What we're talking about Craniate Kith and Kin Saturday, July 4, 2015

Craniate Kith and Kin

Good news, everyone! The US Fish and Wildlife Service has decided that captive chimpanzees deserve the same protection as wild chimpanzees. We’ve been living for years with a peculiar split decision that says it is illegal to experiment on some chimps, the ones still living in the wild, but other chimps, those that live in…

We hear this all the time. Pig physiology is like people physiology. Pigs and humans have the same immune system, same digestive system, get the same diseases. Pigs are smart like people are smart. Pigs are smarter than dogs. And so on. Ask a faunal expert in archaeology or a human paleoanatomist: Pig teeth are…

  Another reason to marvel at dolphins. As a follow up to the previous blog on dolphins calling each other by name, new research from Dr. Jason Bruck at the Institute for Mind and Biology (University of Chicago) shows that dolphins have the longest memory known in animals. In addition to Kai, shown above, a…

As researchers continue to document the intelligence and emotional acuity of animals, beasts begin to look more like brethren, and food more like friend. On Pharyngula, PZ Myers shares a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that accords chimpanzees used in research the same endangered status as their wild counterparts. According to Science, "organizations that want to continue working with chimpanzees will have to document that the work enhances the survival of the species and benefits chimps in the wild." PZ writes, "I want to see more studies done on our closest relatives — but it has to be done in a way that respects their right to live." Meanwhile, Greg Laden considers commonalities humans share with one of our preferred sources of animal protein—pigs. A new review of past swine research emphasizes that pigs have excellent long-term memories, comprehend simple symbols, demonstrate empathy, and are very social: they play with, help, and even deceive each other. Greg stresses that pig-human similarity is qualitatively different from chimp-human similarity, resulting not from close ancestry, but from parallel evolutionary histories—including an affinity for eating roots.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

The NY Times has stirred up some controversy by recommending a novel flavor combination: guacamole made with peas. I must weigh in. Sounds delicious! Would love to try it!

Physical Science

Another busy week of physics-y blogging over at Forbes. I’m pretty bad about remembering to post pointers to individual posts here, but I can probably just about manage to do a weekly links dump of what I’ve been posting. — What’s The Point Of Science Without “Eureka!” Moments? Picking up on a conversation I had…

“Revolutions are something you see only in retrospect.” –Alan Greenspan If there’s one thing you can be certain of when it comes to the fundamental, scientific truths of our Universe, it’s this: someday, in the not too distant future, those truths will be superseded by more fundamental ones. And even those, quite likely, won’t be…

“Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it.” –Summer of 4 ft. 2; The Simpsons There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a…

Environment

The OSHA inspection following the work-related death in Oklahoma of Ernesto Rodriguez did not result in any citations. A FOIA request of records from the inspection shed little light on why it happened.

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

Humans have been releasing greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere for a long time now, and this has heated up the surface of the planet. This, in turn, has caused a number of alarming changes in weather. Several current weather events exemplify the effects of climate change. Record High Temperatures Being Shattered South Asia recently…

Humanities

Thinking about marriage licenses and a trip to the sporting goods store.

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee has produced a spending bill that would eliminate funding for Title X, a program that provides family-planning services to millions of low-income women and preventive care to women and men.

Education

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

Sadly, the second herpes virus-related death occurred after this story was released at the Albuquerque BioPark. The victim was a five-year old Asian elephant named Daizy. Source: The Scientist

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Politics

Thinking about marriage licenses and a trip to the sporting goods store.

New investigative series examines the toll of occupational illness and the lack of federal protections; OSHA steps up its efforts to protect nurses; women janitors face sexual assault and rape risks on the night shift; and IKEA reports that raising wages worked so well, the company is set to raise them again.

A new take on TPP, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, gives me another reason to give the TPP a thumbs down.

Medicine

Dammit. I had planned on posting something else tomorrow that, because it had been posted elsewhere, would be minimal work. The reason, of course, is because it’s the 4th of July weekend and today is a federal holiday. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen that I cannot ignore, even though all sorts of other bloggers are writing…

In the wake of the passage of SB 277 into law in California, the antivaccine contingent went full mental jacket. SB 277, as you might recall, eliminates non-medical exemptions (i.e., religious and personal belief exemptions) to school vaccine mandates. One thing watching the crazy was good for, at least for me, was to note how…

My original intention was to write about something entirely different today, but, really, how could I, given that SB277 has become law in California and non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates are a thing of the past? The topic I had in mind for today can easily keep for a day or two anyway. Besides,…

Brain & Behavior

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Analyzing online searches and social media activity has often been suggested as a way to track and maybe even predict the spread of diseases. And it’s a great idea — if it’s done right, it could offer public health workers real-time surveillance and a jumpstart at containing dangerous outbreaks. But there’s a hitch. How can we attempt to decipher between online activity triggered by the possibility of actual disease symptoms and online activity triggered by simple curiosity?

Technology

Analyzing online searches and social media activity has often been suggested as a way to track and maybe even predict the spread of diseases. And it’s a great idea — if it’s done right, it could offer public health workers real-time surveillance and a jumpstart at containing dangerous outbreaks. But there’s a hitch. How can we attempt to decipher between online activity triggered by the possibility of actual disease symptoms and online activity triggered by simple curiosity?

Gemini is what got me into space, science, all of it. Amy Shira Teitel can bring you up to speed. Gemini worked out almost everything that had to be worked out to go to the moon. Not the part with the big fire cracker under the tin can to take off from the moon, but…

If you have not already had a chance to see it, the T. Rex Autopsy airing on the National Geographic channel is a must-see! They literally created a model of T. Rex based on available evidence about T. Rex and other dinosaurs as well as evidence from modern birds and then performed an “autopsy”. The conclusion: T.…

Information Science

A common hurdle in the field of occupational health and safety is delivering what can sometimes be life-saving information to the people who need it most. After all, not all employers are amenable to workplace health and safety education. But what if safety advocates could find and connect with the most at-risk workers out in the community? Perhaps even reach vulnerable workers with safety education before they experience an injury at work?

There’s lots of discussion out there right now in the twitter and blog world concerning Bjorn Brembs’ call to librarians to jumpstart the mass migration to Open Access by essentially unilaterally cancelling all the journals they subscribe to. This act would force the hands of all the various players in the ecosystem to immediately figure…

A bit of a change of pace for me and my reviewing habits — a book written in French! Of course, books about science or scientists are pretty typical review fodder for me. And even more typically, graphic novels about science or scientists are incredibly common for me to review. But books in French? This…

Jobs

The OSHA inspection following the work-related death in Oklahoma of Ernesto Rodriguez did not result in any citations. A FOIA request of records from the inspection shed little light on why it happened.

New investigative series examines the toll of occupational illness and the lack of federal protections; OSHA steps up its efforts to protect nurses; women janitors face sexual assault and rape risks on the night shift; and IKEA reports that raising wages worked so well, the company is set to raise them again.

Workers and safety advocates delivered petitions with 25,000 signatures to Hyundai’s headquarters demanding better working conditions at companies in the automaker’s supply chain. Exposure to isocyanates in the manufacturing of automobile seats is a particular concern.