A worm? a robot? Just what Is This?

http://www.livescience.com/48145-evolution-extreme-oddities.html

A worm? a robot?

photo- Images of Evolution's Extreme Oddities

Images of Evolution’s Extreme Oddities

Credit: From WTF, Evolution?! – Workman Publishing. Water bear or Tardigrade (Paramacrobiotus craterlaki) in moss. Photo © Eye of Science/Science Source

Paramacrobiotus craterlaki

“Okay, this is it. I just came up with the greatest animal yet.”

“This should be good.”

“It’s called a tardigrade. It’s only half a millimeter long, so it’s basically invisible.”

“I see.”

“It has sharp claws for grabbing onto anything and a suction mouth for feeding.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“But here’s the cool part: It can survive pretty much anything! Drying out? Freezing? Extreme radiation? It doesn’t care. It just hunkers down and waits it out, then pops back to life later on.”

“Huh. I guess that’s kinda cool.”

“And it can even survive in the vacuum of outer space.”

“What? Why would it possibly need to survive in outer space?”

“You never know.”

photo- Images of Evolution's Extreme Oddities

Images of Evolution’s Extreme Oddities

Virtual mouse could make animal experiments a thing of the past

Virtual mouse could make animal experiments a thing of the past
Megan Treacy (@mtreacy)
Technology / Clean Technology
March 16, 2015

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/virtual-mouse-could-make-animal-experiments-thing-past.html

photo-Virtual mouse

Virtual mouse

Medical testing on lab mice is one of those issues that is far from black and white. On the one hand, we’ve gained many medical advances from the practice that have significantly improved our lives, but on the other, innocent creatures are subject to a wide range of experiments that can be cruel and painful.

Luckily, the researchers at the Human Brain Project are working on a way to let us get the results of those experiments without having to harm a living being.They are building a virtual mouse that will be an exact computer model of the real thing so that future medical research can be modeled as accurately as if it were done on an actual mouse.

Right now, the team has been able to map 200,000 neurons in the mouse brain to the corresponding points in the body that would stimulate them. For example, touching the virtual mouse’s whiskers activates the corresponding parts of the mouse sensory cortex.

The mouse brain has 75 million neurons, so there’s still work to be done, but the researchers are gathering data quickly and the first version of the software will be released to collaborators in April.

The scientists are collecting their data points from biological data collected by the Allen Brain Institute in Seattle and the Biomedical Informatics Research Network in San Diego. They are integrating various types of data into this one model to make it richly layered. They expect that as they work, advances in technology will make the model more and more realistic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldXEuUVkDuw&feature=youtu.be

When the model is further along, the software will be available to scientists worldwide.
A Simulated Mouse Brain in a Virtual Mouse Body

Leading Anti-Marijuana Academics Are Paid By Painkiller Drug Companies

https://news.vice.com/article/leading-anti-marijuana-academics-are-paid-by-painkiller-drug-companies
This article originally appeared on VICE.com.

photo-Image via Flickr -Marijuana

Image via Flickr -Marijuana

As Americans continue to embrace pot—as medicine and for recreational use—opponents are turning to a set of academic researchers to claim that policymakers should avoid relaxing restrictions around marijuana. It’s too dangerous, risky, and untested, they say. Just as drug company-funded research has become incredibly controversial in recent years, forcing major medical schools and journals to institute strict disclosure requirements, could there be a conflict of interest issue in the pot debate?

 

VICE has found that many of the researchers who have advocated against legalizing pot have also been on the payroll of leading pharmaceutical firms with products that could be easily replaced by using marijuana. When these individuals have been quoted in the media, their drug-industry ties have not been revealed.

photo-Marijuana  Brett Levin via Flickr

Marijuana Brett Levin via Flickr

Take, for example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University. Kleber has impeccable academic credentials, and has been quoted in the press and in academic publications warning against the use of marijuana, which he stresses may cause wide-ranging addiction and public health issues. But when he’s writing anti-pot opinion pieces for CBS News, or being quoted by NPR and CNBC, what’s left unsaid is that Kleber has served as a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).

Denver’s Marijuana Gold Rush Is Forcing Out Locals. Read more here.
https://news.vice.com/article/denvers-marijuana-gold-rush-is-forcing-out-locals
Kleber, who did not respond to a request for comment, maintains important influence over the pot debate. For instance, his writing has been cited by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police in its opposition to marijuana legalization, and has been published by the American Psychiatric Association in the organization’s statement warning against marijuana for medicinal uses.

Google images

Could Kleber’s long-term financial relationship with drug firms be viewed as a conflict of interest? Studies have found that pot can be used for pain relief as a substitute for major prescription painkillers. The opioid painkiller industry is a multibillion business that has faced rising criticism from experts because painkillers now cause about 16,000 deaths a year, more than heroin and cocaine combined. Researchers view marijuana as a safe alternative to opioid products like OxyContin, and there are no known overdose deaths from pot.

 

Other leading academic opponents of pot have ties to the painkiller industry. Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a frequent critic of efforts to legalize marijuana. She is on the board of an anti-marijuana advocacy group, Project SAM, and has been quoted by leading media outlets criticizing the wave of new pot-related reforms. “When people can go to a ‘clinic’ or ‘cafe’ and buy pot, that creates the perception that it’s safe,” she told the Times last year.

Hightimes.com

These academic revelations add fodder to the argument that drug firms maintain quiet ties to the marijuana prohibition lobby.
Notably, when Evins participated in a commentary on marijuana legalization for the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the publication found that her financial relationships required a disclosure statement, which noted that as of November 2012, she was a “consultant for Pfizer and DLA Piper and has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer.” Pfizer has moved aggressively into the $7.3 billion painkiller market. In 2011, the company acquired King Pharmaceuticals (the makers of several opioid products) and is currently working to introduce Remoxy, an OxyContin competitor.
https://news.vice.com/article/dea-accused-of-obstructing-research-on-marijuana-benefits
As ProPublica reported, painkiller-funded researchers helped fuel America’s deadly addiction to opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin. These academics, with quiet funding from major pain pill firms, encouraged doctors to over-prescribe these drugs for a range of pain relief issues, leading to where we stand today as the world’s biggest consumer of painkillers and the overdose capital of the planet. What does it say about medical academia today that many of that painkiller-funded researchers are now standing in the way of a safer alternative: smoking a joint.

Follow Lee Fang on Twitter: @lhfang

Photo by Brett Levin via Flickr

Himalayan Yeti ‘Mystery’

Himalayan Yeti ‘Mystery’ Looks Even Less Mysterious, Scientists Argue
BY ALAN BOYLE

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/yeti-mystery-even-less-mysterious-scientists-say-n324091

http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/nbcNewsOffsite?guid=tdy_yeti_tracking_120903

Mystery solved? Not Yeti, but close.

A year ago, geneticists reported that RNA extracted from hair samples attributed to the Himalayan Yeti monster, a.k.a. “the Abominable Snowman,” were actually most similar to the 40,000-year-old genetic signature of a now-extinct breed of polar bear. They suggested there might be a yet-to-be-discovered bear species lurking in the remote Himalayan snows.

Now a different research team says the hairs were just as likely to come from a type of brown bear that’s common in the Himalayas.

The scientists behind the original study, led by Oxford University’s Bryan Sykes, are holding to their claims about the polar-bearish RNA. But Eliecer Gutierrez of the Smithsonian Institution and Ronald Pine, who’s associated with the University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, say there’s too much genetic overlap in the RNA results to rule out the Himalayan brown bear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_brown_bear

The analysis from Gutierrez and Pine was published online Monday by the open-access journal ZooKeys. http://zookeys.pensoft.net/browse_articles

Is an exotic bear out there?

Sykes’ results made a splash when they came out last year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The project involved gathering up dozens of samples of hair that had been collected over the years by monster-hunters and fringe researchers known as cryptozoologists. Sykes and his team looked specifically at mitochondrial RNA extracted from the samples.

Most of the hairs matched run-of-the-mill species, ranging from cows and canines to humans. But two of the samples, from northern India and Bhutan, matched up with genetic markers from a 40,000-year-old polar bear fossil from Norway. That led Sykes to call for an expedition to seek evidence of such a species in the Himalayas.

Since then, other researchers have suggested that the results may have been affected by contamination, and that it’s too great a leap to assume there’s an exotic bear species waiting to be found. The newly published results echo those conclusions.

In an email to NBC News, Sykes said he stood by last year’s findings. He noted that the findings published in ZooKeys were “entirely statistical” in nature.

‘Getting off your butt’

“The explanation by Gutierrez and Pine might be right, or it might not be,” Sykes wrote. “The only way forward, as I have repeatedly said, is to find a living bear that matches the 12S RNA and study fresh material from it. Which involves getting off your butt, not an activity I usually associate with desk-bound molecular taxonomists.”

Sykes said “the real heroes of the piece are the people who actually went to the Himalayas, spoke to the local people, found these hairs, had the wit to keep a few, and then contributed them to the study.”

He noted that his book about the project, titled “The Nature of the Beast,” is set for publication in April. As for the expedition to the Himalayas, Sykes said he was “not in a position to comment.”

In addition to reviewing the yeti results, Gutierrez and Pine noted that the DNA signature of an Asian black bear in Japan was not closely related to those of the species’ mainland members. In a news release, Gutierrez said further study of Asian black bear diversity “would surely yield exciting results.”

The study by Gutierrez and Pine is titled “No Need to Replace an ‘Anomalous’ Primate (Primates) With an ‘Anomalous’ Bear (Carnivora, Ursidae).”

First published March 16th 2015, 9:01 am

Stop Killing Our Wolves !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Center for Biological Diversity

Donate NowHelp Stop Wildlife Services, Give Now

Help Stop the Government’s Rogue Wildlife-Killing Machine

Dear Rusty,

We’ve learned that last month Wildlife Services, the animal-killing program in the federal Department of Agriculture, used a sniper in a helicopter to gun down 19 wolves in Idaho’s Lolo Pass.

The Center and our partners have just filed suit to halt Wildlife Services’ war on wildlife in Idaho. This is a huge task and we need your help. Give to our Stop Wildlife Services Fund today and we’ll use your donation to rein in this rogue program.

Wildlife Services operates like a black-ops agency for wildlife, carrying out a secret war with little accountability. Considering itself exempt from most environmental rules, the program kills as many as 3 million native animals a year — in addition to wolves they destroy bears, beavers, otters, foxes, prairie dogs, coyotes, mountain lions, birds and other creatures. Over the past 15 years they’ve spent a billion dollars to wipe out wildlife.

Help us end this slaughter with your donation to the Stop Wildlife Services Fund.

photo-Keep politics out of wolf recovery

Keep politics out of wolf recovery

 


Wildlife Services are contract killers, always willing to do the dirty work of special interests, especially those in the meat industry and corporate agriculture. In Idaho they destroy wolves and other predators to appease ranchers and big-game hunters. They have no regard for maintaining the integrity of nature and no respect for the decades-old struggle to return wolves to their homes in the once-wild West.

We must end their secret war on wildlife. Please give to the Stop Wildlife Services Fund today.

 

For the wild,

Kierán Suckling
Kierán Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity
@KieranSuckling

P.S. One great way to guarantee our success against Wildlife Services is to become a sustaining member with a recurring monthly or quarterly gift. Help us by enrolling in our sustainer program today.Please share this message with your social networks:

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This message was sent to rgcorros@gmail.com.

Planet’s strongest material found:

For many years, spider silk has won the prize for being Earth’s strongest material, but no more. The teeth of the common limpet, a sea snail, beat out the silky stuff, being tougher than kevlar and stronger than spider silk.

 

Common limpet description

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Mollusca
Class Gastropoda
Order Archaeogastropoda
Family Patellidae
Genus Patella (1)

The common limpet is a well-known seashore species . It has a conical shell, the outer surface of which is greyish-white. Shells situated higher up on the shore tend to have taller shells than those on the lower shore (3). The underside of the muscular ‘foot’ on which the limpet moves around is yellow, orange or brown and often has a green or greyish tint .

Common limpets begin their life as males, becoming sexually mature at around 9 months of age. Most individuals undergo a sex change, typically becoming female at 2 or 3 years of age, although some remain as males (3). Spawning takes place once a year, usually from October to December, although the timing varies around the British Isles

 

photo-Limpet Teeth

Limpet Teeth

8 Extraordinary Facts About The Clever Octopus

In defense of the octopus, 8 extraordinary facts about the clever cephalopod
http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/defense-octopus-8-extraordinary-facts.html

While the octopus is all too frequently cast aside as an odd slimy thing only good for dinner, these remarkable animals are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

They’re not cuddly; they don’t have fluffy fur and big eyes and make us weak in the knees with cooing. Few swoon for the octopus. But if affection were commensurate with traits that are nearly supernatural in their power to wow, octopuses might be the world’s favorite animals.

But alas, instead they inspire legends of sea monsters like Kraken and Lusca, and give form to fictional villains like Ursula and Doc Oc. They incite cringing, not fawning. So with that in mind, allow us to present some arguments for why we think the graceful and brilliant unsung undulating creatures of the sea should be revered rather than vilified.
1. They are magicians

Just like a magician uses smoke and mirrors to make things appear and disappear, so does the octopus – but rather than employing mechanical devices to perform its trick, the octopus uses biology. Using a network of pigment cells and specialized muscles in its skin, the common octopus can almost instantly assume the colors, patterns, and textures of its surroundings. The camouflage is so expertly done that predators pass without notice. Watch one in action here (shown in reverse), it’s astounding.

Octopus camouflage

2. They have the coolest escape mechanism

Another trick worthy of a magician or something dreamed up by Q for James Bond is an octopus’ inky cloud that upon release, obscures an aggressor’s view and allows the cephalopod to slip away. And if that weren’t nifty enough, the ink – mostly a mix of pigment and mucous – also contains a compound that irritates the eyes and dulls an attacker’s sense of smell, making the escape artist even harder to follow.
3. They’re Olympian in speed and agility

When threatened, octopuses propel themselves by expelling water from their mantles, reaching speeds as high as 25 miles per hour. Whoosh. They also have agility that is a wonder to behold: They can squeeze their soft bodies into the teeniest of cracks and holes, making a circus contortionist look feeble in comparison.
Watch this: Octopus Houdini escapes boat via tiny hole!

4. They’re smarter than the average bear

CUNY biology professor Peter Godfrey-Smith says that octopuses are, “probably the closest we’ll get to meeting an intelligent alien.” While Aristotle called the octopus, “a stupid creature,” researchers say they have developed intelligence, emotions, and even individual personalities. The crafty cephalopod can navigate through mazes – and resist them if they’re not feeling cooperative. They, solve problems and remember solutions, and take things apart for fun. They can play fetch! They can unplug drains, disconnect wires, escape from labs and will even collect shells and other objects to build fortresses, or “gardens,” around their lairs.
5. They have far-reaching brains

This one is crazy: Two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons do not reside in their head, rather, in their arms. Which is to say, an octopus’ arms can take on a variety of independent tasks while their owner is attending to other matters. And if one of those arms becomes detached, researchers have found that the severed arm can crawl away on its own and even grab hold of food and direct it to where the mouth would be if the arm were still attached.
6. They can regenerate lost limbs

Lose one of those smart arms to a predator? No problem! The handy-dandy octopus can just grow a new one with no permanent damage. If only we were so lucky.
7. They have a lot of heart(s)

Yes, hearts – three of them in fact. Two work to transport blood beyond their gills, while number three keeps blood circulating for the organs. And oddly enough, heart number three shuts down when the creature is swimming, which explains why they are more prone to hiding than feeling quickly; swimming exhausts them.
Watch this octopus steal a video camera and make a short film:
octopus steals my video camera and swims off with it (while it’s Recording)

8. They’re as old as the hills

And maybe even older. The oldest known octopus fossil comes from a creature that lived 296 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period – it is displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago. It displays the classic eight arms and two eyes, and possibly an ink sac as well. As Smithsonian notes, “long before life on land had progressed beyond puny pre-dinosaur reptiles, octopuses had already established their shape for the millions of years to come.” In terms of seniority, they totally dominate us young’uns.
Bonus: They defy common language

You say octopi, I say octopuses? While octopi has become standard in common usage, it’s not etymologically correct. Octopi was borne out of the incorrect notion that the word comes from Latin; but in fact it comes from the Greek, októpus, meaning “eight foot.” Technically the plural is octopodes, but as the Grammarist points out, “octopus has been in English for centuries and is now an English word when English speakers use it, so there is no reason not to pluralize it in the English manner. Which would mean: octopuses.

For more, see: 8 Unbelievable octopus videos
http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/8-unbelievable-octopus-videos.html