Monday October 23, 2017
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Reason Behind Multicolored Bird Feathers is Unveiled, Find Out Here!

It has previously been discovered that different patterns and colors help camouflage the birds from predators

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Bird feathers
Honeyeater bird. Pixabay

Chicago, Aug 08, 2017: Ever wondered how birds carry multicolored feathers to show off? While some birds are bright in color as one can spot them remotely, some are colored and appear deceiving so much that you’ll never realize if you’re even looking at the bird!

There are more than 18,000 bird species on Earth, and every species is differently colored.  The feathers of the birds are composed of intricate combinations of mottles, scales, bars, and spots, making each one unique and resembling different.

It has previously been discovered that different patterns and colors help camouflage the birds from predators.

A study on about 9000 bird species’ plumage coloration was conducted by Dr. Ismael Galvan and his team of expert researchers to answer the very question: How birds get such different colors?

ALSO READ: Traffic Noise can reduce Birds’ ability to hear an Alarm call, making them Vulnerable to Predators

Two types of pigments are responsible for the plumage coloration: melanins, which produce a range of black, gray, brown, and orange colors and carotenoids, which are used by specialized feather structures to generate brighter color shades.

Melanins are synthesized by in the birds’ bodies in special cells called “melanocytes,” which work together with feather follicles to achieve a fine control of coloration.

Carotenoids are present in certain food items that circulate through the bloodstream and to the feather follicles when birds consume such food items. The birds cannot produce carotenoids, nor can they exercise direct cellular control of synthesizing and depositing carotenoids. The specialized feather structures react to the consumed carotenoids with a mechanism that is not regulated by specialized cells.

Carotenoids are more commonly examined in the study of bird coloration, however, Dr. Galvan and group are the first to test whether melanins are indeed the only pigmentary element that birds’ bodies directly control on a cellular level.

Galvan says, “Knowing beforehand that different pigments and structures produce different types of colors in feathers, we examined the appearance of the plumage of all species of extant birds and determined if the color patches that they contain are produced by melanins or by other pigmentary elements.”

He further added, “We also identified those plumage patterns that can be considered complex, defining them as those formed by combinations of two or more discernible colors that occur more than two times uninterruptedly through the plumage”, reports ANI.

According to the researchers, 32% of the species examined have complex plumage patterns, with the large majority of these complex patterns produced by melanins rather than carotenoids.

To put simply, carotenoids produce color patches, whereas melanins produce intricate patterns

However, in exceptional cases, unusual colors appear to be produced by their bodies making metabolic alterations to the carotenoid colors that they consume. Some of these are Fruit doves, cotingas and one type of stork have complex plumage patterns without melanins.

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Newly Discovered Fish Fossil in Nevada (US) has Shark like Features

Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells

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Birgeria americana, newly discovered fish species
The 26-cm-long fossil preserving the right side of the skull of Birgeria americana. VOA
  • A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species 
  • Scientists believe, it looked and ate like a shark
  • Researchers call this fish, Birgeria Americana 

New Delhi, August 9, 2017: A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species that scientists believe looked, and ate, like a shark.

The fossil is what remains of a bony, sharp-toothed fish that would have been about six-feet-long (1.83 meters) with long jaws and layers of sharp teeth.

The type of jaw and teeth on the fish suggest it would have chomped down on its prey before swallowing it whole, like a shark, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

“The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time-period ever discovered in the United States,” said Carlo Romano of the University of Zurich, lead author of a Journal of Paleontology article about the find.

The fish, which researchers called Birgeria americana, predates Nevada’s most famous fossil, the Ichthyosaur, by more than 30 million years. The Ichthyosaur was a 55-foot-long (16.76 meters) reptile. One of the largest concentrations of Ichthyosaur fossils was found near Berlin, Nevada. The find led to the Ichthyosaur becoming Nevada’s state fossil.

Birgeria americana found in Nevada
Possible look of the newly discovered predatory fish species Birgeria americana with the fossil of the skull shown at bottom right. VOA

The evidence shows the fish was alive and well about 1 million years after mass extinction 66 million years ago wiped out an estimated 90 percent of marine species.

It also shows a large fish was surviving in water previously thought to be too warm to support such life.

At the time, water near the equator, which is where land that became Nevada was positioned about 250 million years ago, could have been warmer than 96 degrees. “The eggs of today’s bony fish can no longer develop normally” at such a high temperature, researcher said.

ALSO READ: Living Fossil in Illinois Waterways: Disappeared from 1990’s Water, Fish “Alligator Gar” is back in US Rivers

Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells.

“It was just a very lucky find,” said Jenks, who was credited among the paper’s authors. “I happen to notice the teeth glinting in the sun. That is what caught my attention.”

Jenks turned the fish over to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which has a large collection of fossils and connections with leading researchers. (VOA)

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Mystery Unlocked: Bird Egg Shapes and Flight Ability are co-related, says Study

The analysis revealed that birds tend to lay eggs that are more asymmetric and more elliptical if they are better fliers

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Bird egg
Different shapes of bird eggs. Pixabay
  • Team of researchers has found that the egg shape is related to flight ability
  • The team used photographs to analyze the shapes of nearly 50,000 eggs representing 1,400 species.
  • The egg membrane may also play a critical role in determining the shape

New York, June 24, 2017: In what could perhaps crack the long-term mystery behind the astonishing variety of bird egg shapes, an international team of researchers has found that the egg shape is related to flight ability, with good fliers tending to lay pointy or elliptical eggs.

Avian eggs have fascinated humans for millennia because they come in different shapes — elliptical in hummingbirds, spherical in owls, pointy ovoids in shorebirds and almost everything in between. But we still lack the answer to this simple question — why did different egg shapes evolve, and how?

The new study published in the journal Science suggests that egg shape is related to flight ability, and that the egg membrane may play a critical role in determining shape.

“In contrast to classic hypotheses, we discovered that flight may influence egg shape. Birds that are good fliers tend to lay asymmetric or elliptical eggs,” said the study’s lead author Mary Caswell Stoddard of Princeton University in New Jersey, US.

“In addition, we propose that the stretchy egg membrane, not the hard shell, is responsible for generating the diversity of egg shapes we see in nature,” Caswell said.

To unravel the mystery of egg shape, the researchers used a multi-step, multidisciplinary process, applying tools from computer science, comparative biology, mathematics and biophysics.

First, the team used photographs to analyse the shapes of nearly 50,000 eggs representing 1,400 species.

The eggs, from the online database of The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley, came from across the globe and were largely collected by naturalists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Using computer code, the researchers quantified each egg’s asymmetry and ellipticity.

By combining the power of high-throughput digital image analysis with the wealth of data in the museum egg collection, the team was able to map the world of egg shapes.

The team then developed a biophysical model to explain how processes in the bird’s oviduct might generate different egg shapes.

The team also used an evolutionary framework to test hypotheses about egg shape.

Using a recently constructed phylogeny, or family tree, of birds, the researchers compared egg shapes across different bird lineages. In this analysis, they included details about nest type and location, clutch size, diet and flight ability.

Also Read: Why Birds have Beaks? Researchers discover a Dinosaur Species that shed its “Milk teeth” but did not Replace them 

The analysis revealed that birds tend to lay eggs that are more asymmetric and more elliptical if they are better fliers.

The researchers suggest that as birds’ bodies became adapted for powered flight, this resulted in morphological changes like reduced body size and a reduced abdominal cavity.

The discovery that morphological constraints associated with flight may contribute to egg shape challenges the conventional wisdom that egg shape is largely influenced by clutch size or nest location. (IANS)

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Is Invention of Electric Bulb a Boon or Curse? Dr Bharti Raizada comes up with a whole new perspective!

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Light Bulb, Pixabay

May 21, 2017:

When I was growing up, I used to see stars in the night. Now my children see stars in the planetarium, or we go 100s of miles away from the city to see stars.

Most cities are glowing up with the bright light these days and it is hard to see stars and constellations. These bright lights confuse birds, and they smash into buildings and get injured or die. Artificial light also confuses animals and they end up at wrong places risking their lives. For example, turtle babies can move towards the city instead of the ocean and die of dehydration and by predators. When we are flying at night time, instead of looking up at stars we look down to see city lights.

Some studies showed that light has harmful effects on the brain and eyes. It can help in development and growth of cancer cells. Exposure to light at night also decreases melatonin production and interferes with the sleep cycle.

Very bright and glowing bill boards are coming in the city. How can people sleep in that bright light? And what about the ill health effects of these?

What is the solution?

  1. Direction of light can be changed by mindful designs and shielding. Much of the light from bulbs goes up in the sky. If light is shielded from above it will go in the direction of earth and therefore there will be less light pollution of sky.
  2. Intensity of light can be adjusted to minimum required.
  3. Spectrum of light is important too. Blue light goes more towards the sky. Red, orange areas of light spectrum go less towards the sky.
  4. A bill should be passed to ban light exposure in some areas and situation. e.g. if someone is lighting bulbs in their home, they should cover their windows so that light does not show up outside.
  5. Many buildings and schools leave all lights on every night. I do not understand the reason for that. There should be a penalty for unnecessary light exposure.
  6. There is need for realtime light intensity, color, duration adjustment. Smart light system is necessary.
  7. Please stand up and speak up for yourself, for our children and for everyone- fellow humans, birds,animals etc.

We have to give our next generation the opportunity to see sky or the mystery of universe. It is their right and our responsibility.