Great Bustard Comeback Boosted By New Chicks

A bid to reintroduce the great bustard to the UK has scored another success with four wild chicks hatching in this country so far this year. It is the second year that the internationally endangered birds, which have been reared in captivity and released on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, over the past few years, have successfully bred.

The large species, whose males can stand over a metre tall (40 inches) and with a wingspan of up to 2.4m (7.75 ft) had disappeared from the UK by 1832 after being hunted to extinction. The reintroduced birds come from Russia, where eggs are rescued from destruction by farming, and are reared by keepers operating glove puppets, simulating the act of being fed by their mothers, before being flown to the UK at about six weeks old.
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Mathmos Blob And Flow Touch Sensitive Light Pets

Check out these Mathmos Blob and Flow Touch Sensitive Light Pets. The eyes of the creature light up each time you touch it. Wanna wake up your pet? Just fondle it and it will wake up. You can also make it wink, go a little crazy or put it back to sleep. But that’s not all…They come in blue-eyed Blob and feisty Flow models and are powered by USB or through an adapter. Kinda cute, but also creepy. Those in the UK can pick one up for £35. But really, don’t you have anything better to do?

(source)

Crufts Dog Show Judges On Alert For Competitors In Makeup

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Judges at Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, are on high alert this year for canine competitors whose looks have been enhanced with cosmetics, reports the (U.K.) Telegraph. We’re not talking blue eyeshadow or contouring blush, but the use of products such as hair removal creams and color dyes.

“Although competition rules do not specifically ban the use of cosmetics and other beauty treatments on dogs, they do forbid anything that alters an animal’s appearance during dog shows, to gain extra marks from judges, who award prizes for entries that best match the ‘ideal’ characteristics of each breed,” reports the Telegraph. Dog owners who show hairless Chinese crested dogs have been suspected of using “female depilatory creams” to rid their champion canines of excess hair. Owners of other breeds have been suspected of using lipstick, eyeliner and Clearasil acne cream.
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Chinese Dog Is Up to Two Butts a Day

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Not having opposable thumbs makes Treasure’s addiction a bit of a project. “I have to light one in the ashtray and let her stay beside to suck the smoke,” Treasure’s owner, Mrs. Li of Beijing, tells the U.K. Daily Mail. “She needs at least two cigarettes a day.” OK, two cigarettes doesn’t sound too bad. It’s better than two packs. But then, these are little cocker-spaniel lungs. Plus, “She eats all the butts, swallows down the tobacco and then spits out the rest.” Gross.

How Treasure actually picked up the nasty habit in the first place in unclear. Mrs. Li told the Daily Mail, “When people smoked she would chase them for the smell,” but that doesn’t address why Treasure’s owners started letting her steal puffs from the ashtray.
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So how exactly do you get a dog to quit smoking anyway? You can’t offer it Nicorette gum. You’re can’t shave its leg and slap a patch on it. We think Treasure’s got some cold turkey in her future.

(source)

How The Butterflies Got Their Spots

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How two butterfly species have evolved exactly the same striking wing colour and pattern has intrigued biologists since Darwin’s day. Now, scientists at Cambridge have found “hotspots” in the butterflies’ genes that they believe will explain one of the most extraordinary examples of mimicry in the natural world.Heliconius, or passion-vine butterflies, live in the Americas — from the southern United States to southern South America. Although they cannot interbreed, H. melpomene and H. erato have evolved to mimic one another perfectly.

These delicate butterflies have splashes of red and yellow on their black wings, signaling to birds that they contain toxins and are extremely unpalatable. They mimic one another’s colour and pattern to reinforce these warning signals.Scientists have studied these butterflies since the 1860s as a classic case of evolution in action, but only now is modern sequencing technology unlocking the underlying genetics.The Cambridge-led team of researchers from UK and US universities, which has been breeding the butterflies in Panama for the past decade, has been searching for the genes responsible for the butterflies’ wing patterns and the answer to the question of whether the same genes in two different species are responsible for the mimicry.
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Are High Speed Elephants Running Or Walking

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Most animals don’t think anything of breaking into a run: they switch effortlessly from walking to a high-speed bouncing run. But what about elephants? Their sheer size makes it impossible for them to bounce up in the air at high speeds. So how are high-speed elephants moving: are they running or walking?

At a first glance, fast-moving elephants look as if they are walking, according to John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College, UK. But closer analysis of elephant footfall patterns by Hutchinson suggested that speedy elephants’ front legs walk while their hind legs may trot. Norman Heglund from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, realised that the only way to resolve the conundrum was to measure the immense forces exerted on the animals by the ground as they move and found that elephants run in some senses, but not in others.
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Pet Prozac To Treat Depression

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Dog owners will soon be able to give their pets Prozac to treat their depression.The once-a-day chewable tablet, which tastes of beef, has been launched in the US and will soon be available in the UK after being granted a licence.Its makers say it can help cure ‘canine compulsive disorder’, which apparently affects thousands of dogs and causes excessive licking, whimpering and tail-chasing

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The drug, called Reconcile, is also designed to curb the compulsive pacing, chewing and dribbling which its makers claim is a result of depression brought on by their owners’ long absences.The anti-depressant Prozac has been used to cure compulsive behaviour in humans, and works by increasing the brain’s levels of serotonin, a ‘happiness’ chemical.Trials involving more than 660 mentally-disturbed pets in Europe and the US produced improvements in behaviour within eight weeks.

Eli Lilly, the drug’s US manufacturer, said: ‘Treatment for companion animals is a relatively new area for us.’They point to research which shows that as many as 8 per cent of dogs suffer from canine compulsive disorder.Critics say gods are now being diagnosed with ‘lifestyle’ illnesses so that drugs can be marketed to treat them.Roger Mugford, an animal psychologist, said: ‘Most breakthroughs in dog behaviour are achieves by carrying a titbit and using it wisely, not by drugs.’Reconcile has now been granted a licence by the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate.However, it was first licensed in the US three years ago for separation anxiety from being left alone for long periods.
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