April 16, 2009

Motherf*ing snakes on a plane

Posted in Animals, Movies, Travel at 9:26 am by deadlikeme

Snakes

Four escaped pythons grounded a Qantas plane.

The pythons escaped from the cargo hold of a Boeing 737-800 during a flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne.  The snakes couldn’t be found, so the plane was fumigated to kill the snakes.

Brisbane Times

March 18, 2009

T-Rex of the ocean

Posted in Animals, Biology, Dinosaurs, Evolution, Nature, Oceanography, Paleontology, Science tagged at 1:52 pm by deadlikeme

predatorx2

“Predator X” is a 50ft sea creature that hunted the seas 150 million years ago.

An international team of paleontologists have found the partial skull of this new species of pliosaurs on the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. According to the researchers it had a bite force of 33,000 pounds. This is more than 10x that of any animal living today (and at least 2x that of a T-Rex).

A 2-hour documentary on the expedition will be shown on the History Channel on March 29.

New York Times

Museum of Natural History Oslo

March 19, 2008

Waterbeds make cows udderly happy

Posted in Animals, Biology, Fun, Humor, Life, Nature at 2:43 pm by deadlikeme

cowinbed.jpgOhio farmer Bill Timmons installed waterbeds for his cows. It cost him nearly $40.000, but apparently it pays off.

Daily milk production has gone up more than 20% in only two weeks. Timmons’ explanation: “You take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Visit Fox News for more.

Interested in buying one of those beds for your cows? Just go to Advanced Comfort Technology, Inc.

December 18, 2007

Basic Math: Monkeys vs. College Students

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Biology, Evolution, Nature, Science at 10:33 am by deadlikeme

donkey.jpgTwo macaque monkeys were pitted against 14 college students from Duke University in a Math on the fly test.

Elizabeth Brannon and Jessica Cantlon just published their results in the journal PLoS Biology, that show that the two female monkeys Boxer and Feinstein aren’t too far behind college students when it comes to mental math.

The task was to mentally add two sets of dots that were flashed for only half a second (500 ms) on a computer screen. The monkeys and the college students were then asked to pick the correct answer from two choices on a different screen.

addition.jpg

Both, monkeys and students typically answered within 1 second. Watch a short video of the test here (Quicktime movie).

Even though the students did score better (95% vs. 75%) one can’t deny that the monkeys performance are significantly better than chance.

We humans start learning math in kindergarden, so it’s not surprising that we are better than monkeys, who where never taught math in school.

Language is very important in the evolution of math in humans. It not only allows us to do something as basic as counting, but also all the more advanced calculations necessary for today’s science and technology. Without language our mathematical skills would be similar to those of the monkeys.

PLos Biology Article

November 2, 2007

Super Mouse created in lab: Superhero or Supervillain?

Posted in Animals, Biology, Comics, Evolution, Genetics, Nature, Science, Science Fiction, Technology at 8:13 pm by deadlikeme

supermouse.jpgThese mice are super fast, super fit, super long living and super sexy. But they also seem to be super aggresive.

Richard Hanson and his team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland conducted a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene to study the biochemistry at play in metabolism. To their own surprise they created a breed of super mice.

They can run non-stop for five hours at a speed of 20 metres per minute. They are 10 times more active than ordinary mice. They do eat twice as much though, but without getting fat. They also live longer, have more sex and can breed well into old age. But one downside is, they are very aggressive.

The first super mouse was created four years ago by injecting a highly active form of a gene for an enzyme called Phosphonenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (PEPCK-C) into a mouse embryo. The results of the studies are puplished in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

By the way, the gene that got manipulated in the mice is also present in humans. Super athlets, super soldiers… super villains? Que sera sera, the future’s not ours to see.

Read more at The Independant

September 1, 2007

Gigantic spider web discovered

Posted in Animals, Biology, Mystery, Nature, Science at 3:13 pm by deadlikeme

spiderweb.jpg

An enormous spider web, twice the size of a football field, has been found in Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas.

No it’s not the work of Shelob, but rather the joined effort of millions of smaller spiders. The web covers 180m of trees, shrubs and hiking trail. Once fairy-tale white, the web has now turned brown, due to the many mosquitos caught in it.

It hasn’t been determined yet what kind of spiders are responsible for this, but Donna Garde, superintendant of the park, welcomes entomologists who want to take a look at it.

But this unusual attraction won’t last long, because with the arrival of autumn the spiders will start dying off.

BBC article

July 29, 2007

Oscar, the Grim Reap-purr

Posted in Animals, Biology, Life, Mystery, Nature, Science at 5:57 pm by deadlikeme

cat.jpg2-year old cat Oscar can predict the death of patients in a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island.

So far Oscar has foreshadowed the death of 25 patients, by curling up beside them a few hours prior to their death.

His track record not only got him a mention in the New England Journal of Medicine but also an own Wikipedia page.

USA Today article

P.S. dogs are known to be able to predict epileptic seizures and sniff out different kind of cancer. Can they also be trained to smell an upcoming death?

July 5, 2007

Are you smarter than an Orang-Utan?

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Biology, Education, Evolution, Fun, Humor, Life, Nature, Science at 8:24 am by deadlikeme

orangutan.jpgIt has recently been shown that Orang-Utans are capable of using water as a tool to solve a “nutty” problem.

Five Orang-Utans were confronted with a vertical, transparent tube with a peanut floating deep down inside, well out of reach. The primates filled their mouth with water from a drink dispenser and spat it into the tube, thus raising the water level. It took them an average of nine minutes to come up with this idea.

Natascha Mendes and colleagues at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany were inpspired by a more than 2000 year old story (by the greek poet Aesop) about a crow throwing stones into a pitcher to raise the water level until it was high enough for drinking.

How long would it have taken you to solve the problem? More than nine minutes? Come on, be honest!

Try this experiment on friends or relatives. Put a peanut in a tall glas and tell them to get it out, of course without tilting or even touching the glass.

The New Scientist article has a short video of this experiment.

The original article was published in Biology Letters.

June 12, 2007

Blame it on your racist dog

Posted in Animals, Biology, Culture, Life, News, Racism, Society at 8:46 am by deadlikeme

“My dog is racist. Not me,” claims a Belgian businessman who rejected a Nigerian job applicant.

The Nigerian arrived at the Belgian’s wrought-iron business and was immediately confronted by a barking dog. So the Belgian turned the Nigerian away before he could even enter the office.

The Belgian wrote on his labor office letter that he could not hire the man because of his color. He was afraid the dog would bite him. The labour office concluded that the Belgian was racist and has removed him from its list of potential employers.

Reuters

The “racist dog” idea has been used in a few TV shows, like Curb Your Enthusiasm and King of the Hill. But “racist dog” is more than a punch line. See for yourself and google it. There is a lot of discussion on the internet on wether dogs can actually be racist or not.

Contrary to popular believe dogs are not totally color-blind.

June 5, 2007

How to catch a leopard with your cell phone

Posted in Animals, Biology, Fun, Humor, India, Life, Nature, Technology at 8:26 am by deadlikeme

leopardphone.jpgForest guards in Ahmedabad (western India) use their cell phones to catch leopards that have wandered into human settlements.

Instead of using live bait to lure the leopards, the guards have downloaded the sounds of cows mooing, goats bleating and roosters crowing as ringtones onto their cell phones. Using speakers behind cages they play the ringtone continuously until a curious leopard appears and wanders into the cage.

Since its introduction a month ago this new trapping method has worked on five leopards. They have all been released back into the wild.

Reuters