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Wed, 19 Jan 2022
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'Snow-vember' Sees Ski Resorts Open Early Around The World

ski snow
Skiinfo.com, is reporting bumper pre-season snow across the northern hemisphere with the Alps, Pyrenees, Scandinavia and the Rockies all receiving huge early snow falls that have brought wonderful powder snow conditions for skiers and boarders on the glacier ski areas that were already open, and led to an increasing number of resorts in Canada, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the US to open up to a month earlier than planned.

Skiinfo.com reports that about 100 ski areas around the planet are now operational (the last southern hemisphere resort, Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand, winds up its 2008 record-snow season this weekend).

New openings in Europe this weekend (November 14 - 16) include Hemsedal in Norway, Obergurgl in Austria, Laax and Lenzerheide in Switzerland.

"Hemsedal has between 20-30 cm nature snow above the tree line and the snow conditions in the high mountain are excellent", said a resort spokesman. Half of the world's open ski areas at present are in Scandinavia where competition focus in on Levi in Finland this weekend for World Cup racing.

Igloo

Ski industry predicts boom as cold sets in

Alps Snow 2008
© Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Recent snow at Saas-Fee in the Swiss Alps
Clad in salopettes and woolly hats, skiers swished effortlessly downhill yesterday as nervous beginners concentrated hard on their snow-ploughs. OK, so this was a dry slope in Sheffield, but dozens of those on the artificial piste are gearing up for the real thing and booking pre-Christmas breaks to the Continent and North America.

Because snow is already falling, Europe, the US and Canada are experiencing colder weather than the seasonal norm. That means two things for Britain's 1.3 million ski enthusiasts: the prospect of early trips to the slopes, and the promise of a longer season.

Info

Dictators lay down the law in baboon troupes

It's rare that an animal garners comparisons to Stalin and Mussolini, but dominant male baboons practice a form of leadership not so different from dictators.

Troupe members follow their leader to a food site even though some get denied a meal, a new study of wild baboons finds.

On a scientific level, the study exposes a flaw in some theoretical models of group behaviour, which conclude that, given equal information, social animals make democratic decisions.

More practically, the research might hold some relevance to modern politics. Baboons showed the blindest devotion to leaders with whom they formed a social bond, a baboon they could believe in.
baboon society
© Tim Davies / ZSL Tsaobis Baboon Project
In baboon society, individuals reinforce 'friendships' through grooming one another.

"We've still got this evident bias for why we choose certain leaders," says Andrew King, a behavioural ecologist at the Zoological Society of London who led the study. "It might help us understand why we have certain biological biases to picking certain leaders."

Bizarro Earth

Another great flood: time to build an ark?

wave
© RIA Novosti
The world geological community is warning that today's seismic activity on our planet is nothing compared with what's to come.

Over the past three years, Pakistan, for example, has been hit by dozens of earthquakes. In March 2005, 80,000 people died under the rubble there. On October 30, the last time nature went on the rampage, there were hundreds of victims. Tens of thousands of people drowned during an overwhelming Asian tsunami at the end of 2004. China and Afghanistan have been rocked by quakes again more recently.

These natural disasters, which have swept our planet in recent years, indicate that the world has entered an era not only of a political, but also of climatic instability. Most scientists - biologists and environmentalists - tend to blame the human race for the catastrophic climate change on the Earth. No doubt, the greenhouse effect due to industrial activity plays a considerable role in global warming, but there are other reasons worth considering.

The Earth is rotating around its own axis slower. The International Earth Rotation Service has regularly added a second or two to the length of a 24-hour day in recent years.

Vader

Turkeys Viciously Mutilated at World's Leading Poultry Farm

Undercover PETA workers have once again caught a meat-breeding company viciously abusing animals.

This time, it's a turkey farm called Aviagen, a supplier of millions of turkeys for holiday meals. In the videos, Aviagen workers murder turkeys with 2-by-4s, they drown turkeys to death by shoving their heads under water, and they punch them, stomp on their heads and shove broomsticks down their throats.

These are the actions of American workers in an American meat factory. This holiday season, don't eat animal meat! If you do, you're promoting animal cruelty and rewarding animal meat factories that provide the bulk of the turkey meat sold during the holiday season.

Fish

Glowing anemone yields 'light switch' protein

The glowing striped tentacles of the fluorescent anemone emerge out of the darkness. Nothing particularly special about that, except that this species, which may never have been seen before, is one of just a handful of organisms whose fluorescence can be switched on and off.
tube anemone's tentacles glow
© Jörg Wiedenmann
This tube anemone's tentacles glow when they are hit by blue light, but with red light they are switched off.

It was discovered by Jörg Wiedenmann of the National Oceanography Centre of the University of Southampton in the UK and his colleagues on an expedition to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, 500 to 600 metres down.

Igloo

World's oldest polar bear dies at Canadian zoo

Vancouver, British Columbia - Canadian zoo officials on Tuesday were mourning the death of what is believed to be the world's oldest polar bear.

The 42-year-old bear named Debby died on Monday at a zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she had lived since 1967 after being captured as a orphaned cub in the Russian Arctic in 1966.
debby polar bear oldest
© CBC
Debby is seen in her enclosure in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo in December 2006, during celebrations of her 40th birthday.

Debby was in declining health due to her advanced age, and veterinarians decided to euthanize her after it was discovered she had suffered multiple organ failure.

She was listed as the world's oldest polar bear by the Guinness Book of World Records when she turned 41, according to officials at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Info

Long-lost 'Furby-like' Primate Discovered In Indonesia

A team led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby-like, or gremlin-looking, creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than two ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921.

Several scientists believed they were extinct until two Indonesian scientists trapping rats in the highlands of Sulawesi accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier in 2000.
pygmy tarsier
© Texas A&M University
A pygmy tarsier, furry Furby/gremlin-looking creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than 2 ounces, being held in one hand.

Sharon Gursky-Doyen, working with one of her graduate students, Nanda Grow, and a team of locals trapped three of the nocturnal creatures in Indonesia in late August. The pygmy tarsiers possess fingers with claws instead of nails, which Gursky-Doyen says is a distinguishing feature of this species, and distinguishes them from nearly all other primates which have nails and not claws. The claws may be an adaptation to the mossy environment, she believes.

Target

Strong quake strikes Panama, no damage reported

Panama City - A strong earthquake of 6.2 magnitude and at a depth of 48 km struck Panama near the Costa Rica border overnight, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Wednesday.

The quake hit 56 km west southwest of David, Panama, at 1:11 a.m. local time (0611 GMT).

The tremor was felt in Costa Rica's capital of San Jose, but that country's emergency commission said there were no reports of damages there.

Target

5.7 magnitude earthquake strikes Vanuatu

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck off Vanuatu early this morning but no tsunami warning was immediately issued.

The US Geological Survey says the quake hit just after 1 o'clock, 157 kilometres south-east of the capital city of Port Vila.

It was registered at a depth of 38 kilometres.

It was the second earthquake to strike the area in three hours, following a 5.1 magnitude quake earlier.