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Like humans and chimpanzees, cockatoos can use a set of tools to get food | The science



The cockatoo uses a sharp stick to pierce the membrane before using a scoop to fish out the cashews inside the box.
Thomas Suchanek

We don’t think twice about cutting an avocado in half, spooning it into a bowl, and then mashing it up with delicious guacamole. Such simple actions distinguish humans from most other animals. Few other species use tools, and the ability to plan ahead, think about the many tools needed to complete a task, and make sure they are on hand—to carry and use a set of tools—has been seen in only one termite catcher population. Chimpanzee of the Congo Basin.

Now research reveals a surprising new addition to the ranks of innovative tool users: the cockatoo. Wild-caught cockatoos have previously been observed using tools to extract seeds from fruit. But the scientists weren’t sure if the birds were simply choosing each tool individually to solve the immediate problem, one after the other, or if they knew ahead of time that multiple tools would be needed. new study published V Current biology shows that brainy birds can choose devices and wear them as a set of tools to get the job done. In laboratory experiments, birds carried a sharp stick and a scoop to get cashews from a special box in two steps. Practice shows that individual cockatoos invent new ways to solve problems and plan ahead.

“People are fascinated by how animals that we don’t tend to think of as having extremely complex cognitions can do incredibly complex things, and this is a stunning example of that,” says Marlene Zook, a behavioral ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University. Minnesota, which was not included in the study.

While tool use may seem mundane, scientists actually see it as a sign of higher cognitive ability. It was long thought to be exclusively human, but in recent years the ranks of tool-using animals have expanded to include primates, crows, sea otters and more, including Cockatoo Goffina.

These endangered, charismatic parrots live high in the rainforest canopy of the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia. A 2021 research Many of the same authors found that wild cockatoos can make and use up to three tools to extract their favorite sea mango seeds. The birds grab the fruit, then remove small branches to prepare three different tools: a knife, a wedge, and a spoon. They do this to gain access to the inside of the fruit by first removing the pulp, then opening the pit into two halves and digging out the nutritious seeds inside. “This is one of the most complex examples of tool use in nature; three different tools with different functions and very nimble,” says Antonio Osuna-Mascaro, an evolutionary biologist at the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine, who co-authored the latest study.

Only some cockatoos made and used sea mango tools, while others did not, meaning they were not genetically oriented to know the procedure. “They learn to use the tools the same way we do,” says Osuna-Mascaro. “They learn by combining objects, and eventually they find combinations and different techniques to use them functionally.”

Osuna-Mascaro and colleagues designed a clever experiment to learn more about how cockatoos think about using their tools. Inspired by termite-catching chimpanzees, who use a blunt stick to pierce termite mounds and a long flexible stick to pull out termites, the team set out to see if the birds could perform a similar task. The scientists placed the cashews in a box behind a transparent paper membrane. To get it, each bird had to use a pair of tools placed in front of the box. They first had to cut through the membrane, for which they used a pointed stick, and then fished out the cashews using a straw cut in half lengthwise to serve as a scoop.

Seven out of ten birds tested were able to successfully harvest cashews this way, and two people, Figaro and Fini, were able to figure out how to use both tools on the first try within an astonishing 35 seconds, although no bird is known to use sharp tools to gap.

The next task was to see if the birds could be flexible and change the use of tools depending on what was needed to complete the task. Cashews, as before, were packed in boxes, but only some boxes had a transparent shell, while others did not. Although both tools were placed in front of all the boxes, the birds quickly realized that they didn’t need a sharp, pointed stick for boxes without a membrane.

Finally, using the same two types of crates, the team added another layer to the experiment that is familiar to people who use tools, such as carpenters: transportation. The researchers made the boxes increasingly difficult to access, first by requiring them to climb stairs and then by having the birds fly to see if the birds could recognize the task at hand and deliver tools to each box as needed. . Although in everyday life cockatoos are rarely seen with more than one tool, during the experiment they often recognized when they needed more than one tool to get cashews. Many birds thought of tools as a set and carried both tools to the job site.

A closer look at the cockatoo might make these abilities a little less surprising – after all, birds show some intelligence. Previous research has focused on their habit of raiding trash cans, and the practice appears to be spreading. As birds watch their peers perform the difficult skill of opening trash cans, some (but not all) develop their own methods of lifting the heavy lids to gain access to tasty human trash. This may be a sign of social learning, a skill that is more common in animals such as primates and whales. The birds also dance to pop music in unique moves that are not copied by other birds or even by their human owners. Psychologists describe matching movements to music as a complex and interesting behavior because the birds picked it up out of necessity. It seems to be just for fun.

Unfortunately, their ability, intelligence, and beauty worked against Goffin’s cockatoo. Birds trapped in the wild have become a hot commodity in the illegal pet trade and have led to population declines in their natural ranges.

For Zook, the author Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters, The amazing abilities of birds raise another intriguing question: how unique are they?

“This group has done a phenomenal amount of work with Goffin’s cockatoos, and it’s fantastic how they break down some of the components of tool use to understand what’s going on in the brains of these cockatoos,” she says. But what if other animals were given the same elaborate and intriguing opportunities to show their abilities?

“Very few animals in the world have been subjected to this kind of extensive research,” she adds. “There could be all sorts of extraordinary behaviors that we have no idea about.”

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Here’s the true story of a massive seaweed “drop” heading towards Florida.



A free raft of kelp, about twice the width of the United States, is moving slowly across the Caribbean Sea. Currently, buckets of floating algae are washing up on Florida’s east coast beaches earlier than usual, raising scientists’ concerns about what the coming months will bring.

Seaweeds are made up of species of algae of the genus sargassum. These species grow as a mat of clumps of algae that are kept afloat by small air-filled sacs attached to leafy structures. The algae form a belt between the Caribbean Sea and West Africa in the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean and then drift westward with the currents. Scientists say reports of a huge algae crashing into the coastline are exaggerated because sargassum algae are scattered throughout the ocean, and most of the algae will never reach the sandy shores of the coast. But in recent years, researchers have routinely observed larger so-called sargassum blooms. And once the algae starts to wash up on the beaches and rot, it can cause serious problems, locals say.

Among the annual sargassum census in the Atlantic Ocean, “2018 was a record year and we’ve had some big years since then,” says Brian Lapointe, an oceanographer at Florida Atlantic University who has been studying seaweed for decades. “This is the new normal and we will have to adapt to it.”

The “droplet” of algae has been dubbed the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, and although it is spread out, the algae in the belt only covers about 0.1 percent of the water’s surface, says Chuangmin Hu, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida who used satellites to study sargassum for nearly 20 years.

Hu and colleagues use data collected by NASA satellites, including Terra and Aqua, to estimate the total mass sargassum in the Atlantic every month, tracking the annual cycle, which usually peaks in June. Last year, seaweed broke the record for the largest amount ever recorded in the Atlantic, with about 22 million metric tons of the substance found throughout the ocean, the team calculated.

Hu says the team has estimated that the Atlantic contains about six million metric tons. sargassum in February and that he is confident that the March mass will be higher. “There should be more this month. There is no doubt,” says Hu. “Even in the first two weeks, I saw an increase in numbers.”

In the ocean, Hu says sargassum is an important habitat for fish and turtles, among other marine life. He calls the belt a “moving ecosystem”. And only a small fraction of the algae present in the Atlantic will ever be washed up on beaches, Hu adds.

But beaches in Fort Lauderdale and the Florida Keys are already reporting sargassum Deposits this year, Lapointe says, and it’s on beaches that algae can be problematic. There, he says, the algae rots and releases chemicals like hydrogen sulfide gas that smells like rotten eggs. If inhaled, the gas can also cause headaches and irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. People with asthma or other breathing problems may be more sensitive to this effect. Florida Department of Health. The early appearance of algae is raising concerns about what this summer could bring.

“It’s pretty early sargassum season to see so much, so I think it’s also fueling some fears about what’s coming next,” says Lapointe.

Hu says that sargassum Volumes cannot be predicted more than two or three months in advance, so this summer’s seasonal peak is still too far away to predict. However, the researchers expected that this year could be rich in algae, because even during the winter calm there were more than average.

And the Atlantic reliably produced much more sargassum in recent decades than historically. Lapointe says it’s high sargassum Levels in recent years are likely due in part to nutrient-rich water flowing off land into rivers and oceans, where it can fertilize seaweed. But understanding and solving the problem remains confusing, he adds.

“This has been going on for over 10 years, and we haven’t made much progress in better understanding all of these factors that affect nutrients and climate,” he says. “That’s what we’re working on as scientists.”

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Black Sea drone incident highlights lack of rules to avoid ‘accidental’ war



A Russian Su-27 fighter jet dumps fuel as it approaches the rear of a US Air Force MQ-9 in what the Pentagon says was an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” over the Black Sea. Credit: US European Command video.

V extraordinary personnel The interception by a Russian aircraft of a US drone over the Black Sea earlier this week demonstrates how potentially catastrophic such encounters can be outside actual war zones.

In a drone video released by the Pentagon, a Russian jet appears to have sprayed the drone with fuel and then deliberately collided with it. The incident coincides with similar aggressive manifestations of the Russian Air Force in the region, the Pentagon said.

But apart from such acts of brinkmanship linked to the war in Ukraine, the confrontation in the Black Sea highlights how easily these military interactions can lead to “accidental outbreaks” of war.

Increasingly, we are seeing these close clashes of a military, naval and aviation nature. In 2021, Russian aircraft and two Coast Guard ships were reported. spying on a british warship near Crimea.

And last year in Australia the defense ministry said A Chinese fighter jet attacked one of its military aircraft in international airspace over the South China Sea. The risk that these dangerous “games” will provoke something more serious is obvious, but there are several rules or regulations that prevent this.

reckless behavior

All armed forces must abide by basic international security law, but there are big exceptions and occasional agreements that fill in the gaps.

Historically the United States and the Soviet Union walked ahead in the creation of some rules for the control of incidents on and over the high seas during the Cold War. The basic rule was that both sides should avoid risky maneuvers and “remain at a sufficient distance from each other to avoid the risk of collision”.

To reduce the risk of collisions, ships in close proximity should be able to communicate and, if possible, be visible. They should not simulate attacks on each other.

Later, Russia copied this agreement with 11 NATO countries, and the Indo-Pacific version – Code for unscheduled meetings at sea— was added in 2014. While mostly between the US and China, at least half a dozen other countries have pledged to abide by it.

Additional rules for combat skirmishes in the air followed. It was helpful to add in them that “military aircrew should refrain from using impolite language or unfriendly physical gestures.” Other rules emphasized professional conduct, safe speed and avoidance of reckless behavior, “aerobatics and simulated attacks” or “dropping missiles, weapons, or other objects”.

The US and Russia have added a more specific agreement to Flight safety in Syria while they were operating in close proximity, and when close calls in the air reported.

But these are all “soft” rules. They are not contractual obligations with compliance mechanisms and are only voluntarily accepted by some countries.

Also, there are no precise definitions of “safe” speeds or distances. New technologies such as drones and other interception techniques add another layer of unmanaged complexity.

missile tests

Few things are as scary as flying rockets. to the side or over another country without consent or warning. original Soviet rule provided for mutual notification of planned missile launches. But this has always only applied to ICBMs or submarine-launched missiles, not to short-range weapons or missile defense systems.

Apart from some voluntary UN codesthe only other binding agreement on missile notification is between Russia and China. China and the US do not directly exchange information about launch notifications, nor do other nuclear powers.

Some, like North Korea and Iran, have even violated missile bans expressly imposed on them by the UN Security Council.

War games and hotlines

The military needs to train. But it becomes risky when the sham can look very much like a real attack, especially when fear and paranoia are added to the mix.

North Korea is a modern example of this, but there have been incidents of large-scale wargames in the past. almost provoked a nuclear exchange. In 1983, for example, misinterpreted military intelligence led the US to move to DEFCON 1—the highest category of nuclear threat—during a tense period of the Cold War.

There were agreements on Notice of Major Strategic Exercises between the US and the Soviet Union, but without prior warning, even they failed to determine what best practice actually looks like (such as allowing observers or preventing exercises from looking identical to a full-scale attack).

More importantly, there is no international law governing such matters – and perhaps most importantly, how leaders should be able to communicate directly, quickly and continuously.

“Hot line” first agreed in 1963 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. While a direct link does not guarantee that the phone will be answered or that the subsequent conversation will be sincere, it does at least offer a channel to avoid confusion and reduce tension quickly.

A second-level hotline that allows commanders on the ground to communicate directly is also useful, such as the one that now links the Russian and US military with avoid accidental collision over Ukraine.

But such binary systems are the exception, not the rule. Hotlines are also not particularly stable – the one between North and South Korea, for example, have been carved and restored many times. And they are not provided for by international law, which symbolizes a broader situation where the risk of being wrong is indeed very real.

Contributed by The Conversation

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What is climate change? Very simple guide



parched earth

World temperatures are rising due to human activity, and climate change is threatening all aspects of human life.

If left unchecked, humans and nature will face catastrophic warming, increased droughts, rising sea levels and mass extinctions.

The world is facing a huge challenge, but there are potential solutions.

What is climate change?

Climate is the average weather in a place over many years. Climate change is a shift in these average conditions.

The rapid climate change that we are now seeing is caused by people using oil, gas and coal for their homes, factories and transportation.

When these fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2). These gases absorb solar heat and cause the planet’s temperature to rise.

The world is about 1.1 degrees warmer now than it was in the 19th century. the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by 50%.

A bar chart showing how the world got warmer between 1850 and 2020.

Temperature rise must slow down if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, according to climate scientists. They say global warming must be held at 1.5°C by 2100.

However, if no further action is taken, The planet could still warm up by more than 2C Then. A 2021 report by the independent group Climate Action Tracker estimates that the world is moving towards 2.4C warming by the end of the century.

If nothing is done Scientists believe that global warming could exceed 4 degrees Celsius in the future, leading to devastating heatwaves, millions of people losing their homes due to rising sea levels, and irreversible loss of plant and animal species.

What are the consequences of climate change?

extreme weather events already more intense around the world, threatening lives and livelihoods.

With further warming, some regions may become uninhabitable, because. farmlands turn into desert. East Africa has just experienced its fifth bad rainy season, which This is reported by the UN World Food Program. put up to 22 million people at risk of severe famine.

Temperature extremes can also increase the risk of wildfires, as was seen in Europe last summer. France and Germany recorded between January and mid-July 2022, about seven times more land burned than the average.

Warmer temperatures also mean that in places like Siberia, previously frozen ground will melt, releasing greenhouse gases that have been trapped for centuries into the atmosphere, further exacerbating climate change.

Elsewhere, extreme rainfall caused historic flooding last year, such as in China, Pakistan and Nigeria.

People living in developing countries are expected to be the hardest hit as they have fewer resources to adapt to climate change. But there is disappointment from these nations as they produced the lowest greenhouse gas emissions.

Information graphics

Information graphics

The planet’s oceans and their habitats are also under threat. The study was published in April 2022.funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, suggests that 10% to 15% of marine species are already threatened with extinction.

In a warmer world, it will also be harder for land animals to find the food and water they need to live. For example, polar bears could become extinct when the ice they rely on melts and elephants find it hard to find the 150-300 liters of water a day they need.

Scientists believe at least 550 species could become extinct this century if no action is taken.

coral reef

If temperatures continue to rise, nearly all warm water coral reefs could be destroyed.

How will climate change affect the world?

Climate change will have different consequences for the whole world. According to the UN climate body, the IPCCif the global temperature rise cannot be kept within 1.5C:

  • V Great Britain another Europe will be vulnerable to flooding caused by extreme rainfall

  • Countries in Middle East will face intense heat and widespread drought

  • Icelandic peoples in Pacific may disappear under the rising sea

  • A lot of African countries may be affected by drought and food shortages

  • Dry conditions are likely in the west. USwhile other areas will experience stronger storms

  • Australia likely to suffer from extreme heat and increased deaths from wildfires.

Internally displaced Somali woman Habiba Bile and her children stood near the carcasses of their dead cattle after a severe drought near Dollow, Somalia.

Habiba Bile and her children stood near the carcasses of their dead cattle after a severe drought near Dollow, Somalia, in 2022.

What are governments doing?

Countries agree that climate change can only be tackled by working together, and in landmark agreement in Paris in 2015they pledged to try to keep global warming at 1.5°C.

In November 2022, Egypt hosted a summit of world leaders called COP27, where countries came together to make new commitments to combat climate change.

Many countries have pledged to achieve net zero by 2050. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and balancing the remaining emissions by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

Experts agree that it is still achievablebut requires governments, businesses and individuals to make significant changes now.

What can individuals do?

Big changes must come from governments and businesses, but scientists say small changes in our lives can limit our impact on the climate:

Learn more about the climate change tether

Learn more about the climate change tether

Top image from Getty Images. Visualization of climatic bands provided by Professor Ed Hawkins and the University of Reading.

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