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Mussels Could Help Strengthen Teeth

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 02 January 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Researchers in China “bathed” human teeth that had worn-away enamel and dentin in a liquid that was wind up teeth mconnorsinspired by the adhesive properties of mussels- the partially-edible bivalve or one of its relatives that cling to the surfaces of stuff out in the ocean.

The study’s abstract did not mention if the teeth were currently living in someone’s mouth or if the teeth were strays that had been donated to science.

People with teeth that have worn-away enamel (the outermost layer of a human tooth) and dentin (the softer layer directly under the enamel) have “exposed” dentinal nerves that leave them hyper-sensitive to food’s temperatures and even foods that are sweet or sour. Eating and drinking can become a painful chore for these unfortunate people.

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Friday Creature Feature: Piranhas

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 28 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Megapiranha paranensis, the three foot long ancestor of the piranhas found in waters today, likely had BlackPiranha Skeleton s huskeyteeth that could slice through soft tissue-a normal piranha feature. However, Megapiranha who lived 10 million years ago in the Late Milocene period, could do something modern piranhas can’t do: bite through shells and crack bones like a nutcracker.

“If our calculations are correct, Megapiranha was probably a bone-crushing predator taking bites of anything and everything,” said Stephanie Crofts, a UW Biology student.

Crofts is the co-author of a study called “Mega-Bites: Extreme Jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas” which also looked at the black piranha (skeleton pictured at right), great white shark, and the extinct Dunkleosteus terrelli- a 4-ton whale eating shark for initial comparison.

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Friday Creature Feature: Moles

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 21 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

This morning my husband found a mole in our attic. I don’t know whether the mole was alive or dead Scalopus Aquaticus eastern mole Kenneth Catania Vanderbilt Universityhaving been caught snacking on the peanut butter-laced traps we leave to catch the mice that are currently wintering in the uppermost regions of the house.

Frankly, I’m not even convinced it was an actual mole because moles like to live underground and attics are quite a ways above ground. Could it have been a weasel, or a vole or just a disfigured mutant rat?

In honor of this puzzling occasion which has already brought a pest control company to help us with the mice-and I guess now our moles- we will take a look at moles. Together we will ponder how it came to rest it’s weary extra-thumbed (the digit is called a prepollex) forepaws in our attic. Here’s hoping the rest of the creatures from Grahame’s Wind in the Willows stay near the river and out of my house.

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Friday Creature Feature: Not So Musical Monkeys

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 14 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

The Rhesus monkey is a “highly intelligent, lively animal that is docile when young” but new research saysrhesus monkeys Petr Malyshev Fotolia beat induction or the ability to pick up the beat from a varying rhythm is not something a rhesus monkey is capable of doing.

Rhesus monkeys are patient and do well in captivity and so they have been the default Old World Monkey used in health and science research: they have been cloned, helped develop vaccinations, and launched into space.  

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More Secrets of the Ooze

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 12 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Have you heard the story about the frogs in the bucket? To make a long story short two frogs accidentallysunning frogs loretta fell into a bucket of milk. One frog grew tired trying to escape over the bucket's tall sides and drowned in the milk while the other persevered.

The second frog churned the milk until it was butter and then used it as a platform to escape a milky death. Or it could have been one frog who almost drowned and then cleverly escaped, either way: frogs in milk.

From my understanding of the literature (this press release) it is from that story the Russians decided if you would like to keep your milk from souring you just throw a frog in and voila! you have butter or a dead frog in your milk -in Russia prize comes out of milk jug and not cereal box.

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Friday Creature Feature : Nyasasaurus parringtoni

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 07 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

10 million years before “more familiar” dinosaurs like the Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus were hanging Nyasasaurus  parringtoniaround, a dinosaur known as Nyasasaurus parringtoni lived during the Middle Triassic period.

When they say Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus are “familiar” they must mean to dinosaur obsessed children or paleontologists because there is nothing about those two creatures that is recognizable, to me at least, other than the suffixes in their names.  It’s okay if Nyasasaurus parringtoni is unfamiliar because it’s a “new” dinosaur and scientists think it’s the oldest dinosaur or the closest relative found to early dinosaurs.

Paleontologist Alan Charig, who passed away in 1997 and was posthumously credited as an author for a recent study, named the dinosaur Nyasasaurus parringtoni after Francis Rex Parringtoni who originally collected the fossilized bones in the 1930s from Tanzania near Lake Nyasa. After that not much else was done with Parringtoni.

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Urban Birds in Mexico Building Nests with Cancer Sticks

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 05 December 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Once upon a time I wrote about how marine insects were adapting to life with the Pacific Garbage Patch byleaf and cig butt clarita living on it and laying their eggs on the floating detritus.

This morning the BBC reported that birds are adapting to the presence of nasty discarded cigarette butts in a way similar to the marine insects.

A group of scientists from the Instituto de Ecologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, studied the nests of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in Mexico City and discovered that the birds are using an average of 10 used cigarette butts in nest construction.

Some nests had no cigarette butts and others were noted to have up to as many as 48 butts or slightly more than two whole packs. It seems a selection of the urban bird population in Mexico have a two pack a day habit in their homes.

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Friday Creature Feature: The Oncilla

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 30 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

The Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) lives across the Amazon and along the tropical Andes and is known as a oncilla largeTigrillo or Tigrina to the locals. They are the approximately weight of a house cat, between 4 and 8 pounds, but slightly longer at 15 to 23 inches. The Oncilla is considered the smallest and most adorable cat species found South America's lowlands.

Seriously look at it: Those big round gold and brown eyes. A long tail adapted for living in treetop canopies, petite and slight making, them agile and efficient hunters of birds, insects, and reptiles.

Their fur (looks soft) is tan to tawny in color with symmetrical spotted patterns,and brown spots (the author of the Wikipedia oncilla article referred to the spots as “rosettes”) fading to black in coloring like a leopard or cheetah but cuter. Look for the pattern to replicated soon in faux fur or a print in the next Kardashian Kollection line for Sears.

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Yawning Fetuses Caught On Camera

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Saturday, 24 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

A blog I wrote last week looked at contagious yawning in bonobos and had some theories about why 4D fetus yawninghumans yawn.

Out of all the theories explored- bored and used as a synchronizing signal by the senior member of a group to indicate it might be time for an activity change, drawing more oxygen into the brain, and sexual arousal- none of them can explain why fetuses have been spotted yawning in the womb.

Since yawning is contagious in humans does that mean when the fetus yawns the mother can catch the yawn? Can a fetus sense when their mother is yawning and catch it from her? Do scientists studying yawning fetuses catch the yawns and spend their time stifling the action? Scientists have ruled out contagious yawning and it doesn't look like they recorded how much they yawned during the study.

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Friday Creature Feature: Pacific Pocket Mouse

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 23 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Earlier this month Louis Sahagun a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about thePhotograph of Bobbity a Perognathus pacificus pocket mouse - cropped endangered Pacific Pocket mouse’s (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) tenuous presence at Camp Pendleton-the Marine training facility outside of San Diego, California.

The article mentioned the mouse is one of sixteen endangered animals that live at Camp Pendleton. The largest population of the mice now live at the camp enjoying the protection provided to them by being on property that regular people are not allowed to set foot on to trample vegetation and creatures.

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Friday Creature Feature: Rare Millipede

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
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on Friday, 16 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

The fastest land animal is the cheetah and the largest land animal is the African elephant. Those facts are california millipede pensoftcommonly known and elementary school children can often recite them to you in that rapid- fire wide-eyed way only they possess: but do you want to know a secret? Those kids don’t know everything and here is your chance to trump the precocious encyclopedia at your family’s Thanksgiving table this year with, “Yeah, well what’s the leggiest creature on the planet?”

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Reading This Will Make You Yawn

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 15 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

There is a really annoying and childish game I like to play with my husband simply called “Yawn.”bonobos yawning e-demuru

It consists of me trying to get him to yawn by merely repeating the word “yawn” until either he yawns or I do and that causes him to “catch” the yawn. Needless to say he hates the game but I love it because yawning is one of those weird things humans do like sneezing when exiting a movie theater into the bright sun or photic sneeze reflex.

There are several theories as to why humans yawn: boredom, trying to get more oxygen to the brain, and apparently when we are aroused because nothing says “I think you’re sexy!” then a big ol’ normally- associated- with- boredom yawn! Though we have been involuntarily yawning since the day we were born we still don’t know why we do it and why it can be contagious in humans, dogs, and apes.

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Friday Creature Feature: Quetzalcoatlus

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 09 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Sankar Chatterjee, Horn Professor of Geosciences and curator of paleontology at the Museum of Texas Quetzalcoatlus 1 fossil ghedoghedoTech University presented a description, created by a computer model, of Quetzalcoatlus’s flight dynamics earlier this week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Quetzalcoatlus’s (named after the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl depicted as a feathered serpent and god of intelligence) fossil was discovered over twenty years ago in Big Bend National Park in Texas, a mountainous Western part of the state that borders Mexico. It lived in that area in the Late Cretaceous period about 60 million years ago.

The pterosaur, or flying lizard like a pterodactyl, weighed about 155 pounds and had a 34-foot wingspan, close to the size of an F-16 fighter jet. The creature is considered to be the largest flying animal to be discovered and “created a frightening shadow as it soared across the sky” like Donald Trump’s airplane.

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Nine New Spider Species Found In Brazil

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 04 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Last week right before the arrival of Superstorm Sandy and a handful of days before Halloween, tarantulatarantulaspiderscary.jpg specialist and researcher at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dr Rogério Bertani had his study about nine recently discovered tarantulas published in ZooKeys. As if we needed nine more things in the world to be horrified and scared of last month.

These new tarantulas are mostly arboreal (not an uncommon trait for tarantulas) meaning they live in trees like their counterparts found in tropical locales. The new nine were found in Central and Eastern Brazil.

Tree spiders have a lighter build, thinner bodies, and longer legs with increased surface area at the ends the better to climb, the better to move, and the better to eat you with.

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Friday Creature Feature: Korean Speaking African Elephant

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 02 November 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

First there was the talking beluga whale named NOC who was heard spontaneously vocalizing over twentyKoshik african elephant years ago at the National Marine Mammal Foundation and now there is news that an african elephant named Koshik has learned a few Korean words.

According to the team of researchers that recorded Koshik speaking he knows five words spoken in the language he hears often from caretakers while living at the Everland Zoo in South Korea : "annyong" ("hello"), "anja" ("sit down"), "aniya" ("no"), "nuo" ("lie down"), and "choah" ("good").

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Curly Haired Cat is Curly

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Wednesday, 31 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

A new breed of curly-haired cat has been identified as genetically different than three other curly-haired selkirk rex cat s filler v vienna 1cat breeds. Keep in mind this isn’t a new species of cat, but a new breed, which is why I’m not posting this as a creature feature on Friday because we are all familiar with the domesticated house cat.

Serina Filler and Gottfried Brem at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna worked with researchers from the University of California, Davis, and Agrobiogen in Germany to pinpoint the genetic mutation that created the cat breed known as Selkirk Rex over twenty years ago- a project that had not been undertaken until now.

I guess cat owners and registered breeders of the new cat breed weren’t interested in the genetic details of the feline and were more interested in squealing “OMG! How cute! I want a cat with curls!”

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Looking at Sea Lion Spit for Information

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 29 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Did you know that John Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) has a Center for Interdisciplinaryseallionsaliva Salivary Bioscience? Well, it does, and it’s fancy way of saying Saliva Research Center. The center is probably one of the only ones in the country where you are allowed to play with your own spit or the spit of others. We live in an awesome country- even if a third of it is currently being brought to its knees by a hurricane but still a great place.

Douglas Granger is the director of the center and “a psychoneuroendocrinology researcher who is well known for his development of methods related to saliva collection and analysis and the theoretical and statistical integration of salivary measures into developmental research” and former founder and president of of Salimetrics LLC, a salivary laboratory.

Apparently Granger wasn’t satisfied with human saliva anymore and turned to a group of bull sea lions to help with his saliva studies.

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Friday Creature Feature: Leopard Shark

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
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on Friday, 26 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Earlier this week a shark fell out of the perpetually blue California sky and onto a San Juan Capistrano golf Leopard shark Triakis semifasciata 01course located four miles from the beach.

The Capistrano Dispatch reported that at approximately 4 P.M. PST Monday an on-duty course marshal, the person hired to monitor the golfers, sort of like a referee, at the San Juan Hills Golf Course found a 2-foot- long leopard shark wriggling around on the 12th tee box.

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Beluga Whale Speaks Says: "Out"

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
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on Monday, 22 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

If these whales could talk what would they say? According to a new study not anything we haven’t heard microphone sullivanbefore and certainly not how they learned to talk.

Nevertheless, news that a beluga whale was recorded “speaking” like a human is still interesting because this was the first time it had happened spontaneously.

Training marine mammals to mimic the sound of the human voice is not uncommon and dolphins have been trained to talk. Obviously training dolphins to talk is another feature that should be included in the elite dolphin soldier program being restarted by the Ukrainian Navy.

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Are Dolphins Being Trained to Kill?

Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
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on Saturday, 20 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Do you remember the MTV cartoon Daria? The cartoon featured an acerbic high school student named ocean Bottlenose dolphin USFWSDaria and her best friend Jane. The duo could often be found watching a show called Sick, Sad World- a news program like 60 Minutes but about roadside oddities and bizarre events. There was always a voiceover introduction to the fictionalized news show like: "What's that you're really stirring in your tea, honey or bee vomit? Animal secretions that make us say 'yum' tonight on Sick, Sad World."

Sometimes I hear news that makes me think of Sick, Sad World. For example: Wired.com is reporting via RIA Novosit, a Russian news agency, that the Ukrainian Navy has plans to train dolphins to kill enemy combat swimmers.  

The voiceover for today’s blog, “Is Flipper being trained to kill in cold blood? These dolphins won’t be featured at a theme park near you anytime soon!”

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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