News-in-Transition

24 May 2017

 - Crows are incredibly clever birds. Some species use tools, for example. Some also recognize human faces, even "gossiping" about who's a threat and who's cool. Crows can hold long-term grudges against people they deem dangerous, or shower their allies with gifts. Oh, and they can solve puzzles on par with a 7-year-old human.

With wits like this, it's little wonder crows have adapted to live in human cities around the world. Yet despite all their uncanny displays of intelligence, a recent example from Japan is eyebrow-raising even for these famously brainy birds.

Wild crows had learned to raid a research building in Iwate Prefecture, stealing insulation to use as nest material. But as the Asahi Shimbun reports, they abruptly quit after a professor began hanging paper signs that read "crows do not enter."

The idea was suggested by a crow expert from Utsunomiya University, and has reportedly worked for the past two years. This doesn't mean the crows can read Japanese, but it may still shed light on their complex relationship with people.

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25 April 2017

 - A caterpillar commonly used as fishing bait has been shown to have an extraordinary appetite for plastic, which scientists say could help tackle pollution.

Roughly 80 million tons (metric) of polyethylene are produced on the planet each year, a large percentage of which ends up in countless landfills around the world. The substance is notoriously hard to break down and can take centuries to degrade.

The wax worm seems to be nature's own solution to the problem and scientists have a chance discovery to thank for it.

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8 April 2017

 - New research shows that octopuses and other cephalopods have a tremendous capacity to alter and edit their own genes, which scientists believe to be the reason behind their shocking intelligence and ability to learn.

An octopus really shouldn't be intelligent by all rights. Their brains have 1/20th the amount of neurons as humans, and it isn't centralized in their body. Instead, they have a miniature brain in the bases of their arms.

And yet the octopus has both short and long-term memory. It can solve mazes and other simple problems. They've been observed using tools and building things. While their intellect is well-known, scientists have struggled to understand why such prodigious intelligence manifested in such an unlikely creature.

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5 April 2017

 - Man’s best friend is known for being capable of amazing feats. For years dogs have been trained to do many extraordinary tasks. They have been trained to assist people with disabilities in a number of different ways or to become therapy animals. Our four-legged furry friends are also often taught how to sniff out bombs, drugs or people in need of rescue, to boot. Researchers have also found that our beloved canines can even help to detect cancer with their super-sensitive noses.

Impressive results from a diagnostic trial found that a pair of specially trained German Shepherds could detect breast cancer with 100 percent accuracy. The technique is described as “simple, non-invasive and cheap” and could replace mammograms, particularly in areas where the diagnostic method is hard to come by. Project Kdog, the name the initiative goes by, has shown marked success and could stand to shake up current diagnostic practices.

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7 February 2017

 - With up to 300 million scent receptors (compared to our 6 million), dogs can smell things that seem non-existent to our senses. While we all know about their ability to find missing people and sniff out hidden drugs or bombs, they can actually detect so much more. With their extraordinary sense of smell, dogs can pick up on tiny chemical changes in the human body.

From cancer to diabetes, dogs can give us a heads up about a range of human diseases long before the test results come in, potentially saving lives due to early detection. While most dogs have an exquisite sense of smell, not all dogs are gifted with the same disease detecting qualities. According to True Activist, dogs bred for detection and hunting purposes are the best choices for the job.

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4 January 2017

 - Humans have long thought themselves to be the smartest animals on the planet, but evidence continues to reveal that even with little shared DNA – animals are catching up, and perhaps even surpassing our own evolutionary intelligence.

Some philosophical perspectives suggest that this anthropomorphic egocentrism is misplaced, since all creatures, not just people have ‘mind,’ which is capable of evolving toward higher levels of consciousness. We share a quarter of our DNA, after all, with a single grain of rice, but there is something even more intelligent in our design, and many believe it permeates everything.

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17 October 2016

 - Most elephants that SOS Wildlife India has rescued never had the chance to form elephant friendships. Their previous lives in chains deprived them of the simple joy of bonding with other elephants. Seeing the deep connection elephants develop when they are finally free makes it just heartbreaking to think of their past isolation.

Providing the chance to form these friendships is a dream of theirs for all of India’s lonely elephants. But their current elephant care center is nearly full, and they desperately need to expand. Their Field of Dreams campaign is working acquire land to help bring 50 more elephants to a place of freedom and friends. They already have the land picked out. It’s perfect.

This week the goal is to raise $100,000 to go toward procuring that land. Timing is critical; can you help to get them on the road with a donation today?

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12 August 2016

 - Today on World Elephant Day seven companies, including eBay, Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo! have united to adopt a new policy framework that will help protect animals from illegal online trade.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been battling online wildlife crime since 2004 and I personally have led the fight for the last five years.

During that time we have seen company after company step up and change their policy but now we have reached a crucial tipping point. Today we are building a strong, steadfast wall designed to keep wildlife criminals out of these online platforms and prevent illegal trade being displaced onto other online sites.

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1 August 2016

humpback whale - Humans might not be the only creatures that care about the welfare of other animals. Scientists are beginning to recognize a pattern in humpback whale behavior around the world, a seemingly intentional effort to rescue animals that are being hunted by killer whales.

Marine ecologist Robert Pitman observed a particularly dramatic example of this behavior back in 2009, while observing a pod of killer whales hunting a Weddell seal trapped on an ice floe off Antarctica. The orcas were able to successfully knock the seal off the ice, and just as they were closing in for the kill, a magnificent humpback whale suddenly rose up out of the water beneath the seal.

This was no mere accident. In order to better protect the seal, the whale placed it safely on its upturned belly to keep it out of the water. As the seal slipped down the whale's side, the humpback appeared to use its flippers to carefully help the seal back aboard. Finally, when the coast was clear, the seal was able to safely swim off to another, more secure ice floe.

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31 May 2016

- How bumblebees find flowers to gather nectar and pollen was largely a mystery – until now.

Scientists have found tiny, vibrating hairs may explain how the industrious insects sense and interpret signals transmitted by flowers, leading them to the plants so they can gather pollen.

While it was known that flowers communicate with pollinators by sending out electric signals, experts were previously unsure how bees detect the fields.

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9 April 2016

felidae  - Both cats and dogs in this derivation are serving as benevolent energy giving assistants to humans, to their caretakers. Both have the capacity to meld their energy fields with the human and are uniquely capable of becoming personality fragments of their human caretakers. That is why certain of these can often begin to display the physical characteristics of their ‘owners’, although this particular aspect occurs more commonly with the canine.

The canine exudes an extreme loyalty and unconditional love. A dedication that energetically is received by the human, and can assist in many ways. The dogs ( and cats) become both companions , healers and protectors. The feline, the cat, is much more in the ethereal (antimatter) realm in its conscious field. That is why many past societies worshiped the Feline forms of Jaguar, Lion , Tiger and Puma.

These beings are extremely aware of thought forms of ethereal realms and offer a stealth strength and protection. The house cat is capable of tremendous protection for their caretakers from untoward thought forms and negative energies. Certain breeds of dogs have this ability as well, but it is expressed and enacted differently.

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5 April 2016

This family of marmoset monkeys visits us every morning. It's not often that they pose for a family portrait, though! How many can you count? In fact, there are 8 monkeys in the photo -  one mother, two fathers, 2 older kids, and in the upper branch on the right, an older sister caring for two newborn siblings. Photo by Edna Spennato. Click on the image to enlarge.

5 March 2016

 - Environmental officials and experts are cautiously celebrating a recent rise in the monarch butterfly population, which has suffered a stark decline in recent years due to a variety of factors. The population of monarchs who made their annual trip to Mexico this past December increased three-and-a-half times from the previous year, but the totals are still far below those from two decades ago.

The uptick may also be because of efforts within the United States to revive milkweed, a plant the monarchs depend upon as they make their annual trek to Mexico. Milkweed serves as the host plant for monarch caterpillars, but it has been largely wiped out due to various environmental factors.

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