Wednesday, 26 March 2008

the Tower Menagerie- Thomas Hahn

The Menagerie at the Tower of London lasted nearly 600 years and served as both a source of income and a place to deposit royal presents.
In this book Thomas Hahn explores both the events around the tower and the changing attitudes towards animals from the 13th Century right up until 1835 after the advent of the Zoo in Regent's Park.
Hahn shows how the ravens of the Tower have replaced the role of the royal lions in predicting the fortunes of the royal family and leads us on a interesting aside on how Art has depicted animals.
This a good read for anyone who is interested in the history of Zoos and the attitude of Man towards animals. It also makes for an interesting way of looking at the history of the tower its self.

Amazon Link

Elephants Filmed using Water stored in their throats

'Cool' elephants caught on film
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Elephant (Natural World)

The tactics used by elephants to keep their cool in extreme desert heat have been caught on camera.

A BBC crew filmed the tusked beasts spraying themselves with water that they had stored in a reservoir in their throats several hours earlier.

Although this skill for storing water was first documented 100 years ago, the team believes this is the first time it has been filmed.

BBC News

comeplete aricle here

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Fountain of Youth

Secrets of the 'immortal worms'
By Brady Haran
BBC News

sewage outlet

Is this sewage outlet the "fountain of youth"?

The small waterway behind Nottingham's Queens Medical Centre looks unspectacular, but may help unlock the secret to increasing human lifespans.

Scientist Aziz Aboobaker and fellow researchers use the outlet as a source of planaria (flatworms).

They say the worms are helping us understand stem cells and leading to advances in human medicine.

The planaria are special because they have a high proportion of adult stem cells, with Dr Aboobaker nicknaming them "immortal worms".

He says: "The coolest thing is that we can take a worm in the lab, chop its head off, and within seven days the worm has grown a whole new brain.

rest of the article and a video here


More from the BCC Website

Tail 'key' for gecko acrobatics
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

A gecko's tail is as crucial to the animal's acrobatic ability as its "sticky" feet, scientists report.

High-speed video reveals that the creature uses its tail as a "fifth leg" to prevent it from slipping as it climbs wet surfaces.

And the footage shows that if it does fall, a flick of the tail is all it takes for the gecko to land feet-down.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, said the discovery could aid the development of improved climbing robots and unmanned gliding vehicles.

Gecko (Science Photo Library)

The gecko is one of nature's best climbers - its feet are covered with millions of microscopic hairs that allow it to effortlessly cling to smooth surfaces.

But while the reptile's hairy toes have been extensively studied, little has been known until now about the role of the gecko's tail.

Bob Full, director of UC Berkeley's new Center for Interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research, and an author on the PNAS paper, said: "Initially, we thought the gecko's climbing ability was all in the feet, but now we know that this is clearly not true and the tail is critical."

The rest of the article and more videos here


From BBC News

Tower's royal lions 'from Africa'

Two lion skulls found during excavations at the Tower of London originated in north-west Africa, genetic research suggests.

The big cats, which were kept by royals during medieval times, have the same genetic make-up as the north African Barbary lion, a DNA study shows.

Experts believe the animals were gifts to English monarchs in the 13th and 14th centuries.

At the time, the Barbary lion roamed across much of Africa.

The two well-preserved lion skulls were recovered during excavations of the moat at the Tower of London in 1937. They have been radiocarbon dated to AD 1280-1385 and AD 1420-1480.

Researchers at the University of Oxford extracted DNA from the skulls, and found that it matched that of the north African Barbary lion.

Rest of the article and a video here

Hello, Welcome.

Hello Bloggers.
This is just a first post to say Hi and to let you know what I am planning to post about.

*Al Ain Zoo, UAE
*Crystal Palace Dinosaurs
*Amazing Things Rare Things book and Exhibition
* The blogs and websites i have linked in my links
*The Blackburn Pavilion at London Zoo
* Aquazoo/Loebbecke Museum in Düsseldorf
* Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story book review
* The Tower Menagerie Book review
*The Aye- Aye and I book review
*news stories that interest me

Watch this space...