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Magnetic Birds? Or not? Birds & Other Science in the News

April 14, 2012
Here’s a good article with lots of pictures of fossil birds.   Because birds have such thin bones (pneumaticized and all that), there really aren’t many good fossils of them.
Paleobirding:  What Birds Looked Like 125 Million Years ago
By Daniela Hernandez
From: Wired Science, April 9, 2012

New Study Overturns Prevailing Theory of How Birds Navigate
By Matt Mendenhall
From: Bird Watching Daily, April 13, 2012
Scientists have thrown cold water on the theory that iron-rich nerve cells in birds’ bills help them navigate using Earth’s magnetic field.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the same study.
Bird’s Sense of Direction Still Up In the Air
A new study undermines a long-held theory that certain cells in the beak act as magnetoreceptors to detect the Earth’s magnetic field. The findings conclude those cells just fight off infection.
By Amina Khan
From: Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2012,0,4807202.story

If you are a regular reader of the Los Angeles Times, you may have noticed that many of the science articles are written by Amina Khan.   The only biographical information I could find on her was:  “Science writer at the Los Angeles Times. I geek out for a living.”   She’s very good: she writes on great topics, she’s succinct and clear.   I’m a fan of hers.   Here’s a few of her many many articles from the LA Times.

Supernova Traced to Collision of White Dwarf Stars
Two scientists studying a Type 1a supernova may have pinned down the cause of such massive stellar explosions, they report in the journal Nature.   1/14/12
[This is one of my favorites, as it discusses the impact this discovery may have on the existence (or non-existence) of “dark energy”, the proposed driver of the presumed increasing speed of expansion of the universe.],0,2324818.story

Dinosaur feathers: Fossils indicate T. rex cousin had shaggy coat
Yutyrannus huali fossils, found in China, show that the giants had primitive fuzzy feathers at least in patches and probably in a full coat, a scientist says.   1/4/12,0,5455707.story

A gun in hand makes a man look taller, study says
In a study of how people assess danger, participants who looked at photos of hands holding different objects thought the gun bearers were the tallest.   4/12/12,0,809520.story

Study finds link between autism and obesity during pregnancy
Women with diabetes or hypertension were also more likely to have children with developmental delays.   4/8/12,0,1741964.story

Human ancestors used fire earlier than thought, study says
Charred bones in a South African cave suggest that Homo erectus was utilizing fire a million years ago, and may even have been cooking, researchers say.   4/3/12,0,5516323.story
[Chuck Almdale]

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