In scenes that would not have been out of place in a Hollywood science fiction thriller, at dawn on March 31, 2003, armed police and Hong Kong health authorities dressed in biological suits, theater masks and surgical gloves descended on Amoy...
Bottlenose dolphins use signature whistles when they're separated.
Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated, a study finds. Other than humans, the dolphins are the only animals known to do this, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The big difference with bottlenose dolphins is that these communications consist of whistles, not words.
Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, “Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!”
“Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual,” lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News.
Captive bottlenose dolphins, however, as well as all of the wild ones, developed their own signature whistles that serve as names in interactions with other dolphins. “A dolphin emits its signature whistle to broadcast its identity and announce its presence, allowing animals to identify one another over large distances and for animals to recognize one another and to join up with each other,” King explained. “Dolphin whistles can be detected up to 20 km away (12.4 miles) depending on water depth and whistle frequency.”
“Living” molecules, meaning intact cellular structures that haven’t fossilized, were recently retrieved from 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, according to a study that will appear in the March issue of the journal Geology.
The animals- crinoids- were spindly and had feathered arms. Their relatives today are called by the plant-like name “sea lily.”
The retrieved molecules are quinones, which function as pigments or toxins (to help ward off predators) and are still found in modern sea lilies. The molecules aren’t DNA, unfortunately, but they can reveal other things about past life, such as the color of long gone animals.
“There are lots of fragmented biological molecules — we call them biomarkers — scattered in the rock everywhere,” William Ausich, professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State and co-author of the paper, said in a press release. “They’re the remains of ancient plant and animal life, all broken up and mixed together. But this is the oldest example where anyone has found biomarkers inside a particular complete fossil. We can say with confidence that these organic molecules came from the individual animals whose remains we tested.”
The ultra ancient crinoids appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period. At that time, North America was covered with vast inland seas. The skeletal remains of the buried-alive crinoids filled with minerals over time, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were miraculously sealed intact.