Crows never forget a face

John M. Marzluff, a wildlife biologist tested crows’ ability to distinguish between faces.

According to a new study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, crows have been found remember the faces of particular human beings even five years later. This is especially true when a person has threatened the crow in the past. Crows often react by scolding and bringing in others to mob the perceived miscreant.

A person that has ever threatened a crow may become famous throughout entire crow communities since that particular crow communicates the threat to the other mob members. Given that crows have impressive memories, people who ruffle the feathers of these birds could experience years of retribution. Bothered crows make calls to attract other nearby crows to join in the mob.

Marzluff is a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Forest Resources. For the study, wild crows were exposed to a novel ‘dangerous face’ created by wearing a unique mask as they trapped, banded and released seven to 15 birds at five study sites near Seattle.

Here is the link to the video that explains the study:

The released birds immediately scolded the mask wearer. Hearing the racket, other crows joined, forming an angry mob.

The researchers then put on other masks and travelled to different areas. Even crows that were never captured recognized the persons and attacked and mobbed them. As such, a face gets locked into a crow’s memory. The study shows that their memory lasts for at least five years.

Even prior studies have shown that crows are particularly intelligent. Some crows make and use tools, forecast future events, understand what other animals know.

The article shows how a human being should avoid threatening and bothering even a crow. Anne Clark, an associate professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, told Discovery News that this new study “suggests importantly how much long-term studies of individuals have to contribute to our understanding of adaptive social learning.”


Nijhuis, M. (2008, August 25). Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from The New York Times:

Viegas, J. (2011, June 28). ANGRY BIRDS: CROWS NEVER FORGET YOUR FACE. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from Discovery News website:

Posted in WK 12 | 4 Comments

Captivity makes fish aggressive

Goldfish can normally be seen in any of the fish aquariums that are kept at home. However, if you look closely, you might notice an angry glare from the goldfish. A study from Case Western Reserve University has found that fishes in a cramped, barren space turn mean. The welfare of the fishes has largely been ignored by the society.

Oldfield’s paper scientifically studies how the environment of home aquariums affects the aggressive behavior of ornamental fishes. The behavior of the fish, Midas cichlid, has been kept and observed in a variety of environments – within their native range in a crater lake in Nicaragua, in a large artificial stream in a zoo, and in small tanks of the sizes typically used to by pet owners.

In the tanks that closely resembled the natural living conditions of theirs, which are, the pond, lakes, river, etc., the fishes were less aggressive. However, tempers were flared in the fish that were kept in less desirable aquariums, with perturbed fishes flaring their fins. Some of the fishes even nipped, chased, charged and murdered each other.

This study also throws some light on the human behavior and living conditions. Crime rates are usually high in areas with higher population densities and in poorer locales, where people compete for the available resources. A fish aquarium is no better than what a prison is for a human being.

Thus, the article beings into light a concern put forward by animal activists for years now, that animals should be kept in their natural habitat for their survival. If the aquarium is still chosen, people should take care that cheap, stagnant water models are not selected or else, their favorite pets will have to be disposed off very, very soon. Aquariums that appear very close to the natural habitat should be chosen. One example of such an aquarium is displayed below:


Viegas, J. (2011, September 23). ANGRY FISH INHABIT MOST HOME AQUARIUMS. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from Discovery News website:

Posted in WK11 | 2 Comments

Whales suffering from sunburn too

Painful sunburns are not only confined to humans. According to a report published by British and Mexican researchers who’ve been studying the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation on whales in the Gulf of California, some whale species have been showing signs of severe sunburn that is likely to be caused by the thinning ozone layer.

Whales have to spend a considerable amount of time on the surface to breathe air, to socialize and to feed their young. Whales do not have hair, fur or feathers or other forms of sunburn protection mechanisms, which tend to escalate the problem in them.

For conducting the research, scientists have studied about 150 whales taking photographs and small skin samples from the whales’ hides. Blisters have been found in about half of these whales from sun damage. The study’s lead researcher, Laura Martinez-Levasseur of the University of London, told the Associated Press, “Humans can put on clothes or sunglasses — whales can’t.”

The pace at which the blisters are increasing in the whales is alarming. Whales, just like humans, produce more pigment in their skin to protect them from sun burn, which makes the skin dark and tanned. As such, darker-skinned fin whales are found to have fewer lesions and evidence of sunburn than their pale-skinned relatives, blue whales. This is very comparable to the varying skin color of the humans due to their adaptation to the intensity of the sunlight.

The study is conducted at the Gulf of California, which is situated in tropical latitudes, where sun radiation is many times higher compared to the mid-latitude zones.

This article is important as it brings to highlight the increasing intensity of the problem that the human beings are facing in relation to the depleting ozone layer. It is a signal that human beings should act with urgency to try and reduce the environmental stress levels by reducing contaminants and pollution.


Frayer, L. (2010, November 10). Study: Whales Get Burned as Ozone Layer Thins. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from The AOLNews website:

Viegas, J. (2010, November 9). WHALES SUFFERING FROM SUNBURN. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from Discovery News:

Posted in WK 10 | 3 Comments

A two-headed cat breaks world record

A Massachusetts cat with two faces that has become the world's longest surviving so called "janus" feline at 12 years of age (Source: Reuters, David Niles)

Worcester, Massachusetts – Celebrating the 12th birthday wasn’t yet another usual birthday for a two-headed cat named “Frankenlouie” in Worcester, Massachusetts. His recent birthday on September 8 has got the cat a place in the “Guinness Book of World Records”. He now holds the record for the longest-lived Janus cat. Janus cat is a term used for cats with two heads, which comes from a two-faced Roman god. The cat’s left side is called Frankie while the right side as Louie.

The condition of having two heads in cats is rare. Besides being rare, Frankenlouie is only one of his kind as he has managed to live against odds for years. In most cases, this condition caused kittens to die within a few days of birth.

The cat’s owner is veterinary nurse Marty Stevens, who rescued the two-headed feline from the Tufts Veterinary Medical School where he was about to be euthanized for his condition. According to Stevens, “Every day is kind of a blessing, being 12 and normal life expectancy when they have this condition is one to four days.”

Todd Ray of the Venice Beach Freakshow, who probably has the largest collection of bizarre animals in the world, considers Marty just as incredible as the cat. She was able to prove that an animal like this can live a good life. However, it wasn’t easy for Marty especially in the early years.  In the early years, Marty took him everywhere in a shoebox and fed him every two hours by sticking a tube into the stomach. Veterinarians often advised her that she should not get too attached with the cat as she may not live long. However, with every passing day, she keeps getting stronger.


Moye, D. (2011, September 28). Two-headed Cat ‘Frankenlouie’ Turns 12 In Worcester, Mass. (VIDEO). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from

Weber, K. (2011, September 29). 2 Faced Cat ‘Frankenlouie’ Breaks World Record (VIDEO). Retrieved October 1, 2011, from

Posted in WK 9 | 4 Comments

A mammoth saltwater crocodile caught in Philippines

Villagers and a group of hunters in the Philippines have captured a one-ton saltwater crocodile along a stream in Bunawan Township in Agusan del Sur province after hunting for about three weeks. Guinness World Records lists a saltwater crocodile caught in Australia as the largest crocodile in captivity, measuring about 17 feet 11.75 inches. However, this crocodile caught in Philippines measures about 21 feet.

Mayor with the crocodile

Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said that the crocodile was responsible for killing the water buffalo last month and reportedly attacked a fisherman who went missing in July. It had become a threat for the village.

It wasn’t an easy task to catch the crocodile. The hunters initially set four traps on sightings of the creek; however, the crocodile destroyed them all. Sturdier traps were then used using steel cables, which finally succeeded in catching the reptile. Even after being caught, it wasn’t an easy task to pull it; the enormous reptile weighed around 2,370 pounds and required around 100 people to pull it before the crane lifted it into the truck.

The crocodile has been nicknamed Lolong and is currently placed in a fenced cage. An ecotourism park is being planned, with the center of attraction none other than Lolong. Villagers are happy that they will be able to turn a threat to their lives into an asset. The region is currently impoverished but Lolong should bring the people good fortune.

Animal rights activists, on the other hand, have already urged the authorities to return the crocodile back to the wild. However, the mayor has refused stating that the crocodile, if released, will pose a threat to the residents of the village.



Press. (2011, September 5). Giant saltwater crocodile captured alive in Philippines . Retrieved September 24, 2011, from

Zelman, J. (2011, September 10). Lolong, Giant Philippine Crocodile, Should Be Released, Activists Say . Retrieved September 24, 2011, from

Posted in WK 8 | 4 Comments

Andre, the turtle, discovered dead

Andre, the turtle, discovered dead

It has not been long since Andre, the sea turtle, was returned to the sea on August 3 this year. Andre survived catastrophic injuries and underwent a year of rehabilitation and innovative surgeries before he was moved to the sea again off the Florida coast in front of hundreds of well-wishers. His news was even reported here on this blog in week 4. About three weeks after, he has been found dead.

Andre, a 177-pound sea turtle, was released off the Florida coast on Aug. 3 after a year of rehabilitation from traumatic injuries. He was found dead on Thursday.

According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the place where he received treatment, Andre’s body washed up on Hutchison Island early morning on August 25, 2011. However, the cause of his death could not yet be confirmed. He was in dire condition when he was found, which prevented the detection of his actual cause of death. However, an identification tag that was attached to one of his flippers confirmed it was him.

Watch Ashleigh Walters reporting for Newschannel 5 below:

Earlier, the turtle’s story was followed by many of the 225,000 annual visitors to the center and through a round-the-clock webcam. Children flooded him with mail and checks flowed in from around the world to support his care. The staff and the entire volunteer base are deeply saddened from the news of his death as they had grown so attached to him during his treatment and rehabilitation. This sad news has even impacted thousands of his well-wishers worldwide.

Scientists are saying that what they learned during his treatment will help them treat other sea turtles with traumatic injuries of his endangered species. Green sea turtles are endangered today. According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Andre’s plight inspired many people to understand the continued need for ocean conservation.


DiPaolo, B. (2011, August 24). Loggerhead Marinelife Center reports that Andre the sea turtle has been found dead. Retrieved September 4, 2011, from (2011, August 25). Andre the Sea Turtle Found Dead After Miracle Recovery. Retrieved September 4, 2011, from

Posted in Wk 7 | 2 Comments

Dolphin with prosthetic tail gets ready for waves of publicity

Dolphin with prosthetic tail gets ready for waves of publicity

Winter, a six-year-old dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, lost her tail when she was three months and now uses a prosthetic tail made especially for her.

Florida, United States – Winter, the dolphin, is the star and subject of the upcoming movie, “Dolphin Tale”, which stars Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Harry Connick Jr. Winter lost her tail when she was just three months old. She was caught in a blue crab trap off the coast of Florida and the blood supply to her tail was cut off by the rope. Contrary to what the doctors believed, she managed to live at the Cleanwater Marine Aquarium.

The doctors thought that she would slowly learn to swim without a tail. However, the problem was that swimming would require her to move sideways rather than the normal up-and-down movement and that would cause muscles to get overproduced. This would cause scoliosis, where the spine curves away from the middle or sideways.

It was then Kevin Carroll, vice president of prosthetics at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, helped Winter by designing a special tail prosthetic for her. A prosthetic is an artificial substitute or replacement of a part of the body.

An employee of the aquarium holding prosthetic tail especially made for Winter by Kevin Carroll

Winter’s popularity has reached to far off places in the last five years. Last month, in July, the attendance has boosted to 35,000 visitors for the aquarium, who are particularly interested in catching a glimpse of Winter. Once the film, “Dolphin Tale”, releases nationwide, even more people are expected to turn up. The aquarium’s bottom-line is getting increased and it has opened it seven days a week to let visitors see a real-life star of a Hollywood movie seven days a week. The film will definitely add to Winter’s growing popularity. However, this is bound to have an effect on her. One important thing that people will learn is how intelligent dolphins are.


Moye, D. (2011, August 20). Dolphin With Prosthetic Tail Gets Ready For Waves Of Publicity. Retrieved August 21, 2011, from

Posted in Wk 6 | 4 Comments