Saturday, January 28, 2012

The mouse that tweets like a bird: Japanese scientists create genetically-modified animal


A mouse genetically engineered to tweet like a bird has been created in Japan

Japanese scientists have produced a genetically-engineered mouse that tweets like a bird, it was revealed today.
A team of researchers at the University of Osaka are breeding genetically modified mice that are prone to miscopying DNA and are more likely to develop mutations.
The 'tweeting' mouse was created as part of the team's ‘Evolved Mouse Project. They hope it will shed new light on how languages evolve.

‘Mutations are the driving force of evolution. We have cross-bred the genetically modified mice for generations to see what would happen,’ lead researcher Arikuni Uchimura said.
‘We checked the newly born mice one by one... One day we found a mouse that was singing like a bird,’ he told AFP.
He said that the ‘singing mouse’ was born by chance but that the trait will be passed on to future generations.
‘I was surprised because I had been expecting mice that are different in physical shape,’ he said by telephone
The project has also produced ‘a mouse with short limbs and a tail like a dachshund’.
The laboratory, directed by professor Takeshi Yagi at the Osaka University’s Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences in western Japan, now has more than 100 ‘singing mice’ for further research.
The team hopes they will provide clues on how human language evolved, just as researchers in other countries study songbirds such as finches to help them understand the origins of human language.
‘Mice are better than birds to study because they are mammals and much closer to humans in their brain structures and other biological aspects,’ Uchimura said.

source: dailymail

Pregnant young woman suffers horrific injuries as leopard attacks her in middle of bustling city


Caged: The fully grown leopard is now kept safely at Assam state Zoo following capture after it had mauled two people in Lalunggaon in Lakhara area of Guwahati.

A pregnant woman suffered serious injuries after being badly mauled by a leopard in India - the third such attack there in as many weeks.
The big cat clamped its jaws around Akila Bibi's head and arms, leaving her with deep wounds to her scalp, after it when it strayed into the largest city the country's north-east Assam state.
The woman, who is in her early twenties, is currently recovering in hospital. Her unborn child, due in three months, was unharmed by the ordeal.

Savaged: Akila Bibi, who is in her 20s, is being treated for serious injuries after being attacked by a leopard in Guwahati

Her husband, labourer Abid Ali, said his wife lost a lot of blood and was unconscious. He said: ‘The back of her scalp was badly mauled.’
The leopard caused panic when it wandered into a densely populated residential neighbourhood in Guwahati.
The wild cat also pounced on a 20-year-old man during the same attack.
Moziz Haq suffered head injuries.
Speaking from his hospital bed, he told AFP news agency: ‘It was a thumping, slap-like feeling and I fell on the ground with blood splattered all over me’.
The animal was later tranquilised by forest officials and taken to a city zoo.

Mauled: Mafij Ali, 21, sustained deep wounds during the third attack in Guwahati, western India, this month

It was the third leopard attack in Guwahati this month.
In a gruesome incident captured on camera, three people were injured and one killed by a leopard on January 7. Three people were hurt in another attack last week.
Thousands of people are attacked by wild animals in India each year, with tigers, leopards, elephants and snakes the most dangerous.
Conservationists say an increasing number of wild animals are appearing in towns and cities because of urban and industrial encroachment on their natural habitat.

source: dailymail

Tutan-CAT-mun: 18th Century mummified kitty falls out of ceiling as house is being renovated


Petrified: George Hartley and the mummified cat found in an 18th century home during renovations

Bringing old homes up to scratch is nothing out of the ordinary for property renovators Andrew and George Hartley,
But this professional couple nearly jumped out their skin when greeted by their most recent form of preservation - as a mummified cat fell on them.
The couple got a face full of the ancient feline as they removed ceilings from an 18th century property in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

Mummified: Much like the Hartley's discovery, workers at Woburn Abbey were shocked to discover this mummified cat, believed to have been buried to protect the Abbey

Mr Hartley was removing plasterwork and ceilings, to assess what work was needed, when the strange discovery fell from within the roof.
He said 'It is well preserved, and I think it has very likely been up there over 100 years at least.
'We had a look on the internet and it seems that this sort of find is quite uncommon.'

Evil spirits: A mummified cat hangs over the bar at The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to keep bad punters away

Although experts are not 100 per cent sure if the cat was dead or alive when it was mummified it is thought that because it was positioned in the roof it was mummified intentionally, whilst alive.
According to folklore, it is said that cats were often put in to walls of properties as a sort of good luck charm and Mrs Hartley added 'Dead cats were put in houses to supposedly ward off evil spirits.
'During the renovation work, we have also found remains of lots of dried onions around the house, again signs of warding off unwelcome spirits.

'We don’t know if this cat would have been put up in the roof before it died, but it has no teeth which indicates it was an old cat that had died, or perhaps it lost its teeth trying to get out of the space.
'Since we have had it, already the body is starting to change and has started to soften since being exposed to the elements.
'It had obviously been perfectly preserved up there. We’re not sure what we’ll do with it now, but maybe we should bury it back in the foundations of the house where it came from.'

source: dailymail

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's up doc? Meet the tubby bunny that guzzles BANANAS


Bunny hug: The giant white rabbit lies back in its owner's arms in the YouTube video while munching a banana

Carrots are a more usual treat for a rabbit, but this oversized bunny clearly prefers bananas. A YouTube video captures the enormous white rabbit cradled in its owner's arms while greedily munching an equally large banana.
At times a nibbling and smacking sound can be heard - along with the cameraman's muffled laughter - as the New Zealand White nibbles away happily.

Going bananas: Smacking and munching sounds can be heard on the video as the New Zealand White rabbit tucks in

The woman cradling the rabbit speaks to the cameraman in what appears to be Slovenian and holds the peeled banana for her pet. After about a minute's guzzling, the giant rabbit squirms out of her arms and on to the floor.
University of Miami veterinarian Dr Dana Krempels said that rabbits naturally like bananas, as they do most fruit and vegetables, but they are considered treats which should be given in small quantities.

Rabbit food: But vets say that bananas and other fruit should be an occasional treat for bunnies and be given in small quantities

'Just about any fruit you would like is okay for your bunny,' Dr Krempels writes in an article titled What Should I Feed My Bunny?
However the main part of its diet should be grass hay and fresh leafy greens.
Some argue that the position in which the the rabbit is being held, lying flat on its back, promotes a relaxed state.
One English expert, referred to as a Bunny Whisperer with the Times Online, claims that holding the animals this way can tame the wildest of rabbits.
Other veterinarians argue the position is stressful for rabbits, making them feel vulnerable with their underbelly exposed.
But the New Zealand White munching happily away on its banana, legs in the air, is obviously completely relaxed, and much admired by YouTube viewers.

source: dailymail

Who's apeing who? The incredible images that show us jus


Me? Bored? What gives you that idea? The look in his eyes says it all and how like a human this little fella is as he takes it easy in his home habitat of The Congo

It's been proven that humans are 97 per cent similar to our primate cousins .. but these amazing photographs seem to underline that statistic.
British wildlife photographers Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers captured the intriguing portraits while on assignment in Borneo and Indonesia.
And the lighthearted collection, which captures the likes of chimpanzees, orangutans, baboons and bonobos in the wild, shows that it's not just use humans who like to monkey around.

I feel a little .. sleepy: Bornean Orangutan Petra looks just like a tired baby underlining our similarities with primates

The photographers have spent the past year travelling the world to capture the stunning images of some of the planet's most elusive primates.
And though their subjects may be rare it's clear that they are genetically very close to us, sharing 97% of our DNA.

What's a monkey to do? A forlorn Doyok from Indonesia looks like he is wrestling with some of life's biggest woes.

What! You think I need a haircut? Twelve month old Petra looks as though he has been taken by surprise, it's an expression which we can all say we've seen before.

Having a little scratch: The balding baby hanging on to its mother tackles an itch but seems preoccupied with something else entirely

source: dailymail

There's something p-p-peculiar about him: Rare white penguin spotted in Antarctica


This rare all-white Chinstrap penguin stands out against his friends as he takes his morning waddle around Antarctica

This rare all-white Chinstrap penguin stands out against his friends as he takes his morning waddle around Antarctica.
The unusual bird was photographed by naturalist David Stephens during a nature expedition to the Aitcho Islands.
Chinstrap penguins' normal black-and-white colouring provides them with camouflage while they dive for fish.

All white: The penguin was spotted during a nature expedition to Antarctica

Rare: The condition known as leucism only occurs in around 1 in 146,000 penguins

The condition which causes the whiteness is known as leucism. It differs from albinism which is a total lack of skin pigment.
Mr Stephen, who works aboard Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Explorer ship, wrote in the daily expedition report: 'At the water’s edge stood a leucistic Chinstrap. 'This bird was whitish, but not quite an albino. Instead, it had pigmented eyes and a washed-out version of a Chinstrap’s normal pattern.
'Many wondered about this unusual bird’s chances of success. While odd coloration may make fishing a bit more difficult, leucistic birds are regularly found breeding normally.'

Blending in: Chinstrap penguins' black and white colouring camouflages them when they dive for fish

The unusual bird was photographed by naturalist David Stephen who works aboard Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer ship

Dyan deNapoli, a penguin expert and author of 'The Great Penguin Rescue, said the rate of leucism in Chinstrap penguins is about 1 in 146,000.
He added: 'It is a fairly rare phenomenon. When I was in Antarctica, I never saw one, and I saw a lot of penguins.' Lindblad Expeditions is a travel company which works in partnership with National Geographic, providing trips to both poles.
Spokeswoman Patty Disken-Cahill said: 'Expedition photography is a big component of our expeditions. 'The photography that comes out of our ships is pretty spectacular.'

source: dailymail

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Man's best friend for 30,000 years: Canine skulls discovered in two separate digs reveals historic relationship

-Teeth and jaws show animal was domesticated
-One of the oldest domesticated dogs ever found
-Hints that man may have domesticated dogs in several places - all dogs aren't evolved from one ancestor


The Altai skull was particularly well preserved, and allowed researchers to measure its teeth, jaws and snout for evidence it was domesticated

Dogs have been a loyal companion to mankind for more than 30,000 years, findings reveal. Scientists believe that two 33,000-year-old skulls unearthed in digs in Siberia and Belgium show dogs were domesticated long before any other animal, such as sheep, cows or goats.
Researchers from the University of Arizona said the skulls had shorter snouts and wider jaws than undomesticated animals such as wolves, which use their longer snouts and narrower jaws to help them hunt.
That suggested the dogs had been kept for protection and companionship by our ancient ancestors – just as they are today.

Recent DNA research hinted that all dogs came from a single wolf-like ancestor - but the Altai find may prove that isn't so

The researchers think dogs could have been the first species of animals to be domesticated by humans, long before farm animals were bred for their meat and skins.
This offers a possible explanation for why breeds such as pugs and huskies look so different, despite being the same species.

The scientists used carbon dating to determine the age of the two skulls, then looked at the bone structures and concluded that claims the dogs had been domesticated were ‘pretty solid’.
Study author Dr Greg Hodgins, whose findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE, said: ‘Both the Belgian find and the Siberian find are domesticated species based on morphological [structural] characteristics.
‘Essentially, wolves have long thin snouts and their teeth are not crowded, and domestication results in this shortening of the snout and widening of the jaws and crowding of the teeth.

source: dailymail

Give us a kiss: Monkey mama plants a smacker on the lips of the orangutan baby that's becoming a star


Mummy's boy: Orangutan baby Chang kisses his mother 'Lea' at the zoo in Krefeld, Germany

This little swinger proves he's not too old to give his mother a great big kiss.
Adorable one-year-old orangutan Changi was only too happy to take a break from playtime to plant a tender smacker on doting mother Lea.
But then it was back to business as usual - aping around his enclosure at Krefeld Zoo in western Germany.
Changi, who loves performing to the crowds, was born in 2010 and has quickly become one of the zoo's star attractions.

Time for a cuddle: Curious Changi takes a long hard look at the cameraman as he snuggles up to the warmth of his mother's coat

Just hanging out: The one-year-old ape shows off some of his gymnastic skills

Looking good: Changi was born in July 2010 and has become one of the zoo's main attractions

Jaw breaker: Changi shows his tough side by biting into a steel chain

source: dailymail

Pipsqueak's big adventure! Pet hamster dragged through catflap by predatory puss is found hiding 100 yards away... in pest controller's home!


Rodent's return: Delighted Callum Chalkley, eight, is reunited with his pet hamster Pipsqueak

When a family's pet hamster went missing and they found his cage ripped open by a cat, they feared the worst. But adventurous Pipsqueak had escaped the clutches of the predatory puss and run down the street to find refuge.
The Chalkleys were amazed when the brave furball turned up in the most unlikely of hideouts - a pest controller's garage.
Eight-year-old owner Callum had given up hope of seeing his hamster again when he went missing from the family home in Clifton, Herts.
But the Siberian hamster, had wriggled free from his feline abductor's claws and raced down the main road, dodging traffic and the dangerous presence of six more cats and a dog.

Callum said: 'A cat got Pipsqueak in his mouth and took him outside, but he escaped out of his mouth and did a runner.
'Pipsqueak is really friendly. I was really upset when he went missing and I am pleased to have him back.'
'He is a really nice man who brought Pipsqueak home to me.'
Callum, his mother Sarah and estate agent father Chris, 35, realised Pipsqueak was missing when they found a cat had broken into his cage on January 12.
They searched their home and believed poor Pipsqueak must have been killed when they could not find him.

Found: Pest controller Stuart Lazenby spotted the creature in his garge just up the road from the Chalkley's home

Mrs Chalkey, a 41-year-old healthcare assistant, said it was clear from the damage to Pipsqueak’s cage that he had been attacked by a cat.
'My husband accidentally left the inside door open, so we think a cat came through the cat flap and got him,' she said.
'There are at least half a dozen cats in the area and one of our neighbours has a dog so it is amazing that Pipsqueak survived.'

Suspect: Jessie the cat, who lives with Callum, is one of the felines who may have dragged Pipsqueak from his comfortable cage

But two days later pest controller Stuart Lazenby, 40, who lives 100 yards down the road from the family, knocked on their door with Pipsqueak in a bucket.
He said: 'I was in the garage and I heard a noise and thought it was a cat, but when I looked down I saw a little white Hamster.
'It is lucky my wife was walking past at the right time and heard two mothers talking about a hamster in the playground. And lo and behold it was Pipsqueak.
'I think I got there just in time or the cat would have eaten him.'

source: dailymail

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Millions of untrained pet dogs showing signs of aggression warns PDSA as youngster is mauled by bull terrier


The PDSA found dogs with behavioural problems were biting, snarling and growling at humans and other animals on a weekly basis

A million dogs in the UK display signs of aggression towards people because of a lack of basic training, a leading veterinary charity warned last night.
The worrying conclusion from a survey by the PDSA comes after a six-year-old girl was mauled on Saturday in a park in Chingford, Essex.
Gary Hindley, 56, from Chingford, yesterday admitted allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control and causing injury.

Attack: A six-year-old girl has been left scarred for life after she was bitten by a dog at this park in Chingford, Essex

The PDSA surveyed 11,000 dog owners and found 87 per cent believe there should be tougher penalties if pets attack a person or another animal.
It also found that 4.1 million dogs did not have any discipline lessons in the first six months of their lives, which makes them more prone to potentially dangerous behaviour.

'We keep hearing awful stories about dog attacks and it's something that dog owners have to take very seriously,'
One in three owners admitted they would consider giving up their dog if its behaviour became a problem.
Mr Wensley added: 'Owners have a responsibility for their dog's behaviour and must consider the effect their dog's actions have on others.
'Effective training also prevents fears from developing which can be a cause of aggression in later life.'

source: dailymail

A real sting operation: Heritage bosses plan to use bee hives to protect ancient buildings from vandals


The team at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park in Flintshire, North Wales, intend to use hives filled with 'security bees' to scare off would-be vandals

Heritage bosses have unveiled their new weapon in the battle against vandals - swarms of honey bees. Conservation chiefs at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park, in Flintshire, North Wales, are planning the sting operation to deter yobs who repeatedly vandalise their ancient buildings.
The park houses a collection of original and reconstructed local buildings - including mills and factories from the 18th century.
And if the plans are approved, hives will be filled with 'security bees' to scare off the would-be raiders.
Chris Wright, manager of the park, said: 'The idea to use bees seems sensible.

The heritage park houses a collection of original and reconstructed local buildings - including mills and factories from the 18th century

'Vandal attacks have led to the deterioration of many historic buildings and it is difficult to deter people who seem determined to get in there.
'But they may think twice if they know there is a hive inside.'
The park team are planning on hiding the hives in old mill buildings which have been repeatedly attacked.
If disturbed, the swarms of honey bees could attack intruders, using their vicious sting to drive them from the heritage site.

If disturbed, the swarms of honey bees could attack intruders, using their vicious sting to drive them from the heritage site (file photo)

The idea has been tabled by members of the Greenfield Valley Trust but they will have to see if it is approved by health and safety chiefs.
Barbara Chick, publicity officer for the Welsh Beekeepers' Association, said: 'I haven't heard of them being used as security bees.
'They could be a deterrent but there may be health and safety issue if someone is stung, so I don't agree to their use as a security measure.'

source: dailymail

The ultimate cat scan! 'My kitten alerted me to my cancer because she kept jumping on my breast'


Talented: Fidge's owner is convinced she sniffed out her cancer

A woman claims her pet cat saved her life - by alerting her to her breast cancer when she was just a whisker from death.
Wendy Humphreys, 52, was bemused when her black-and-white kitten Fidge leapt up and sat on her right breast every night for two weeks while she lay on the sofa.
She went to her GP and was told she had a cancerous pea-sized lump in her breast - which would have killed her if left undiagnosed.

Life-saver: Wendy Humphreys of Wroughton with her cat Fidge who she said detected her breast cancer

The brave mother-of-two is now set to have the breast removed after undergoing chemotherapy and says she owes her life to her 10-month-old kitten.
Wendy said: 'I just couldn't believe it because I didn't think cats were capable of that - I thought it was only dogs.
'Dogs can diagnose epilepsy and can tell when someone's going to have a fit.'
Animals detecting cancer is not unusual as it first sounds. In 2011, German researchers discovered that dogs could sniff out lung cancer from breath samples of sufferers.

It’s believed that cancers produce volatile chemicals that dogs can be trained to smell, which could have dramatic implications for early diagnosis of the disease.
Wendy is convinced Fidge has a similar talent.
She said: 'She saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all. I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. 'I am the first one in my family to have breast cancer. I am so glad I got her.' Wendy and husband David, who have been married for 32 years, got Fidge in May last year when she was eight-weeks-old.

source: dailymail

He's no scaredy-cat! Angry feline who took on an alligator


Menacing: The cat and the alligator faceoff over a pile of tasty chicken at a wildlife park in New Orleans

It looks like a good way for this cat to become a tasty snack.
But when the bold feline decided to take on an alligator in New Orleans, he came out remarkably intact. He chose to take on the reptile at an wildlife park just as it was trying to eat some chicken, and began raining blows on its snout.

Growl: The gator flashes its bone-crushing jaws but the cat remains gloriously unimpressed

Tourists on a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour, looked on stunned as the moggy took offence to an alligator trying to eat some chicken.
It begins with the cat firing off three right jabs before the gator steps back to flash its most menacing stare down ever.
After the tense face off, the gator moves forward, grabs a piece a chicken and wham! gets a right hook straight in the mouth.

Oh no you don't: The cat tries to intercept the beast grabbing at the chicken

As the 'living fossil' twists its head and picks up more meat, the cat unleashes three left hooks in quick succession.
The American alligator can weigh up to 800lbs and grow to 13 feet, but our fluffy fighter didn't care for facts and figures - it simply didn't like the ugly beast.
Sitting bolt upright, its ears went back and it started hissing.

Smack! It fires off a fearsome right hook as the gator moves in for the kill

The gator tried coming at the chicken from a different direction, the cat threw an overhand right, the dazed gator sheepishly retreated into the water and ding! ding! ding! the fight was over.
The cat may be the bravest or most stupid you've ever seen and a cynic may argue that the gator has been trained not to attack.
But who's ever heard of a trained alligator?

source: dailymail

We'll never forget you: Elephants say a sad farewell to baby who died of a heart defect


Goodbye little one: An adult elephant tenderly nuzzles the lifeless body of baby Lola at Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany. The three-months-old calf was due for an operation on her defective heart but sadly died during a preliminary scan

A herd of grieving elephants gathers round the lifeless body of a little calf after she died of a heart defect. Three-month-old Lola was due to receive groundbreaking surgery for her condition but passed away during a preliminary scan.
Keepers at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo decided to return her body to the enclosure so mother Panang, 22, could say her goodbyes in peace.

Afterwards the rest of the herd gently nuzzled Lola's body with their trunks before taking their leave of her. Zoo director and veterinarian Dr Andreas Knieriem explained how baby Lola died after three days of treatment by experts.
'Considering the pathology, it has to be said it's a miracle that she lived as long as she did," said Dr. Knieriem. 'Her arteries were so blocked that blood couldn't flow through her lungs anymore.'

source: dailymail

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who's baarmy idea was that? Keepers dye sheep pink (but luckily they're practically colour blind so don't mind too much!)


Pink and proud: Park bosses originally dyed the animals as part of breast cancer awareness week, but they proved to be such a hit with visitors, that they decided to keep them as a permanent feature

Parents should prepare for some tricky questions from their confused children if they head to a a New Zealand nature park and find this flock of pink wooly mammals grazing on the hills.
The extraordinary sight is causing a sensation at SheepWorld, near Auckland.
Park bosses originally dyed the animals as part of breast cancer awareness week, but it proved to be such a hit with visitors that they decided to keep them as a permanent feature.

Mother and baby alike: They are dyed with harmless food colouring and the dye washes out in the rain

Only five sheep are coloured at one time and the dye washes out in the rain.
John Collyer, from SheepWorld, said the food colouring they use is completely harmless to the animals and had even been approved by a local vet.
He added: 'We use food colouring, which eventually washes out in the rain.
'Sheep are practically colour blind and so would probably not notice if they or other sheep were pink.
'The dye is harmless so there are no side effects. We have cleared what we do with our local vet.

Feeding time: A member of staff from SheepWorld, said 'Sheep are practically colour blind and so would probably not notice if they or other sheep were pink'

'Feedback from visitors is 99 per cent positive. One per cent are concerned about the sheep - normally these people don't understand the precautions we've taken.'
SheepWorld is dubbed an insight into sheep farming in New Zealand.
Visitors can watch sheep-dog shows and also watch as the flocks are shorn of their woolly fleeces.

Unusual sight: SheepWorld visitor feedback 'is 99 per cent positive'

source: dailymail

Father watches in horror as daughter, 10, is grabbed and eaten by crocodile


Horror: A saltwater crocodile snatched and killed a 10-year-old girl in Indonesia as her father and brother watched helplessly (file pic)

A father watched helplesssly as his 10-year-old daughter was snatched and killed by a crocodile in Indonesia.
The pair, along with the girl's brother, had been hunting for turtles in the East Nusa Tenggara province when the girl, Juraida, was dragged in to the water by a giant saltwater crocodile.
Indonesian official Viktor Mado Waton, speaking to the Jakarta Post, said: 'Juraida was seized when she was in about half a metre of water at the river’s mouth.'
Juraida's body has yet to be found.
Locals had already told officials they had seen several crocodiles sunbathing at the river mouth a few days before the incident.

Fatal: The attack happened near Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia. It is the second attack on the Wailolong river in a month

He said her family had been only yards away but 'father and brother could only watch helplessly'. A rescue team later discovered a dress and a hair ribbon on the sand near the site of the incident on the Wailolong river.
And last month a boy was killed by a crocodile in the same river whilst villagers have also reported a loss of livestock.
The salt water crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles and is more commonly found in Australia, the eastern coast of India and parts of south-east Asia.
Although, on average, there are just two fatal attacks reported per year, in recent years there have been attacks in Borneo, Sumatra and Myanmar.

source: dailymail

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