Archive for: June, 2010

Distressed Ravens Show That Empathy Is For The Birds, Too

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Common Raven, Corvus corax, showing off at Bryce Canyon National Park, USA.
Image: United States National Park Service (Public Domain) [larger view]

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

Humans have long tried to distinguish themselves from other animals on the basis of characters that are perceived to be unique, such as tool design and use, planning for the future and the seemingly "human" capacity for empathy. But one by one, these "unique" characters are found to be shared with other animals. For example, early research shows that making and using tools is shared with our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. Since we have a shared evolutionary ancestry, this is not terribly surprising. But when a distantly related animal, such as the New Caledonian Crow, Corvus moneduloides, demonstrates that they also are very capable tool-makers and users [DOI: 10.1126/science.1073433], evolutionary biologists sat up and took note. As if that wasn't enough, once again, another feature of human "uniqueness" is being called into question because new research has documented what many bird watchers have known for decades; ravens apparently console their friends after an aggressive conflict with a flockmate.

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Mystery Bird: Cave Swallow, Petrochelidon fulva

Jun 30 2010 Published by under Birding, Education, Mystery Birds, Teaching

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[Mystery bird] A young-of-the-year Cave Swallow, Petrochelidon fulva, photographed at Chambers County, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 26 June 2010 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/500s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

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6 responses so far

David Kassan Paints a Live Model on his iPad

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This video is a time-lapse rendering of an Apple ipad fingerpainting demo that was streamed live from artist David Kassan's Brooklyn studio on Monday, 21 June 2010. The model sat for 3 hours as Mr Kassan painted and answered questions on how he uses the iPad and the Brushes applications.

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Tango y Fútbol

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If the Argentinian fútbol team plays as skillfully and as gracefully as this couple dances the Tango (and the implication is that they will), I think it's no contest: the Germans will lose on Saturday ... just sayin'.

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Mystery Bird: Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus

Jun 29 2010 Published by under Birding, Education, Mystery Birds, Teaching

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[Mystery bird] Newly hatched Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus, photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 26 June 2010 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/320s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

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3 responses so far

Of Venom and Silk

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Spider biologist Norman Platnick, from the American Museum of Natural History, has traveled the world cataloguing some of these creatures, many for the first time ever. World renowned for his work, he hopes to find as many as species as possible before some disappear.

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Ravel on the Vuvuzela

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Those of you who think Germans can't laugh have not lived in Germany. Die Zeit (The Time), a left-leaning German weekly newspaper that is highly respected for its quality journalism, has recorded a vuvuzela mini-concert. In this charming video, three brass players from the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, led by "ensemble abrassador," Helge von Niswandt, give a mock-solemn demonstration of the musical properties of the vuvuzela. They do their level best with the chorale theme from Brahms's First Symphony -- "the famed vuvuzela chorale" -- and a bit of Ravel's Boléro.

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6 responses so far

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Jun 29 2010 Published by under Harry Potter, Streaming videos, Your Inner Child

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Those of you who are Harry Potter fans will LOVE this! This is the first trailer from the penultimate installment of the Harry Potter films; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, which will hit theaters on November 19th, 2010 [it's being released in Belgium on 17 November, so guess where I'll go to watch it on opening night?]. And it looks like the entire film will be offered in IMAX 3D and in 3D, too! Yeow!! I am exciiited and I'll bet you are too! And here's the first trailer, hot off the presses, with only a few hundred views so far!

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5 responses so far

Mystery Bird: King Rail, Rallus elegans

Jun 28 2010 Published by under Birding, Education, Mystery Birds, Teaching

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[Mystery bird] King Rail, also known as the Marsh Hen or the Freshwater Marsh Hen, Rallus elegans, photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Anahuac, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 26 May 2010 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/400s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

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13 responses so far

Evolution in Action by AMNH

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This video tells the story of speciation in Central Africa's roiling, rapid Lower Congo River. This river is home to an extraordinary assortment of fish -- many truly bizarre. This new video by Science Bulletins, the American Museum of Natural History's current-science video program, features Museum scientists on a quest to understand why so many species have evolved here. Follow Curator of Ichthyology Melanie Stiassny and her team as they search the Lower Congo River's mysterious depths for an evolutionary driver.

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