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Posts Tagged ‘birds

Dinosaur known as the Chicken from Hell!

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If you’re a dinosaur with a nickname as funky as “the chicken from hell,” you had better be able to back it up…A dinosaur called Anzu wyliei that scientists identified on Wednesday from fossils found in North Dakota and South Dakota does just that.

It had a head shaped like a bird’s, a toothless beak, an odd crest on its cranium, hands with big sharp claws, long legs for fast running and was probably covered in feathers.

It is the largest North American example of a type of bird-like dinosaur well known from Asia.

Its extensive remains offer a detailed picture of the North American branch of these dinosaurs that had remained mysterious since their first bones were found about a century ago, the scientists said.

What would someone think if they encountered this creature that lived 66 million years ago?…”I don’t know whether they would scream and run away, or laugh, because it is just an absurd-looking monster chicken,” said University of Utah paleontologist Emma Schachner, one of the researchers.

Anzu wyliei measured about 11 feet long, 5 feet tall at the hip and weighed about 440 to 660 pounds (200 to 300 kg), the researchers said…

Scientists think birds arose much earlier from small feathered dinosaurs. The earliest known bird is 150 million years old.

This dinosaur’s bird-like traits included a beak, hollow leg bones and air spaces in its backbone, paleontologist said Hans-Dieter Sues of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Its bizarre head crest resembled that of the cassowary, a flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea.

Mostly dark meat, I hope.

Thanks, Mike

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 22, 2014 at 2:00 am

Salmonella link to spices making serious changes in farming

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dried fruit, spices, Istanbul

Spices grown in the mist-shrouded Western Ghats here have fueled wars, fortunes and even the discovery of continents, and for thousands of years farmers harvested them in the same traditional ways. Until now.

Science has revealed what ancient kings and sultans never knew: instead of improving health, spices sometimes make people very sick, so Indian government officials are quietly pushing some of the most far-reaching changes ever in the way farmers here pick, dry and thresh their rich bounty.

The United States Food and Drug Administration will soon release a comprehensive analysis that pinpoints imported spices, found in just about every kitchen in the Western world, as a surprisingly potent source of salmonella poisoning.

In a study of more than 20,000 food shipments, the food agency found that nearly 7 percent of spice lots were contaminated with salmonella, twice the average of all other imported foods. Some 15 percent of coriander and 12 percent of oregano and basil shipments were contaminated, with high contamination levels also found in sesame seeds, curry powder and cumin. Four percent of black pepper shipments were contaminated…

Mexico and India had the highest share of contaminated spices. About 14 percent of the samples from Mexico contained salmonella, the study found, a result Mexican officials disputed.

India’s exports were the second-most contaminated, at approximately 9 percent, but India ships nearly four times the amount of spices to the United States that Mexico does, so its contamination problems are particularly worrisome, officials said. Nearly one-quarter of the spices, oils and food colorings used in the United States comes from India…

Westerners are particularly vulnerable to contaminated spices because pepper and other spices are added at the table, so bacterial hitchhikers are consumed live and unharmed. Bacteria do not survive high temperatures, so contaminated spices present fewer problems when added during cooking, as is typical in the cuisine of India and most other Asian countries.

…Sophisticated DNA sequencing of salmonella types is finally allowing food officials to pinpoint spices as a cause of repeated outbreaks, including one in 2010 involving black and red pepper that sickened more than 250 people in 44 states. After a 2009 outbreak linked to white pepper, an inspection found that salmonella had colonized much of the Union City, Calif., spice processing facility at the heart of the outbreak…

One more example of how “tradition” often means unhealthy. Dedication to clean conditions during harvest and processing for market can make all the difference in the world to the safety of consumers – with no loss of flavor or function.

RTFA for lots of anecdotal info on the raising of many spices. Interesting stuff. You can never have too much knowledge about what you eat.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 29, 2013 at 8:00 am

Birds of Paradise Project

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Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

February 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

16 photoshopped animals

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bird bite
Click to see the rest

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

February 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Earth, Geek, Humor

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Sex matters – Guys recognize cars and women recognize birds best

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Women are better than men at recognizing living things and men are better than women at recognizing vehicles.

That is the unanticipated result of an analysis Vanderbilt psychologists performed on data from a series of visual recognition tasks collected in the process of developing a new standard test for expertise in object recognition.

“These results aren’t definitive, but they are consistent with the following story,” said Isabel Gauthier. “Everyone is born with a general ability to recognize objects and the capability to get really good at it. Nearly everyone becomes expert at recognizing faces, because of their importance for social interactions. Most people also develop expertise for recognizing other types of objects due to their jobs, hobbies or interests. Our culture influences which categories we become interested in, which explains the differences between men and women…”

“Our motivation was to assess the role that expertise plays in object recognition with a new test that includes many different categories, so we weren’t looking for this result,” said Professor of Psychology Isabel Gauthier. She directs the lab where post-doctoral fellow Rankin McGugin conducted the study.

“This isn’t the first time that sex differences have been found in perceptual tasks. For example, previous studies have shown that men have an advantage in mental rotation tasks. In fact, a recent study looking only at car recognition found that men were better than women but attributed this to the male advantage in mental rotation. Our finding that women are better than men at recognizing objects in other categories suggests that this explanation is incorrect…”

It took the multi-category analysis to reveal that face recognition abilities are correlated to the ability to recognize different object categories for men and women. For example, men who are better at recognizing vehicles also tend to be better at recognizing faces, while women who are better at recognizing living things tend to be better at recognizing faces…

I’m left without an opinion. I haven’t spent any time on the topic because in general I’ve had to confront teaching an individual a particular skill, bit of knowledge, technique. My focus has always been on utilizing existing understanding, countering incorrect – orten ideologically-derived – comprehension.

Now, my curiosity is piqued.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

Dallas mayor declares emergency over West Nile Virus – 17 dead

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The mayor of Dallas has declared a state of emergency in the ninth largest US city as it struggles to contain an outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus that has claimed the lives of 17 people so far this year…

The emergency declaration by Mayor Michael Rawlings followed a similar action last week by Dallas County officials and paves the way for aerial pesticide spraying to begin this week.

Nearly half of the 693 human cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus infections reported this year to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been in Texas.

Residents have been urged to use insect repellent and avoid going out at dusk and dawn.

Aerial spraying also is being used elsewhere, including in neighbourhoods in New York City and Sacramento, California, to combat the spread of West Nile virus.

Officials say spraying is the most effective way to fight the mosquitoes that carry the disease despite safety concerns about exposing people to chemical pesticides.

Hey – even a long-time enviro like yours truly agrees that a short-term solution is better than no solution.

There have been cases of infection reported in people, birds or mosquitoes in 42 US states, with 80 per cent of the cases in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma…

The virus was first discovered in 1937 in Uganda. It is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes.

Of course, being Texas, they could hold mass prayer meetings and implore some invisible guy in the sky to lose the mosquitoes and make them all safe.

The mosquitoes would probably love the get-togethers. :)

Written by Ed Campbell

August 17, 2012 at 2:00 am

Pic of the Day

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Picture: ANTERO TOPP/CATERS NEWS

A jumbo-sized cloud of tiny birds called red-billed queleas surrounds an elephant at the Satao Camp water hole in East Tsavo, Kenya. Photographer Antero Topp said: “There are big trees close to waterhole where the birds landed and at that time we suddenly heard a strong crack. A huge branch had been broken by the weight of these tiny birds despite them only weighing about 10 grams each. All the birds took off and you could hear an unbelievable whoosh…

Amazing photo, stunning.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 2, 2012 at 2:00 am

They fell from the sky! WTF?

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An avalanche of more than 100 apples rained down over a main road in Keresley, Coventry on Monday night. The street was left littered with apples after they pelted car windscreens and bonnets just after rush-hour. The bizarre downpour may have been caused by a current of air that lifted the fruit from a garden or orchard, releasing it over the junction of Keresley Road and Kelmscote Road.

Woo-hoo!

Written by Ed Campbell

December 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

Posted in Earth, WTF

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North Sea wind farm has net positive impact on fauna

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A North-Sea wind farm has hardly any negative effects on fauna. At most, a few bird species will avoid such a wind farm. It turns out that a wind farm also provides a new natural habitat for organisms living on the sea bed such as mussels, anemones, and crabs, thereby contributing to increased biodiversity. For fish and marine mammals, it provides an oasis of calm in a relatively busy coastal area, according to researcher Prof. Han Lindeboom at IMARES…and several of his colleagues and fellow scientists at Bureau Waardenburg and Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)…

The research carried out within the OWEZ wind farm revealed little effect during the first few years on the benthic organisms in the sandy areas between the wind turbines. New species establish themselves, and communities of animals arise on the wind turbine piles and the rocks piled around the columns, leading to a local increase in biodiversity. The fish fauna turns out to be very variable, and some minor positive effects have been observed so far. For example, the wind farm seems to provide shelter to cod. Porpoises were also heard more often inside the wind farm than outside it. A striking feature is that various bird species, including the gannet, avoid the wind farm, whereas others, such as seagulls, do not seem to be bothered by the wind turbines. Cormorants were even observed in greater numbers. The number of birds that collided with the turbines was not determined but was estimated to be quite low on the basis of observations and model calculations…

Overall, the OWEZ wind farm functions as a new type of habitat with more species of benthic organisms and a possibly increased use of the area by fish, marine mammals and some bird species, whereas the presence of other bird species is reduced…

In the busy Dutch coastal zone, the wind farm seems to offer a relative oasis of calm, according to the researchers. In the Anthropocene era, the present era during which humans have an impact on almost everything on earth, the effects of intensive fishing, pollution, gas oil and sand extraction, and intensive shipping have already resulted in changes to the ecosystem. Against such a background, a wind farm can contribute to a more diverse habitat and even help nature to recover. However, the rotating blades can also have a significant disruptive effect on some species of birds. The researchers therefore suggest that, for the purpose of generating energy, special areas be designated in the sea for wind farms. Unavoidable effects, such as a local reduction in the numbers of some bird species would then have to be accepted, but by choosing the location appropriately, these effects can be minimised.

I don’t agree with the need for specificity. I worry more about bats than birds around wind generators – a problem virtually non-existent for sea-based wind farms. I worry more about bats because their darting flight after food seems to be less aware of those big slow-moving blades than are birds.

The rest of the positive results shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s investigated the aftereffects of offshore oil production platforms. Some of the best subsistence and sport fishing you’ll ever find. The same kind of questions were being asked when I worked in offshore construction decades ago and beaucoup studies came through with answers as positive as these about offshore structures.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

Squatter squirrel

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A cheeky young squirrel seems to be making it clear that this bird box is his now. Photographer Christine Haines was confronted by the juvenile grey squirrel in a nesting box in her garden in Spokane in Washington.

She says: “My husband had constructed nest boxes in our yard to attract Northern Flicker birds. One day I heard a strange noise coming from one of the boxes. I looked up and saw a young squirrel peering out. I grabbed my camera and was able to capture a few pictures with its mouth open. I believe the young squirrel was calling for its mother.”

Probably calling for MORE NUTS!

Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Earth, Humor, WTF

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