Saturday, September 29, 2012

Amazing paper sculptures of animals « Why Evolution Is True

Canadian artist Calvin Nicholls   creates the following amazingly beautiful sculptures using sheets of paper. “Calvin has been creating his paper sculptures since 1986 from his studio north of Toronto Ontario, Canada. Working with sheets of paper and a scalpel, he cuts the component pieces to fit the final drawing and assembles the low relief artwork under studio lighting. When the sculpture is complete the lighting is adjusted to bring out the subtle form and texture. A large format camera is used to capture the detail on 8×10 film prior to scanning for print applications or art prints.”

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A marine mystery solved (and a bit about birds) « Why Evolution Is True

There are a million mysteries in the Naked City of Biology, and some of them get solved. This is one of them, taken from the Japanese culture siteSpoon & Tamago. It’s described in the post “The deep sea mystery circle—a love story  
Several decades ago, a Japanese “salary man” named Yoji Ookata quit his office job to pursue his real love—underwater photography.  Recently, diving 80 feet down off the island of Amami Oshima   (one of the Amami islands between Japan and Taiwan), Ookata saw something that nobody had ever seen before. It was a large, radially symmetrical pattern in the sand, and looked like this (note underwater camera for scale):

It’s a fish! Or, rather, a single small male pufferfish who digs the structure in the sand:

Here it is digging:

To close, here is an elaborate bower built by the male satin bowerbird  ,Ptilonorhynchus violaceus.  Their bowers are often decorated with objects purloined from humans, and the females (ergo the males) seem to have a preference for blue. Experiments show that the females prefer to mate with males whose bowers are decorated more elaborately.

Females enter and inspect the bower before mating, and the males also perform an elaborate behavioral display as well.  Here’s the artist and the consumer. Note the sexual dimorphism in color, itself an indication that sexual selection is going on here:

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Whodunit? Crows Ask That Question, Too - ScienceNOW

Whodunit? Crows Ask That Question, Too - ScienceNOW:

Imagine hearing a distant roll of thunder and wondering what caused it. Even asking that question is a sign that you, like all humans, can perform a type of sophisticated thinking known as "causal reasoning"—inferring that mechanisms you can't see may be responsible for something. But humans aren't alone in this ability: New Caledonian crows can also reason about hidden mechanisms, or "causal agents  ,"   a team of scientists report today in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It's the first time that this cognitive ability has been experimentally demonstrated in a species other than humans, and the method may help scientists understand how this type of reasoning evolved, the researchers say. Read More
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.