Louisiana chimpanzee wins first prize in art contest


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A painting by a 37-year-old Louisiana primate who applies color with his tongue instead of a brush has been deemed the finest chimpanzee art in the land.

Brent, a retired laboratory animal, was the top vote-getter in an online chimp art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States, which announced the results Thursday. He won $10,000 for the Chimp Haven sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.

A Chimp Haven spokeswoman said Brent was unavailable for comment Thursday. “I think he’s asleep,” Ashley Gordon said.

But as the society said on its website, “The votes are in, so let the pant hooting begin!” – pant hooting being the characteristic call of an excited chimp.

Five other sanctuaries around the country competed, using paintings created during “enrichment sessions,” which can include any of a wide variety of activities and playthings.

Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall chose her favorite from photographs she was sent. That painting, by Cheetah, a male at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Fla., won $5,000 as Goodall’s choice and another $5,000 for winning second place in online voting, Humane Society spokeswoman Nicole Ianni said.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

 

Ripley from the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., won third place and $2,500.

More than 27,000 people voted, Ianni said in a news release. The organization is not giving vote totals “to keep the focus on the positive work of the sanctuaries and not necessarily the ‘winner,'” she said in an email. The sanctuaries care for chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade. Chimp Haven is the national sanctuary for those retired from federal research.

Other submitted paintings were by Jamie, a female at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash.; Jenny, a female at Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.; and Patti, a female at Chimps Inc. in Bend, Ore.

A profile of Brent on the Humane Society’s website says he has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006, is protective of an even older chimp at the sanctuary and “loves to laugh and play.” It continues, “Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.”

Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven’s president and CEO, said she chose a painting by Brent partly because of that unusual method. She said she later held a canvas up to the mesh of his indoor cage so she could watch him at work.

Some other chimps use brushes or point to the colors they want on the canvas, but Brent comes up to smush pre-applied blobs of child-safe tempera paints with his tongue, she said.

“If we handed the canvas to them where it was on the inside, they might not want to hand it back,” she said. “They might throw it around and step on it.”

Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert


Climate change has reduced ice in the Arctic to record lows in the past year, forcing animals to range further in search of food.

This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

 

A starved polar bear found found dead in Svalbard as “little more than skin and bones” perished due to a lack of sea ice on which to hunt seals, according to a reknowned polar bear expert.

Climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic to record lows in the last year and Dr Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years and examined the animal, said the lack of ice forced the bear into ranging far and wide in an ultimately unsuccessful search for food.

“From his lying position in death, the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped,” Stirling said. “He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone.”

The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance.

Polar bears feed almost exclusively on seals and need sea ice to capture their prey. But 2012 saw the lowest level of sea ice in the Arctic on record. Prond Robertson, at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, said: “The sea ice break up around Svalbard in 2013 was both fast and very early.” He said recent years had been poor for ice around the islands: “Warm water entered the western fjords in 2005-06 and since then has not shifted.”

Stirling, now at Polar Bears International and previously at the University of Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service, said: “Most of the fjords and inter-island channels in Svalbard did not freeze normally last winter and so many potential areas known to that bear for hunting seals in spring do not appear to have been as productive as in a normal winter. As a result, the bear likely went looking for food in another area but appears to have been unsuccessful.”

Scientists are tracking polar bears with radio collars in Svalbard, Norway, to monitor their search for food. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

Scientists are tracking polar bears with radio collars in Svalbard, Norway, to monitor their search for food. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

 

Research published in May showed that loss of sea ice was harming the health, breeding success and population size of the polar bears of Hudson Bay, Canada as they spent longer on land waiting for the sea to refreeze. Other work has shown polar bear weights are declining. In February, a panel of polar bear experts published a paper stating that rapid ice loss meant options such the feeding of starving bears by humans needed to be considered to protect the 20,000-25,000 animals thought to remain.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest professional conservation network, states that of the 19 populations of polar bear around the Arctic, data is available for 12. Of those, eight are declining, three are stable and one is increasing.

The IUCN predicts that increasing ice loss will mean between one-third and a half of polar bears will be lost in the next three generations, about 45 years. But the US and Russian governments said in March that faster-than-expected ice losses could mean two-thirds are lost.

Attributing a single incident to climate change can be controversial, but Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie, said: “It’s not just one bear though. There are an increasing number of bears in this condition: they are just not putting down enough fat to survive their summer fast. This particular polar bear is the latest bit of evidence of the impact of climate change.”

Ice loss due to climate change is “absolutely, categorically and without question” the cause of falling polar bear populations, said Richardson, who cares for the UK’s only publicly kept polar bears. He said 16 years was not particularly old for a wild male polar bear, which usually live into their early 20s. “There may have been some underlying disease, but I would be surprised if this was anything other than starvation,” he said. “Once polar bears reach adulthood they are normally nigh on indestructible, they are hard as nails.”

Jeff Flocken, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “While it is difficult to ascribe a single death or act to climate change it couldn’t be clearer that drastic and long-term changes in their Arctic habitat threaten the survival of the polar bear. The threat of habitat loss from climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable killing for commercial trade in Canada, could lead to the demise of one of the world’s most iconic animals, and this would be a true tragedy.”

Rare Dinosaur Find: Abandoned Nests with Eggshells


Many fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, at over 200 sites around the world.

Many fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, at over 200 sites around the world.

 

LiveScience.com 

Huge meat-eating dinosaurs that stalked a vast floodplain some 150 million years ago in what is now Portugal left behind traces of their progeny: eggshells.

Some of the eggshells, which belonged to two Jurassic-Era theropods, or a group of carnivorous dinosaurs, once harbored embryos of Torvosaurus, the largest predator of its day.

“It was the equivalent of the T. rex in the Cretaceous,” said study co-author Vasco Ribeiro, a paleontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.

Ribeiro and his colleagues aren’t sure how the eggs came to be abandoned.

Delicate finds

Because they are so delicate, dinosaur eggs are a relatively rare find. Paleontologists unearthed some of the most primitive Torovosaurus embryos ever found earlier this year, and there have been occasional dinosaur nursery finds, including a clutch of hundreds of dinosaur egg fragments found in Spain. [Image Gallery: Dinosaur Daycare]

Ribeiro and his colleagues found the eggshell fragments at two separate sites, both of which were part of the Lourinhã Formation, a geological formation known for its rich Jurassic dinosaur nest sites. During that time period, the area was a floodplain that cycled through dry seasons and monsoon rains.

The eggshells were shattered and there was no trace of the dinosaur embryos that once coiled inside. But by analyzing the size, shape and texture of the eggshells, the team was able to deduce which animals left those eggs so long ago.

The shells found at one site came from spherical eggs that were about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter. They likely belonged to a Torvosaurus, a massive, bipedal dinosaur that grew up to 36 feet (11 meters) tall.

The eggs at the other site were harder to identify. But the researchers believe the eggs may have contained embryos of Lourinhanosaurus antunesi, a theropod that was about 15 feet (4.5 m) long when full-grown. When intact, the eggs from that site would have been about 5 inches (13 cm) along the long axis and 3.5 inches (9 cm) along the short axis.

Neglected or protected?

The researchers don’t know exactly how the eggs came to be abandoned.

One possibility is that the ancient carnivores laid many eggs and simply left those eggs to their own fates. Other researchers argue that these dinosaurs, like crocodiles, were attentive parents during embryonic development, guarding their clutches from predators.

Either way, once the hatchlings emerged, they were probably on their own, Ribeiro said.

“We have no evidence that mother dinosaur took food to the nest or protected the nest,” Ribeiro told LiveScience.

There Will Be An Unrated Version Of Brad Pitt’s Zombie Thriller ‘World War Z’


 

brad-pitt-blood-world-war-z-2 unrated

Paramount Pictures

If you weren’t pleased with the lack of blood and gore in Brad Pitt’s PG-13 rated zombie film “World War Z,” there’s good news.

Paramount is releasing an unrated version of the film.

The much-troubled film tossed out its  original 12-minute ending  for an  expensive reshoot of the final 40 minutes.

Despite that, the film ended up doing well at theaters earning $474 million worldwide.

It’s unclear whether the original ending — or more blood — will make an appearance in the special edition; however, a featurette called “Camouflage” about the film’s production and final scenes with Pitt make us hopeful.

Below are the features of the unrated version via Entertainment Weekly.

“World War Z” hits stores September 17.

Origins

The filmmakers discuss collaborating with renowned actor/producer Brad Pitt to create a zombie film the likes of which have never been seen.

Looking to Science

Explore the scientific realities of zombie behavior in nature and learn more about zombies in literature and film.

Outbreak

Go on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s breathtaking first attack in Philadelphia.

The Journey Begins

Delve deeper into Gerry’s fight for survival during the dramatic escape in South Korea.

Behind the Wall

Explore the epic scene in Jerusalem and discover the incredible logistics of creating the elaborate stunts and crowd sequences.

Camouflage

Experience the final confrontation between Gerry and the zombies and discover the phenomenal scope of the film’s production.

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Brazilian man dies after cow falls through his roof on top of him: TRUE STORY


A Brazilian man died after a cow fell through his roof on top of him as he was in bed.

“I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

 

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza's bed

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s bed

By Matt Roper

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, had been in bed with his wife Leni when the animal fell through the ceiling of their home in Caratinga, southeast Brazil.

The cow is believed to have escaped from a nearby farm and climbed onto the roof of the couple’s house, which backs onto a steep hill on Wednesday night.

The corrugated roof immediately gave way and the one-and-a-half-ton animal fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s side of the bed.

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

 

Rescuers took Mr de Souza to hospital with a fractured left leg but no other obvious injuries, reporting that he was conscious and talking normally.

Hours later however he died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family.

Mr de Souza’s brother-in-law Carlos Correa told Brazil’s Hoje em Dia newspaper: “Being crushed by a cow in your bed is the last way you expect to leave this earth.

“But in my view it wasn’t the cow that killed our Joao, it was the unacceptable time he spent waiting to be examined.”

The damaged roof

The damaged roof

 

His grieving mother, Maria de Souza, told Brazil’s SuperCanal TV channel: “I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

Police in Caratinga, Minas Gerais state, have launched an inquiry into the bizarre death.

The owner of the cow could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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Russia and Ukraine likely to block huge Antarctic marine reserve


Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

 

Conservation body meets to discuss protection of area 13 times the size of the UK, which would require unanimous agreement

 

Russia and Ukraine look likely to block a plan to create two huge marine reserves off the coast of Antarctica that combined would be bigger than the area of all the world’s protected oceans put together.

The 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meets in Bremerhaven, Germany, on Thursday to discuss the proposal to create the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Ross Sea, off the east coast of Antarctica. A decision, expected on Tuesday, would require unanimous agreement.

The proposal, backed by the US, New Zealand, Australia, France and the EU, would designate an area 13 times the size of the UK as one in which natural resource exploitation, including fishing, would be illegal. Advocates say the MPAs would provide environmental security to a region that remains relatively pristine.

Publicly, delegates and environmental NGOs have expressed optimism that the meeting will be a success. But a senior source at the meeting said the attitudes of Russia and Ukraine as they entered were looking negative.

The debate highlighted a rift between “pro-[fish]harvesting countries” and those who style themselves proponents of conservation, such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and the EU, according to Alan Hemmings, a specialist in Antarctic governance at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.He said: “You would put Russia and the Ukraine near the top of the states that are likely to be concerned about marine protected areas in the Antarctic on a large scale, along with China, Japan and, on and off, South Korea.”

“There’s a tug of war between those who want to establish conservation management and those who want to keep working with smaller-scale fisheries management,” said Steve Campbell, campaign director at the Antarctic Ocean Alliance. But he expressed “quiet optimism” that the proposals would be passed, if not at the meeting in Germany, then at the next annual meeting in Hobart, Australia later in the year.

The US and NGOs have been lobbying countries who expressed reservations at the last CCAMLR meeting. NGOs and delegates reported that China, South Korea and Japan looked likely to support the proposals.

Many countries have valuable fisheries in the region, particularly for patagonian toothfish and krill. Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Southern Ocean sanctuaries, said defining the boundaries of the reserves to balance ecology and economic interests would represent a challenge to negotiations.

Additionally, a sunset clause for the reserves, proposed by Norway and supported by Russia and Japan, would mean the protected status of East Antarctic and Ross Sea reserves would have to be renewed in 2064 and 2043 respectively. Campbell said reserves with time limits were highly unusual.

“Precedent tells you that if you set up a protected area, you set it up for an indefinite period of time. If you set up a national park in a country, you designate it in perpetuity.” He said the potential for fishing and other resources in the future was driving the push.

“It’s not just about what’s there now, it’s also about what could be a future economic interest or a future interest in the region,” said Campbell.

The extraordinary session in Bremerhaven was arranged after the last annual meeting of CCAMLR in November, 2011 failed to reach a consensus on the MPAs. At the time Russia, China and Ukraine expressed concerns at a lack of available science in favour of the reserves. The decision was taken to reconvene this summer with the agenda solely focused on the proposals.

Green groups expressed dismay at last year’s inaction. They were joined by delegates from the USA, UK, EU and Australia who feared that CCAMLR had lost its proactive attitude to conservation.

At the end of the 2011 meeting, the Ukraine delegation said well-grounded scientific arguments were lacking. They said MPAs were only one approach to managing an ecosystem and that “only fishing, at least at some level, can guarantee that research is conducted” to monitor fish stocks.

“Russia was of the view that previous scientific committee advice was related to only some aspects of MPAs and that all available information needed to be considered,” said the Russian delegation.

Russian and Ukraine declined to comment further on this week’s meeting.