed ants marching in and out of a nest, you might have been reminded of a highway buzzing with traffic. To Iain D. Couzin, such a comparison is a cruel insult — to the ants.

Christian Ziegler/Agentur Focus
Army ants in Panama.
Americans spend a 3.7 billion hours a year in congested traffic. But you will never see ants stuck in gridlock.

Army ants, which Dr. Couzin has spent much time observing in Panama, are particularly good at moving in swarms. If they have to travel over a depression in the ground, they erect bridges so that they can proceed as quickly as possible.

“They build the bridges with their living bodies,” said Dr. Couzin, a mathematical biologist at Princeton University and the University of Oxford. “They build them up if they’re required, and they dissolve if they’re not being used.”

The reason may be that the ants have had a lot more time to adapt to living in big groups. “We haven’t evolved in the societies we currently live in,” Dr. Couzin said.

By studying army ants — as well as birds, fish, locusts and other swarming animals — Dr. Couzin and his colleagues are starting to discover simple rules that allow swarms to work so well. Those rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move like a single organism.

Deciphering those rules is a big challenge, however, because the behavior of swarms emerges unpredictably from the actions of thousands or millions of individuals.

“No matter how much you look at an individual army ant,” Dr. Couzin said, “you will never get a sense that when you put 1.5 million of them together, they form these bridges and columns. You just cannot know that.”

To get a sense of swarms, Dr. Couzin builds computer models of virtual swarms. Each model contains thousands of individual agents, which he can program to follow a few simple rules. To decide what those rules ought to be, he and his colleagues head out to jungles, deserts or oceans to observe animals in action.

Daniel Grunbaum, a mathematical biologist at the University of Washington, said his field was suddenly making leaps forward, as math and observation of nature were joined in the work of Dr. Couzin and others. “In the next 10 years there’s going to be a lot of progress.”

He said Dr. Couzin has been important in fusing the different kinds of science required to understand animal group behavior. “He’s been a real leader in bringing a lot of ideas together,” Dr. Grunbaum said. “He has a larger vision. If it works, that’ll be a big advance.”

In the case of army ants, Dr. Couzin was intrigued by their highways. Army ants returning to their nest with food travel in a dense column. This incoming lane is flanked by two lanes of outgoing traffic. A three-lane highway of army ants can stretch for as far as 150 yards from the ant nest, comprising hundreds of thousands of insects.

What Dr. Couzin wanted to know was why army ants do not move to and from their colony in a mad, disorganized scramble. To find out, he built a computer model based on some basic ant biology. Each simulated ant laid down a chemical marker that attracted other ants while the marker was still fresh. Each ant could also sweep the air with its antennas; if it made contact with another ant, it turned away and slowed down to avoid a collision.

Dr. Couzin analyzed how the ants behaved when he tweaked their behavior. If the ants turned away too quickly from oncoming insects, they lost the scent of their trail. If they did not turn fast enough, they ground to a halt and forced ants behind them to slow down. Dr. Couzin found that a narrow range of behavior allowed ants to move as a group as quickly as possible.

It turned out that these optimal ants also spontaneously formed highways. If the ants going in one direction happened to become dense, their chemical trails attracted more ants headed the same way. This feedback caused the ants to form a single packed column. The ants going the other direction turned away from the oncoming traffic and formed flanking lanes.

To test this model, Dr. Couzin and Nigel Franks, an ant expert at the University of Bristol in England, filmed a trail of army ants in Panama. Back in England, they went through the film frame by frame, analyzing the movements of 226 ants. “Everything in the ant world is happening at such a high tempo it was very difficult to see,” Dr. Couzin said.
===================

Page 2 of 3)



Eventually they found that the real ants were moving in the way that Dr. Couzin had predicted would allow the entire swarm to go as fast as possible. They also found that the ants behaved differently if they were leaving the nest or heading back. When two ants encountered each other, the outgoing ant turned away further than the incoming one. As a result, the ants headed to the nest end up clustered in a central lane, while the outgoing ants form two outer lanes. Dr. Couzin has been extending his model for ants to other animals that move in giant crowds, like fish and birds. And instead of tracking individual animals himself, he has developed programs to let computers do the work.

The more Dr. Couzin studies swarm behavior, the more patterns he finds common to many different species. He is reminded of the laws of physics that govern liquids. “You look at liquid metal and at water, and you can see they’re both liquids,” he said. “They have fundamental characteristics in common. That’s what I was finding with the animal groups — there were fundamental states they could exist in.”

Just as liquid water can suddenly begin to boil, animal swarms can also change abruptly thanks to some simple rules.

Dr. Couzin has discovered some of those rules in the ways that locusts begin to form their devastating swarms. The insects typically crawl around on their own, but sometimes young locusts come together in huge bands that march across the land, devouring everything in their path. After developing wings, they rise into the air as giant clouds made of millions of insects.

“Locusts are known to be around all the time,” Dr. Couzin said. “Why does the situation suddenly get out of control, and these locusts swarm together and devastate crops?”

Dr. Couzin traveled to remote areas of Mauritania in Africa to study the behavior of locust swarms. Back at Oxford, he and his colleagues built a circular track on which locusts could walk. “We could track the motion of all these individuals five times a second for eight hours a day,” he said.

The scientists found that when the density of locusts rose beyond a threshold, the insects suddenly began to move together. Each locust always tried to align its own movements with any neighbor. When the locusts were widely spaced, however, this rule did not have much effect on them. Only when they had enough neighbors did they spontaneously form huge bands.

“We showed that you don’t need to know lots of information about individuals to predict how the group will behave,” Dr. Couzin said of the locust findings, which were published June 2006 in Science.

Understanding how animals swarm and why they do are two separate questions, however.

In some species, animals may swarm so that the entire group enjoys an evolutionary benefit. All the army ants in a colony, for example, belong to the same family. So if individuals cooperate, their shared genes associated with swarming will become more common.

But in the deserts of Utah, Dr. Couzin and his colleagues discovered that giant swarms may actually be made up of a lot of selfish individuals.

Mormon crickets will sometimes gather by the millions and crawl in bands stretching more than five miles long. Dr. Couzin and his colleagues ran experiments to find out what caused them to form bands. They found that the forces behind cricket swarms are very different from the ones that bring locusts together. When Mormon crickets cannot find enough salt and protein, they become cannibals.

“Each cricket itself is a perfectly balanced source of nutrition,” Dr. Couzin said. “So the crickets, every 17 seconds or so, try to attack other individuals. If you don’t move, you’re likely to be eaten.”

This collective movement causes the crickets to form vast swarms. “All these crickets are on a forced march,” Dr. Couzin said. “They’re trying to attack the crickets who are ahead, and they’re trying to avoid being eaten from behind.”

Swarms, regardless of the forces that bring them together, have a remarkable ability to act like a collective mind. A swarm navigates as a unit, making decisions about where to go and how to escape predators together.

“There’s a swarm intelligence,” Dr. Couzin said. “You can see how people thought there was some sort of telekinesis involved.”

===========

What makes this collective decision-making all the more puzzling is that each individual can behave only based on its own experience. If a shark lunges into a school of fish, only some of them will see it coming. If a flock of birds is migrating, only a few experienced individuals may know the route.

Modeling Ant Behavior Dr. Couzin and his colleagues have built a model of the flow of information through swarms. Each individual has to balance two instincts: to stay with the group and to move in a desired direction. The scientists found that just a few leaders can guide a swarm effectively. They do not even need to send any special signals to the animals around them. They create a bias in the swarm’s movement that steers it in a particular direction.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right information, though,” Dr. Couzin pointed out.

Two leaders may try to pull a swarm in opposite directions, and yet the swarm holds together. In Dr. Couzin’s model, the swarm was able to decide which leaders to follow.

“As we increased the difference of opinion between the informed individuals, the group would spontaneously come to a consensus and move in the direction chosen by the majority,” Dr. Couzin said. “They can make these decisions without mathematics, without even recognizing each other or knowing that a decision has been made.”

Dr. Couzin and his colleagues have been finding support for this model in real groups of animals. They have even found support in studies on mediocre swarmers — humans.

To study humans, Dr. Couzin teamed up with researchers at the University of Leeds. They recruited eight people at a time to play a game. Players stood in the middle of a circle, and along the edge of the circle were 16 cards, each labeled with a number. The scientists handed each person a slip of paper and instructed the players to follow the instructions printed on it while not saying anything to the others. Those rules correspond to the ones in Dr. Couzin’s models. And just as in his models, each person had no idea what the others had been instructed to do.

In one version of the experiment, each person was instructed simply to stay with the group. As Dr. Couzin’s model predicted, they tended to circle around in a doughnut-shaped flock. In another version, one person was instructed to head for a particular card at the edge of the circle without leaving the group. The players quickly formed little swarms with their leader at the head, moving together to the target.

The scientists then sowed discord by telling two or more people to move to opposite sides of the circle. The other people had to try to stay with the group even as leaders tried to pull it apart.

As Dr. Couzin’s model predicted, the human swarm made a quick, unconscious decision about which way to go. People tended to follow the largest group of leaders, even if it contained only one additional person.

Dr. Couzin and his colleagues describe the results of these experiments in a paper to be published in the journal Animal Behavior.

Dr. Couzin is carrying the lessons he has learned from animals to other kinds of swarms. He is helping Dr. Naomi Leonard, a Princeton engineer, to program swarming into robots.

“These things are beginning to move around and interact in ways we see in nature,” he said. Ultimately, flocks of robots might do a better job of collecting information in dangerous places. “If you knock out some individual, the algorithm still works. The group still moves normally.” The rules of the swarm may also apply to the cells inside our bodies. Dr. Couzin is working with cancer biologists to discover the rules by which cancer cells work together to build tumors or migrate through tissues. Even brain cells may follow the same rules for collective behavior seen in locusts or fish.

“One of the really fun things that we’re doing now is understanding how the type of feedbacks in these groups is like the ones in the brain that allows humans to make decisions,” Dr. Couzin said. Those decisions are not just about what to order for lunch, but about basic perception — making sense, for example, of the flood of signals coming from the eyes. “How does your brain take this information and come to a collective decision about what you’re seeing?” Dr. Couzin said. The answer, he suspects, may lie in our inner swarm.

NY Times


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prentice crawford
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2010, 06:58:59 PM »

Woof,
 What else is still out there?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/08/species-of-titi-monkey-found-in-colombia-is-new-to-science-and-in-danger-of-extinction.html

                                P.C.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2011, 11:12:22 PM »

Photos from National Geographic. The ecosystems are alive and well!
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/09/photo-of-the-day-2.php

Waterfall in Iceland:
« Last Edit: September 29, 2011, 11:18:05 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2011, 10:23:46 AM »

We regularly see dolphins at the beach here in the South Bay of Los Angeles.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 11:56:13 AM »

Circling a 21' boat 25 miles off Wrightsville Beach, NC:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f9Pkf75yX0
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2011, 06:25:20 PM »



http://www.parahawkusa.com/About_Harris_Hawks.html
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2012, 10:50:07 AM »

One has to stand right up next to it to appreciate how large and massive this tree is.  I remember drving through central Fla. and stopping to go walk up the park to the tree:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senator_(tree)
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2012, 09:16:05 PM »

Marc:

This is my review of an interesting new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/arts/design/creatures-of-light-at-american-museum-of-natural-history.html?_r=1&hp

Ed
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« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2012, 11:42:13 AM »

The world is fast becoming a boring place:

Days after deaths, another crowd attempts Everest
May 25, 4:41 AM (ET)

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
 
(AP) In this Tuesday, May 6, 2003 file photo, Mount Everest, at 8,850-meter (29,035-foot), the...

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Scores of climbers were headed for the summit of Mount Everest on Friday in what is expected to another busy weekend on the top of the world.

Last weekend, four climbers died on their way down from the summit amid a traffic jam of more than 200 people scrambling to conquer the world's highest peak as the weather worsened. A similar crowd is expected this weekend, but there have been no reports of climbers in trouble and the weather is good.

Gyanendra Shrestha, an official with Nepal's Tourism Ministry, said he had reports that 82 climbers reached the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit on Friday morning.

Shrestha, who is at the base camp, said 120 climbers started the last phase of the climb on Thursday night but not all of them reached the summit. He said it was normal for some of the climbers to quit at the last treacherous part of the climb for various reasons.

There were still more climbers expected to try to reach the summit on Saturday - probably the last day of this climbing season.

"This is the last chance for climbers to attempt to reach the summit. If they can't, then there is not going to be another opportunity this season," another official Mohan Krishna Sapkota said.

Several climbers began their trek from the last camp at the South Col, located at 8,000 meters (26,240 feet), on Thursday night and climbed all night, reaching the summit in the morning.

The deaths last weekend raised concerns about overcrowding above the highest trail on the mountain. The area above the South Col is nicknamed the "death zone" because of the steep, icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.

Officials said that last weekend, climbers were heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m., even though 11 a.m. is the latest start time recommended. That meant climbers were staying too long at high altitudes and exhausting their oxygen supplies because they didn't anticipate having to wait.

More than 3,000 people have climbed Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to do so in 1953. Some 225 climbers have died attempting it.

The deadliest day was May 10, 1996, when eight people were killed. The main reason was said to be that climbers who started their ascent late in the day were caught in a snowstorm in the afternoon and lost their way.

The climbing season normally runs from late March to the first week in June, but this year the season's first clear conditions were only last weekend.



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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2012, 01:41:54 PM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHQ3JnZgvsU
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« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2012, 10:06:33 AM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lrKXCqnBSI
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« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2012, 03:34:40 AM »

Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf
By MARY ELLEN HANNIBAL
Published: September 28, 2012
NYT
 .

THIS month, a group of environmental nonprofits said they would challenge the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. Since there are only about 328 wolves in a state with a historic blood thirst for the hides of these top predators, the nonprofits are probably right that lacking protection, Wyoming wolves are toast.

Many Americans, even as they view the extermination of a species as morally anathema, struggle to grasp the tangible effects of the loss of wolves. It turns out that, far from being freeloaders on the top of the food chain, wolves have a powerful effect on the well-being of the ecosystems around them — from the survival of trees and riverbank vegetation to, perhaps surprisingly, the health of the populations of their prey.

An example of this can be found in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, where wolves were virtually wiped out in the 1920s and reintroduced in the ’90s. Since the wolves have come back, scientists have noted an unexpected improvement in many of the park’s degraded stream areas.

Stands of aspen and other native vegetation, once decimated by overgrazing, are now growing up along the banks. This may have something to do with changing fire patterns, but it is also probably because elk and other browsing animals behave differently when wolves are around. Instead of eating greenery down to the soil, they take a bite or two, look up to check for threats, and keep moving. The greenery can grow tall enough to reproduce.

Beavers, despite being on the wolf’s menu, also benefit when their predators are around. The healthy vegetation encouraged by the presence of wolves provides food and shelter to beavers. Beavers in turn go on to create dams that help keep rivers clean and lessen the effects of drought. Beaver activity also spreads a welcome mat for thronging biodiversity. Bugs, amphibians, fish, birds and small mammals find the water around dams to be an ideal habitat.

So the beavers keep the rivers from drying up while, at the same time, healthy vegetation keeps the rivers from flooding, and all this biological interaction helps maintain rich soil that better sequesters carbon — that stuff we want to get out of the atmosphere and back into the ground. In other words, by helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem, wolves are connected to climate change: without them, these landscapes would be more vulnerable to the effects of those big weather events we will increasingly experience as the planet warms.

Scientists call this sequence of impacts down the food chain a “trophic cascade.” The wolf is connected to the elk is connected to the aspen is connected to the beaver. Keeping these connections going ensures healthy, functioning ecosystems, which in turn support human life.

Another example is the effect of sea otters on kelp, which provides food and shelter for a host of species. Like the aspen for the elk, kelp is a favorite food of sea urchins. By hunting sea urchins, otters protect the vitality of the kelp and actually boost overall biodiversity. Without them, the ecosystem tends to collapse; the coastal reefs become barren, and soon not much lives there.

Unfortunately, sea otters are in the cross hairs of a conflict equivalent to the “wolf wars.” Some communities in southeast Alaska want to allow the hunting of sea otters in order to decrease their numbers and protect fisheries. But the rationale that eliminating the predator increases the prey is shortsighted and ignores larger food-web dynamics. A degraded ecosystem will be far less productive over all.

Having fewer fish wouldn’t just hurt fishermen: it would also endanger the other end of the trophic scale — the phytoplankton that turn sunshine into plant material, and as every student of photosynthesis knows, create oxygen and sequester carbon. In lakes, predator fish keep the smaller fish from eating all the phytoplankton, thus sustaining the lake’s rate of carbon uptake.

Around the planet, large predators are becoming extinct at faster rates than other species. And losing top predators has an outsize effect on the rate of loss of many other species below them on the food chain as well as on the plant life that is so important to the balance of our ecosystems.

So what can be done? For one thing, we have begun to realize that parks like Yellowstone are not the most effective means of conservation. Putting a boundary around an expanse of wilderness is an intuitive idea not borne out by the science. Many top predators must travel enormous distances to find mates and keep populations from becoming inbred. No national park is big enough for wolves, for example. Instead, conservation must be done on a continental scale. We can still erect our human boundaries — around cities and towns, mines and oil fields — but in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem, we need to build in connections so that top predators can move from one wild place to another.

Many biologists have warned that we are approaching another mass extinction. The wolf is still endangered and should be protected in its own right. But we should also recognize that bringing all the planet’s threatened and endangered species back to healthy numbers — as well as mitigating the effects of climate change — means keeping top predators around.


Mary Ellen Hannibal is the author of “The Spine of the Continent.”
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« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2012, 10:19:38 AM »

Three clips that caught my attention

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_popout&v=794wEIbHlDc  Elk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWFtWzFbXCY&feature=related eagle vs. wolf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XafAdkZIYKA&feature=related eagle drops goat off cliff
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« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2012, 07:19:33 AM »

GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, Democratic Republic of Congo — In 30 years of fighting poachers, Paul Onyango had never seen anything like this. Twenty-two dead elephants, including several very young ones, clumped together on the open savanna, many killed by a single bullet to the top of the head.



The Price of Ivory.
 
This is the first installment in a series of articles that will explore how the surge in poaching of African elephants both feeds off and fuels instability on the continent.
 
A Poaching Frenzy, Africa’s Elephants Vanishing
 
Illegal Ivory Trade
 

There were no tracks leading away, no sign that the poachers had stalked their prey from the ground. The tusks had been hacked away, but none of the meat — and subsistence poachers almost always carve themselves a little meat for the long walk home.

Several days later, in early April, the Garamba National Park guards spotted a Ugandan military helicopter flying very low over the park, on an unauthorized flight, but they said it abruptly turned around after being detected. Park officials, scientists and the Congolese authorities now believe that the Ugandan military — one of the Pentagon’s closest partners in Africa — killed the 22 elephants from a helicopter and spirited away more than a million dollars’ worth of ivory.

“They were good shots, very good shots,” said Mr. Onyango, Garamba’s chief ranger. “They even shot the babies. Why? It was like they came here to destroy everything.”

Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.

Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory, it seems, is the latest conflict resource in Africa, dragged out of remote battle zones, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent.

Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say.

But it is not just outlaws cashing in. Members of some of the African armies that the American government trains and supports with millions of taxpayer dollars — like the Ugandan military, the Congolese Army and newly independent South Sudan’s military — have been implicated in poaching elephants and dealing in ivory.

Congolese soldiers are often arrested for it. South Sudanese forces frequently battle wildlife rangers. Interpol, the international police network, is now helping to investigate the mass elephant killings in the Garamba park, trying to match DNA samples from the animals’ skulls to a large shipment of tusks, marked “household goods,” recently seized at a Ugandan airport.

The vast majority of the illegal ivory — experts say as much as 70 percent — is flowing to China, and though the Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries, never before have so many of them been able to afford it. China’s economic boom has created a vast middle class, pushing the price of ivory to a stratospheric $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing.

High-ranking officers in the People’s Liberation Army have a fondness for ivory trinkets as gifts. Chinese online forums offer a thriving, and essentially unregulated, market for ivory chopsticks, bookmarks, rings, cups and combs, along with helpful tips on how to smuggle them (wrap the ivory in tinfoil, says one Web site, to throw off X-ray machines).

Last year, more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa, from Kenya to Nigeria, for smuggling ivory. And there is growing evidence that poaching increases in elephant-rich areas where Chinese construction workers are building roads.

“China is the epicenter of demand,” said Robert Hormats, a senior State Department official. “Without the demand from China, this would all but dry up.”

 Page one of four : see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/world/africa/africas-elephants-are-being-slaughtered-in-poaching-frenzy.html?_r=0
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2013, 12:01:45 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/embed/hC3VTgIPoGU?rel=0
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2013, 06:25:25 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/dragonflies-natures-deadly-drone-but-prettier.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130402
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2013, 04:45:33 PM »

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/whirlpool-latvian-river-swallows-everything-enters-172421171.htm
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« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2013, 03:33:53 PM »



http://www.wimp.com/babyhummingbird
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« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2013, 06:30:02 AM »



http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2253701/Invisible-animals-These-Incredible-images-animals-doing-disappearing-act-predators-near.html
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« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2013, 12:42:44 PM »

July 18, 2013
MOVIE REVIEW
Blackfish
Do Six-Ton Captives Dream of Freedom?

By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Unapologetically designed both to inform and affect, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s delicately lacerating documentary, “Blackfish,” uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant SeaWorld Entertainment.

Denied on-camera interviews with park executives, who have strenuously taken issue with the film’s contentions in a lengthy news release, Ms. Cowperthwaite tells the distressing story of Tilikum, a 12,000-pound bull orca implicated in the deaths of three people. Through the rueful voices of former trainers and whale experts, a narrative driven by disillusion and regret unfolds as the trainers point to a gap between SeaWorld’s public image and behind-the-scenes reality.

Seemingly supported by chilling video and the oral testimonies of two witnesses to Tilikum’s first attack in 1991, the trainers accuse SeaWorld of cover-ups and misinformation. Much of the footage is painful to watch: bleeding whales, flanks raked by the teeth of their fellow captives; a trainer crushed between two gigantic beasts with only his wet suit holding him together; another trainer dragged repeatedly to the bottom of a pool until he manages to escape. Providing context for this alarming behavior, researchers describe highly socialized, caring creatures used to living in thousands of miles of ocean and ill suited to theme parks where they may be subjected to repeated overnight confinements in dark concrete pens.

“If you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don’t you think you’d get a little psychotic?” Jane Velez-Mitchell, a CNN anchor, wonders in a clip that’s used in the film. Other signs of mental distress, like severe tooth and stomach problems caused by the whales gnawing on their enclosures, are described. But the film’s most harrowing moment occurs not while addressing Tilikum’s 2010 mutilation and killing of a senior trainer, Dawn Brancheau, at the park in Orlando, Fla., but in a face-to-face with a former whale hunter, the diver John Crowe. Tearfully recalling his traumatic capture of whale calves four decades ago in Puget Sound while their mothers howled pitifully (“We were only after the little ones”), Mr. Crowe seems haunted to this day by the unearthly sound of the animals’ apparent grieving.

Calmly and methodically countering SeaWorld’s contention that whales benefit from captivity — the Web site “Orcas in Captivity” places the current total at 45 — Ms. Cowperthwaite questions the advisability of exploiting mammals whose brains, the neuroscientist Lori Marino suggests, may be more complex than our own.

“When you look into their eyes, you know somebody is home,” one of the trainers says. Perhaps that’s why SeaWorld’s most well-known show was called “Believe.”

“Blackfish” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Gouged whales and mauled humans.

Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite; written by Ms. Cowperthwaite and Eli Despres; directors of photography, Jonathan Ingalls and Christopher Towey; edited by Mr. Despres; music by Jeff Beal; produced by Manuel V. Oteyza and Ms. Cowperthwaite; released by Magnolia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes.
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« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2013, 05:47:06 PM »

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377154/Eight-ton-orca-leaps-15ft-air-finally-capture-dolphin-hour-chase.html
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« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2013, 10:54:37 PM »

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/python-attack-snake-escapes-from-canadian-pet-store-and-kills-two-young-brothers-as-they-sleep-8747571.html

I heard of this horrible attack this morning. It has been bothering me all day. Many things just don't seem to add up.
1)the snake had to escape.
2) it had to find its way into the room with the boys.
3) it attacked something that it probably could not eat? Not typical behavior.
4) it did so not once but twice without waking the other boy or anyone else in the house

Something is off here I hope the police investigate this thoroughly.
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« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2013, 04:40:57 PM »

I too felt disturbed by that news story  cry

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130803-blackfish-orca-killer-whale-keiko-tilikum-sea-world/
On Sun, Aug 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM, Regina Keane <rkeane@atticusstone.com> wrote:

Costa Rico is closing its zoos:

http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/costa-rica-announces-plans-close-all-zoos-saying-animals-deserve-be-nature.html
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« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2013, 05:19:19 PM »

second post

What If elephants have souls?
By RICH LOWRY
NYPost
Posted: 11:06 PM, August 1, 2013

There’s a charming myth that the 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said, “The proper study of mankind is man, but when one regards the elephant, one wonders.”
One wonders particularly after reading an extraordinary essay by Caitrin Nicol in the journal The New Atlantis. She makes a powerful case for the moral status of elephants, a case that is especially poignant when the creatures are faced with the prospect of utter destruction. Only 500,000 or a little more still roam the Earth, and poachers slaughter tens of thousands a year.

Elephants aren’t just gentle giants, but complex and intelligent ones. They are intensely social, with bands of females staying together for life and assisting one another in giving birth and raising their young. They communicate vocally — including with sounds inaudible to humans — and seismically through the ground. They weep.
The phrase “an elephant never forgets” is such a cliché that we neglect its foundation in the creature’s truly astonishing memory. “This is attested to,” Nicol writes, “by outward indicators ranging from the practical — a matriarch’s recollection of a locale, critical to leading her family to food and water — to the passionate — grudges that are held against specific people or types of people for decades or even generations, or fierce affection for a long-lost friend.”

Nicol notes an essay by the philosopher of biology Hans Jonas discussing three uniquely human qualities, and sets out how elephants arguably share each one.

They make and use tools. Elephants clean their ears with clumps of grass. In Asia, when collared by bells, they can plug the bells with mud to stealthily steal bananas. In one recorded instance, when confronted with an electric fence, elephants followed the current around to the generator, destroyed it and made their escape.

They make images. Elephants will draw and, given the materials, paint. The drawings of an elephant named Siri in the Syracuse, NY, zoo were collected into a book in the 1980s, and Willem de Kooning praised them.

They commemorate the dead. When an elephant dies, other elephants bury it and stay with the body, mourning. The conservationist Cynthia Moss writes, “Even the bare, bleached old elephant bones will stop a group if they have not seen them before.”

The title of Nicol’s essay is “Do Elephants Have Souls?” We don’t have to answer that question to realize the special respect owed these fascinating, awe-inspiring, mysterious creatures. Cooping them up in zoos is wrong, and holding them in captivity to force them to perform for our amusement — in other words, a key part of the Ringling Bros. business model — is in the same moral category as bear baiting.

All of this is nothing, of course, compared with the savagery of the poachers. In an eloquent jeremiad in The Atlantic, Matthew Scully flays the vast, far-flung industry devoted to ivory that begins with fear and death. He quotes a National Geographic writer describing the scene in Cameroon from the air: “The scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene — you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together.”

Poachers will kill one elephant and then kill more when they come to mourn. They will cut out tusks before the creatures have even died. They will kill them with poisoned pumpkins or watermelons. Then, when their bloody work is done, the tusks are fed into the greedy maw of an underworld of criminals and sundry other lowlifes who sate the appetite for ivory in China and other parts of Asia.

Scully argues for devoting greater material and diplomatic resources to disrupting this trade. Nicol ends her essay with a plea for an enhanced sense of fellow-feeling: “Listen with your ears, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your soul for the message from these kin as improbable as life itself, different and yet the same. We are not alone.” Although on the current trajectory, we will be soon enough.
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« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2013, 07:49:05 AM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJjcQBSPDaI
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« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2013, 06:36:28 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/embed/2CFckjfP-1E
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« Reply #34 on: September 18, 2013, 09:16:16 AM »

And I thought UFC or DB stick fighting was rough and tough.....

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/photographer-gored-during-toro-de-la-vega-in-spain-1379507498-slideshow/
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« Reply #35 on: September 20, 2013, 05:13:37 PM »

http://www.outsideonline.com/news-from-the-field/WATCH-What-Its-Like-to-Be-an-Eagle.html
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« Reply #36 on: October 05, 2013, 12:28:36 AM »

Not extinct just hiding. http://www.nbcnews.com/science/while-just-nosing-around-forest-they-found-extinct-pinocchio-lizard-8C11339811 
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« Reply #37 on: October 11, 2013, 11:02:34 AM »



1) Push the chin and kick the belly
2) Choke out at 04:30!!!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P8-FoiaBA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
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« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2013, 08:56:43 PM »

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=largest+elephant+on+record&qpvt=largest+elephant+on+record&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=96316E0E08568BC37CB7D1FCEB1067B2AA46F80E&selectedIndex=77
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« Reply #39 on: October 13, 2013, 10:59:58 AM »

http://www.rense.com/general96/shots.html
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« Reply #40 on: October 15, 2013, 11:33:40 PM »

Some surreal photos:

http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/nature/post/natgeos-photo-assignment-to-the-public-explore-our-changing-world/
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« Reply #41 on: November 15, 2013, 04:37:26 PM »



http://www.viralnova.com/spider-fields/
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« Reply #42 on: November 20, 2013, 03:02:54 PM »

Op-Ed Contributors
Beware Marauding Carp
By DAVID STRAYER and JOHN WALDMAN
Published: November 19, 2013 95 Comments

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EARLIER this month, researchers demonstrated that a Eurasian species of fish, the grass carp, had begun reproducing in Lake Erie. This may not sound like alarming news, but unless we take steps to prevent its spread, this animal is poised to disrupt the ecology of the Hudson River and New York’s other inland waters.
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Grass carp are like underwater lawn mowers. They reach nearly five feet in length and 100 pounds in weight and are so efficient at consuming vegetation that they have been stocked all over the world as “biocontrols” for problematic weeds. But as with so many misguided introductions, the grass carp will spread out of control. Now that they are in Lake Erie, it is just a matter of time before they swim east to the Hudson River along the Erie Canal.

In the Hudson River, aquatic vegetation helps underpin the food chain and provides essential habitat to fish and wildlife. About half of the river’s original aquatic vegetation was destroyed during the 19th and early 20th centuries by dredging and filling to improve the shipping channel, and the vegetation that remains faces serious threats from storms and the rising sea level. The establishment of a large population of grass carp, a fish that flourishes in large, turbid rivers like the Hudson, could further endanger this habitat and decimate the river’s already embattled native fishes.

More than just the Hudson is threatened. Similar problems could occur in other waters along the course of the Erie Canal, including the Finger Lakes and Oneida Lake, which also contain valuable beds of aquatic plants.

This has happened before. In 1986, Eurasian zebra mussels first appeared in the United States, in Lake Erie, having been transported inadvertently in the ballast water of commercial vessels. The zebra mussels spread quickly, and in 1991, they were discovered in the Hudson. Just one year later it was estimated that 550 billion zebra mussels inhabited the river. This eruption of zebra mussels disrupted the workings of the river’s ecosystem, depleting the phytoplankton at the base of the food chain by more than 75 percent and cutting populations of its fish by as much as 60 percent.

The grass carp is not the only new invader waiting to use the Erie Canal. Two other Asian carp species now swimming into the Great Lakes through the Chicago Canal are likely to use the Erie Canal as they move east to the Hudson, where their appetite for plankton will threaten the food supply of what remains of the once huge shad population in the river. In coming decades, many other potentially harmful species that have arrived through purposeful or accidental introduction are positioned to use the Erie Canal and cause problems for New York’s lakes and rivers.

Fortunately, there still is time to stop the grass carp from invading the inland waters of New York. One solution would be to recreate the natural barrier between Lake Erie and the Hudson River by building a barricade along the Erie Canal that would allow essential canal operations like recreational boat passage while impeding the movement of invaders.

Various types of such barriers have been proposed or installed on canals around the world. This has involved replacing traditional canal locks with hoist or rail systems, chemical or electric barriers, or bubble screens (which deploy a thick wall of air bubbles that impede the movement of mobile creatures). The barrier best suited to the Erie Canal should be determined by a study of alternatives that considers their costs, compatibility with canal operations and effectiveness against invasive species.

Now is the time to perform such a study. Too often, people consider canal barriers only in a crisis, when an invader is already in the process of moving through the canal. Such delayed crisis planning often leads to hurried and flawed designs, wasteful spending and ineffective control of invaders.

Led by groups like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and with the assistance of other conservation organizations and scientists, we need to develop and implement a plan that maximizes the benefits that the Erie Canal can provide to New York, while minimizing the risks from the spread of the grass carp and other harmful invaders. The zebra mussel has demonstrated how much ecological damage one species can cause, and the growing international record shows that invasive species are rarely eradicated once established.

We must do this now, before the carp take this decision out of our hands.

David Strayer, a senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, is the author of “The Hudson Primer: Ecology of an Iconic River.” John Waldman, a professor of biology at Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of “Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations.”
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« Reply #43 on: November 22, 2013, 07:11:51 AM »

http://io9.com/theres-an-active-volcano-deep-beneath-the-antarctic-ic-1466644362
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« Reply #44 on: November 22, 2013, 05:11:50 PM »

second post

http://www.minds.com/blog/view/54942/3-men-steal-15-lions039-kill-by-casually-walking-up-to-them
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« Reply #45 on: November 27, 2013, 12:45:45 AM »

http://dcclothesline.com/2013/11/25/10-major-volcanoes-along-ring-fire-suddenly-roared-life/
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« Reply #46 on: December 16, 2013, 08:07:04 AM »

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523084/Buffalo-soldiers-Bull-saved-friends-EATEN-lions--sent-flying-air.html
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« Reply #47 on: February 03, 2014, 10:11:44 AM »

http://www.lovethesepics.com/2012/08/49-phenomenal-photo-captures-from-national-geographic-traveler-photography-contest/
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« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2014, 08:13:38 PM »

http://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/575/Photographer-Gets-Too-Close-To-A-Dangerous-Predator-Then-Something-Amazing-Happens
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« Reply #49 on: March 18, 2014, 11:04:26 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1bRRkByTXg&feature=share
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