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December 31, 2013

West Nile Virus Blamed for Death of Bald Eagles in Utah

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 8:14pm EST
pBy Laura Zuckerman/pp(Reuters) - An unprecedented wintertime outbreak of West Nile virus has killed more than two dozen bald eagles in Utah and thousands of water birds around the Great Salt Lake, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday./ppAt least 27 bald eagles have died this month in the northern and central parts of Utah from the blood-borne virus, and state biologists reported that five more ailing eagles were responding to treatment at rehabilitation centers./ppThe eagles, whose symptoms included leg paralysis and tremors, are believed to have contracted the disease by preying on sick or dead water birds called eared grebes that were infected by the West Nile virus, said Leslie McFarlane, Utah wildlife disease coordinator./ppSome 20,000 of the water birds have died in and around the Great Salt Lake since November in an outbreak that may be a record in North America, McFarlane said. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=west-nile-virus-blamed-for-death-of-eagles[More]/a

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An Inside Look at an 18 Million-year-old Fossil Dig Site in Florida

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 6:22pm EST
pIt took only 10 minutes for paleontologists to dig up a scientifically important tortoise fossil this fall when a group of science writers visited the Florida Museum of Natural History#8217;s Thomas Farm site . Elsewhere, you might have to dig for hours to find anything of value. The 18 million-year-old site north of Gainesville is one of the most species-rich vertebrate fossil locations in the world, and the best Early Miocene site in North America, says site manager David Steadman , an ornithologist at the museum. #8220;Florida is a paleontologist#8217;s toybox,#8221; he says. /ppHundreds of thousands of fossils of modern and extinct birds, lizards, alligators, frogs, toads, bats, rodents, bear-dogs ( yes! ), camels, rhinos and other mammals, including three species of small, three-toed horses ( Archaeohippus blackbergi , Parahippus leonensis and Anchitherium clarencei ), have been unearthed at this site going back to when a farmer started piling up old bones that got in his way as he dug for a well there in the 1930s. Such discard heaps are called spoils piles, and amateur and professional paleontologists often toss their less intriguing dirt or busted, boring finds onto such heaps for kids and other visitors to paw through in case anything important was missed. Museum curators and other paleontologists dig now at Thomas Farm, but most of the work is done by volunteers, who can get up to speed in about two hours of training on how to non-destructively remove some of the most fragile now-blackened fossils, especially skulls, from gray layers of sand. /p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=an-inside-look-at-an-18-million-year-old-fossil-dig-site-in-florida[More]/a

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How Well Do You Know Your Dog?: Part 1

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 4:00pm EST
p Your knowledge of your dog is unparalleled: You, not I, know whether she sleeps in the same spot all night or instead has a migratory sleep pattern. You know her affinity for trash, or lack thereof. And telling me her breed, age or name won#8217;t give me access to those intimate details. They are for you to know, and for me to, well, not know./ppRecently, researchers at The Queen#8217;s University of Belfast found that our knowledge of dogs extends beyond what we see. Deborah Wells and Peter Hepper of the Canine Behaviour Center in the School of Psychology #8220;examined the ability of humans to identify individual dogs by smell.#8221; (An alternate title could have been, #8220;Turning the Tables: Dogs Aren#8217;t the Only Ones Who Can Sniff#8221; )./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=how-well-do-you-know-your-dog-part-1[More]/a

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Smell Delight Or Disgust Lies In Genes

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 12:57pm EST
pThere are two kinds of people in the world. Those who can smell the roses and those who canrsquo;t. Our ability to smell certain odors appears to be hardwired genetically./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=smell-delight-or-disgust-lies-in-ge-13-12-31[More]/a

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Weddell Seal Population Count

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 11:45am EST
pScientists have been monitoring the Weddell seal population in the McMurdo Sound area near Ross Island, Antarctica for several decades. Their work has raised several questions about the size of the seal population, its distribution and whether it is increasing or decreasing. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/project.cfm?id=weddell-seal-population-count[More]/a

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Why a Safety Device That Can Stop Overdoses by Kids Isnt Widely Used

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 10:45am EST
pStarting in 2007, Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrsquo;s Medication Safety Program, began tracking an obscure but unsettling statistic about childrenrsquo;s health./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-a-safety-device-that-can-stop-overdoses-by-kids-isnt-widely-used[More]/a

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Going from Good to Great with Complex Tasks

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 7:30am EST
pIt is a common belief that consciously thinking about what we are doing interferes with our performance. The origins of this idea go far back. Consider, for instance, the centipedersquo;s dilemma :/p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=going-from-good-to-great-with-complex-tasks[More]/a

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Cancer-linked Flame Retardants Eased Out of Furniture in 2014

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 7:00am EST
pWhen the clock strikes midnight on December 31, new regulations kick into effect that may help usher in an era of less pervasive flame retardants in our home furnishings. The move caps a years-long campaign to alter regulations inextricably linked with a tobacco industry that sought to elude production of self-extinguishing cigarettes designed to limit couch fires. Deception and intrigue led to a 1970s regulation that prompted the injection of chemicals into home furniture, stemming from a distortion of scientific findings that suggested flame retardants would be more effective at reducing sofa fires than they really are. In reality, retardants provide no meaningful protection, a finding uncovered in a 2012 investigative series by The Chicago Tribune and highlighted in a recent documentary Toxic Hot Seat ./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cancer-linked-flame[More]/a

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Knee Ligament Discovery Could Bring New Twist to ACL Treatment

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 6:38am EST
Two Belgian surgeons have described a previously unidentified ligament inside the human knee, which they say appears to play a role in the recovery of patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, an injury common among athletes

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Controversial Idaho Hunting Contest Ends with No Wolves Killed

Scientific American - Posted: December 31st, 2013, 12:41am EST
pBy Laura Zuckerman/ppSALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A controversial hunting contest in Idaho targeting wolves and coyotes has ended with nearly two dozen coyotes killed but no wolves shot, though rancor over the event remains undiminished./ppThe coyote and wolf derby was promoted by ranchers and hunting enthusiasts as a form of family recreation aimed at reducing the number of predators threatening livestock and big-game animals like elk prized by hunters. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=controversial-idaho-hunting-contest[More]/a

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