Inside an Imperial Fabergé egg
The allure of Fabergé's infamous Imperial Eggs lies as much in their fabled history as it does the precious objets they house. Created by Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family between 1885 and 1916, the precious eggs were seized during the ...
June 14, 2015
The rayon handkerchief pictures Superman from the waist up, breaking chains across his chest. It was made in 1940 and Q. I have a very old cuckoo clock. It belonged to my great-great-great-grandparents. It must have been made in the early 1800s. On ...
June 13, 2015
The Past, Present, and Future of the Cuckoo Clock
For such an iconic timepiece, there is surprisingly little written about the cuckoo clock, but, as recently noted by the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, modern scholarship does not support the Ketterer theory. two distinct styles ...
May 17, 2013
Fairy wrens teach secret passwords to their unborn chicks to tell them apart ...
The bird in their nest was a Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo. These birds are “brood parasites” – they lay their eggs in Horsfield's bronze-cuckoos lay their eggs too late in the breeding cycle for their chicks to pick up the same notes. They can't learn ...
November 8, 2012
Honeyguide chicks stab their foster siblings to death with hooked bills
Completely blind, it is literally stabbing in the dark but it makes up for its imprecision with brutality. Within minutes of Like the more famous cuckoos, they foist their eggs onto other birds, turning them into unwitting surrogate parents. And ...
September 6, 2011
Corals summon gardening gobies to clean up toxic seaweed
For corals, gardening's a matter of life and death. Corals compete with algal seaweeds for space, and many types of seaweed release chemicals that are toxic to corals, act as carriers for coral diseases and boost the growth of dangerous microbes....
November 9, 2012
Crocodile faces are more sensitive than human fingertips
Once their skin touched the food, they snapped it up within 50-70 milliseconds. They would also wait submerged until a fish swam past their open jaws. Again, as soon as the prey made contact, the croc snapped shut. Leitch and Catania think that the ...
November 8, 2012
One by one, three bee-eater chicks hatch in their underground nest, and they are all about to die. There is a fourth chick in with them, but it is no bee-eater. It is a greater honeyguide, a different species that was laid in the nest and mistakenly incubated by the bee-eater parents. People have only seen youngsters from five of the 17 honeyguide species and all of them have been found in nests of other birds with no native chicks around. The natural assumption was that they are ‘ brood parasites ’ – birds that lay their eggs in the nests of others. Like the more famous cuckoos, they foist their eggs onto other birds, turning them into unwitting surrogate parents. And like the cuckoos, the honeyguide chicks monopolise their foster parents’ attentions by killing their siblings. A common cuckoo chick will push the eggs and young of its host out of the nest. The honeyguides, with their bill hooks, achieve the same end by stabbing rather than defenestration. A man called Gordon Ranger watched a honeyguide chick bite another to death in the palm of his hand and, somehow, the chick managed to stab its bill hook through Ranger’s tongue. Now, Claire Spottiswoode from the University of Cambridge and Jeroen Koorevaar from E. C. O. Logics have managed to film the killer chicks in action.
Of all the adjectives you could use to describe a crocodile’s face, “sensitive” might not be an obvious one. Their faces, and possibly their entire bodies, are covered with tiny bumps that are far more sensitive than our own fingertips. Crocodiles and gharials also have the bumps on virtually every scale of their bodies, giving a total of around 9,000. (All of these animals are called crocodilians. They were first described in 1895, and scientists have used them to identify different farmed species of crocodilians from endangered poached ones. But no one knew what the bumps did. The bumps on their faces seems to be involved. It was a brief study, but it intrigued Duncan Leitch from Vanderbilt University, who wanted to know what the bump were doing. Now, with Ken Catania , he has shown that they’re touch sensors, which make a crocodilian’s face exquisitely sensitive despite its hard unyielding armour. Leitch analysed the bumps, which he calls “integumentary sensory organs” or ISOs, on 18 young American alligators and 4 Nile crocodiles. They’re all branches of the big trigeminal nerve that carries sensations from the animal’s face to its brain.
Their behaviour is uncannily similar to people who have a condition called restless leg syndrome (RLS). Amanda Freeman from the Emory University School of Medicine has engineered the flies so that they have a faulty copy of BTBD9, a gene that has been linked to RLS in humans. The fact that they show the same constellation of symptoms strongly suggests that this gene is genuinely involved in the condition. In 2007, two teams of scientists linked BTBD9 to the repeated limb movements that occur during RLS. A single change in the gene’s sequence increased the risk of such movements by more than 50 per cent, and was probably involved in around half of such cases. One of the teams wrote that the discovery “provides evidence that periodic limb movements in sleep is a genuine syndrome” with a detectable genetic basis. The gene was switched on throughout the brain, but no one really knew what it did. Freeman has gone some way to solving that mystery, and cementing BTBD9’s connection with RLS, by studying fruit flies. Flies also have a version of BTBD9, which is also switched on throughout the nervous system. When Freeman mutated the gene so it could no longer be used, it affected how the flies slept.
Full time whistle match report: Ryan Bird scores on debut as Hartlepool beat Wimbledon 1-0
DEBUTANT Ryan Bird was the hero ... shot wide from the follow-up. That was the last real chance of the opening 45 minutes. It was a poor first-half, with little flow or tempo to the game at Victoria Park, the visitors carving out the better chances but ...
February 28, 2015
Photo tour: The most beautiful places in Indiana
Cataract Falls in Owen County includes the largest waterfall by volume in the state of Indiana. The Upper Falls (pictured) drop 20 feet, while the Lower Falls further downstream plummet 18 feet. (Photo: Kenneth Keifer, Getty Images/iStockphoto) Indiana is ...
January 23, 2015
River City Five Maple Leaves and One Bird One Day Hand-Carved Cuckoo Clock
This traditionally styled German cuckoo clock features wooden hands, a wood dial with Roman numerals, and a warm light yellow hand-painted and hand-carved ... maple leaf up makes the cuckoo clock run slightly faster. on every hour the cuckoo bird emerges ...
December 10, 2013
The Bird in the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock Weighs 330 Pounds
the cuckoo bird alone is 14 feet long and weighs 330 pounds. The whole thing is based on a much smaller cuckoo clock that is about 100 years old—the Triberg clock is simply scaled up. By sixty times. But don’t take it from us. Let this giant wooden ...
November 14, 2013
The Past, Present, and Future of the Cuckoo Clock
Writing eloquently on the cuckoo in his 1849 book Natural History: Birds ... modern clocks that look more like abstract sculptures than timepieces. However, my favorite contemporary cuckoos are those that pay homage to traditional hand-carved “hunt ...
May 16, 2013
Fairy wrens teach secret passwords to their unborn chicks to tell them apart from cuckoo impostors
The bird in their nest was a Horsfield’s ... If they can’t, they often end up feeding the parasite regardless of what it looks like. This is why the common cuckoo has an egg that closely matches that of a reed warbler, but the cuckoo chick is a huge ...
November 8, 2012
Dallas Life: Repairman is cuckoo for cuckoo clocks
The sound of that bird cooing softly on the hour takes me back to my grandmother’s home. It was a pure thrill to watch the bird emerge from a wooden door surrounded by hand-carved ... he be selling cuckoo clocks, he would come in and wind, oil and ...
June 23, 2012