Bears, wolves in Yellowstone, USA


This 6 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

We’re LIVE in Yellowstone with grizzly bears at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.

This 6 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

We’re LIVE in Yellowstone with a pack of wolves at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.

This 7 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

We are live from Hyalite Canyon, Montana to bring you beautiful water and mountain views.

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Wildlife of Yellowstone, USA, videos


This 3 August 2018 video from Wyoming in the USA says about itself:

Yellowstone Live: Behind The Scenes | National Geographic

This 3 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

We’re LIVE in West Yellowstone talking to Arthur Middleton, Wildlife Ecologist and National Geographic Explorer, about the elk migration and Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Ask us your questions!

This 4 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Relaxing Yellowstone River LIVE! | Yellowstone Live

Prehistoric horses in North America


This 14 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

How Horses Took Over North America (Twice)

The ancestors of modern horses became so successful that they spread all over the world, to Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. But in their native range of North America, they’ll vanish for 10,000 years. Until another strange mammal brings them back.

The illustration of Equus simplicidens–also known as the Hagerman Horse–is by Roger Hall. You can check out more of Roger’s work here.

World’s oldest cheese discovery in Egypt


This video from Italy says about itself:

Farmer Follows Ancient Roman Recipe To Make Cheese – From the Milk of Endangered Goats

6 June 2018

This Sicilian farmer produces artisan vegetarian cheeses by following ancient Roman recipes. His cheese is made from the milk of endangered Girgentana goats – currently, there are only about 1300 of these goats left in the world. He uses vegetable rennet instead of animal rennet, which is taken from the stomach of the animals, which makes his cheeses purely vegetarian.

From the American Chemical Society:

World’s oldest cheese found in Egyptian tomb

August 15, 2018

Aging usually improves the flavor of cheese, but that’s not why some very old cheese discovered in an Egyptian tomb is drawing attention. Instead, it’s thought to be the most ancient solid cheese ever found, according to a study published in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry.

The tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis in Egypt during the 13th century BC, was initially unearthed in 1885. After being lost under drifting sands, it was rediscovered in 2010, and archeologists found broken jars at the site a few years later. One jar contained a solidified whitish mass, as well as canvas fabric that might have covered the jar or been used to preserve its contents. Enrico Greco and colleagues wanted to analyze the whitish substance to determine its identity.

After dissolving the sample, the researchers purified its protein constituents and analyzed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The peptides detected by these techniques show the sample was a dairy product made from cow milk and sheep or goat milk. The characteristics of the canvas fabric, which indicate it was suitable for containing a solid rather than a liquid, and the absence of other specific markers, support the conclusion that the dairy product was a solid cheese.

Other peptides in the food sample suggest it was contaminated with Brucella melitensis, a bacterium that causes brucellosis. This potentially deadly disease spreads from animals to people, typically from eating unpasteurized dairy products. If the team’s preliminary analysis is confirmed, the sample would represent the earliest reported biomolecular evidence of the disease.

I blogged before on still older cheese; some 5700 years before Ptahmes; made in Poland. However, that cheese seems to have been not solid cheese. So, this recent discovery in Egypt is still the oldest known solid cheese.

Wildlife crossings save pronghorn lives


This 7 April 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Stunning Footage: Epic Animal Migrations in Yellowstone | National Geographic

Some of the world’s most incredible animal migrations take place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Among them are a 120-mile pronghorn migration and nine elk herds with unique migration patterns. While on assignment in Yellowstone, Joe Riis was able to capture the awe-inspiring migrations that few tourists get to see.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society in the USA:

Study of greater Yellowstone pronghorn finds highway crossing structures a conservation success

Pronghorn responses to wildlife road-crossing structures and fencing can inform similar solutions for other migratory wildlife threatened by vehicle collisions

August 15, 2018

A recently published study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Oregon State University has confirmed that efforts to protect migrating pronghorn by installing wildlife crossing structures over highways have succeeded, in terms of the increased success rate of pronghorn crossings over time.

This work, in combination with data from the Wyoming Department of Transportation that show a 70 percent reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions after installation of crossing structures and fences, provides evidence that wildlife can adapt to using crossing structures meant to keep animals and drivers safe while allowing for continued wildlife migration.

In order to gauge a potential stress reaction by pronghorn to construction and crossing structures, the researchers designed their study to collect behavioral data when the animals approached the road. Past studies have shown that pronghorn react to vehicles similarly as they do to predators. If they react to crossing structures this same way, the crossing structures could actually negatively impact population dynamics by creating unnecessary stress.

The study titled “Highways, crossing structures and risk: Behaviors of Greater Yellowstone pronghorn elucidate efficacy of road mitigation” appears in the most recent edition of the journal Global Ecology and Conservation. The authors are: Renee G. Seidler, formerly with WCS, now the state Transportation Specialist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Jon P. Beckmann of WCS; and David S. Green of Oregon State University.

The research is the latest effort in an ongoing project to monitor and protect the last known migration of pronghorn between Grand Teton National Park and the upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming. This wildlife spectacle, known as Path of the Pronghorn, stretches more than 170 miles annually and is one of the longest large mammal migration corridors remaining in North America. WCS researchers have conducted a range of studies to determine how human activities and development pose threats to pronghorn and their movements.

“The take-home message of this latest study is that, while pronghorn became more attentive at the new infrastructure 2-years post construction, they also more readily used the crossing structures over time”, said Renee Seidler, lead author on the study and a Conservation Scientist with WCS at the time of the study. “The fact that pronghorn acclimated to these new structures increases the likelihood that a 6,000-year-old migration will continue, and that the $9.7 million invested in this project was a successful investment to help preserve this unique migration and increase the safety of the traveling public.”

Conducted between 2011 and 2014, the study was designed to determine how the migrating pronghorn were behaving in response to the new construction and to assess the time it took for the animals to adapt to the novel structures on their migratory route. The study also compared pronghorn preferences for underpasses or overpasses. While wildlife crossing structures have been used in other areas to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions, few studies have focused on potential elevated stress reactions to these projects over time.

After examining data about how pronghorn move through Trapper’s Point Historical Monument — a pinch point in the “Path of the Pronghorn” (the first and only federally designated wildlife migration corridor) — the Wyoming Department of Transportation designed and built eight crossing structures across the road on a 20-kilometer stretch, including two structures at the Monument. Eight-foot-high fences were also installed along the highway to stop pronghorn from crossing on the road.

The data collected by the study authors during the construction phase revealed that pronghorn were wary when encountering the new structures, and preferred crossing the highway without using the structure, in spite of the risk of being hit by vehicles. By the end of the four-year study, all animals used the crossing structures to travel across US Highway 191. Given the choice of an overpass and an underpass, the pronghorn exhibited a clear preference for the overpass. The scientists also noted that, while vigilance behaviours increased over time, higher-level stress behaviors were low and did not increase over time.

Concurrently, pronghorn crossing success rates (a measure of how many times an animal attempted to cross the highway or a structure before they successfully crossed) increased over time, suggesting the animals became more acclimated to the structures within the four-year study.

“This study is helpful for wildlife managers on a number of levels, one of which is to provide a baseline of understanding on how migratory wildlife may respond to modifications of important migratory pathways over time”, added Jon Beckmann, an author on the study and Director of Science for the WCS Rocky Mountain West Program. “The research also can help inform mitigation considerations for migratory land species in other regions across the globe.”

The authors of the study make further recommendations that similar projects should be implemented in phases that minimize impacts to wildlife during construction.

The study was made possible with funding from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Elephants protecting themselves from cancer


This October 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

A study led by the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah could explain why elephants rarely get cancer.

From the University of Chicago Medical Center in the USA:

Zombie gene protects against cancer — in elephants

Dead gene reborn helps destroy cells with damaged DNA

August 14, 2018

Summary: LIF6, a dead gene that came back to life, prevents cancer by killing cells with DNA damage.

An estimated 17 percent of humans worldwide die from cancer, but less than five percent of captive elephants — who also live for about 70 years, and have about 100 times as many potentially cancerous cells as humans — die from the disease.

Three years ago, research teams from the University of Chicago and the University of Utah, working separately, began to unravel why. They knew that humans, like all other animals, have one copy of the master tumor suppressor gene p53. This gene enables humans and elephants to recognize unrepaired DNA damage, a precursor of cancer. Then it causes those damaged cells to die.

Unexpectedly, however, the researchers found that elephants have 20 copies of p53. This makes their cells significantly more sensitive to damaged DNA and quicker to engage in cellular suicide.

In the August 14, 2018 issue of the journal Cell Reports, the University of Chicago team describes a second element of this process: an anti-cancer gene that returned from the dead.

“Genes duplicate all the time”, said Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and the study’s senior author. “Sometimes they make mistakes, producing non-functional versions known as pseudogenes. We often refer to these dismissively as dead genes.”

While studying p53 in elephants, however, Lynch and colleagues found a former pseudogene called leukemia inhibitory factor 6 (LIF6) that had somehow evolved a new on-switch. LIF6, back from the dead, had become a valuable working gene. Its function, when activated by p53, is to respond to damaged DNA by killing the cell. The LIF6 gene makes a protein that goes, quite rapidly, to the mitochondria, the cell’s main energy source. That protein pokes holes in the mitochondria, causing the cell to die.

“Hence, zombie”, said Lynch. “This dead gene came back to life. When it gets turned on by damaged DNA, it kills that cell, quickly. This is beneficial, because it acts in response to genetic mistakes, errors made when the DNA is being repaired. Getting rid of that cell can prevent a subsequent cancer.”

Elephants have eight LIF genes, but only LIF6 is known to be functional. Although it was only recently described, it appears to have been helping elephants and their relatives for a long time.

“We can use the tricks of evolution to try to figure out when this defunct gene became functional again”, Lynch said. It seems to have emerged around the time when the fossil record indicates that the small groundhog-sized precursors of today’s elephants began to grow bigger. This started about 25 to 30 million years ago. This supplementary method of suppressing cancer may have been a key element enabling enormous growth, which eventually led to modern elephants.

There are significant and lasting benefits to being huge. Small animals, for example — mice, squirrels, groundhogs — get eaten all the time, mostly by larger animals. But “if you are enormous, such as an elephant or a whale, nothing is going to mess with you”, Lynch said.

There are tradeoffs, however. Bigger animals have vastly more cells, and they tend to live longer, which means more time and opportunities to accumulate cancer-causing mutations. When those cells divide, their DNA makes copies of itself. But those copies don’t match the original. Errors get introduced and the repair process can’t catch up.

“Large, long-lived animals must have evolved robust mechanisms to either suppress or eliminate cancerous cells in order to live as long as they do, and reach their adult sizes”, said study co-author Juan Manuel Vazquez, a doctoral candidate in the Lynch laboratory.

These huge animals thus have higher odds of developing cancerous cells. This can also happen on a smaller scale. Taller humans, for example, have a slightly higher incidence of several cancer types than average sized people, and shorter people tend to be at a reduced risk for those cancers.

LIF6, the study authors suggest, was “reanimated sometime before the demands of maintaining a larger body existed.” It helped enable the growth of animals that were the size of a 10-pound groundhog into majestic creatures that can weigh more than 15,000 pounds. It was “permissive for the origin of large bodies”, the authors note, “but not sufficient.”

Exactly how LIF6 induces apoptosis, however, remains unclear. This will be “the focus of continued studies”, the authors wrote.

See also here.