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Cat parasite could be making kids stupid

cat

Toxoplasma gondii is a single celled organism that lives in the guts of cats and is spread to humans through contact with cat crap. About a third of the human population is infected with it. It resides in the brain and muscles, and doesn't always cause symptoms. But a new study at the University of Iowa and Florida International University has linked Toxoplasma gondii to reading and memory difficulties in children. The study also suggests that vitamin E can reduce the effects.

Infected rats are already known to lose their fear of cats, making it more likely that they will be killed and eaten. This is advantageous to the parasite, since it reproduces inside the intestines of cats. The organism's egg-like oocysts are shed in cat faeces which may then contaminate food or infect other animals. Some studies have suggested that Toxoplasma gondii can alter the behaviour of humans too, making men more aggressive and even causing women to cheat on their husbands. Other research has pointed to a strong link between the parasite and schizophrenia.

Image: Shutterstock

Wild gorilla displeased with his reflection in mirror

And other wild animals shown a mirror also appear to be concerned.

French photographer Xavier Hubert Brierre set up mirrors in Gabon to capture the local wildlife interacting with their reflections for the the first time ever. Some animals are curious about their newfound identical twins, while others would rather, um, punch first and ask questions later.

It's an interesting video, but it's not a very nice thing to do to the animals.

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Son of China's richest man thinks two gold Apple Watches is enough for his dog

27-year-old Wang Sicong is the son of Wang Jianlin, worth about $34 billion dollars.

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Expert pig trainer

In this thoroughly fascinating 1978 film we meet Tom Johnson, who trained his pigs to pray before they dined at the slop through.

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Crowdfunding toys for zoo-rhinos

Bethany writes, "San Francisco Zoo is partnering with an engineering team and a San Francisco startup to crowdfund the building of novel high-tech enrichments for the zoo's male rhinos."

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Reflection makes chimp appear to be wearing a dress

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A tiki-bar for hamsters (and hedgehogs)

From the tiny pu-pu platter to the miniature cocktail umbrella, Tiny Hamster and his hedgehog pal are living the good life.

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Chicken doesn't recognize her friend because of haircut

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But it all works out in the end.

Watch: Wild boar falls through shop ceiling in Hong Kong

I know there is a reason why this wild boar fell through a children's clothing shop ceiling in Hong Kong, but I don't want to know what it is. That it happened is enough for me.

Caterpillar extends four appendages when people shout at it

Someone is going to hook up this noise-sensitive Peruvian caterpillar to an Arduino.

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What it's like to share consciousness with an octopus


Marine biologist/US police brutality survivor/science fiction writer Peter Watts, in a brilliant vignette that, I hope, will be part of a novel someday:

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Gentleman flips off monkey. Monkey returns insult with a face kick

A monkey interpreted a human's hand gesture as a threat, and retaliated with explosive violence. y75Vlo

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How the bed bug infiltrated our bedrooms and took over the world

When things go bite in the nightRead the rest

Nocturne: a journey through nighttime in the animal kingdom

Nocturne: Creatures of the Night is not a book about sleep-deprived college students, club-hopping hipsters or even long haul truck drivers. Nocturne: Creatures of the Night is an intimately photographed book of nocturnal animals and the fun facts about their unique mating habits, lifestyles and food choices.

Photographer Traer Scott came up with this book idea after watching moths circle around her porch light. That led her to thinking about bats, which led her to creating a book about animals that are awake while most other living things are asleep. Traer’s husband created a portable photography studio that he covered in black foam, which allowed her camera lens to fit through without freaking out the animals. With help from zoos, animal caretakers and rescue sanctuaries, Traer was able to get up close and very personal with 40 or so creatures.

The resulting photographs made me smile, cringe, and sort of fall in love. I’ve never seen a common vampire bat up close (they really have two tiny fangs) nor did I know barn owls’ ears are asymmetrical to help them judge distance and sound in the dark. I’d never heard of a spiny mouse before, but now I know it’s the only mammal capable of tissue regeneration! So the next time I hear opossum scurrying across my roof at three in the morning, I may pause and think, Wow, it can “play dead” for up to four hours at a time, it eats road kill, and it’s kind of cute,“ or maybe not. – Carole Rosner

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Iridescent insect sculptures from ewaste


UK artist Julie Alice Chapell's Computer Component Bugs sculptures are iridescent, intricate assemblage sculptures made from ewaste.

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What happens when you put a hummingbird in a wind tunnel?

The Flying Spaghetti Monster did a good job when he made hummingbirds. The tiny, ravenous creatures hover by beating their wings, up to 80 times a second, in a figure-8 pattern, which creates lift during the upstroke and downstroke. This is why they can remain perfectly level rather than bobbing up and down, even in wind and rain.

Scientists at UC Berkeley put hummingbirds in a wind tunnel and filmed them at 1000 frames per seconds to study their wing motion in different wind conditions.


Image: PBS Digital Studios

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