Pic of the Day

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The Future of Humpback Whales

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This BBC clip taken from the documentary “Planet Earth” Narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Incredible footage of Humpback Whales. Thumbs up to BBC and particularly the various organizations involved in the conservation of these majestic animals.

Today, 2 December 2010, marks the day Paul Watson and the three Sea Shepherd ships depart for the Southern Atlantic in their annual campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet. It is also, coincidentally, Paul Watson’s birthday. Happy Birthday to you, sir!

Pic of the Day

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Lazy Sunday

Pic of the Day

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Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.
Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.
The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.
“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates. 
“The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,” she added.
Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

It has also become clear that they are “cultural” animals, meaning that new types of behaviour can quickly be picked up by one dolphin from another.
In one study, Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, showed that bottlenose dolphins could recognise themselves in a mirror and use it to inspect various parts of their bodies, an ability that had been thought limited to humans and great apes.
In another, she found that captive animals also had the ability to learn a rudimentary symbol-based language.

Other research has shown dolphins can solve difficult problems, while those living in the wild co-operate in ways that imply complex social structures and a high level of emotional sophistication.

In one recent case, a dolphin rescued from the wild was taught to tail-walk while recuperating for three weeks in a dolphinarium in Australia.

After she was released, scientists were astonished to see the trick spreading among wild dolphins who had learnt it from the former captive.

There are many similar examples, such as the way dolphins living off Western Australia learnt to hold sponges over their snouts to protect themselves when searching for spiny fish on the ocean floor.
Such observations, along with others showing, for example, how dolphins could co-operate with military precision to round up shoals of fish to eat, have prompted questions about the brain structures that must underlie them.
Size is only one factor. Researchers have found that brain size varies hugely from around 7oz for smaller cetacean species such as the Ganges River dolphin to more than 19lb for sperm whales, whose brains are the largest on the planet. Human brains, by contrast, range from 2lb-4lb, while a chimp’s brain is about 12oz.
When it comes to intelligence, however, brain size is less important than its size relative to the body.
What Marino and her colleagues found was that the cerebral cortex and neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that “the anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain”. They also found that the brain cortex of dolphins such as the bottlenose had the same convoluted folds that are strongly linked with human intelligence.
Such folds increase the volume of the cortex and the ability of brain cells to interconnect with each other. “Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory to humans, cetacean brains have several features that are correlated with complex intelligence,” Marino said.

Marino and Reiss will present their findings at a conference in San Diego, California, next month, concluding that the new evidence about dolphin intelligence makes it morally repugnant to mistreat them.
Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, who has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, will speak at the same conference.
“The scientific research . . . suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals,” he said.

To wash or not to wash?

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THIS is SCOTT WADE. Check out what he does with the dirty cars by carefully and artfully removing portions of the dirt. According to his web site, he lives real close to a dirt road in San Marcos , Texas

In the Womb

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3-dimensional ultra sound scan of an dolphin foetus taken by Peter Chan for National Geographic.
  3-dimensional ultra sound scan of an elephant foetus taken by Peter Chan for National Geographic.

Cool Stuff

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I reckon some of the most interesting pieces of art are those that make use of OPTICAL ILLUSION. I first became interested in such when I was 7yrs old. My folks took us to Europe and after driving around all day and being patient with adults we ended up in some art gallery. As anyone who has kids knows, long ques and lofty art galleries are NOT child friendly. I was bored, restless and irritable. We ended up at “THE MASTER PIECE” that my dad so badly wanted to see. Here she is!

I was NOT impressed untill my dad told me to watch her eyes. No matter where you stand in the room , the Mona Lisa appears to be looking directly at you. And so began my fascination with this style of art.

The image above for example may initially look like two old people looking at each other. Closer inspection though reveals something altogether different. Another example of this type of illusion is featured below. At first glance, you may see a face with handle bar moustache and wild hair. Look a bit closer, you will see Don Quixote on his steed. Look even more closely and a dozen or more different faces start coming into focus.

Cool huh? Ok so now you’re getting into it! Check this one 🙂

Some illusions are not that format, but more trippy. (for want of a better word) They occur because of conflicting information between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. A good example of this is the following image.

Believe it or not, the horizontal lines are perfectly parallel. Don’t believe me? Get a ruler. It’s your brain lying to you. You like that? Hows this one?

Yep you guessed it! Nothing is actually moving, so don’t worry. You aren’t having flash backs from college days. But try count how many black dots you see in the next image.

Kinda difficult when the shit keeps moving around hey? Well, put your mind at ease. There are NO black dots. Spatial perception. lol And look at this. I really struggle with this one cause I see a spiral. But in actual fact its two cirles. And believe it or not, they are PERFECT circles and not crooked at all.

Here is an excersise you can try. In the image below, focus on the dot in the centre. Move your head closer and further away a few times.

Looks weird? Not as weird as you moving your head back and forth.

This I copied from wiki –> An optical illusion (also called a visual illusion) is characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality. The information gathered by the eye is processed in the brain to give a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. There are three main types: literal optical illusions that create images that are different from the objects that make them, physiological ones that are the effects on the eyes and brain of excessive stimulation of a specific type (brightness, tilt, color, movement), and cognitive illusions where the eye and brain make unconscious inferences.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that. I will post some others at a later date, but for now I need coffee. Please feel free to comment or leave a suggestion