Florida Museum: New Data Platform Illuminates History Of Humans’ Environmental Impact. “The human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old. Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels. Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases.”
Boing Boing pointed me toward this crazy search engine for animal heads. From the brief writeup: “x6udpngx’s x6ud is a single-purpose search engine that offers high-quality animal photographs for use by artists seeking reference material.” This is a wow. First you pick a species (not all species are available.) Then you pick a skull type underneath and click and drag the skull to orient it in the position you want to find. For example, I pick hawk species, and the chicken skull. I click and drag the skull so I’m looking at it in profile. I click search and the search results I will get will be for hawk heads in profile. It doesn’t work as well for weird positions like the top or bottom of the skull, but still. Go play with it.
Quartz: What the Dodo’s animal videos tell us about the different corners of the internet. “Some of the most-viewed videos on Facebook from the animal-centric media brand the Dodo are heartwarming clips of tiny kittens, cuddly rescue pit bulls, and tender moments with hippos. On Snapchat, viewers are more drawn to snakes and spiders. A video from the Dodo featured in Snapchat’s Discover section this week showed a man in Vietnam having a leech removed from his nose.”
The Atlantic: The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books. “It was in the archives of the Archbishop of York that Matthew Collins had an epiphany: He was surrounded by millions of animal skins. Another person might say they were surrounded by books and manuscripts written on parchment, which is made from skins, usually of cows and sheep. Collins, however, had been trying to make sense of animal-bone fragments from archaeological digs, and he began to think about the advantages of studying animal skins, already cut into rectangles and arranged neatly on a shelf.”
Sun Journal: Social media posts about bird sightings may be harming Maine wildlife. “A Facebook group of Maine birders is asking its members to stop posting specific locations of rare species out of concern that the information is being used by hunters. The change to the private group’s policy stemmed from a post that alleged a hunter killed a king eider duck in Wells Harbor after he saw information about it on the group’s page. Although the Maine Birds Facebook group administrator who posted about the incident last month was not able to provide information to corroborate the allegation, the outrage it spurred from the group’s members speaks to a larger question about the ethics of using social media to seek out wildlife.”
Phys .org: As shutdown drags on, scientists scramble to keep insects, plants and microbes alive. “Three days a week, Don Weber shows up to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture campus in Beltsville, Md. The parking lot is empty and the hallways are dark. Like other federal facilities across the country, the lab is closed because of the partial government shutdown. ‘It’s like a ghost town,’ said Weber, an entomologist. But he has to perform an important task: feeding the hundreds of insects he raises in his lab, which keep hatching, mating and dying, oblivious to the political showdown in Washington, D.C.”
University of Helsinki: Bringing nature online – all 13 million samples of it. “In downtown Helsinki, the remains of millions of animals and plants rest in cabinets in the long hallways of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. They’ve been collected over 300 years, and in the era of climate change and biodiversity loss they are more important than ever. But how will one transfer more than 13 million specimens from the cabinets to the Internet?”