Hi, cutie-pie! This little weirdo is a mouse lemur, one of two newly discovered in Madagascar through genetic analysis. Of course as soon as we realized they were alive, we had to declare them endangered, because as people all we goddamn do is slash and burn forests (or create the conditions in which slashing and burning forests is someone else’s only option for survival), but still, here they are. Sorry we’ve been fucking with your life before we even knew you existed, little Microcebus murinus.
Read more about our new lemur friends at Scientific American's Running Ponies blog.
[photo by David Haring of the Duke Lemur Center via Running Ponies]
Welcome to the world, endangered limosa harlequin frog! You are the product of the very first scientific program to breed your species, because we selfish-jerk humans can’t stop wrecking your habitat and making you extinct.
To get the small amphibians to mate, researchers went to great lengths. They built a rock platform to mimic the underground caves in which the frogs breed, and piped in oxygen-rich water between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (22 and 24 degrees Celsius), according to a release from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Young frogs only feed on algal mats coating rocks. So scientists with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which bred the frogs, also painted the rock platforms with spirulina algae and then let it dry. When placed inside the enclosure, the algae grew and fed the animals.
Gosh they’re tiny, aren’t they? They must lay the tiniest eggs. Ultimately the scientists breeding these itty-bitty amphibians plan to release them into the wild, though if we don’t work on repairing the places they live, the limosa harlequin frog may only survive in captivity.
[photo by Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute via Live Science]
Dogs can recognize other dogs! Thanks, science! »
The researchers found that despite the huge diversity of dog breeds and non-dog species shown to these nine dogs, each one managed to successfully recognise which faces belonged to dogs and which faces didn’t. Whether it was the face of a big, shaggy dog or a tiny, sleek one, the dogs managed over a number of different trials to lump them all into the same category, away from any of the other species.
Following up on two studies on dogs’ ability to recognize pictures of other dogs, and humans (your dog totally knows your face!), researchers in France did a big experiment to see “whether dogs can recognise each other as a separate group, away from other animals, despite their incredible physical diversity.” Answer, per Becky Crew at Running Ponies blog: yes! They can tell other dogs are other dogs, no matter how different two breeds are.
"What’s left to do now is to figure out what physical characteristics the dogs were using to distinguish the pictured dogs from the other species."
Animals are amazing! Are dogs secret geniuses, or have we just been arrogantly underestimating them for millennia? Probably both.
[Photo by saturday_flowers via Flickr]
Gut-check: The real paleo diet was mostly plants »
Rob Dunn has a guest blog at Scientific American this week that neatly summarizes the problem with all those Paleo Diet enthusiasts: Our actual, paleolithic ancestors ate very similarly to today’s simians, which is to say, mostly plants.
He says that the diets of living primates “are composed of fruits, nuts, leaves, insects, and sometimes the odd snack of a bird or a lizard,” and that even notoriously bloodthirsty chimpanzees’ diets are maybe 3 percent meat, tops. You know, almost exactly what they ate before some of them took a turn toward humanity millennia ago. The money quote, though, is here:
IF we want to return to our ancestral diets, we might reasonably eat what our ancestors spent the most time eating during the largest periods of the evolution of our guts. If that is the case, we need to be eating fruits, nuts, and vegetables—especially fungus-covered tropical leaves.
All those skinny white guys with old-timey facial hair can run around taking home-butchery classes and eating all of the pig, or whatever, but they can’t pretend it’s more “natural” than eating a plant-based diet. It’s just more violent.
To increase your knowledge and feelings of veg-superiority, go read Rob Dunn’s entire blog post. It’s terrific!
[Photo of a Temminck’s Red Colobus (taken in Gambia! A free monkey!) by Steve Garvia via Flickr]