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Author Topic: Special Sensory Perception  (Read 111 times)

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Special Sensory Perception
« on: January 04, 2015, 09:37:38 pm »

Songbirds fly coop long before tornadoes arrive in Tennessee

Thursday, December 18, 2014 

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You might want to be careful about who you call a birdbrain. Some of our feathered friends exhibit powers of perception that put humans to shame.

Scientists said on Thursday that little songbirds known as golden-winged warblers fled their nesting grounds in Tennessee up to two days before the arrival of a fierce storm system that unleashed 84 tornadoes in southern U.S. states in April.  :o The researchers said the birds were apparently alerted to the danger by sounds at frequencies below the range of human hearing. 

The storm killed 35 people, wrecked many homes, toppled trees and tossed vehicles around like toys, but the warblers were already long gone, flying up to 930 miles (1,500 km) to avoid the storm and reaching points as far away as Florida and Cuba, the researchers said.

Local weather conditions were normal when the birds took flight from their breeding ground in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee, with no significant changes in factors like barometric pressure, temperature or wind speeds. And the storm, already spawning tornadoes, was still hundreds of miles away.

“This suggests that these birds can detect severe weather at great distances,” said wildlife biologist David Andersen of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Current Biology.

    “We hypothesize that the birds were detecting infrasound from tornadoes that were already occurring when the storm was still quite distant from our study site,” Andersen added.

Infrasound is below the normal limits of human hearing, but some animals can hear it.

The warblers came right back home after the storm passed, said fellow researcher Henry Streby, an ecologist from the University of California, Berkeley.

Male Golden-winged warbler

The researchers, who were already studying the migratory patterns of the warblers, tracked their evacuation using transmitters that had been placed on a small number of the birds.

Female Golden-winged warbler

Golden-winged warblers boast gray plumage marked by patches of yellow on the head and wings. They weigh about 0.30 ounces (9 grams) and have a wingspan of about 7.5 inches (19 cm).

The warblers spend winters in Central America and northern South America before migrating back to the Appalachian Mountain region of the southern United States and the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada to breed.

(Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Re: Special Sensory Perception
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2017, 07:01:25 pm »

Why woodpeckers don’t get headaches

Tibi Puiu March 23, 2017

Your typical woodpecker will bang its head against wood 20 times per second, accelerating 1,200 times more than gravity. In an average day, a woodpecker does this around 12,000 times. Despite the serious head banging, the woodpecker suffers no concussions or any kind of head injury. What’s this bird made of? 

Credit: Pixabay

To get to the bottom of things, a team of researchers from Beijing and Hong Kong zoomed in on the woodpecker’s behaviour closer than anyone ever had. The birds were put inside a special chamber where two synchronous high-speed cameras recorded their pecking, and a force sensor measured the peck force.

The birds’ heads were also scanned with x-rays and an electron microscope to image the bone structure. Preserved woodpecker skulls were also placed in a material testing machine and crushed for science. This data was then used to build a 3D model of the birds’ heads which they can then smash in simulations, without hurting any actual live woodpeckers.

This battery of tests revealed the woodpecker’s skull is unsurprisingly very sturdy, unlike most birds whose skulls are fragile. It’s made out of extremely strong, yet compressible sponge-like bone. The spongy bone is unevenly distributed around the skull, being most concentrated in the forehead and the back of the skull. Additionally, the beak and skull are connected by an elastic tissue which helps cushion the blow.

Inside the skull, the woodpecker’s brain is also armoured. Unlike human brains which are floating about in a pool of cushioning cerebrospinal fluid, the woodpecker’s brain is very tightly enclosed in the skull, with little or no cerebrospinal fluid. This means its brain doesn’t move about very much and collision force is spread out evenly over a larger area. Probably, this is the most important feature that helps woodpeckers avoid concussions.

Scanning electron microscope images of the cranial bone and beak bone of the great spotted woodpecker and the lark Cranial bone of (a) woodpecker and (b) lark; beak of (c) woodpecker and (d) lark. Credit: PLOS ONE

The beak’s construction also helps a lot. The outer tissue of the upper beak is longer than the lower beak, but the bone structure of the lower beak is longer and stronger than the upper one. This overbite divests impact stress away from the brain and distributes it around the lower beak and bottom parts of the skull.

When you’re hammering out at over 1,000 g, you better wear some protection goggles. Woodpeckers have so-called nictitans — thick membranes beneath the lower lid of the eyes — which protect them from debris. The nictitans also act as seatbelts for the eyes, fixing them in place so the retina doesn’t tear and the eye doesn’t pop right out the skull for that matter.

The high-speed cameras also revealed the woodpeckers vary the paths of their pecks. As they constantly move their heads and beaks around, so fast that’s impossible to see with the naked eye, the birds essentially minimize the number of times in a row that the skull makes contact in the same point.

The researchers say 99.7 percent of the energy from striking a tree is absorbed by the woodpecker’s body, and only 0.3 percent actually impacts the brain. This energy mostly heats the brain, so to cope woodpeckers usually peck in short bursts with breaks in between. Researchers suppose these brief breaks serve to cool the woodpecker’s brain.

Findings appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.

Credit: McMaster University

Visit the link below to see the fascinating slow motion Gif of a Woodpecker pecking!  :o 

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Re: Special Sensory Perception
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2017, 04:07:41 pm »
Which Animals Use Starlight to Help with Navigation?

It’s not rocket science, but a male dung beetle’s quest to navigate a newly-formed ball of dung in a straight line -- in order to avoid marauders who might steal the dung, and to get back to his mate as quickly as possible -- does require a certain amount of expertise in celestial navigation. In a 2013 study published in Current Biology, zoologist Marie Dacke’s team determined the dung beetle can find its way using only the Milky Way as a guide. Birds, seals, and humans have been known to use stars for navigation, but this was the first evidence that insects can do so, too.
Dung beetle Onthophagus nigriventris

Rollin', rollin', rollin':  ;D

•Researchers placed African dung beetles in a planetarium, and found that they could navigate just as easily with only the Milky Way visible as with a full starlit sky. Under overcast conditions, the beetles lost their way.

•Dacke's previous research showed that dung beetles use the Moon and celestial polarization patterns to keep moving in a straight line. Now they know that nocturnal beetles can stay on course even on moonless nights.

•“It was assumed insects could not use the stars because their eyes don’t have the resolution to see them,” explains Dacke. Navigating using the entire Milky Way eliminates the need to see individual stars, she says.


Now you know th dung beetles look at, and make use of, the Milky Way.   

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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