Human infants are born with a series of reflexes that help them survive -- or that helped their primate or mammalian ancestors survive, whose persistence marks their importance to primate survival. Reflexes are typically not sent to the brain; they occur along a much shorter pathway called a "reflex arc" (your doctor triggers a simple reflex arc by hitting your kneecap with a hammer; you can't control your leg kicking because the signal doesn't go to your brain but rather hits a reflex arc that is much shorter and only goes to your spinal cord) and "primitive" reflexes in infants are those that disappear and are "integrated" and overwritten by the growing nervous system. You can keep your adult knee-jerk reactions -- infants have much cooler reflexes. [more inside]
The more we learn about the emotions shared by all mammals, the more we must rethink our own human intelligence [more inside]
Via the Smithsonian: For the first time in 35 years, a new carnivorous mammal species has been discovered in the American Continents. Native to the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, the olinguito is the newest member of the raccoon family. [more inside]
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, casually referred to as Sōkendai (a contraction of Sōgō kenkyū daigakuin daigaku), was founded in 1988 as the 96th national university in Japan. Amongst other things, it is home to the Soken Taxa Web Server which in turn hosts the first online Japanese Ant Color Image Database that currently lists 273 species of ant, the Illustrated Guide of Marine Mammals and the Marine Mammals Stranding DataBase, the Mammalian Crania Photographic Archive that currently includes 704 specimens, the Morning Glories Database that covers the many mutants of Ipomoea nil, closely related species and interspecific hybrids, the Makino Herbarium Database, which is named after the pioneering Japanese botanist, Tomitaro Makino, and the Japanese Bees Image Database.
What can jump 4 feet straight up, births identical quadruplet pups nearly every time, can curl itself into an armor-plated ball, walk underwater for up to six minutes and can swallow air until it bloats to double its size to float? [more inside]
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
A massive global study concludes a quarter of the 5,487 wild mammal species on the planet are threatened with extinction, according to a report released Monday at a World Conservation Congress in Spain. [more inside]
Beaked Whales "might be the least understood group of large mammals on Earth". One thing is relatively certain, however: sonar appears to kill them. [more inside]
Unexpectedly, thousands of mammals were spotted during their migration in the Southern Sudan surprising scientists who had given up thinking that wildlife might still exist [video link] in this war torn region of the world.