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Animals

Science

ATP-detecting nanosensors could help reduce laboratory animal testing

Animal testing is an area that elicits strong feelings on both sides of the argument for and against the practice. Supporters like the British Royal Society argue that virtually every medical breakthrough of the 20th century involved the use of animals in some way, while opponents say that it is not only cruel, but actually impedes medical progress by using misleading animal models. Whatever side of the argument researchers fall on, most would likely use an alternative to animal testing if it existed. And an alternative that reduces the need for animal testing is just what Fraunhofer researchers hope their new sensor nanoparticles will be.Read More

Science

Prototype system removes air pollutants and generates heat for livestock barns

If you’ve ever so much as stepped into a chicken or swine barn, you’ll know that they can be very, very smelly places. When vented outdoors, the air from these buildings does more than just make the area stink – it can actually be a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Fortunately, however, researchers from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University have created a system that not only helps clean the air going out of the barns, but it heats up the air coming in from outside.Read More

Robotics

Leaping lizards inspire new robot design

For some time now, scientists have assumed that dinosaurs’ tails didn’t simply drag on the group behind them, but were instead held out to serve as a counterweight for the giant reptiles’ heavy front ends when running. More recently, however, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that modern-day lizards also use their tails to control the orientation of their bodies when leaping through the air. It’s a discovery that could be applied to devices such as search-and-rescue robots, and in fact already has been. Based on their observations, the UC Berkeley team created a small, tailed robot known as Tailbot.Read More

Good Thinking

Orangutans using iPads at zoos - soon to use Skype

Turns out we aren't that different from other apes after all. Our primate cousins at a handful of zoos love to use iPads to combat boredom just as much as humans. Zookeepers say that the device is perfect for orangutans, and many have been taking part in guided touchscreen interactions with all sorts of apps, including music, games, movies, cartoons, art, painting, drawing, photos and videos. The orangutans have been playing with the iPads for the past several months, and now a U.S. charity is hoping to round up more of the tablets so the apes can Skype with orangutans at other zoos.Read More

Science

Camera trap app sends shots of random wild critters to your iPhone

Why do ecotourists travel thousands of miles to catch glimpses of rare, exotic animals, when they could get long, lingering looks at them just by turning on their TV? Well, partly because it’s fun to travel. Also, however, it’s a lot more exciting when you never know what you’re going to see, or when, or where. While it’s not quite as epic as trekking through the African Savannah, the Zoological Society of London’s Instant Wild App is bringing that same sort of wilderness-lottery-like excitement to the iPhone. Users can subscribe to feeds from camera traps located in several areas of the world, and will receive photos of the animals that trigger those traps, as they’re triggered. While that might be neat enough in and of itself, users can then proceed to help conservationists protect those creatures.Read More

Science

New facial recognition software designed for study of wild apes

When studying wild animals such as gorillas and chimpanzees, it's not uncommon to use photo or video traps - unmanned cameras that are triggered to capture images when creatures pass in front of them. Scientists can then retrieve the cameras and review the footage, to get an estimate of the numbers of a certain species within a given area, and to see what those animals have been up to. One of the problems with this approach, however, is that it's often hard to tell one animal from another - are you looking at several shots of several different apes, or is it the same individual every time? German scientists are developing wild primate-devoted facial recognition software, in order to answer such questions. Read More

Good Thinking

Cows check in for meals using electronic ear tags

With diseases such as Foot and Mouth, TB, and of course Mad Cow still presenting a danger to cattle, it’s of the utmost importance that farmers monitor the health of their animals, and immediately proceed to isolate any that might be showing symptoms. If you have a herd of over 500 cows, however, keeping track of individuals can be rather tricky. That’s why scientists at England’s Newcastle University have developed electronic ears tags, that they’re trying out on a herd of test cattle.Read More

Science

Pluripotent stem cells generated from horses

For the first time ever, scientists from the University of Montreal and Mount Sinai Hospital have generated pluripotent stem cells from horses. Pluripotency refers to a cell's ability to become any of the various other types of cells found within the body, and the ability to be able to grow such cells in a laboratory setting has great implications for the field of regenerative medicine. Not only does this latest accomplishment potentially mean big things for sick or injured horses, but it could also pave the way for lab-based human stem cell treatments.Read More

Science

LCD projector used to control tiny organisms

Genetically engineered remote controlled animals ... what the? Using inexpensive and widely available technology combined with the latest techniques in optogenetics, researchers at Georgia Tech have created exactly that. Optogenetics is a mix of optical and genetic techniques that has allowed scientists to gain control over brain circuits in laboratory animals. Mary Shelly would be proud – or totally freaked out. But don't expect remote controlled poodles or parrots in your nearest pet store by Christmas, this might be a few years off.Read More

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