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Animal Health

Oxygen Helped Mammals Grow, Study Finds

Thu Sep 29, 2005

WASHINGTON - Mammals, once tiny creatures scampering on the forest floor, grew larger as the amount of oxygen in the air increased over millions of years, a new study says.

Today mammals, ranging from dogs and cats to elephants, dolphins and people, dominate the planet.

It's a success story Paul G. Falkowski of Rutgers University and colleagues say was helped by the more than doubling of oxygen in the air over the last 205 million years. Their findings are published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.


Biologists Observe Gorillas Using Tools


For the first time, biologists have documented gorillas in the wild using simple tools, such as poking a stick in a swampy pool of water to check its depth.

Until now, scientists had seen gorillas use tools only in captivity. Among the great apes, tool use in the wild was thought to be a survival skill reserved for smaller chimpanzees and orangutans.


Alaska zoo gets elephant treadmill

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) -- Anchorage zookeepers are installing a 16,000-pound treadmill to keep an isolated elephant from getting fat during the long, cold Alaskan winters.

The 20-foot-long treadmill was designed specifically for Maggie, a 23-year-old female African elephant that has become the subject of a national debate over the proper care for captive pachyderms.

"It looks just like a big people treadmill," said Patrick Lampi, assistant director of the Alaska Zoo.


Frog action plan to cost millions

By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website

Scientists will meet this weekend to launch an action plan aimed at stemming the global decline in amphibians.

About a third of frog, toad and salamander species are facing extinction; threats include fungal disease, pollution and habitat loss.

The Washington DC meeting is expected to call for the establishment of a large-scale captive breeding programme.

The cost of preserving amphibians from extinction may run into tens of millions of US dollars per year.


Apes 'extinct in a generation'

CONCORD, New Hampshire (AP) -- The state of New Hampshire is investigating a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men and advising another to shoot herself following brain surgery.

"Let's face it, if your husband were to die tomorrow, who would want you?" the state Board of Medicine says Dr. Terry Bennett told the overweight patient in June 2004.

"Well, men might want you, but not the types you want to want you. Might even be a black guy," it quoted him as saying, based on the woman's complaint.


Satellites used to aid vanishing Guatemala jaguars

By Frank Jack Daniel

LAGUNA DEL TIGRE, Guatemala (Reuters) - To the ancient Maya Indians who once built elaborate cities in the Guatemalan jungle, the jaguar's spotted pelt represented the stars in the night sky.

Now the Western Hemisphere's biggest cat is being tracked from space.

A Mexican-Guatemalan team of scientists and hunters is using Global Positioning System, or GPS, satellite to track the movements of this secretive, understudied animal and to find ways to slow the destruction of its favorite habitat.


This Magic Moment

by Jennifer Anderson

It was like many Maui mornings, the sun rising over Haleakala as we greeted our divers for the day's charter. As my captain and I explained the dive procedures, I noticed the wind line moving into Molokini, a small, crescent-shaped island that harbors a large reef. I slid through the briefing, then prompted my divers to gear up, careful to do everything right so the divers would feel confident with me, the dive leader.


Mans Best Friend Can Smell Cancers In Humans

Often called mans best friend, dogs have been awarded another claim to be saviour of their owners. Scientists have discovered that dogs can sniff out cancer and even detect unconfirmed cases.

A study using six trained dogs, a Labrador, three cocker spaniels, a Papillion and a mongrel, found that their ability to detect a sample of urine from a patient with bladder cancer was pretty conclusive.