1 Tahrcountry Musings: March 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Love rites of Amazon River Dolphin

Now this is awesome. Just when we thought we knew everything out come surprises. A group of British and Brazilian researchers have found out that South American river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) uses branches, weeds and lumps of clay to woo the opposite sex and frighten off rivals. They would slowly come up above the surface of water in a vertical posture holding this stuff in their mouths. Details appear in the journal Biology Letters.

The Amazon River dolphin can be found in the Amazon River system as well as the Orinoco River system flowing throughout South America, mainly in the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana and Peru. Adults grow to 2.5 metres and weigh 150 kilos. The dolphin eats crabs, shrimps, and sometimes even turtles and catfish.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Amazing Elephant Facts on BBC

Did you know that elephants could store water for an emergency? For me it was new info. Amazing. Now read on.

A BBC team has filmed elephants spraying themselves with water that they had stored in a reservoir in their throats several hours earlier, to escape extreme heat. The reservoir is the pharyngeal pouch just behind the tongue. They sprayed it on to the outside of the ear that was facing the wind to cool down. The footage was recorded in Namibia. Martyn Colbeck is the cameraman. The desert elephant has adapted to go up to five days without drinking.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trigger for bird songs discovered

Scientists from the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh and Nagoya University in Japan have identified the trigger for bird songs prior to mating. They have unravelled how part of a bird's brain is affected by seasons. They have discovered that genes in cells on the surface of the brain were switched on when the birds received more light. Pituitary gland releases a hormone in the spring in readiness for mating. This is fantastic research output unthinkable till a few years back. Researchers used a genome chip, known as a microarray, to scan 28,000 genes from the Japanese quail to arrive at the fascinating findings. As science advances, the peek in to the mysteries of nature is becoming increasingly easier.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tunisia - Scimitar Horned Oryx to be reintroduced

Scimitar Horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) have been extinct in Tunisia since the late 1970s. Efforts are on to release Oryx from American and European zoos back to the wild in Tunisia. The Oryx are currently being held in a 20,000-acre fenced area in Dghoumes National Park. Once a sustainable population has been established, possibly ten years from now they will be released in to the wild. The efforts were initiated at the request of Tunisia to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Secretariat for the Convention on Migratory Species. For more information about this animal click here

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life.

The path-breaking project “Encyclopedia of Life” has just added the first 30,000 species pages (1/60th of the total recorded species), including 25 pages that are examples of what the site will include in the future. The project aims at gathering accurate and detailed information on the earth's known 1.8 million species and each will have its own web page. Macarthur Foundation provided the grant to start the project and the site was initially launched in May 2007. Experts in the field will evaluate all the information before publication. This will be a comprehensive database. Jim Edwards is the Executive Director of Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) the most ambitious project ever undertaken.