Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

January 30, 2017 by  
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Call us crazy, but it seems like you can’t sling an acai quinoa bowl these days without slamming into some healthful new “superfood” we should all be eating. Never mind that actual scientific corroboration tends to be scant, or that a balanced diet, chock full of fruits and vegetables, will outperform even the most faddish of nutritional panaceas on the best of days. The ability to reduce the complexities of calorie counting, ingredient-label translating, and consistent clean living to a trite “eat this, not that” has undeniable appeal. Bonus points if it adds a dash of exoticism or mystery to our otherwise quotidian existence. The latest bandwagon-in-making, according to Metro ? Giraffe milk. By way of evidence, the British rag pointed to a 1962 study that claimed that giraffe milk has almost four times the fat content of full-fat cow’s milk and 12 times that of skim. Giraffe milk contains comparable amounts of riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6 as cow’s milk, the study continued, but higher levels of vitamins A and B12. It’s the excess fat that we desire, Metro insists. A Tufts University study that followed some 3,000 people over two decades found that people who had the most dairy fat in their diets had a 46 percent lower risk of diabetes that those who ate the least. Related: Giraffes are on the verge of going extinct While it was “too early to call whole-fat dairy the healthiest choice,” Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the study’s author, also called for a national policy that was more neutral on dairy fat until additional data presented itself. But even Metro admitted that the idea of giraffe milk on supermarket shelves would be unlikely. “When it comes to a giraffe, it would be almost impossible to get one to stand still long enough to be milked—let alone enough to set up a profitable business,” it wrote. “The giraffes that have been milked have been milked under controlled conditions by scientists.” There’s also the fact that giraffes are on the brink of extinction . The IUCN Red List reported a 38 percent decline in the giraffe population since 1985, plus a “high risk of extinction” in the wild if the trend continues. The culprit, of course, is humans. Illegal hunting, habitat loss through agriculture and mining, and growing human-wildlife conflict could soon spell the irretrievable loss of the world’s tallest land mammal. The last thing giraffes need is someone chasing after them with a bucket and a stool. Photos by Pixabay and Andrew Magill

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Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

January 26, 2017 by  
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The rescued elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India get a second chance at life after being abused and exploited by their former owners and handlers. Along with finally having the freedom to take walks, bathe and play in water pools, and scratch themselves up against trees, several of the sanctuary’s elephants recently received a new winter wardrobe: giant sweaters lovingly hand-knit by the villagers of Mathura. As the nighttime temperatures dipped to freezing levels last year, the center’s staff issued a call to local women to help provide a little extra warmth to the giant pachyderms. The villagers responded enthusiastically, coming together to knit and crochet the brightly colored sweaters . The elephants quickly took to their new attire and, judging from the photos, seem pretty intrigued by the knitting process itself. In addition to looking cheerful and festive, the sweaters help protect the vulnerable animals from the cold and stave off their arthritic symptoms. Related: Cindy Chinn carves a tiny family of elephants into pencil tips The only downside to this giant knitting project is the length of time to make one sweater: each one takes about four weeks to complete. As a result, only three of the 20 elephants at the sanctuary have been fully outfitted so far, while the rest have been given blankets. Since the elephants suffered years of neglect and mistreatment, they are especially susceptible to infections and illnesses, so staying covered up in the poncho/sweater/long john combos is essential for keeping them healthy. The center is hoping for more volunteers to continue knitting in order to outfit every elephant with his or her own sweater by next winter. Considering that Wildlife SOS plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year , that’s a pretty tall order. If you want to get involved , including  volunteering on-site with the organization and preparing food or helping to bathe these gentle giants or donating funds, click here . Via Booooooom , Daily Mail , and My Modern Met All images © Roger Allen

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Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month

January 26, 2017 by  
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Never one to dally, Elon Musk has announced he’s about to dig into his ambitious project to build a tunnel under Los Angeles. The new tunnel is expected to tame the city’s massive traffic congestion problem . According to Motherboard , the mogul announced the news via Twitter on Wednesday morning with a tweet that said: “Exciting news on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.” It’s clear that Musk is not one to let an idea languish, as he only stated his goal to build a tunnel in mid-December 2016 while publicly complaining on Twitter about the traffic problems in Los Angeles. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” he wrote on Twitter in December. Related: Elon Musk says Trump administration may be “positive on renewables” “It shall be called ‘The Boring Company,’” he wrote, according to Motherboard . “Borings, it’s what we do.” And, a month later, after a meeting with then-President-Elect Trump , voila – it’s happening. Musk confirmed he’s soon going to begin work on a tunnel carved out by Tunnel Boring Machines that will start at some point next month. According to Motherboard, the tunnel will start across the road from the SpaceX office in Los Angeles, located in Crenshaw, near the 105 Freeway. Musk stated his interest in tunnels that would “alleviate congestion completely” as far back as 2015 in an interview with scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson . Via Motherboard Images via Maurizio Pesce and Minesweeper ,

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Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month

Grass hill hides a magical hobbit teahouse in Slovenia

January 26, 2017 by  
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A magical little teahouse is tucked away in the verdant hills of Slovenia. Created by Danica and Jože Kolari?, this beautiful tiny building was made from natural materials and perfectly complements the organic garden that grows around it. The hobbit house -inspired tearoom is almost entirely hidden from view from above thanks to its turfed roof, while its charming cottage-like interior was crafted using reclaimed materials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIcphf3dq5g This hobbit house-inspired tearoom was recently spotlighted on a popular TV show called Ambienti , where viewers got a sneak peek at the construction process . First, the hillside was excavated to create space for the foundations of the timber-framed building. A concrete retaining wall was built in the rear. Once the building was complete, growing medium for the vegetation was installed on the roof so that the grass from the hillside would grow overtop the structure and make it appear as if the structure were carved out of the hill. Related: This luxury hobbit home in the UK could be yours for just $1 million The quaint interior is lined in large timber planks and features a wood-burning fireplace built from stone and brick set into the rear concrete wall. Many of the materials were reclaimed from the crumbling ruins of nearby farmhouses, which gives the tearoom its charming antique character. In addition to the teahouse and the organic flower and herb gardens, Danica and Jože Kolari? also have a self-built beehive and garden pavilion. + Ambienti Images by Jasna Marin, screenshots from Ambienti

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Grass hill hides a magical hobbit teahouse in Slovenia

How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

January 24, 2017 by  
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In the Congo Basin live many of Africa’s most iconic animals — elephants, hippos, mountain gorillas and buffaloes. Additionally, 1,000 types of birds and 700 kinds of fish call this their home, coexisting with the people who’ve…

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How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

January 23, 2017 by  
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A couple hundred years ago, there were around two million wolves in the United States, but human expansion dramatically slashed those numbers. Conservationists recently celebrated victory as gray wolves slowly returned to the American West, but Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to undo that progress as Republican lawmakers look to roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While some 60,000 wolves reside in Canada and Alaska, in the American West there are only around 1,700 of them left. The ESA helped these animals gain ground again, but with wolves still only living in only 10 percent of their old range in the American West, there’s still a long way to go to ensure the species recovers. But some industries – like industrial agriculture and oil and gas – wish to operate in wolf habitats that are currently protected. The Center for Biological Diversity tracked donations to Congress from those large industries and found as campaign donations increased, so did bills threatening the ESA, which limits the land those industries can utilize to protect animals. Related: Gray wolves spotted in California for the first time in over 90 years Now, according to the Associated Press, Republicans want to alter the ESA “from a tool to protect huge areas of habitat for imperiled species into little more than limits on hunting for protected animals” even though a 2015 survey revealed 90 percent of registered voters support the ESA. Trump hasn’t said anything about wolves or the ESA, but he’s already shown he supports industries over national parks . If Republicans want to severely limit the ESA’s power, it doesn’t seem likely Trump would stop them. Wolves are in trouble, but don’t lose hope yet. There are a few actions you can take to help these majestic animals. Outside recommends donating money to the Center for Biological Diversity or Defenders of Wildlife , both of whom would fight anti-wolf legislation. Or you could write to your representative and remind them they’re supposed to represent the people, many of whom support the ESA, not the interests of big industries. Via Outside Images via Angell Williams on Flickr and Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr

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Trump presidency could spell the end for wolves in America’s West

Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

January 17, 2017 by  
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A female zebra shark ( Stegostoma fasciatum ) in Australia has learned to live, and reproduce, without a male counterpart. The shark, which lives in an aquarium , is one of only three animals documented that once reproduced sexually – she had a male partner for around 13 years – and then switched to reproducing asexually. Now scientists are now wondering if this phenomenon is more common than we thought. Leonie the zebra shark had a male partner from 1999 to 2012 at a Townsville, Australia aquarium, and they had over two dozen babies. When her partner was moved to a different tank, Leonie spent around four years by herself, until she gave birth to three surprise baby sharks in 2016. She’d lacked contact with any males for those four years. Scientists initially thought perhaps she’d saved sperm from the former male partner, but genetic testing revealed the three babies only had DNA from their mother. Related: Researchers record fish “singing” choruses at the break of dawn in Australia Sharks can reproduce asexually when an adjacent cell called a polar body fertilizes an egg, and it could be that is what happened with Leonie. The mechanism isn’t optimal, as it can lead to inbreeding, but could be employed by sharks when there aren’t any males around. Lead author on a study published by Scientific Reports , Christine Dudgeon of The University of Queensland , told New Scientist, “It’s not a strategy for surviving many generations because it reduces genetic diversity and adaptability. It might be a holding-on mechanism. Mum’s genes get passed down from female to female until there are males available to mate with.” Some species such as other sharks, snakes, rays, turkeys, and Komodo dragons are capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually, but asexual reproduction usually happens in females that have never reproduced sexually. The only other female animals recorded switching from sexual to asexual reproduction are a boa constrictor and an eagle ray; both lived in captivity. But it could be this anomaly actually occurs more frequently than we realized. Dudgeon said perhaps we just haven’t been looking. Via New Scientist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Aquarium Zebra shark learns how to reproduce without her male partner

30 billion tons of stored carbon discovered in Congo peatland

January 12, 2017 by  
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At 3.7 million square kilometers, the Congo Basin contains some of the planet’s largest tropical rainforests and vast wetlands. Buried within this awesome wilderness are the Cuvette Centrale peatlands, recently discovered and mapped swamps that may contain 30 billion tons of carbon. This makes the Cuvette Centrale one of Earth’s most carbon rich ecosystems, one that desperately needs protection to avoid the release of the equivalent to 20 years of carbon emissions from the United States. The Cuvette Centrale peatlands were first discovered five years ago by a UK-Congolese research team, whose research, based on three year’s worth of peat analysis and satellite data, was published in Nature on Wednesday . “These peatlands hold nearly 30% of the world’s tropical peatland carbon,” said research co-leader Professor Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds. “Our research shows that the peat in the central Congo basin covers a colossal amount of land. It is 16 times larger than the previous estimate and is the single largest peatland complex found anywhere in the tropics.” More commonly found in cooler climates, such as Scotland where it is used to flavor scotch, peat is formed from soaked , partially decomposed plant materials. In order for carbon to be stored, peat must not dry out. If it does, due to climate change or land disturbance, decomposition of the material will continue and carbon will be released into the atmosphere. Related: Cambodian floating toilets filter human waste naturally via wetland plants Only recently discovered, the Cuvette Centrale peatlands have not yet been disturbed. However, their protection is of the utmost importance in reducing the impact of climate change. “The maintenance and protection of this peatland complex, alongside protecting our forests, could be central Africa ’s great contribution to the global climate change problem,” said Dr. Ifo Suspense, study co-author and researcher at Université Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville. In addition to its value as a carbon sink, the Congo Basin is also of enormous ecological value as it is home to gorillas , elephants, okapi and other large mammals threatened by deforestation. The Republic of Congo is considering an expansion of its Lac Télé community reserve to protect an additional 50,000 square kilometers of swamp forest, much of which is peatlands. As governments and scientists move to protect the peatlands and the planet, one cannot help but be awestruck. “It is astonishing that in 2016 discoveries like this can still be made,” said study co-leader Dr. Greta Dargie of University College London. Via the Guardian Images via David Holt  and Flickr

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30 billion tons of stored carbon discovered in Congo peatland

Chinese circus ties up endangered tiger so that visitors can take selfies

January 12, 2017 by  
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A horrifying video posted on Chinese video platform iQiyi shows circus trainers brutally binding a tiger to a metal table – all for the sake of selfie photographs. The animal is believed to be an endangered Siberian tiger, and it was cruelly lashed down so that children and adults could sit on its back for photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SDV_Xi3To The video’s description says the circus was performing in the Hunan province, and that the tiger was strapped down “to be safe for everyone to take pictures – but the expression of the tiger is very desperate.” When the tiger was finally freed, it bounded up and dashed away from the table. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China Mashable reports that in China the God of Wealth is often portrayed sitting on tigers, and the act is associated with the deity. In the video a small child can be heard saying (as translated by Mashable), “I’m scared, I’m scared,” and one trainer responded, “Isn’t it cool to sit on a tiger? It can keep you away from the devil and earn you promotions and wealth.” Many commenters condemned the actions of the trainers and the parents who gleefully allowed their children to sit on the poor tiger. One iQiyi user said, “What kind of values are these parents teaching their children?” Another user wrote, “You can’t earn much from this, and instead you’ve brought so much pain to the animal, do you think it’s worth it?” Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, are found in the Russian Far East, China’s border areas, and possibly in North Korea, according to the World Wildlife Fund . There are only up to 540 of the endangered tigers left in the world. Via Mashable Images via screenshot

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Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach

January 10, 2017 by  
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Cig is a sea turtle that looks rather cute until you take a closer look to see what he’s actually made of—1,200 repulsive cigarette butts . The striking trash-inspired sculpture is the work of Shelly Marshall, a self-taught artist and founder of SHELLart , who uses art to spread the message about the threats facing marine life and ecosystems. Together with Ocean Hour volunteers, she spent less than an hour collecting over a thousand cigarette butts strewn across Florida’s Pensacola Beach and rearranged the tiny bits of trash to create Cig the sea turtle and bring awareness to the impact of littering. Although litter control laws and public service announcements on recycling have made big impacts on the way society deals with trash, the same can’t really be said about cigarette butts. Ocean Hour, the Pensacola-based marine debris committee that stages local cleanups at the beach every Saturday, found that cigarette butts were always one of the top three local pollutants year after year. Thus, Shelly was inspired to make an art piece that would communicate the anti-litter message in a more eye-catching way. “I wanted to create something eye-catching that was both interesting and repulsive at the same time,” said Shelly to Inhabitat. “Cig the sea turtle shows the harmful effect cigarette butts have on marine life that most of us don’t get the chance to see. Those little tiny pieces of trash add up and many butts contain microplastics that interrupt the ecosystem. Most people don’t know that it can contain up to ten years for one tiny butt to decompose. We hope that Cig will spread this message and will encourage people to pick up cigarette butts and even more people to not throw them down!” Related: Artist turns urban trash into amazing animal murals Cig the sea turtle was made from a lightweight cardboard base and covered with roughly 1,200 cigarette butts attached using clear glue. The glue, Shelly adds, helped to cover up some of the smell from the trash. The artist is working with Ocean Hour to collect different kinds of trash in hopes of creating a series of marine sculptures made from commonly found debris. Her next artwork will be a bottlenose dolphin constructed of reclaimed plastic bottles . Cig will be on display at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center for the month of February. + SHELLart Images via SHELLart

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Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach

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