Monday

A motorcade of folks on safari was treated to a remarkably well-coordinated display of pachyderm road-safety skills in action.

 Elephants at home in South Africa's Kruger National Park occasionally need to traverse roadways while out on their walks, but they don't do so lightly, a recent video reveals. Before a herd begins to cross, one member can be seen setting up a road block of sorts, bringing oncoming traffic to a standstill.

A likely reasoning for this excess of caution becomes clear moments later. Once the road is cleared of potential hazards, the herd's littlest member is escorted across, flanked on one side by her protective parent. The road-blocking elephant continues to hold her position in the street, keeping cars at a distance, until the youngster and her mother are safely out of sight.


This show of solidarity and problem-solving ability is hardly atypical for elephants. These animals are among the most intelligent on the planet, capable of altering their behavior to suit unique situations. That, coupled with their strong social bonds with one another, results in elephants going above and beyond to ensure that all members of the herd are protected.
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Meet The Dutch Owl Who Loves To Land On People’s Heads

Unsuspecting people walking through a field in the Netherlands are having their heads turned by one very strange bird.

An over-familiar owl has taken a liking to landing on the head of anyone walking through the greenery within the town on Noordeinde.

Now photographer Menno Shaefer has paid a visit to the spot after hearing about the European eagle owl's unusual behaviour. The 48-year-old, of Zaandam, Netherlands, says: 'I had heard a lot about the owl and decided to visit the site to see it in action for myself.


'It was a very funny thing to watch, however I'm just as confused as anyone as to why it does this.'


The wild owl, which weighs around 6lbs, spends an average of one minute perched on the head of innocent bystanders, before flying off looking for the next perch.
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“The more that we know about the process of how dogs became associated with people, the more we learn about the origins of civilization.”

 Scientists who study canine origins seem to fight about everything: where dogs arose, when this happened, and even the best way to find these answers. But there's one thing most of them agree on: how dogs became domesticated. Still, it's taken almost a century to get here, and the details are still emerging.

In 1907, the English scientist Francis Galton suggested that dogs first entered our lives when our ancestors nabbed some wolf pups, brought them back to camp, and raised them as pets. If you've ever seen a baby wolf, with its big eyes and oversized ears, the idea doesn't seem so far-fetched—and, indeed, Galton's hypothesis reigned for decades. But scientists eventually realized that domestication is a long, messy process that can take hundreds or even thousands of years. These early humans may have started with a cute pup, but they would have ended up with a wild animal.

So what did happen? Most experts now think dogs domesticated themselves. Early humans left piles of discarded carcasses at the edges of their campsites—a veritable feast, the thinking goes, for wolves that dared get close to people. Those wolves survived longer and produced more pups—a process that, generation by generation, yielded ever-bolder animals, until finally a wolf was eating out of a person's hand. Once our ancestors realized the utility of these animals, they initiated a second, more active phase of domestication, breeding early canines to be better hunters, herders, and guardians.


A massive collaboration that's trying to figure out where and when dogs emerged (see "Feature: Solving the mystery of dog domestication") has found some intriguing insights into the second phase of dog domestication. A comparison of thousands of ancient dog and wolf skeletons, for example, has revealed flattening of the dorsal tips of ancient dog vertebrae, suggesting that the animals hauled heavy packs on their backs. The team has also spotted missing pairs of molars near the rear of the jaw in ancient dogs, which may indicate that the animals wore some sort of bridle to pull carts. These services, in addition to dogs' hunting prowess, may have proved critical for human survival, potentially allowing modern humans to outcompete our Neandertal rivals and even eventually settle down and become farmers.


Now, a study in this week's issue of Science helps explains how man and dog took the next step to become best friends. Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, and his colleagues have found that when dogs and humans gaze into each other's eyes, both experience a rise in oxytocin—a hormone that has been linked to trust and maternal bonding. The same rise in oxytocin occurs when human mothers and infants stare at each other, suggesting that early dogs may have hijacked this response to better bond with their new human family.

The oxytocin study and the skeletal data from the new collaboration go beyond clarifying the origin of the family pet, says collaboration leader Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “The more that we know about the process of how dogs became associated with people, the more we learn about the origins of civilization.”
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Sunday

Like their descendants, wolves to, love a good belly rub!

Most canines love a good belly rub. Some canines love them so much they actually demand them. Dogs generally roll over on their backs for a nice belly rub from people they trust. It is, at it’s core, a submissive behavior.

Offering their belly is a sign that they trust you. It feels good and they don’t mind showing you this vulnerability for a nice old fashioned belly rub. The submissive behavior does not mean that the dog is enjoying the petting any less. Seems like a pretty fair trade off right?

A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can express with his tongue in hours. – Unknown Author


Rolling over to show you his belly leaves him physically vulnerable, and represents a strong degree of both trust in and submission to you. Rubbing his belly just plain feels good, much like other types of petting, but it also shows him that his trust and submission were well-placed, and that you won't take advantage of his vulnerability.














A Russian family adopts a baby bear left orphaned after his mother was killed by poachers.

The Shcherbakov family has been caring for the cub, which is unable to survive on its own, since it wandered up to their house gate three weeks ago.

With scenes reminiscent of the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the family matriarch cooks porridge for the little bear at the family’s home in Tulun, in Russia’s Irkutsk region.

She also feeds him milk from a refashioned beer bottle, and she told Reuters that he loves snacking on sweets.

The family is hoping to find a new home for the hand-reared bear and has posted adverts on the internet.




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