Ants’ health care system


This video says about itself:

Self-Sacrificing Ants Refuse Treatment of Their Wounds | National Geographic

20 February 2018

A new study reveals that after a raid on a termite nest, the injured [Matabele] ants are cared for by their comrades.

Navy Seals abide by a code that no man is left behind. Termite-hunting ants abide by a similar code. A new study reveals that after a raid on a termite nest, the injured ants are cared for by their comrades.

If kept by themselves, 80 percent of injured ants died. But if cared for by their nest-mates for even an hour, only a tenth died.

Another finding of the study reveals how the ants prioritize who gets cared for and who doesn’t. In human health care, doctors decide which patients need to be helped the most. With ants, it’s the exact opposite. The injured ants themselves decide if they should be treated or not.

When no help was in sight, injured ants made a beeline for the nest. But when nest-mates were near, they stumbled and fell, appearing “more injured” as a way to attract aid. But the ants play up their injuries only if they sensed that their problems were minor enough to be treated. If ants were mortally injured, they refused to cooperate, flailing their legs around when probed or picked up, forcing their helpers to abandon them.

The mortally wounded ants choose to die rather than have energy and resources wasted on their futile rehabilitation. This discovery marks the first time non-human animals have been observed systematically nursing their wounded back to health. Read more in “‘Paramedic’ Ants Are the First to Rescue and Heal Their Wounded Comrades”.

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Pectoral sandpiper on video


This video shows a pectoral sandpiper.

These North American birds are rare vagrants in Europe.

And in Svalbard in the Arctic, where I was privileged to see one.

Marmoset monkey language, new study


This 2012 video is called marmoset vocalizations.

From the Universitaet Tübingen in Germany:

Monkey Vocabulary Decoded

Neuroscientists identify the smallest units that make up the vocalization of marmoset monkeys

February 22, 2018

From short ‘tsiks’ and ‘ekks’ to drawn-out ‘phees’ — all the sounds produced by marmoset monkeys are made up of individual syllables of fixed length: that is the result of a study by a team of researchers headed by Dr. Steffen Hage of the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuro-science (CIN) at the University of Tübingen. The smallest units of vocalisation and their rhythmic production in the brain of our relatives could also have been a prerequisite of human speech. The study was just published in Current Biology.

“Seven times a second, our speech apparatus can form a syllable,” says Steffen Hage. Regardless if it is Batman shouting ‘Ha!’ or Mary Poppins singing ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious‘: when we speak, our utterance is made up of small units that are on average a seventh of a second long. This rhythm inherent in our production of syllables is as much constrained by the structure of our voicebox as it results from the processes that control speech in the brain. These biological fundamentals of speech may have been very similar in our ancestors.

If we want to understand the evolution of human speech, we should look into its biological basis in our close relatives in the animal kingdom: primates. However, we still do not have a sufficient understanding of their vocalisation. To come to grips with the neurobiological basis of primate vocalisation, Hage’s neuroscientific research group works with marmoset monkeys, a primate species from South America. Marmosets are far closer related to us than, for example, perching birds, whose vocalisation has been the focus of much research into the rhythm and length of syllables.

The researchers recorded thousands of instances of the little monkeys’ ‘tsiks’, ‘ekks’ and ‘phees’ in a sound chamber. They interrupted the animals’ natural vocalisation with white noise at irregular intervals. The researchers effectively ‘talked over’ the monkeys, causing them to fall quiet.

Thomas Pomberger, one of the study’s authors, explains the results: “The marmosets’ ‘phee’ had so far been considered part of their basic vocabulary, alongside the ‘tsik’ and ‘ekk’. We observed that they would stop right in the middle of their ‘phee’ calls when we disrupted them with noise. Moreover, that would only happen at specific points within the call.”

Co-author Cristina Risueno-Segovia adds: “What we found was that what had been known as a long ‘phee’ call actually consists of small units of about the same length as a ‘tsik’ or ‘ekk’ — about 100 milliseconds.” Their supervisor Hage says: “Until now, the supposed existence of the long ‘phee’ has not allowed for the conclusion that we can draw now: just like us, marmoset monkeys have a ‘hardwired’ rhythm that controls their vocalisation. It is even similarly fast.”

Such a rhythm might be an evolutionary prerequisite on the path to developing true speech. The new study demonstrates that research in marmosets can provide the necessary clues to better understand the origins and properties of human speech — a question that has been much debated in the scientific community.

How bats survive viruses


This video says about itself:

All About Bats for Kids: Animal Videos for Children – FreeSchool

29 October 2015

Bats may fly in the night, but there’s no reason to fear these amazing mammals! Bats are one of the most common types of mammals on the planet and live on almost every continent. Most bats eat insects, some eat fruit, some eat nectar, and a few even eat blood. They are amazing creatures: not only are they the only flying mammal, but they also use echolocation to find their food and navigate in total darkness. Bats are cool!

From ScienceDaily:

How bats carry viruses without getting sick

February 22, 2018

Bats are known to harbor highly pathogenic viruses like Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, and SARS-CoV, and yet they do not show clinical signs of disease. In a paper published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe on February 22, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China find that in bats, an antiviral immune pathway called the STING-interferon pathway is dampened, and bats can maintain just enough defense against illness without triggering a heightened immune reaction.

“We believe there is a balance between bats and the pathogens they carry”, says senior author Peng Zhou. “This work demonstrated that in order to maintain a balance with viruses, bats may have evolved to dampen certain pathways.”

In humans and other mammals, an immune-based over-response to one of these and other pathogenic viruses can trigger severe illness. For example, in humans, an activated STING pathway is linked with severe autoimmune diseases.

“In human history, we have been chasing infectious diseases one after another,” says Zhou, “but bats appear to be a ‘super-mammal’ to these deadly viruses.” By identifying a weakened but not defunct STING pathway, researchers have some new insight into how bats fine-tune antiviral defenses to balance an effective, but not an overt, response against viruses.

The authors hypothesize that this defense strategy evolved as part of three interconnected features of bat biology: they are flying mammals, have a long lifespan, and host a large viral reservoir. “Adaptation to flight likely caused positive selection of multiple bat innate immune and DNA damage repair genes,” Zhou says. These adaptations may have shaped certain antiviral pathways (STING, interferon, and others) to make them good viral reservoir hosts and achieve a tolerable balance.

Brent geese in Dutch Zeeland


This 22 February 2018 video is about brent geese wintering in Sint-Philipsland in Dutch Zeeland province.

See also here.

Galápagos islands waters video


This video says about itself:

Dive Into the Wildlife-Rich Waters of the Galápagos | National Geographic

17 February 2018

The Galápagos Archipelago, Darwin’s living laboratory, is home to an abundance of wildlife. Isolated from the mainland for millions of years, it is that rare wilderness where animals have no instinctive fear of humans.

Featuring marine iguanas, sea turtles and others.