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Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers

Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers, Japanese scientists have shown.

At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, showed remarkable videos of chimpanzees displaying mental dexterity that would be way beyond most people.

 

The star performer among the institute’s 14 chimpanzees, a 12-year-old male called Ayumu, has learnt all the numerals from 1 to 19. Several other Kyoto chimpanzees have learnt 1 to 9.

 

When the numbers flash up in random places across a computer screen and in random order, and disappear after less than a second, the apes can point immediately to the exact locations where the numerals had been, in the correct numerical order.

 

Prof Matsuzawa said a few exceptional people, such as those with savant syndrome, might be capable of such memory feats but they are far beyond the average human brain. “One person in several thousand may be able to do this,” he said. “All the chimps I have tested can do it.”

 

Prof Matsuzawa, who combines the study of wild chimpanzees in west Africa with research using the captive colony in Kyoto, said such a good working memory – the ability to take in an accurate, detailed image of a complex scene or pattern – was an important survival tool in the wild.

 

 

For example, the apes can quickly assess and remember the distribution of edible fruit in a forest canopy. Or, when two rival bands of chimpanzees encounter one another, they can assess the strength of the rival group and decide whether to fight or flee.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
mdashf's insight:

big head big brain it seems 

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Sea Turtles use the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves

Sea Turtles use the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Sea turtles are masters of navigation. It begins when hatchlings, only minutes old, find their way from the beach to the sea. Once in the water, they establish a course that will take them on an epic migration. They make this dangerous journey alone, following complex migratory pathways across huge expanses of open ocean without guidance or training.

 

Loggerhead sea turtles are among the animals that can detect the Earth's magnetic field. Could hatchlings be using this information to maintain their course in the absence of waves?

 

To answer this question, Lohmann and his colleagues needed hatchling sea turtles, a circular pool, tiny turtle harnesses, and a device that could reverse magnetic fields. Each turtle was fitted with a nylon-Lycra harness. The harness was connected to a monofilament line that tethered the turtle to an electronic tracking system in the center of a circular pool, allowing the turtles to swim in any direction. A large coil system surrounded the pool. The researchers could turn the coil system on to reverse the direction of the magnetic field around the swimming turtles.

 

Some of the tethered turtles were allowed to swim under normal magnetic field conditions. Others swam in a reversed magnetic field, turned 180° by the coil system. Hatchlings tested in the Earth's normal magnetic field tended to swim east to northeast, the direction they normally follow in their offshore migration. But the turtles tested in the reversed magnetic field swam in the opposite direction, indicating loggerhead hatchlings are able to detect the Earth's magnetic field and use it to orient themselves.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The slower you grow, the longer you live: Growth rate influences lifespan

The slower you grow, the longer you live: Growth rate influences lifespan | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

New research from the University of Glasgow suggests that lifespan is affected by the rate at which bodies grow early in life.

 

A team from the University’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine altered the growth rate of 240 fish by exposing them to brief cold or warm spells, which put them behind or ahead their normal growth schedule.  Once the environmental temperature was returned to normal, the fish got back on track by accelerating or slowing their growth accordingly. However, the change in growth rate also affected their rate of aging. 

 

While the normal lifespan of sticklebacks is around two years, the slow-growth fish lived for more than 30 percent longer, with an average lifespan of nearly 1000 days. In contrast, the accelerated-growth fish had a lifespan that was 15% shorter than normal. 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
mdashf's insight:

they should check if this is statistically in confirmation with Einstein's Relativity which says "more enegy automatically means ime runs faster and less energy means time runs slower" hence having less energy spent per unit time allows this energy to be spent over a longer period time and hence aging slower. Slowe metabolic activites should entail longer ife span and even Einstein had said so "bilogical aging and the rate at which physical processes are governed by Relativity" b/cos they are to be governed by physical laws and Einstein's law is a physical law as well. 

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DNA directly imaged with electron microscope for the first time

DNA directly imaged with electron microscope for the first time | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

It's the most famous corkscrew in history. Now an electron microscope has captured the famous Watson-Crick double helix in all its glory, by imaging threads of DNA resting on a silicon bed of nails. The technique will let researchers see how proteins, RNA and other biomolecules interact with DNA.

 

The structure of DNA was originally discovered using X-ray crystallography. This involves X-rays scattering off atoms in crystallised arrays of DNA to form a complex pattern of dots on photographic film. Interpreting the images requires complex mathematics to figure out what crystal structure could give rise to the observed patterns.

 

The new images are much more obvious, as they are a direct picture of the DNA strands, albeit seen with electrons rather than X-ray photons. The trick used by Enzo di Fabrizio at the University of Genoa, Italy, and his team was to snag DNA threads out of a dilute solution and lay them on a bed of nanoscopic silicon pillars.

 

The team developed a pattern of pillars that is extremely water-repellent, causing the moisture to evaporate quickly and leave behind strands of DNA stretched out and ready to view. The team also drilled tiny holes in the base of the nanopillar bed, through which they shone beams of electrons to make their high-resolution images. The results reveal the corkscrew thread of the DNA double helix, clearly visible. With this technique, researchers should be able to see how single molecules of DNA interact with other biomolecules.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Birds' UV Vision has arisen independently more than 14 times during evolution

Birds' UV Vision has arisen independently more than 14 times during evolution | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Birds depend on their color vision for selecting mates, hunting or foraging for food, and spotting predators. Until recently, ultraviolet vision was thought to have arisen as a one-time development in birds. But a new DNA analysis of 40 bird species shows the shift between violet (shorter wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum) and ultraviolet vision has occurred at least 14 times.

 

"Birds see color in a different way from humans," study co-author Anders Ödeen, an animal ecologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, told LiveScience. Human eyes have three different color receptors, or cones, that are sensitive to light of different wavelengths and mix together to reveal all the colors we see. Birds, by contrast, have four cones, so "they see potentially more colors than humans do," Ödeen said.

 

Birds themselves are split into two groups based on the color of light (wavelength) that their cones detect most acutely. Scientists define them as violet-sensitive or ultraviolet-sensitive, and the two groups don't overlap, according to Ödeen. Birds of each group would see the same objects as different hues.

 

The study researchers sequenced the DNA from the 40 species of birds, from the cockatiel to the whitebearded manakin. They extracted DNA from the bases of feather quills, blood, muscle or other tissue. From that DNA, the scientists reconstructed the proteins that make up the light-sensitive pigments in the birds' eyes. Differences in the DNA revealed which birds were sensitive to violet light versus ultraviolet.

 

"That change is very simple, apparently," Ödeen said. "It just takes a single mutation" in the DNA sequence. While that change may seem insignificant, it can be compared to the difference humans see between red and green. Why the bird lineages switched their color sensitivity — essentially species of a certain branch on the family tree evolved to have the reverse type of vision — is still something of a mystery. The ability to attract mates while still evading predators could be one reason. Ultraviolet light might also provide higher contrast that makes finding food easier. Other factors are environmental — open spaces have more UV light than do forests, for example. Ultimately, the color sensitivity may be a result of other changes that affect the amount of ultraviolet light the birds' eyes receive.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
mdashf's insight:

the suckers are real dreamers and visionaries 

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Giuliano Cipollari's curator insight, February 16, 2013 9:37 AM

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Newly discovered form of cell division may help ward off cancer

Newly discovered form of cell division may help ward off cancer | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Cell biologists have long thought that cytokinesis, the final step of cell division in which the cytoplasm and its contents are split, is necessary for the proper assortment of chromosomes. Disrupt this process, the prevailing wisdom held, and aneuploidy will result, with cancerous implications. But a team led byMark Burkard at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has discovered a new type of cell division, dubbed ‘klerokinesis’, that protects cells from failed cytokinesis.

 

Using live-cell imaging, the researchers watched retinal pigment epithelial cells for five days after they had chemically inhibited cytokinesis. Reporting today at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting in San Francisco, they showed that many cells managed to split into two during the first growth phase of the next cell cycle—not during mitosis—allowing each to recover a normal chromosome set. Burkard says that therapeutic strategies that boost this type of nonmitotic cell fission could prevent cancer in people at high risk of developing tumors marked by abnormal chromosomal counts.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Daniel R Colgan's comment, January 13, 2013 8:47 PM
Sight restoration using Induced Mitosis could be controlled via above, allowing the healthy cells to duplicate and regenerate the retina!
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Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up

Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

It’s relatively easy for scientists to see the signature of droughts and other climate events in the prehistoric past by digging into underground or seafloor sediments, or drilling into ancient ice. In order to say exactly when these events happened, though, you need a reliable natural dating method, and even the best of these is flawed.

 

However, one of the most familiar of these timelines, known as radiocarbon dating, just got a lot more precise. According to a paper published in the journal Science, measurements from the bottom of Japan’s Lake Suigetsu have allowed scientists to improve the technique dramatically.

 

Now, thanks to those lake sediments, scientists can narrow that range down to just 10 years or less -- but only if the sample is between 11,000 and 53,000 years old. Younger and there hasn't been enough breakdown in the radioactive carbon. Older, and the lake's sediments don't go back that far.

 

This impressive achievement comes thanks to Lake Suigetsu’s calm waters, and also from the lucky fact that the plant matter that drifts into the water and sinks to the bottom is light-colored in winter and dark in summer. The result: alternating layers under the lake bottom that make it easy to identify every year, one after the other, going well back into the last Ice Age.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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More bad science in the literature : Pharyngula

More bad science in the literature : Pharyngula | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

That sad article on gyres as an explanation for everything has had more fallout: not only has it been removed from Science Daily's site, not only has Case Western retracted the press release, but one of the editors at the journal Life has resigned his position over it.


Via Sakis Koukouvis
mdashf's insight:

howto spot the spurious and actually honor them?

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