Dolphin Plays With iPad — In The Name Of Science

People are still scrambling to get their hands on this year’s must-have gadget, the i Pad, but one lucky dolphin in Mexico is already a step ahead. Merlin, the 2-year-old bottlenose who resides at Dolphin Discovery’s swim facility in Puerto Aventuras, became the first of his kind to get face time – literally! – with Apple’s latest release.The dolphin has been learning to communicate and identify objects through visual cues on the iPad as part of a project led by dolphin research scientist Jack Kassewitz. Friendly and full of spirit, Merlin was the perfect pupil to test the device because “he’s fairly dominant … But he’s really playful. He likes to play,” says Kassewitz.

The Miami-based scientist, who’s studied language acquisition in dolphins for more than a decade, has worked with Merlin the past two years — ever since the dolphin planted himself in front of Kassewitz and his camera, vocalizing for more than 25 minutes. But until the iPad, Kassewitz was troubled that he could not understand what the dolphin was trying to say.

Now, by touching the screen with his rostrum (or beak), Merlin can get his point across. For one task, Merlin is charged with identifying the yellow duck within a set of pictures including a ball, flowerpot and hula-hoop. “He got proficient with that very quickly,” Kassewitz says.
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Newly Uncovered Dinosaur Had Longest Horns Of All

A group of US paleontologists said Friday it has unearthed a new species of dinosaurs standing some six feet tall and weighing up to 4.5 tonnes, with the longest horns of all.The 72-million-year-old herbivore, now named Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna, has two large horns above its eyes measuring up to an impressive four feet (1.22 meters) long — the largest of any other species, providing fresh insight into the history of western North America.

Scientists uncovered fossils belonging to both an adult and a juvenile of the rhino-sized tubby creature at the Cerro del Pueblo Formation in Coahuila, Mexico. It measured about 22 feet (6.7 meters) long as an adult, standing six to seven feet (1.8 to two meters) tall at the shoulder and hips.”We know very little about the dinosaurs of Mexico, and this find increases immeasurably our knowledge of the dinosaurs living in Mexico during the Late Cretaceous,” said the study’s lead author Mark Loewen, a paleontologist with the Utah Museum of Natural History.

His team is to release a book next week detailing the find, which took place during expeditions in 2002 and 2003 in the Coahuila desert. The study was funded by the National Geographic Society and the University of Utah.When dinosaurs lived in this corner of Mexico, it was a lush, humid estuary where ocean water mixed with fresh water from rivers, similar to the US Gulf Coast today.
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Great White Sharks Now One Of The Most Endangered Creatures On Earth

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They are known as one of the deadliest creatures on Earth. But according to a shocking new study, great white sharks are also one of the most endangered. Wildlife experts say there are now fewer than 3,500 great whites left in the oceans, making them rarer than tigers.Yesterday, marine biologists called for an end to mankind’s long battle with sharks and demanded urgent action to prevent them going extinct.Great white sharks have a deserved reputation as ruthless and efficient killers, who use ambush techniques to attack fish, dolphins and seals from below.
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Prefers Pet To Partner For Valentine’s Day…??

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Younger, less affluent more likely to choose non-human company on Feb. 14

Rather than spending Valentine’s Day with their partner, one-fifth of adults would prefer to be with their pet, according to a joint global poll by Reuters/Ipsos.The survey of 24,000 people in 23 countries found 21 percent of adults would rather spend February 14 with their pet than their spouse, although the French were least likely to choose a furry friend over a human, with only 10 percent taking that option.

But the survey found that age and income were more of a determining factor than nationality when it came to romance, with younger, less affluent people more likely to choose their pet as their Valentine’s Day companion.ohn Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos, said 25 percent of people aged under 35 opted for their pet over their partner compared to 18 percent of those aged 35-54 and 14 percent of people aged 55 plus.

Men and women were evenly split over the question.Those choosing pets over people were also more likely to be those who have a lower income (24 percent) compared to those who were middle or higher income earners (20 percent).
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Monarch Butterflies Reveal A Novel Way In Which Animals Sense Earth’s Magnetic Field

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Building on prior investigation into the biological mechanisms through which monarch butterflies are able to migrate up to 2,000 miles from eastern North America to a particular forest in Mexico each year, neurobiologists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have linked two related photoreceptor proteins found in butterflies to animal navigation using the Earth’s magnetic field.

The work by Steven Reppert, MD, professor and chair of neurobiology at UMMS; Robert Gegear, PhD, research assistant professor of neurobiology; Lauren Foley, BS; and Amy Casselman, PhD, was recently described in the journal Nature.

The research team used fruit flies engineered to lack their own Cryptochrome (Cry1) molecule, a UV/blue-light photoreceptor already known to be involved in the insects’ light-dependent magnetic sense. By inserting into those deficient flies butterfly Cry1, a homolog of the fly protein, or the related butterfly protein Cry2, the researchers found that either form can restore the flies’ magnetic sense in a light-dependent manner, illustrating a role for both Cry types in magnetoreception. “Because the butterfly Cry2 protein is closely related to the one in vertebrates, like that found in birds which use the Earth’s magnetic field to aid migration,” states Dr. Reppert, “the finding provides the first genetic evidence that a vertebrate-like Cry can function as a magnetoreceptor.”
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Bling Bling:Woman Wearing LIVE Gem-Encrusted Beetle As Brooch!!!

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U.S. customs officers stopped a woman on her way into the country because she was wearing a jewel-encrusted beetle as a brooch – and it was alive.The woman was entering America from Mexico when she was stopped at a border outpost in Brownsville, Texas.The live insect – which is studded with gemstones and gold – was fastened to her sweater by a gold chain and safety pin but was able to wander on her jumper.

She declared the live insect to officials and said she had bought it in Mexico as a brooch but it was immediately confiscated by pest control.Officials refused to allow her to keep the live jewellery because she did not have the correct documents.Because the woman had declared the insect correctly, she was not handed any fine or penalty.

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