By Ashley Strickland, CNN
As a kid, I thought Dr Dolittle had a pretty good gig.
The idea of being able to speak to the creatures in their own distinct language was an exciting prospect. And then there were vets like Dr. James Herriot and his treasury of tales who showed he truly understood the nature of animals.
Now, by working from home and spending more time with our pets, we may have achieved a form of understanding that crosses the language barrier.
There are times when you just know your pet is trying to say something – like when my cat wants to eat something different or listen to the mellow tones of a British period drama (she prefers “Downton Abbey”).
But even more fascinating is the idea that we are not entirely different – that we share things in common, some of which were once considered strictly human qualities. By recognizing our own traits in animals, we can better understand them.
Each year brings more scientific revelations supporting these similarities, and the start of 2022 is no exception.
Imagine lying down with headphones on, the words “The Little Prince” floating in your ears. Then the words are repeated in an unknown language, followed by nonsensical words. You’re in an MRI machine, and inside your head, your brain lights up in response to the familiar and the unfamiliar. Oh, and you’re a dog.
When neuroethologist Laura Cuaya left Mexico for Hungary with her border collie, Kun-kun, she was led to find out if he could detect the language difference.
The result: Cuaya’s study of 18 dogs, monitored inside fMRI, showed that the canine brain did recognize these changes.
This makes dogs the first non-primates to possess spontaneous language skills. So if you stream shows with captions from other countries, Fido can tell.
Australia is now teeming with arid deserts, but millions of years ago it was home to thriving rainforests – and they were filled with a myriad of creatures.
A recently discovered site in New South Wales acts as a time capsule for a period between 11 million and 16 million years ago, which may help researchers fill in the gaps on ‘the origin story of the Australia ”.
The well-preserved fossil treasure house includes spiders, wasps, plants, and fish, some of which still contain evidence of single cells.
Extracting something from the air may seem like a magic trick, but researchers have managed to collect and analyze the animals’ airborne DNA.
This revolutionary technique could change the way endangered species and natural ecosystems are studied and protected.
Two independent groups of researchers tested different ways of collecting eDNA, or the genetic material released from waste materials, body fluids, and skin or fur, in two different zoos.
Collecting air samples, the teams filtered out DNA and identified animals as diverse as guppies, a boa, and a rhino inside the zoo – as well as some startling finds outside of it.
Force of nature
Over the past year, we have seen a multitude of ways the global weather is intensifying and changing in response to the climate crisis.
Now, researchers are citing an extreme new example: a drastic increase in wild weather at the North Pole.
A network of sensors has detected a significant increase in lightning in the far north Arctic – and in 2021 alone, the North Pole has seen twice as many strikes as the previous nine years combined.
If you find it hard to imagine lightning in the Arctic, you wouldn’t be the only one because it’s rare – and a sign that rising temperatures lead to unstable atmospheres that cause storms typically found. in warmer environments.
Across the universe
First, astronomers witnessed the agony of a colossal star and its eventual disappearance in the form of a supernova, all in real time.
The red supergiant, located 120 million light years from Earth, was 10 times more massive than the sun before it exploded.
Giants like this were expected to be pretty calm before they reached an explosive end. But researchers using ground-based telescopes saw the star’s violent expulsion of glowing gas in the summer of 2020.
And in the fall of that year, scientists saw the star die out in a burst of glory.
Dig a little deeper:
– Experience the interstellar clouds of the Flame Nebula in stunning new images taken from the constellation Orion.
– Between 1787 and 1880, more than 100 children were mummified and buried in the catacombs of a convent in Sicily. Now researchers are studying this grisly tourist attraction to find out why.
– The New Year began with a literal explosion when a meteor exploded in the atmosphere over Pennsylvania, exploding the equivalent of 30 tons of TNT.
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