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World's Oldest Swan Found Dead In Denmark

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© Mindaugas UrbonasMute swan.

What was probably the world's oldest mute swan has been found dead in Denmark. This unusual example of Denmark's national bird lived to just past the ripe old age of 40. The previous record for a mute swan was 28 years old.

The swan was found dead at Korsør Skovstrand on Christmas Day last year. It was ringed and its leg ring was sent to the Copenhagen Bird Ringing Centre at the Zoological Museum at The University of Copenhagen. The number on the ring was Helgoland 112851 and after checking their records, the centre realised that this was no ordinary dead swan. It turned out that the swan had been ringed on 21st February 1970 at Heikendorf near Kiel in northern Germany and that it was at least a year and a half old when it was ringed.

Heart

When It Comes To Elephant Love Calls, The Answer Lies In A Bone-shaking Triangle

Elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
© iStockphoto/Angelika SternElephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia.

Many a love-besotted soul has declared they would move the world for their true love, but how many actually accomplish that task in their quest to unite with a lover?

Poets and romantics may argue the point, but research has shown that elephants issuing calls, including those of love - more precisely, females in estrus - produce not only audible sounds, but also low-frequency seismic vibrations that can travel through the near-surface soils for distances up to several kilometers.

And though we humans may claim to feel our lover's call in our heart, soul or other organs of either physical or philosophical origin, most of us need said love call to caress the hair cells of our inner ears for it to register in what is arguably our most important love/sex organ - our brain.

Butterfly

Scientists Discover Butterflies Wings are High-efficiency Solar Cells

solar cells
Butterflies are beautiful, fragile, natural, and apparently solar powered.

Research suggests that certain scales on butterfly wings are nanobiologically-tuned to absorb heat from sunlight, enabling the insect to survive in colder or higher-altitudes than normal. Now some scientists offer ecologists a nasty choice: you can have higher-efficiency solar cells but we have to burn butterfly wings

Ladybug

Honey bees work together to make group decisions

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© Associated Press
Honey bees use a complex system of consulting one another before choosing a hive in a process London scientists say could help humans make better decisions.

Swarms send out groups of 'scout bees' to assess the quality of a potential site for a hive. The insects then report back and do a 'dance' to describe the benefits of the site. The study found the swarm then comes to a group decision on the best site by revisiting sites recommended by others until a consensus emerges and all the bees are performing the same 'dance'.

Scientists say that the process could help the business world to come to more informed group decisions.

Frog

Tree Lizard's Quick Release Escape System Makes Jumpers Turn Somersaults

If you've ever tried capturing a lizard, you'll know how difficult it is. But if you do manage to corner one, many have the ultimate emergency quick release system for escape. They simply drop their tails, leaving the twitching body part to distract the predator as they scamper to safety. According to Gary Gillis from Mount Holyoke College, USA, up to 50% of some lizard populations seem to have traded some part of their tails in exchange for escape. This made Gillis wonder how this loss may impact on a lizard's mobility and ability to survive. Specifically how do branch hopping, tree dwelling lizards cope with their loss.

Teaming up with undergraduate student Lauren Bonvini, the pair began encouraging lizard leaps to see how well the reptiles coped without their tails and publish their results on 13th February 2009 in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Constructing a jumping arena from boxes and fine sandpaper, the duo gently encouraged arboreal Anolis carolinensis (anole) lizards to launch themselves from a 11cm high platform as they filmed the animals' jumps. The animals performed well, launching themselves by pushing off with their back feet and landing gracefully, covering distances ranging from 14.9-29.9 cm.

Cow

Animals Successfully Re-learn Smell of Kin After Hibernation

Animal
© UnknownThe research on how animals recognize kin is vital to helping plan conservation programs for endangered species, Mateo says.
Animals can re-establish their use of smell to detect siblings, even following an interruption such as prolonged hibernation, research at the University of Chicago on ground squirrels shows.

Smell is an important animal survival tool. Female ground squirrel sisters, for instance, bond in groups for protection and use smell to recognize each other. Animals also need to recognize siblings to avoid inbreeding, which would have a negative effect on their genetic fitness, said Jill Mateo, Assistant Professor in Comparative Human Development at the University.

The research on how animals recognize kin is vital to helping plan conservation programs for endangered species, Mateo said in the presentation, "Sex and Smells: Kin Recognition, the Armpit Effect and Mate Choice," Friday, Feb. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"Understanding kin recognition memory systems, or templates, is important to studying habitat selection, food choice, social bonds and mate preferences. It also is important to understand the degree of plasticity in these templates," she explained.

Binoculars

Strange Owl Scares Family

Owl
© UnknownFace of mystery owl that was captured.
Ankobea Hemaa, Abena Nana Annorbea of Obosomase Akwapim in the Eastern region who recently returned home from Italy must have been happy to escape the severe winter weather there.

What she did not bargain for, however, was the haunting sound of footsteps on the rooftop of her present home. The strange footsteps which she said are loudest over the kitchen area, would usually begin around 6:30pm and continue throughout the night.

Nana Annorbea told Daily Guide that after several fruitless efforts to trace the source of the noise, she engaged the services of a young man to climb the roof of the apartment complex and uncover the mystery.

Bug

Ancient virus gave wasps power over caterpillar DNA

wasp lays its eggs into a caterpillar
© Alex Wild/myrmecos.netA parasitic wasp lays its eggs into a caterpillar, at the same time delivering a hybrid virus.

A historical viral infection gave some insects genes that allow them to parasitise their caterpillar hosts, a new study finds.

Many species of wasps lay their eggs inside caterpillars. To make this possible, the wasps' have a secret weapon in the form of a dose of virus-like particles that are injected along with the eggs.

Not only do these disable the caterpillars' immune system to stop it attacking the eggs, they also cause paralysis and keep the host from pupating - turning the caterpillar into an eternally youthful larder and nursery for the wasp grubs.

A closer look at these particles reveals that, although they look like viruses, they contain genetic material from the wasp, which is transcribed into the caterpillars' DNA - causing production of the very toxins that bring about their downfall.

Target

Australia: Bondi swimming banned after a new shark attack

Second shark attack
© Photographer: Daniel Shaw - freenews.com.auAttacked: The surfer has serious injuries to his left arm
Swimming has been banned at Sydney's Bondi Beach this morning after the city's second shark attack in two days.

A 33-year-old surfer was mauled at the southern end of Bondi Beach about 7:30pm (AEDT) yesterday, in the first shark attack at the beach in 80 years.

The Dover Heights man was taken to St Vincent's Hospital, where he is in a serious but stable condition in intensive care after undergoing emergency surgery for serious injuries to his left arm.

Igloo

Kelp genetics reveals Ice Age climate clues

Ice berg

Sea ice extended further north in the Southern Ocean during the last Ice Age than previously thought, a New Zealand research team has found in a study that could improve predictions of climate change.

The team from the University of Otago, led by PhD student Ceridwen Fraser, delved deep into the genetic code of modern-day bull kelp from samples taken from many sub-Antarctic islands, as well as New Zealand and Chile.

The findings showed that southern bull kelp, Durvillaea antarctica, had only recolonised the sub-Antarctic islands in the past 20,000 years after the retreat of sea ice.