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Marine Unicorn Tusk is a Precision Sensor

Unicorns exist – in the north sea.  Not horses, these are marine mammals, called narwhals, a kind of whale that sports a unique spiraling tooth that gives them the appearance of a unicorn.  Scientists have puzzled for centuries over what these tusks are for.  Leading theories were that males used them for joisting to defend […]

New Mammal Discovered in Borneo

Caught on camera: a cat-sized quadruped with a long, bushy tail.  See the picture on National Geographic News.  Found in Borneo’s rain forests, it is so new we don’t know what to call it yet.  The article says this is the “first new mammal species discovered on the Southeast Asian island in more than a […]

How You Tune In

Studies on rats have shown there are certain neurons that respond to changes in the background sound (see LiveScience story on MSNBC News).  We humans probably have these, too.  Rather than firing continuously, they search for changes in the auditory landscape that might be of interest: changes in pitch, loudness or duration in single sounds […]

Eyes on the Prize: Science Sees Gold in Biomimetics

A fly eye made the cover of Science this week.1  It’s not that the compound eye is interesting to entomologists; MSNBC News picked up on the real message: “Animal eyes inspire new technology – Researchers learn optics lessons from biology.”  The cover story is about biomimetics, or reverse-engineering nature.  Scientists are looking for ways to […]

Charity?  Chimps Don’t Get It – Nor Give It

The science news media took note of an experiment showing that chimpanzees don’t care to share, even when it costs them nothing (see the BBC News and Science Now, “Tightwad Primates”).  Joan Silk and a team at UCLA created an apparatus where a chimp could pull one rope to get a treat for itself, or […]

Were Dinosaurs Gasping for Air?

A news story on CNN claims that “the air contained only about 10 percent oxygen at the time of the dinosaurs.”  It climbed to 23% by 40 million years ago, then dropped to its current level at 21%, said the researchers.  They feel that the rise of oxygen “almost certainly contributed to evolution of large […]

Evolutionists Finally Figure Out the Eye – Well, Partly

As if tackling Darwin’s worst nightmare with gusto, evolutionary biologists published a paper in Current Biology1 about the evolution of the eye – at least the lens.  Though the paper is restricted to a discussion of genes involved in making the crystallin proteins that make up the lens, EurekAlert announced this as “Insight into our […]

Chimpanzee Genome Published: Is There a Monkey in Your Genes?

Nature’s cover story September 1 is about the publication of the chimpanzee genome.  Evolutionists are digging through the data for evidence of human common ancestry.  Have they found it?  The results, as usual, are mixed: MSNBC News states the situation concisely: “Genome comparison reveals many similarities – and crucial differences.”  Here is the gist of […]

You Otter Hair How Otters Keep Warm

While on a sabbatical exploring Isle Royale National Park, John Weisel (U of Pennsylvania) decided to collect hair from various mammals.  He found otter fur to be particularly interesting, says a press release from U of Penn Health System.  Since otters don’t have a layer of fat, he wondered, how do they keep warm in […]

What Do You Get When You Cross a Lion with a Tiger?

A liger, that’s what.  No kidding: you get a big cat with a mane and faint stripes that likes to play in the water.  National Geographic News has a special article, with photos, about ligers. This is offered without much comment, just for those who want to learn about something unusual in the animal kingdom, […]

Sharks and Beavers Inspire Humans

Animals never cease to amaze us with their clever solutions to problems that plague human technology.  EurekAlert told of work being done by the Society for Experimental Biology to emulate shark skin as a self-cleaning surface for boats; National Geographic News has pictures of the new product, and a comparison with shark skin.  The navy […]

Horse Evolution Tale Gets Hairier

If you thought the story of horse evolution was well understood as a poster child of Darwinism at work, consider what Weinstock et al. say in a preprint in PLoS Biology:1 The rich fossil record of horses has made them a classic example of evolutionary processes.  However, while the overall picture of equid evolution is […]

Nose Knows More than Math Pros Suppose

The aroma of coffee, of a steak, of cherries – these smells are all composed of dozens if not hundreds of separate molecules, yet our brains immediately recognize them each as a coherent whole.  How does the nose and the brain process all this information?  This is the subject of an article in the Caltech […]

Lions Guard Kidnap Victim in Ethiopia

Some news stories make you wonder about divine providence.  Netscape News reported a story of lions that rescued a kidnapped Ethiopian girl who was being beaten by seven men trying to force her to marry one of them.  In Ethiopia, men will often beat and rape a woman who resists a forced marriage; up to […]

New Rodent Discovered in Southeast Asia

“To find something so distinct in this day and age is just extraordinary,” says Dr. Robert Timmons of a stubby-legged, hairy rodent discovered in Thailand.  “For all we know, this could be the last remaining mammal family left to be discovered.”  It’s not exactly like a squirrel, rat, chinchilla or guinea pig: it belongs in […]
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