A new moral and a new magazine

A short neatly written piece on one of many facets of human-wildlife conflict.

And it looks like this is another website worth following, what with titles such as

KILLER WHALES ARE STEALING OUR FISH TO MAKE EXTRA BABIES

So find more stories on their link in the sidebar!

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Kermit!

Is this for real? Maybe Jim Henson was a tropical ecologist in his past life? It is amazing that small animals and plants…..organisms may be more appropriate… are discovered each year, even in “researched” tropical locations. Maybe we’d find more if funding sources shifted  focus from big organisms (Bigfoot) to small (ie. water mites).

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Artificial Intelligence

Please read this because I’d like to talk about it with someone. I know it’s super long but it’s easy to read and full of crazy mind-bending stuff. Trust me, you’ll like it.

Like this figure:

Or these quotes:

“AI has by now succeeded in doing essentially everything that requires ‘thinking’ but has failed to do most of what people and animals do ‘without thinking.”

So the world’s $1,000 computers are now beating the mouse brain and they’re at about a thousandth of human level. This doesn’t sound like much until you remember that we were at about a trillionth of human level in 1985, a billionth in 1995, and a millionth in 2005. Being at a thousandth in 2015 puts us right on pace to get to an affordable computer by 2025 that rivals the power of the brain.

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More cool chimp research

If you were at last week’s seminar by Chris Martin from the Indy Zoo, you’ve been adequately amazed at the cognitive abilities of great apes. And if you’re looking for more, this study shows how chimpanzees learn and modify behaviour, in this case adopting the ‘Scottish accent’ from new neighbours!

If you’re taking the Animal Behaviour course this semester, we just learnt about social and cultural transmission and learning. Here are wild chimpanzees in Uganda; one individual made a leaf sponge to collect water and in a few days, every individual in the group had learnt through observation. Amazing!

Closer home, we have chimpanzees that briefly escaped their Kansas Zoo enclosure!

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Because beaver, and other stories

It was 1948, just after the end of the war, and some conservation officers in Idaho had a beaver problem at hand. It required imagination and boy, they sure did have some! Read all about it here!

This is just mind-blowing and fits very much in my particular scientific interests. Check it out, or at least watch the video because it was filmed by a goshawk.

This proposal for sequencing the genomes of a million people seems like a massive effort – and expensive – and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Cute chicks. And smart too. (Here’s a video of the experiment.)

“Humans seem to be constructing a linguistic bridge of sorts, one that when crossed will reunite us with Eden, where animals and humans live in the harmony of communication. But it makes one wonder if that bridge is being built on literary imagination or on reality.” –  A lovely piece on the human nature to create ‘talking animals‘.

Want to live a long life? Learn from the naked mole rats. (P.S. You can keep your clothes on)

 

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Good website for some good laughs!

Reading “The Panda’s Thumb” I was looking around on the internet about birds and dinosaurs and I found this website.

It was worth it to work all day just to read this sentence: “think of the tons of newspaper you would need to line the bottom of a cage for a T-rex”

Amazing! Have a good evening!!

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What is the value ($) of a bee? A bat? A mangrove?

dead bees

Want to keep nature from disappearing? Some say you must put a monetary value on it in order to convince those who don’t think the intrinsic value of nature is enough to consider it “worth” anything. What if that part of nature really isn’t worth anything ($), do we keep it?

One of my favorite NPR radio shows, Radiolab, explores why you should, or shouldn’t put a price tag on nature. One of the more interesting segments is the “natural” experiment of an inadvertent removal bees from an apple orchard in China, where farmers realized bees were doing the actual pollinating. Ok, that seems pretty obvious to most, but with no pollinators, the farmers had people go out and hand pollinate the apple blossoms, which resulted in an increased production rate. Humans are better pollinators than bees. So then, why do we need bees?

This segment, on the value of nature, is part of a larger episode that talks about “worth”. The other two episodes are also pretty powerful, especially the one on pharmaceuticals.

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