Tag: National Geographic

That Look – Of A Siberian Husky!

Those eyes!

Of all the dogs that we can look at the Siberian Husky takes the biscuit! I’m talking about those eyes!

Up until reading this article in the Smithsonian I hadn’t really stopped to wonder how those eyes came about.

Read on …

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How Siberian Huskies Get Their Piercing Blue Eyes

A new study suggests that the defining trait is linked to a unique genetic mutation

smithsonian.com
(Yasser Alghofily/Flickr)

At-home DNA kits have become a popular way to learn more about one’s ancestry and genetic makeup—and the handy tests aren’t just for humans, either. Dog owners who want to delve into their fluffy friends’ family history and uncover the risks of possible diseases can choose from a number of services that screen doggie DNA.

As Kitson Jazynka reports for National Geographic, one of these services, Embark Veterinary, Inc., recently analyzed user data to unlock an enduring canine mystery: How did Siberian huskies get their brilliant blue eyes?

Piercing peepers are a defining trait of this beautiful doggo. According to the new study, published in PLOS Genetics, breeders report that blue eyes are a common and dominant trait among Siberian huskies, but appear to be rare and recessive in other breeds, like Pembroke Welsh corgis, old English sheepdogs and border collies. In some breeds, like Australian shepherds, blue eyes have been linked to patchy coat patterns known as “merle” and “piebald,” which are caused by certain genetic mutations. But it was not clear why other dogs—chief among them the Siberian husky—frequently wind up with blue eyes.

Hoping to crack this genetic conundrum, researchers at Embark studied the DNA of more than 6,000 pooches, whose owners had taken their dogs’ saliva samples and submitted them to the company for testing. The owners also took part in an online survey and uploaded photos of their dogs. According to the study authors, their research marked “the first consumer genomics study ever conducted in a non-human model and the largest canine genome-wide association study to date.”

The expansive analysis revealed that blue eyes in Siberian huskies appear to be associated with a duplication on what is known as canine chromosome 18, which is located near a gene called ALX4. This gene plays an important role in mammalian eye development, leading the researchers to suspect that the duplication “may alter expression of ALX4, which may lead to repression of genes involved in eye pigmentation,” Aaron Sams of Embark tells Inverse’s Sarah Sloat.

The genetic variation was also linked to blue eyes in non-merle Australian shepherds. Just one copy of the mutated sequence was enough to give dogs either two blue eyes, or one blue and one brown eye, a phenomenon known as “heterochromia.” It would seem, however, that duplication on chromosome 18 is not the only factor influencing blue eye color: Some dogs that had the mutation did not have blue eyes.

More research into this topic is needed to understand the genetic mechanisms at work when it comes to blue-eyed dogs. But the study shows how at-home DNA kits can be highly valuable to scientists, providing them with a wealth of genetic samples to study.

“With 6,000 people getting DNA samples from their dogs and mailing them to a centralized location and then filling out a website form detailing all the traits of their dog—that’s a game-changer for how genetics is being done in the 21st century,” Kristopher Irizarry, a geneticist with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, tells National Geographic’s Jazynka.

The benefits of having access to such huge troves of data go further than uncovering nifty insights into our canine companions. Scientists are also teaming up with at-home DNA test companies to learn more about human genetics and behavior.

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There’s such a wide range of information about our lovely dogs!

Oh, and I had better include the following.

Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on TwitterRead more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-siberian-huskies-get-their-piercing-blue-eyes-180970507/#4cO22KfQH7w6qp6B.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

See you all tomorrow!

Now this is having a head for heights!

Not your usual Father’s Day outing!

Think you have a head for heights??

Well try this …. (first seen on the NatGeo website.)

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First Interview With the Climber Who Scaled El Capitan Without a Rope

Honnold approaching the top of El Capitan on Saturday, June 3rd. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story. Photograph by Jimmy Chin

Writer and climber Mark Synnott took Alex Honnold on his first international climbing expedition to Low’s Gully in Borneo back in 2009, and subsequent trips to Chad, Oman, and Newfoundland. Over the years they’ve kept up a running dialogue about the finer points of climbing and debated the dangers of free soloing—climbing alone, without ropes or other safety gear.

It seems fitting that in the first moments after Honnold had become the first person to free solo Yosemite’s El Capitan, the greatest pure feat of rock climbing in history, that he’d sit down with his old friend at the Manure Pile, a popular climbing spot at the foot of El Capitan. He ate an apple, listened to the birds, and described the experience of a lifetime. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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The rest of this story including the interview with Alex may be read here.

I’ll close with another photograph from that NatGeo piece.

Rock climber Alex Honnold sits atop Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan after nearly four hours of climbing alone, without ropes or any other equipment or safety gear.

El Capitan is only 500 miles drive from our home. Maybe next year’s Father’s Day outing? ( I jest, of course!)

Subsequently, I have come across a longer documentary that some may enjoy (??) watching.

Watch where you walk, good people!

 

Picture parade one hundred and eighteen

In recognition that a week ago National Wolf Awareness Week started.

The photographs were seen here but the original source of both the text and photographs is the National Geographic website.

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Intelligent and highly social, wolves fascinate us as the untamed predecessors to Man’s Best Friend. But the relationship between humans and wolves has not always been so reverential, especially in the United States.

Through the early 1900s, populations of Canis lupus, the gray wolf, shrank from estimated historical highs of 2 million to near-extinction in the lower 48 states, largely a result of expanded human settlement in the western U.S. and large-scale poisonings meant to protect livestock.

In 1973, the gray wolf was classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and after decades of conservation efforts, wolves are doing well in the U.S. Current estimates peg the gray wolf population in the lower 48 at around 5,500—with at least 7,000 more in Alaska. In fact, a pack of wolves recently planted roots in Siskiyou County, California, the first wolfpack in modern Californian history.

“The gray wolf is in no danger of being endangered, biologically,” says Dave Mech, a senior research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

But controversy still swirls around the gray wolf’s conservation status. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from the federal list of endangered species, a move it says reflects the wolves’ rebound. But animal rights groups and environmental organizations have decried the very thought, unsuccessfully petitioning the Service to maintain national protections for the gray wolf. Meanwhile, ranchers in the northwestern United States have pushed for rollbacks to state-level wolf protections.

In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment about the gray wolf, due to ongoing litigation with conservationists over the Mexican gray wolf, a rare subspecies. And given the wolf’s status as both a possible scourge to ranchers and an ecological marvel to environmentalists, the debate is “always going to be contentious,” says Mech.

Yet the allure of the wolf will endure, as it always has in the public’s imagination. “I think there’s a certain aesthetic beauty to [wolves],” says Mech, that defines “their charismatic nature.”

In honor of National Wolf Awareness Week, which begins October 11, we take a closer look at the fascinating ways in which wolves around the world eke out a living.

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There are another six photographs that I will offer you in next Sunday’s Picture Parade.

Our beautiful bees.

Incredible, intimate portraits of bees.

While Jean and I no longer attend meetings of the Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association, the meetings are a little too far away for us, I still subscribe to their email updates. Thus that’s how I was informed of a most incredible set of photographs on the National Geographic website. Here’s how the article opens:

Researchers take advantage of photography technology developed by the U.S. Army to capture beautiful portraits of bees native to North America.

Text by Jane J. Lee

Photography by Sam Droege, USGS

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Bees are the workhorses of the insect world. By transferring pollen from one plant to another, they ensure the next generation of the fruits, nuts, vegetables, and wildflowers we so enjoy.

There are 4,000 species of North American bees living north of Mexico, says Sam Droege, head of the bee inventory and monitoring program at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Only 40 of them are introduced species, including the European honeybee. (See “Pictures: Colored Honey Made by Candy-Eating French Bees.”)

Most of the natives are overlooked because “a lot of them are super tiny,” Droege says. “The bulk of the bees in the area are about half the size of a honeybee.”

The native species also go unnoticed because they don’t sting, he adds. They quietly go about their business gathering pollen from flowers in gardens, near sand dunes, or on the edges of parks.

The bee pictured above is a species of carpenter bee from the Dominican Republic known as Xylocopa mordax. It nests in wood or yucca stems, and is closely related to the U.S. species that chews through the wood in backyard decks.

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Trust me when I say that to view these images, and more, in their breathtaking beauty you need to go here and revel in what you see and read. Plus, in the text above I didn’t include the many links that are in the Nat Geo site’s version – so go there!

The natural world is so deserving of man’s care and protection.

Picture parade sixty-nine

Breathtakingly beautiful planet of ours!

National Geographic’s annual photo contest brings in some of the most extraordinary images from around the globe. Professional and amateur photographers alike submit shots in the categories of people, places, and nature and deliver a visual feast of the world in all its splendor.

Winners of the competition will be announced later this year, but in the meantime, here are some of the striking scenes (along with captions from the photographers) that Nat Geo was kind enough to share with us. Have a look.

"In the Strezlecki desert of Australia, a flock of galahs replenish on the only small water available at the base of this lonely tree. It’s a rare photo opportunity to get such a clear and symmetrical shot of these beautiful birds in flight in the middle of the desert." Location: Strezlecki Desert, Australia.
“In the Strezlecki desert of Australia, a flock of galahs replenish on the only small water available at the base of this lonely tree. It’s a rare photo opportunity to get such a clear and symmetrical shot of these beautiful birds in flight in the middle of the desert.” Location: Strezlecki Desert, Australia. Photo by Christian Spencer.

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"I was finishing up a photo shoot when a wild kangaroo appeared out of nowhere and bounded onto the lake, as if walking on water. This, along with the picturesque sunset combined to create an absolute visual treat!" Location: Noosa, Queensland, Australia.
“I was finishing up a photo shoot when a wild kangaroo appeared out of nowhere and bounded onto the lake, as if walking on water. This, along with the picturesque sunset combined to create an absolute visual treat!” Location: Noosa, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Dave Kan.

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"An early morning ride through Yellowstone National Park in the winter is always a treat. On this very chilly morning, hardly a sound was heard as this herd of bison reminded us that we are the visitors in their land." Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States.
“An early morning ride through Yellowstone National Park in the winter is always a treat. On this very chilly morning, hardly a sound was heard as this herd of bison reminded us that we are the visitors in their land.” Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. Photo by Karoline Sleichter.

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"This disorienting photo was taken from a cliff overlooking Lake Louise. Two people are enjoying a canoe ride on the lake's turquoise waters. Even boulders the size of large cars seem like pebbles from a high vantage point." Location: Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Ben Leshchinsky.
“This disorienting photo was taken from a cliff overlooking Lake Louise. Two people are enjoying a canoe ride on the lake’s turquoise waters. Even boulders the size of large cars seem like pebbles from a high vantage point.” Location: Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Ben Leshchinsky.

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"Blue Ghost fireflies are unique because they stay lit and only hover about a foot off the ground." Location: Brevard, North Carolina. Photo by Spencer Black.
“Blue Ghost fireflies are unique because they stay lit and only hover about a foot off the ground.” Location: Brevard, North Carolina. Photo by Spencer Black.

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"Before dawn [and] 25 degrees below zero. Just a short while [earlier], the rabbit seems to have walked across the snowy field." Location: Biei Hokkaido JAPAN. Photo by Mitsuhiko Kamada.
“Before dawn [and] 25 degrees below zero. Just a short while [earlier], the rabbit seems to have walked across the snowy field.” Location: Biei Hokkaido JAPAN. Photo by Mitsuhiko Kamada.

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"I headed out one night to photograph the Milky Way. As I reached the top of the mountain, this magnificent scene presented itself to me. I immediately wanted to photograph it in all its glory. After trying out a few different exposure times, I settled on duration of roughly 16 minutes. This allowed me to capture the intense glow of the fire along with the surreal star trails seen in the sky." Location: Advancetown Lake, Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia. Photo by Dave Kan.
“I headed out one night to photograph the Milky Way. As I reached the top of the mountain, this magnificent scene presented itself to me. I immediately wanted to photograph it in all its glory. After trying out a few different exposure times, I settled on duration of roughly 16 minutes. This allowed me to capture the intense glow of the fire along with the surreal star trails seen in the sky.” Location: Advancetown Lake, Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia. Photo by Dave Kan.

Utterly stunning photographs.

The best and the worst of mankind – the worst.

This makes me so sick I can’t find an appropriate heading!

Just read this from the October edition of The National Geographic magazine!

Ivory Worship

Thousands of elephants die each year so that their tusks can be carved into religious objects. Can the slaughter be stopped?

By Bryan Christy

Photographs by Brent Stirton, Reportage by Getty Images

IN JANUARY 2012 A HUNDRED RAIDERS ON HORSEBACK CHARGED OUT OF CHAD INTO CAMEROON’S BOUBA NDJIDAH NATIONAL PARK, SLAUGHTERING HUNDREDS OF ELEPHANTS—entire families—in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision reminiscent of a 2006 butchering outside Chad’s Zakouma National Park. And then some stopped to pray to Allah. Seen from the ground, each of the bloated elephant carcasses is a monument to human greed. Elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years. From the air too the scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene—you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together, the latest of the tens of thousands of elephants killed across Africa each year. Seen from higher still, from the vantage of history, this killing field is not new at all. It is timeless, and it is now.

The full terrible article is here – if you have the stomach to read it.

Photograph by Brent Stirton, Reportage by Getty Images
To keep the ivory from the black market, a plainclothes ranger hacks the tusks off a bull elephant killed illegally in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. In the first half of this year six park rangers died protecting Kenya’s elephants; meanwhile, rangers killed 23 poachers.

It’s an ill wind …

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good!

Amazing to find that the saying was recorded as  far back as 1546 when it is first recorded in John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue: “An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say.”

The reason this comes to mind is that good friend, John H. from here in Payson, recently sent me a piece under the title of Spider’s Web.  This is how it started,

An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been
that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood
waters.

A quick web search came across the item in National Geographic online, from which I republish this:

Cocooned Trees, Pakistan

DECEMBER 14, 2011

Cocooned Trees, Pakistan
Photograph by Russell Watkins

This Month in Photo of the Day: 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest Images

An unexpected side effect of the 2010 flooding in parts of Sindh, Pakistan, was that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters; because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water took so long to recede, many trees became cocooned in spiderwebs. People in the area had never seen this phenomenon before, but they also reported that there were fewer mosquitoes than they would have expected, given the amount of standing water that was left. Not being bitten by mosquitoes was one small blessing for people that had lost everything in the floods.

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest.)

John’s email also included more images, that are reproduced below.

So it looks as though we have much to learn from spiders as well as from dogs!

Or maybe, it’s just another example of the beauty, magic and mystery of nature!

Reading Planet Earth, part Four

The final episode from the series of four 1-hour videos from National Geographic.

The first episode plus the introduction can be seen here, the second episode can be seen here while the third can be seen here.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this last episode.  The third episode had shown how good science could determine the deadly cause and effect of past times and enact critically important solutions.  Well, the final episode had the same underlying theme.  That despite the huge scale of change and transformation required by millions of people to restore the planet to health, it’s not impossible, not by a long chalk.

So I will close these past four Posts by thanking Dogs of Doubt for first bringing these videos to light.  I truly hope that they have been for you as  Perfect Stranger described them in his Post, “they explained so much that it is impossible not to recognize the changes we have made to our environment.”  Nothing to add to that.

National Geographic – Strange Days on Planet Earth – Part 4 of 4 – Troubled Waters

More learning from dogs!

A peek at a very interesting article in the February issue of National Geographic magazine.

Big thanks to Bob T. here in Payson for sending me a recent email that contained the one line, “There is a lengthy article entitled “Mix, Match, Morph” in the February issue of National Geographic.  I strongly suspect you will find it of interest.”   Understatement big time!  The article is wonderful.   It is also available online! 🙂

The premise behind the article is, as the opening words reveal,

Three breeds, Copyright National Geographic, photo by Robert Clark

How to Build a Dog

Scientists have found the secret recipe behind the spectacular

variety of dog shapes and sizes, and it could help unravel the

complexity of human genetic disease.

As is made clear early on in Evan Ratcliff’s text, the huge variety in the breeds of dogs is a very recent occurence,

For reasons both practical and whimsical, man’s best friend has been artificially evolved into the most diverse animal on the planet—a staggering achievement, given that most of the 350 to 400 dog breeds in existence have been around for only a couple hundred years.

And later Ratcliff writes,

The breeders gave no thought, of course, to the fact that while coaxing such weird new dogs into existence, they were also tinkering with the genes that determine canine anatomy in the first place­. Scientists since have assumed that underneath the morphological diversity of dogs lay an equivalent amount of genetic diversity. A recent explosion in canine genomic research, however, has led to a surprising, and opposite, conclusion: The vast mosaic of dog shapes, colors, and sizes is decided largely by changes in a mere handful of gene regions.

What is critically being discovered is,

Already, more than a hundred dog diseases have been mapped to mutations in particular genes, many of them with human counterparts. Those diseases may have a whole array of mutations leading to a risk of disease in dogs, as they do in us.

It would be wrong, without permission to reproduce the article, to include more but you can quickly go here and read it yourself.  Except I can’t resist closing with the last sentence from the article,

After all, he points out, there are millions of dog lovers out there willing and eager to help with the fieldwork.

Ain’t that the truth!

And don’t miss the fabulous photographs of dogs taken by Robert Clark which you can see here, another example of which is below.  Robert Clark’s website is here.

Chesapeake Bay retriever, 48, Photograph by Robert Clark