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Archive for the ‘Male Genetics’ Category

18,000-year-old puppy found remarkably preserved in permafrost – NBCNews.com

YAKUTSK, Russia Russian scientists have shown off a prehistoric dog or wolf puppy, thought to be 18,000 years old, found in permafrost in the country's Far East.

Discovered last year in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is unusually well-preserved, with its hair, teeth, whiskers and eyelashes still intact.

"This puppy has all its limbs, pelage fur, even whiskers. The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is a male," Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World private museum where the remains are stored, said Monday at Yakutsk's Mammoth Museum, which specializes in ancient specimens.

Love Daln, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Stockholm-based Center for Palaeogenetics, which took a piece of the puppy's bone to study its DNA, said it still couldn't be determined whether the puppy was that of a dog or a wolf.

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"That makes it even more interesting," Daln said.

In recent years, Russia's Far East has provided many riches for scientists studying the remains of ancient animals. As the permafrost melts, affected by climate change, more and more parts of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered. Often it is mammoth tusk hunters who discover them.

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"Why has Yakutia come through a real spate of such unique findings over the last decade? First, it's global warming," Sergei Fyodorov, a scientist at North Eastern Federal University, told The Associated Press. "It really exists, we feel it, and local people feel it strongly. Winter comes later. Spring comes earlier."

The Center for Palaeogenetics has been studying the puppy's DNA for more than year. Further tests have left scientists with more questions than answers.

"The first step was, of course, to send the sample to radiocarbon dating to see how old it was, and when we got the results back, it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old," Daln said in an online interview.

"We have now generated a nearly complete genome sequence from it, and normally when you have a two-fold coverage genome, which is what we have, you should be able to relatively easily say whether it's a dog or a wolf, but we still can't say and that makes it even more interesting," Daln said.

He said scientists planned to conduct a third round of genome sequencing, which might solve the mystery.

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18,000-year-old puppy found remarkably preserved in permafrost - NBCNews.com

10 ways of treating female hair loss – Medical News Today

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Female hair loss can happen for a variety of reasons, such as genetics, changing hormone levels, or as part of the natural aging process.

There are various treatment options for female hair loss, including topical medications, such as Rogaine. Other options include light therapy, hormone therapy, or in some cases, hair transplants.

Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help keep hair healthy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Minoxidil to treat hair loss. Sold under the name Rogaine, as well as other generic brands, people can purchase topical Minoxidil over-the-counter (OTC). Minoxidil is safe for both males and females, and people report a high satisfaction rate after using it.

Minoxidil stimulates growth in the hairs and may increase their growth cycle. It can cause hairs to thicken and reduce the appearance of patchiness or a widening hair parting.

Minoxidil treatments are available in two concentrations: the 2% solution requires twice daily application for the best results, while the 5% solution or foam requires daily use.

While the instinct may be to choose the stronger solution, this is not necessary. Studies posted to the International Journal of Women's Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 2% minoxidil was effective for females with androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness.

If a person finds success with minoxidil, they should continue using it indefinitely. When a person stops using minoxidil, the hairs that depended on the drug to grow will likely fall out within 6 months.

Side effects from minoxidil are uncommon and generally mild. Some females may experience irritation or an allergic reaction to ingredients in the product, such as alcohol or propylene glycol. Switching formulas or trying different brands may alleviate symptoms.

Some females may also experience increased hair loss at first when using minoxidil. This typically stops after the first few months of treatment as the hair gets stronger.

Additionally, misapplying minoxidil or applying it to the forehead or too much of the neck may cause hair growth in these areas. Only apply minoxidil to the scalp to avoid these side effects.

Minoxidil is available to purchase in stores and online.

Low-level light therapy may not be sufficient treatment for hair loss on its own, but it may act to amplify the effects of other hair loss treatments, such as minoxidil.

A trial posted to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology found that compared to control groups, adding low light therapy to regular 5% minoxidil treatment for androgenetic alopecia helped improve the recovery of the hairs and the participants' overall satisfaction with their treatment.

Researchers will need to carry out further research to help strengthen these results.

The drug ketoconazole may help treat hair loss in some cases, such as androgenetic alopecia, where inflammation of the hair follicles often contributes to hair loss.

One review posted to the International Journal of Women's Dermatology noted that topical ketoconazole might help reduce inflammation and improve the strength and look of the hair.

Ketoconazole is available as a shampoo. Nizoral is the best known brand and is available for purchase over the counter and online. Nizoral contains a low concentration of ketoconazole, but stronger concentrations will require a prescription from a doctor.

Some females may also respond to corticosteroid injections. Doctors use this treatment only when necessary, for conditions such as alopecia areata. Alopecia areata results in a person's hair falling out in random patches.

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, injecting corticosteroids directly into the hairless patch may encourage new hair growth. However, this not may prevent other hair from falling out. Topical corticosteroids, which are available as creams, lotions, and other preparations, may also reduce hair loss.

Early evidence suggests that injections of platelet-rich plasma may also help reduce hair loss. A plasma-rich injection involves a doctor drawing the person's blood, separating the platelet-rich plasma from the blood, and injecting it back into the scalp at the affected areas. This helps speed up tissue repair.

A recent review posted to Aesthetic Plastic Surgery noted that most studies suggest that this therapy reduces hair loss, increases hair density, and increases the diameter of each hair.

However, because most studies up until now have been very small, the review calls for more research using platelet-rich plasma for androgenic alopecia.

If hormone imbalances due to menopause, for example, cause hair loss, doctors may recommend some form of hormone therapy to correct them.

Some possible treatments include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy for either estrogen or progesterone.

Other possibilities include antiandrogen medications, such as spironolactone. Androgens are hormones that can speed up hair loss in some women, particularly those with polycystic ovary syndrome, who typically produce more androgens.

Antiandrogens can stop the production of androgens and prevent hair loss. These medications may cause side effects, so always talk to the doctor about what to expect and whether antiandrogens are suitable.

In some cases where the person does not respond well to treatments, doctors may recommend hair transplantation. This involves taking small pieces of the scalp and adding them to the areas of baldness to increase the hair in the area naturally. Hair transplant therapy can be more costly than other treatments and is not suitable for everybody.

Some minor hair loss may happen due to clogged pores on the scalp. Using medicated shampoos designed to clear the pores from dead skin cells may help promote healthy hair. This may help clear minor signs of hair loss.

Massaging the scalp may increase circulation in the area and help clean away dandruff. This helps keep the scalp and hair follicles healthy.

The most common cause of hair loss in females is androgenetic alopecia, which has strong links to genetics and can run in families.

According to the International Journal of Women's Dermatology, hair loss from androgenetic alopecia may start at a young age. Some females may begin losing their hair in their late teens or early twenties, though most females may not begin to lose their hair until their 40s or older.

Both males and females can develop androgenetic alopecia, but they experience it in different ways. Males tend to experience a receding hairline or bald spot on top of their head, while females tend to present different symptoms.

In females, the parting at the center of the hair often becomes more defined or wider. Females may also experience thinning hairs, and hair may appear more thin or patchy overall.

These symptoms are due to a thinning of each hair strand. The hairs also have a shorter life cycle, and hairs only stay on the head for a shorter period.

Female pattern hair loss is a progressive condition. Females may only notice a slightly wider parting in their hair at first, but as symptoms progress, this can become more noticeable.

Other forms of alopecia, such as alopecia areata, may cause one or more patches of complete baldness.

Other factors may play a role in hair loss, such as inflammatory conditions that affect the scalp and hormone imbalances. Doctors may want to investigate these possible causes if the person does not respond to typical treatments.

While losing hair at a young age may be concerning, hair loss is a reality for many people as they age. One study posted to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology noted that up to 75% of females would experience hair loss from androgenetic alopecia by the time they are 65 years old.

While many females look for ways to treat hair loss while they are young, at some point, most people accept hair loss as a natural part of the aging process.

Some people may choose to wear head garments or wigs as a workaround to hair loss. Others work with their aging hair by wearing a shorter haircut that may make thin hair less apparent.

Hair loss can affect both males and females. Hair loss in females may have a range of causes, though the most common is androgenetic alopecia.

There are a variety of treatments for hair loss for females, including OTC hair loss treatments, which are generally effective. Anyone experiencing hair loss should visit their doctor who can diagnose any underlying factors.

If a doctor suspects there is another underlying cause or the person does not respond well to OTC treatments, they will look into other treatment options.

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10 ways of treating female hair loss - Medical News Today

Dog or wolf? Frozen 18,000-year-old puppy gives scientists pause – The Irish Times

An 18,000-year-old puppy buried for centuries in a lump of frozen mud was unveiled on Monday by scientists who hope it can help bridge the connection between dogs and wolves.

The puppy, which was male, was discovered 18 months ago, preserved in a layer of permafrost in Siberias Far Eastern reaches, according to Dave Stanton, a research fellow at the Center for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm and one of the scientists who examined its DNA.

The fur, skeleton, teeth, head, lashes and whiskers of the pup, named Dogor, are still intact, he said. But scientists dont know whether it is a dog or wolf. Stanton said more DNA research would be conducted in the coming months. We need to put this information into context, he said in an interview.

Many scientists say dogs evolved about 15,000 years ago from a species of extinct wolves. Others suggest it could have happened much earlier, perhaps 30,000 years ago or more. These wolves evolved after generations of exposure to humans, were domesticated and became the canine companions we know today.

The puppy, which was found by locals, is being studied at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, a sprawling region in eastern Siberia that constitutes 20 per cent of Russia. (The puppy remains were found near Yakutsk.) Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World museum where the remains will be kept, presented the discovery on Monday, according to The Associated Press. Yakutia is known for its oil and gas reserves and abundance of diamond mines.

Several extinct animals have been found in the thick permafrost, in part because of the melting of ice resulting from climate change. They include a male steppe bison, a woolly rhinoceros, a mummified pony and several mammoths. Stanton said treasure seekers sometimes used water cannons to break through the permafrost to extract mammoth ivory tusks, which are later sold. It must have frozen quickly before scavengers could get to it, Stanton said of the puppy. We also found a lot of samples that were not well preserved. There seems to be natural traps in the landscape where animals are frozen before they decomposed.

He said the DNA used to date the puppy and figure out its gender was extracted from a rib bone. He said he was not sure if a necropsy was performed to see if its organs, including the heart and liver, were intact.

The body is well preserved, which is rare, Stanton said. Its the best Ive seen.

Modern dogs are not like modern wolves. Wolves are reticent to eat in front of people, for example, while domesticated dogs beg for dinner table scraps. Their physiology is different, with dogs having shorter snouts and wider skulls. And male wolves participate in pup raising, while male dogs generally avoid it.

Stanton said the dating of the dog was done at Oxford University, and he and his colleagues will continue to collaborate with scientists at North-Eastern Federal University. We need to look at more samples from that time period, he said. Then we will be able to understand if it was a dog or a wolf. New York Times

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Dog or wolf? Frozen 18,000-year-old puppy gives scientists pause - The Irish Times

Counseling the Stone Boys: Helping Boys and Men Who Have Been Sexually Abused – Psychotherapy.net

The title metaphor of my new novel, The Stone Boys, is of a boy who must become hard like stone to survive childhood sexual abuse. As an adult, he may function well for large chunks of time, even marrying, being intimate, raising children; but his internal resources are thin, and he rarely has any choice, if untreated, but to resort to hardening up against relationships, especially those that become close.

I was one of the stone boys. At ten years old, in 1968, my psychiatrist molested me over a period of six months, first grooming me, then moving to abuse. After I escaped him, my confusion, shame and terror had no outlet except into signs of trauma that adults at the time did not recognize as abuse-trauma for two reasons: I did not disclose the abuse until I was 18, and in 1968, the signs were not public enough for people to know about them.

My client, Tom, had some of the same signs I had. In my office, he said, Ive never been very good at relationships, and reading your Stone Boys book, I think I finally understand why. Its so obvious, but I missed it.

Whats obvious?

Tom had been married and divorced twice, had difficulty holding down jobs, and had been in and out of rehab.

Well now, antsy, he stood up out of the chair; I asked if we should go take a walk together, to which he agreed. At a local park, we sat down on a bench.

Did the story trigger memories? I asked. He nodded his head but didnt speak.

You can tell me, I said. Im safe, were confidential, and you know I will get what youre saying. You know Ive been there, in my own way.

I know, he acknowledged, standing back up again. We walked again in silence for a while, returning to my office where, once the door was closed, he told me his story. His abuse had been even more brutal than mine.

***

By now, most or all therapists are familiar with the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) survey, a very useful tool for trauma-informed counseling. I have also developed my own relationship-based checklist for my clients. Tom had eight of these Signs of Unresolved Childhood Abuse Trauma in Adult Relationships.

Treating Abused Boys and Men

A first step in treating males especially is Personal Storytelling. Even if a therapist has never experienced sexual abuse trauma, all of us have experienced trauma of some kind: some form of storytelling about trauma in your own life can help males to open themselves up.

A second step is recognition that sexual abuse for males is indeed different than for females (in most cases), not only in the myriad ways males and females are neurobiologically different but in the specific male confusion over pleasure. Most sexual abuse of males, though not all, involves male ejaculation, something that gives pleasure. Much less often does the abused girl experience an orgasm. With Tom, talking about this helped him sort through guilt and shame at deep levels.

More Best Practices for the Abuse Survivors and Their Therapists

For abused males, these are best practices I have relied upon and will likely be needed as ongoing mechanisms for healing.

Therapy, Medication, Brain-Direct Modalities EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), Neurofeedback, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, spiritual dialogue (talking directly with God), and ongoing talk therapy.

Ongoing Support Groups Getting men involved in support groups, mentoring/counseling by and with males, and groups and counseling with people from their own milieu (racial, sexual orientation, culture, similar religious background) who have also been traumatized.

Couples Therapy Because nearly everyone who has been sexually traumatized has relational difficulties of some kind, these men often need couples/relational therapy as soon as possible.

Addiction Work Many abuse victims also possess addiction genetics which get triggered by the abuse. Recovery groups and addiction therapy can be crucial.

Choice Theory Because an abuse survivor has felt out-of-control during the months or years of trauma, it is important to give him choices and control now, years later.

Help Him Avoid Rumination Loops Negative rumination loops may be precursors to severe depression and actions taken (What should I do!), especially in a mans islands of competence, can help.

Journaling Writing or video journaling can lead to more rumination, so it can backfire, but often it is a good tool for boys and men who lean already toward reading, tech, and/or verbal processing.

Organizations That Can Provide Support

National Sexual Assault Helpline. 800.656.HOPE (4673).Department of Defense Helpline. (877) 995-5247.SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Additional Reading

The Stone Boys, Michael Gurian, Latah Books, 2019.Saving Our Sons, Michael Gurian, GI Press, 2017Victims No Longer, Mike Lew, HarperPerennial, 2004.Abused Boys, Mic Hunter, Ballantine, 1991Beyond Betrayal, Richard Gartner, John Wiley, 2005.

File under:The Art of Psychotherapy,Child & Adolescent Therapy

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Counseling the Stone Boys: Helping Boys and Men Who Have Been Sexually Abused - Psychotherapy.net

Amazon set a record of its own on Cyber Monday – Chain Store Age

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Amazon kept up its tradition on Cyber Monday.

The online giant said that Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in its history, based on the number of items ordered worldwide. Cyber Monday has been Amazon's top sales day for several years, outpacing the previous Prime Day and Black Friday. Amazons best-selling products on Cyber Monday in the U.S. included Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cookie Creations, Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker and Lego City Ambulance Helicopter 60179 Building Kit.

In keeping with its policy of rarely (if ever) revealing exact numbers, Amazon said that hundreds of millions of products were ordered worldwide between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Shoppers purchased millions more Amazon devices over the holiday period compared to the same period last year, the said, with Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote ranking as the top-selling items.

In other holiday weekend highlights from Amazon:

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Amazon set a record of its own on Cyber Monday - Chain Store Age

Placenta Changes May Mean Male Babies Of Older Women Likely To Have Heart Problems – BabyGaga

Male babiesborn to older mothers have a higher risk of heart problems because the placenta doesn't work as well,according to a study on rats.

The study was conducted by the University of Cambridgeandpublished in the journalScientific Reports. Itfound that changes in the placentas of older mothers could damage the health of male babies, according to Science Daily. Older mothers in the research were the rat equivalent of a pregnant woman aged 35 or older, which is considered a geriatric pregnancy. Rats are usedsince their biology is similar to humans'.

PREVIOUSLY:Study Finds Older Mothers Are More Likely To Birth Multiples

The research showed that male babies suffered negative consequences of the late birth, while females did not. In fact, in certain cases, the females even appeared to benefit. The researchers said placentas became less efficient at transporting nutrients and oxygen to foetuses as the mothers got older.

"With the average age of first pregnancy in women becoming higher and higher, it is very important to understand how the age of the mother and the sex of the baby interact to determine pregnancy and later-life health of the child," said Dr. Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri.

According to the researchers, the placenta, which connects mother to baby in the womb, is 'highly dynamic'. They added that genetic changes in a woman as she ages could affect how the placenta functions. It was also found that babies of either sex did not grow as large in the placentas of older women. And the males were more likely to have high blood pressure or heart problems as they grew older because the mother's had a different internal shape and became less efficient. However, female babies did not suffer the same risk.

The scientistsrevealed that, in the combination of older mother and female baby, the placenta actually "showed beneficial changes in structure and function that would maximise the support of fetal growth". Similar discoveries about males have been made before but it was not well understood why they were at a particular disadvantage. The new research shows the genes involved in the older mother-male baby mix make the placenta less able to do its job.

According to Cambridge's Dr. Tina Napso: "A pregnancy at an older age is a costly proposition for the mother, whose body has to decide how nutrients are shared with the fetus. That's why, overall, fetuses do not grow sufficiently during pregnancy when the mother is older compared to when she is young. We now know that growth, as well as gene expression in the placenta is affected in older mothers in a manner that partially depends on sex: changes in the placentas of male fetuses are generally detrimental."

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High Androgen Levels During Pregnancy Can Increase The Risk Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome For Generations

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Placenta Changes May Mean Male Babies Of Older Women Likely To Have Heart Problems - BabyGaga

Finding strength in the fight against muscular dystrophy – The News Record

Its known as the silent killer.Symptoms begin with muscle weakness until eventually ones muscles are completely deteriorated.Its called muscular dystrophy, andit affects one in every 5,000 males.

Because it is rare, muscular dystrophy has not received the attention and research funding of more common diseases, according to University of Cincinnati researchers.

My experience is that if a person does not have a family member or relative or friend affected by muscular dystrophy, then they typically do not know about [muscular dystrophy], saysHani Kushlaf, associate professor of neurology and pathology, who sees patientswith the disease.

UC researchers are trying to change this lack of transparency by sharing their experiences with the disease. They understand that the goal of finding a cure for muscular dystrophy begins with awareness.

One person who truly understands the disease from both a medical professional standpoint and from personal experience is John Quinlan, director of the neuromuscular center at UCs Neuroscience Institute, who teaches as a professor and sees patients as a practicing neurologist with UC Health.

In an interview with UC Health, Quinlan said he chose neurology because he believed it was a field where there was a lot of puzzle-solving of complicated diagnoses such as his own muscular dystrophy.

Because I have some physical limitations, I saw when I was a medical student that I wasnt going to go into surgical areas, and so that made me think of the more internal medicine and subspecialties, Quinlan said.

Phillip Witcher, who is completing his doctorate at the College of Medicine, had Quinlan as a professor. He said he didnt know Quinlan had muscular dystrophy when he met him.

I just knew that he was in a wheelchair and that he was a smart professor, Witcher said.

Witcher himself is doing research on muscular dystrophy. He is in his first year of research on muscle cell fusion in the Doug Millay lab at Cincinnatis Childrens Hospital.

Witchers research focuses on themyomaker and myomergerm the proteins within muscular cells with the hope of helping patients with muscular dystrophy through cell therapy.

Muscular Dystrophy is caused bygenetic mutationsthat interfere with the production of proteins that are needed to build and maintain healthy muscles, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Imagine running a race. Your muscles are tired, and to recover they need to build new proteins to regain strength.The feeling for patients with muscular dystrophy is similar, except they never regain it. The reason muscular dystrophy is known as the silent killer is that this muscle deterioration is a slow process. The body gradually evolves into a physical shell.

Muscle weakness often leads to the curving of the spine, forcing many with it into a wheelchair if their failing muscles didnt force them into one already.It leads to the shortening of muscles and tendons and severe breathing issues. Eventually this advances to paralyzed mobility in most of the body. There is no cure.

One of the most intense and aggressive forms of muscular dystrophy is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Muscle loss and weakness is caused by alterations ina protein calleddystrophin, which helps keep muscle cells whole. Symptoms for those who have DMD first present themselves in children at an early age and progressively get worse.

But today, people with DMD have a longer lifespan because research breakthroughs have created drugs and treatment options. Symptoms can kill. These treatment options help with treating the symptoms from muscular dystrophy. According to MDA,the life expectancy for those born with DMD is in the early 30s because of advances in cardiac and respiratory care.

We live in an exciting time for (treating) muscular dystrophies, Kushlaf said.

UC researchers agree: to find a cure, awareness needs to be shared and stories need to be told.

Witcher said diseases with more physical and behavioral cues, such as breast cancer, get media attention. Millions of people see the physical signs of chemotherapy of breast cancer patients, such as hair loss and are the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the largest and best-funded cancer organization.

I dont think it is just the lack of awareness, Kushlaf said. Federal funding for research is typically allocated for common disorders more than rare disorders. Therefore, researchers of common diseases are more likely to get funded than those who study rare diseases.

Still, Kushlaf said awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) increased during the viral ALS bucket challenge, which led to significant philanthropy and funding of ALS research projects.

Kushlaf said researchers are hopeful of a cure. The FDA approval of gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy offer hope for a cure or significant improvements, he said. The next steps are to find out the effect of gene therapies on muscular dystrophies.

Curing muscular dystrophy is a complex dilemma, as the problem lies in the genetic makeup of the individual, Kushlaf said. The advent of gene therapy offers hope for a cure.

Previous therapies have had limited success because they only helped slow the progression of the dystrophy, according to Kushlaf.

Witcher said therapies for muscular dystrophy have evolved, but most are only treating symptoms and not the disease itself.

And thats where were really stuck right now figuring out how to move forward as far as treating the disease and not just the symptoms, Witcher said.

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Finding strength in the fight against muscular dystrophy - The News Record

18000-year-old puppy found in permafrost – The Canberra Times

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Russian scientists have showed off a prehistoric puppy, believed to be 18,000 years old, that was found in permafrost in the country's Far East. Discovered in 2018 in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is unusually well preserved, with its hair, teeth, whiskers and eyelashes still intact. "This puppy has all its limbs, pelage - fur, even whiskers. The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is a male," Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World private museum where the remains are stored, said at the presentation at the Yakutsk's Mammoth Museum which specialises in ancient specimens. In recent years, Russia's Far East has provided many riches for scientists studying the remains of ancient animals. As the permafrost melts, affected by climate change, more and more parts of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered. Often it is mammoth tusk hunters who discover them. "Why has Yakutia come through a real spate of such unique findings over the last decade? First, it's global warming. It really exists, we feel it, and local people feel it strongly. Winter comes later, spring comes earlier," Sergei Fyodorov, scientist with the North Eastern Federal University, told The Associated Press. "And the second very serious, deep reason, of why there a lot of finds is the very high price of mammoth tusk in the Chinese market." When the puppy was discovered, scientists from the Stockholm-based Centre for Palaeogenetics took a piece of bone to study its DNA. "The first step was of course to send the sample to radio carbon dating to see how old it was and when we got the results back it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old," Love Dalen, professor of evolutionary genetics at the center, said in an online interview. Further tests, however, left the scientists with more questions than answers - they could not definitively tell whether it was a dog or a wolf. Dalen said scientists were about to do a third round of genome sequencing, which might solve the mystery. Australian Associated Press

https://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/silverstone-feed-data/4ec5d096-b112-41b6-be92-003b2d13de51.jpg/r0_74_800_526_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

December 3 2019 - 11:46AM

Russian scientists have showed off a prehistoric puppy, believed to be 18,000 years old, that was found in permafrost in the country's Far East.

Discovered in 2018 in a lump of frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk, the puppy is unusually well preserved, with its hair, teeth, whiskers and eyelashes still intact.

"This puppy has all its limbs, pelage - fur, even whiskers. The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is a male," Nikolai Androsov, director of the Northern World private museum where the remains are stored, said at the presentation at the Yakutsk's Mammoth Museum which specialises in ancient specimens.

In recent years, Russia's Far East has provided many riches for scientists studying the remains of ancient animals.

As the permafrost melts, affected by climate change, more and more parts of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered. Often it is mammoth tusk hunters who discover them.

"Why has Yakutia come through a real spate of such unique findings over the last decade? First, it's global warming. It really exists, we feel it, and local people feel it strongly. Winter comes later, spring comes earlier," Sergei Fyodorov, scientist with the North Eastern Federal University, told The Associated Press.

"And the second very serious, deep reason, of why there a lot of finds is the very high price of mammoth tusk in the Chinese market."

When the puppy was discovered, scientists from the Stockholm-based Centre for Palaeogenetics took a piece of bone to study its DNA.

"The first step was of course to send the sample to radio carbon dating to see how old it was and when we got the results back it turned out that it was roughly 18,000 years old," Love Dalen, professor of evolutionary genetics at the center, said in an online interview.

Further tests, however, left the scientists with more questions than answers - they could not definitively tell whether it was a dog or a wolf.

Dalen said scientists were about to do a third round of genome sequencing, which might solve the mystery.

Australian Associated Press

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18000-year-old puppy found in permafrost - The Canberra Times

The Sun joins Boris Johnsons gruelling 16-hour day on the campaign trail – The Sun

BORIS Johnsons punishing 16-hour days are fuelled by porridge, flapjacks and endless cups of coffee.

He has also given up booze and confesses he reads ancient Greek poetry before bed.

The Sun spent a full day on the campaign trail with the PM, as he criss-crossed the country in a bid to whip up votes.

For our Day in the Life video diary, Mr Johnson confided about everything from organising a Nato summit to the personal abuse he gets from actor Hugh Grant.

On December 12, Mr Johnson will either get majority he craves to deliver Brexit, or be the second shortest-serving PM in history. With so much at stake, he packs in as much as he can to his breakneck daily campaigning schedule:

6.10am: Boris walks Jack Russell Dilyn then eats a large bowl of porridge at the flat he shares with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds at No11 Downing Street.

After breakfast he takes his first phone calls from four key aides and swaps text messages with confidante Cabinet ministers.

8am: He leaves leaves Downing Street for the nearby Conservative HQ. Election campaign director Isaac Levido has been at his desk from 5am and briefs Mr Johnson on daily tactics to attack Labour.

11am: A motorcade rushes the PM across central London so he can attend a vigil for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack. He is joined by Home Secretary Priti Patel, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The mornings campaign schedule was ripped up to allow politicians to pay their respects.

11.35am: An 81-mile dash down the M3 to Southampton. The PMs motorcade drives at high speed, bumper to bumper, repeatedly accelerating and braking heavily. But Mr Johnson insists he never gets car sick, saying: Im really too busy writing speeches, or thinking about the next thing.

Those guys on the motorbikes are brilliant though, what they do to get us through traffic fast. I do feel a bit ashamed sometimes, but it is essential. You just need to get from A to B fast.

1.10pm: A tour of Southamptons port taking in the control room and dockside where he meets workers, then out in a patrol boat to inspect ships at berth. Southampton Itchen is a key marginal, which the Tories held by just 31 votes in 2017.

Boris says he loves getting out, and takes every opportunity he can to promote Brexit. He declares: "When a big ship comes into this port, they make no distinction whether it comes from the EU or anywhere else in the world.

The procedures are exactly the same. It just goes to show that some of the anxiety about leaving the EU is very often overdone.

2.45pm: A round of local and national TV interviews. Campaign chiefs ensure he does this every day to dominate the news cycle. Mr Johnson faces questions on the London Bridge horror and pro-Remain actor Hugh Grant, campaigning for Lib Dems.

How does he feel when Grant, who played the Prime Minister in Love Actually, says the election is a national emergency and a Tory majority would be catastrophic?

Boris insists: Water off a ducks back. Of course a lot of people care very strongly about Brexit. I make an exception for the gentleman you mention, but most people I meet are frustrated about the paralysis in Parliament.

3.10pm: Before returning to London, the PM is briefed on the days developments for the Government. A senior No10 official always accompanies him on campaign trips in case there are any urgent decisions which need to be made. How does he handle constantly spinning all those plates?

Boris explains: I find it constantly stimulating. Obviously there is a different level of focus. Some of the geopolitical stuff does require a different tone and a different pitch. But what youre really doing is trying to bring people together.

5.15pm: Boris is back at Tory HQ in Westminster, for a meeting with senior Government officials about the upcoming Nato summit which Britain is hosting.

He sees his job this week as both cheerleader and peacemaker and says: Some people want to chip a bit of paint off Nato every now and then. Not everybody in France has been an uncritical admirer, so we have to show why it works.

6.10pm: The PMs motorcade heads 68-miles to Colchester, where he will address a Tory rally. He has been at it for ten hours. How does he keep going?

The PM admits: I sometimes succumb to flapjacks, which are not medically recommended. And I seem to be able to drink an unlimited amount of coffee without impeding my ability to sleep at the end of the day.

He insists that he seldom tires, describing himself as hard as nails and built from steel springs. Mr Johnson adds: I have a lot of energy. I think its genetic.

8.35pm: Traffic out of London is heavy and Boris is late for the rally at a Colchester printworks. Adoring party members cheer and laugh at his regular jokes. How does he pump himself up?

Boris says: I have a huge sense of responsibility for getting this right. This is it. There is a very short time left. There is a very real risk of another hung Parliament. On the way out two workers with mohicans, accost him for a selfie.

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10.20pm: His armour-plated Jaguar pulls up at the back entrance of No11 and Boris is home. What does he do to relax in those few moments before bed?

He gives an embarrassed giggle: A few quadratic equations, and a bit of Greek lyric poetry. Nothing complicated. Its a terrible confession but I do. Everybody should. Most might pour a stiff drink but Boris insists his self-imposed booze ban is still firmly in place.

He insists: Ive had to wet my whistle three times in this campaign but I will not swallow. I cant. We have to get Brexit done, unleash the potential. He turns and says: Night night, see you.

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The Sun joins Boris Johnsons gruelling 16-hour day on the campaign trail - The Sun

Is it a dog or is it a wolf? 18,000-year-old frozen puppy leaves scientists baffled – CNN

Scientists are running tests on the body of the canine, which is 18,000 years old.

Love Dalen

Using carbon dating on the creature's rib bone, experts from Sweden's Centre for Palaeogenetics were able to confirm that the specimen had been frozen for around 18,000 years, but extensive DNA tests have so far been unable to show whether the animal was a dog or a wolf.

"It's normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two," David Stanton, a researcher at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, told CNN.

"We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you'd expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can't might suggest that it's from a population that was ancestral to both -- to dogs and wolves," he explained.

Stanton told CNN that the period the puppy is from is "a very interesting time in terms of wolf and dog evolution."

"We don't know exactly when dogs were domesticated, but it may have been from about that time. We are interested in whether it is in fact a dog or a wolf, or perhaps it's something halfway between the two," he said.

Further tests might provide more insight into exactly when dogs were domesticated, Stanton said.

Scientists from the Center for Palaeogenetics said on Twitter that genome analysis had revealed that the puppy was male. They said that, after conferring with their Russian colleagues, they would call the puppy Dogor -- meaning "friend" in Yakutian.

The scientists plan to run more genome data tests on the creature to find out more about its origins.

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Is it a dog or is it a wolf? 18,000-year-old frozen puppy leaves scientists baffled - CNN

18,000-year-old frozen puppy discovered in Siberia – WPTV.com

(CNN) -- The 18,000-year-old body of a near perfectly preserved puppy has left scientists puzzled.

Russian scientists discovered the body of the canine near Yakutsk, in eastern Siberia. Preserved by permafrost, the specimen's nose, fur and teeth are remarkably intact.

Using carbon dating on the creature's rib bone, experts from Sweden's Centre for Palaeogenetics were able to confirm that the specimen had been frozen for around 18,000 years, but extensive DNA tests have so far been unable to show whether the animal was a dog or a wolf.

"It's normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two," David Stanton, a researcher at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, told CNN.

"We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you'd expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can't might suggest that it's from a population that was ancestral to both -- to dogs and wolves," he explained.

Stanton told CNN that the period the puppy is from is "a very interesting time in terms of wolf and dog evolution."

"We don't know exactly when dogs were domesticated, but it may have been from about that time. We are interested in whether it is in fact a dog or a wolf, or perhaps it's something halfway between the two," he said.

Further tests might provide more insight into exactly when dogs were domesticated, Stanton said.

Modern dogs are thought to have been domesticated from wolves, but exactly when is unclear -- in 2017, a study published in the journal Nature Communications found that modern dogs were domesticated from a single population of wolves 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

In contrast, a 2016 University of Oxford study, published in the journal Science , suggested that dogs were independently domesticated twice from gray wolves during the Paleolithic era, once in Asia and once in Europe.

Scientists from the Center for Palaeogenetics said on Twitter that genome analysis had revealed that the puppy was male. They said that, after conferring with their Russian colleagues, they would call the puppy Dogor -- meaning "friend" in Yakutian.

The scientists plan to run more genome data tests on the creature to find out more about its origins.

The-CNN-Wire & 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Squeaky Curtain divides Europes mice in East and West – Big Think

Smaller and darker than its western counterpart: an Eastern European house mouse

Image: George Shuklin, CC BY-SA 1.0

It's been thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Iron Curtain is now a distant and dimming memory. But that's only true if you're a human. In the mouse world, Europe is still divided in East and West. As this map shows, the line that separates both halves of the continent is strangely similar to the Cold War frontier between capitalism and communism.

The Squeaky Curtain starts at the Baltic Sea, cutting through Denmark, Germany and Austria before almost making it to the Adriatic. Instead, the line shadows the formerly Yugoslav coast before swerving east, keeping the southern Balkans in 'the West', finally diving into the Black Sea.

West of the line lives the Mus musculus domesticus, the Western European house mouse. To the East roams the Mus musculus musculus, the Eastern European house mouse. On average, the eastern mouse is smaller and browner, the western one generally a bit sturdier and usually grey. Both subspecies branched from the same ancestor, some 500,000 years ago in Asia.

What ultimately separated house mice into these two subspecies are the humans they chose to follow. The ones moving through Asia's interior via Russia towards Eastern Europe turned into Eastern European house mice. The ones aiming for the Mediterranean, hitchhiking on ships to reach Western Europe (and eventually also the Americas and Australia) became Western European house mice.

The 'Squeaky Curtain', dividing Europe from the Baltic to the Black Seas in two zones, for Western and Eastern house mice.

Image: Macholn, M., Baird, S.J., Munclinger, P. et al. Genetic conflict outweighs heterogametic incompatibility in the mouse hybrid zone?. BMC Evol Biol 8, 271 (2008) doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-271

When the two subspecies met up again in Europe, is unclear. "It has been suggested that source populations first met in the southern region of the current hybrid zone, and only more recently in central and northern Europe, with progressive contact from south to north similar to a zipper being pulled up through Europe," write the authors of Genetic conflict outweighs heterogametic incompatibility in the mouse hybrid zone?, a scientific paper that examines interbreeding between Western and Eastern European house mice (and the origin of this map).

'Progressive contact' isn't necessarily a euphemism for doing the dance with two tails. The long genetic separation means the subspecies have drifted far apart. While males of either subspecies generally don't care whom they mate with, females prefer the company of males of the same subspecies. That limits interbreeding. And hybrid couples usually produce fewer offspring than 'pure' Eastern or Western ones. Both factors help explain why interbreeding only occurs in a relatively narrow and stable hybrid zone no more than 10 to 20 km wide.

The reduced capacity for interbreeding may be an indication that the two subspecies are in the process of becoming two separate species, entirely unable to interbreed. Only at the centre of the hybrid zone do hybrid mice occur in significant numbers relative to their Eastern and Western forebears. But not everything is gloomy for the hybrids: they're more resistant to parasite-borne diseases than both Eastern and Western European house mice.

Strange Maps #1000

Map taken from open-access article by Macholn, M., Baird, S.J., Munclinger, P. et al. Genetic conflict outweighs heterogametic incompatibility in the mouse hybrid zone?. BMC Evol Biol 8, 271 (2008) doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-271

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

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Squeaky Curtain divides Europes mice in East and West - Big Think

Discover more about you with 50% off AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Test – Android Central

Black Friday is off to a great start... even if it's not Friday yet! Right now you can snag the popular AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Test Kit on sale for only $49 at Amazon and save 50% off its usual cost in the process. This is the best price we've ever seen this kit reach, and there's no telling how long the sale will last. If you're interested in knowing more about yourself and your family, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more affordable way to go about it this holiday season.

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You'll learn your ethnicity estimate with informative geographic detail and in-depth historical insights, along with your connections to living relatives and more. You can even sign up for an Ancestry subscription for access to billions of records and millions of family trees to help you learn more about your genealogy and origins.

There are tons of DNA testing kits out there, but AncestryDNA's is one of the most popular and for good reason. It excels at genealogy and matching you up with your ancestors in comparison to others, and today's price is a no-brainer for the level of in-depth knowledge it will bring. You can find even more great DNA test kit Black Friday deals for the next few days.

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We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

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Kuno will soon be India’s next lion sanctuary after Gujarat’s Gir – Quartz India

Still waiting for new beginning.

The words in bold, white, are painted alongside a mural of a lion and lioness, on a sign near the forest guest house in Palpur village inside the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The guest house overlooks Kuno river and offers a clear glimpse into the heart of the forest and the wildlife of the sanctuary. The sun shines bright on the landscape, welcoming a new day and perhaps the start of a new chapter for the sanctuary.

After more than two decades of roadblocks, the Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary is ready as the new home for Asiatic lions, starting with those that are to be relocated from Gujarats Gir Sanctuary, currently the only home of the Asiatic lions in India. In a recent visit over two days, we witnessed the revamped sanctuary.

The areas of grassland habitat are ready to provide food for the animals that lions prey upon like nilgai (blue bull), chital (spotted deer), sambhar, chinkara. The grass on the sites of the 24 villages that existed here and have already been relocated outside, as a part of the lion reintroduction program, have grown. There is no sign of human habitat. The villages have been developed into large grasslands, making the sanctuary almost free from human habitation for the free and flexible movements of lions, Vijendra Shrivastav, sub-divisional officer, Kuno Palpur (West) Wildlife Sanctuary said, speaking about the preparations of the sanctuary to receive lions from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.

We are asking just for two pride of lions that typically includes a male, three to five females and their young cubs. On successful relocation, the family of lions will access the unused habitats and will also increase the seasonal mast availability for wildlife in the sanctuary and diversity.

It has been 29 years since Kuno Palpur was identified as the site for the relocation of Asiatic lions, from their last habitat in Gujarat, to protect them from extinction. Currently, there are 523 (as per the last census carried out in 2015) lions in Gir and this relocation project was supposed to have been completed by 2020.

The Action Plan for the Reintroduction of the Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary Draft 2016 prepared by the expert committee for translocations of lions from Gir to Kuno Sanctuary observed that the last free-ranging population of approximately 523 Asiatic lions Panthera leo persicaare found in the 22,000 square kilometreof the Gir landscape in Gujarat, western India. Carnivore populations restricted to single sites face a variety of extinction threats from genetic and stochastic environmental factors. The draft is now under implementation.

Catastrophes such as an epidemic, an unexpected decline in prey, natural calamities or retaliatory killings could result in the extinction of the lion population when they are restricted to single populations, the action plan adds.

Reintroduction of Asiatic lions to an alternative site to ensure their long-term viability has become a major conservation agenda since the late 1950s. Failure of the first attempt of the Asiatic lion reintroduction in India (Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttar Pradesh) in the 1960s has been ascribed to the lack of an a prioriscientific study on lion prey base, habitat requirements, local peoples attitude and a post-release monitoring program, notes the plan.

In the early 1990s, after ecological assessment of some protected areas within the historical range of lions was undertaken, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) identified Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (Kuno WLS) in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh as the most potential reintroduction site. Subsequently, between 1996 and 2001, 23 villages were resettled from inside the identified Kuno sanctuary by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) and an area of about 1,280 square km was demarcated as Kuno wildlife division.

Located in north Madhya Pradesh, Kuno was one of the hunting grounds of the royal families of the region and was notified as a sanctuary in 1981. The sanctuary is classified under the semi-arid Gujarat Rajputana biogeographic zone, a senior forest officer of the Madhya Pradeshs forest department said.

Kuno was one of the hunting grounds of the royal families of the region.

According to Azad Singh Dabhas, a retired forest officer, in the 1990s, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) took up the matter of finding an alternative home for the species and identified Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary as the most suitable site.

He explained that the idea was that in case of catastrophes such as an endemic, an unexpected decline in prey, natural calamities or retaliatory killings could result in the extinction of threatened species which are restricted to a single site Gir National Park in Gujarat.

Between 1996 and 2001 the Madhya Pradesh Government relocated 23 villages containing 1,547 families from Kuno Sanctuary in preparation for the new lion population. Not a single incidence of poaching and human-animal conflict has been reported in the last three years, said a senior official of the sanctuary.

Though the sanctuary is inhabited by carnivores such as leopard, wolf, jackal, Indian fox and striped hyena, in the last over two decades, the population of chital, sambar, nilgai, chinkara, wild pig, chowsingha, and blackbuck are found in abundance.

One of the major challenges was of the sites of the relocated villages to develop them into grasslands. The sites of the relocated villages have developed into large grasslands, extending in size to as much as 1,500 ha in some cases, said Shrivastav.

According to Atul Chouhan, Kuno Sangharsh Samiti, The state tourism department is successfully running a three-star hotel located on the Shivpuri Highway. A large number of visitors prefer to stay in the forest guest house, which is located inside the Kuno Reserve and is around 25 kilometres from the Tiktoli, the entry gate to the Kuno Reserve. Round the year more than 2,000 visitors come to Kuno Reserve. And the number of visitors to Kuno is rising up. If, lions are going to be introduced in Kuno Reserve the footfall is certainly going to rise.

The Samiti, now with about 2,000 members, was formed by like-minded people of Sheopur district in 2009-10 after the Gujarat government refused to share lions. The Samiti, along with the forest dwellers who were shifted from the sanctuary have held protests, submitted memorandums to the government alleging that they sacrificed their ancestral homes and land in a way to provide a safe place for the lions. They demanded that the government should respect their sacrifice and take constructive efforts to introduce lions in Kuno Palpur.

Chouhan wants the government to involve youth of the villages in tourism activities by training them as field guides of the sanctuary.

From the 24 villages, a total of 1,545 families were affected. The villagers were relocated to Karhal tehsil of Sheopur district.

We have left our ancestral homes, anticipating that we are doing it for a bigger cause by understanding the need of the government to provide a safe place for lions and conversation of our natural heritage. But, what we have received nothing in return. There are no signs of lions being introduced in the Kuno. The government has done injustice with us, said Kapoor Singh Yadav, a resident of village Naya Paron situated on the Sheopur-Shivpuri State Highway.

Yadav, along with his family members and 50 odd families of village Paron, which was situated inside the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, shifted to the new location in 2004.

As per the action plan, the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) endorsed the lion reintroduction program in Kuno. However, the proposal met with resistance from the Gujarat Forest Department (GFD) which was reluctant to provide founder lions from Gir for reintroduction purposes. An affidavit was also filed before the Supreme Court of India objecting the lion reintroduction.

Gujarat government has been refusing to give lions to Madhya Pradesh alleging that it would not be safe to shift the mighty beast to a state which has failed to protect its own tiger population.

After legal tangles spanning for almost two decades, the apex court finally gave its verdict in April 2013 and explicitly directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI) to expedite the lion reintroduction in Kuno in compliance with theIUCN guidelinesof carnivore reintroduction.

Accordingly, the 2016 draft action plan was developed under the directives of the Additional Director General (Wildlife) to guide a successful lion reintroduction in Kuno. The plan, now under implementation, enlists various ecological, biological, management and social facets in accordance with the IUCN/SSC guidelines to develop a time-bound protocol essential for implementing the reintroduction program. Some management actions recommended in the action plan are concomitant and should continue for the long-term, it notes.

Gir in Gujarat is the last refuge of the Asian lion population. According to the 14th Lion Estimation Population Report, the lion population has increased by 27%from 411 in 2010 to 523 in 2015. The increase in lion numbers inside the protected area has been just 6% (as of 337 to 356), however, the rise outside has been higher 126% (from 74 to 167).

A large number of lions wander outside the Gir National Park in the eco-sensitive zone of the Gir Protected Area. In 2018, when the deaths of 23 lions in Gir took place, the Gujarat government maintained it to be a one-off incident. The government allegedly refused to touch and go in deep to dig out the medical analytical cause behind the deaths. After the incident, the Gujarat government launched a Rs350 crore (almost $49 million) lion conservation project. The project was reviewed by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in July 2019, when, during rains visuals of lion frisking in the urban areas of Gir Forest hit social media.

The expert committee has suggested a four-phase plan for the reintroduction of lion in Kuno which involves organisational commitments, ecological monitoring and quantifying social carrying capacity of lion reintroduction, followed by capture, translocation and soft release of lions in Kuno, post-reintroduction monitoring & research, conflict mitigation, followed with an annual review of the project. The first three phases would be undertaken over a period of two years, after which, upto the next 20 years or so the plan highlights genetic management & supplementation, under which six lions (two males and four females) should be supplemented in the Kuno population from Gir until 16-20 years from the first reintroduction at an interval of four years.

The report maintains, carnivore reintroduction is an appropriate conservation strategy to restore the integrity of ecosystems. However, many pitfalls exist that can result in the total or partial failure of a reintroduction program and can potentially waste valuable and limited resources.

According to Kuno divisional forest officer, current habitat management initiatives by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) inside Kuno WLS such as weed eradication, fire management, grassland management, waterhole management etc. would continue so as to enhance nutritional carrying capacity for wild ungulates, which would serve as a prey base for the lions

Although the current carrying capacity of lions at Kuno WLS is a maximum of 40 lions, Population Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA) models for Kuno lions show that the lion population will be viable for long- term only at a minimum figure of around 80 individuals.

Expecting approximately a realised growth that has been observed for recovering tiger populations, along with supplementation every four years from Gir; the lion population in Kuno WLS should reach the current carrying capacity of 40 within 15 years.

To reach the required self-sustaining population size of 80 lions, the time required would be close to 30 years.

This article first appeared on Mongabay-India.We welcome your comments atideas.india@qz.com.

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Kuno will soon be India's next lion sanctuary after Gujarat's Gir - Quartz India

Alex Blackwell leaves the game having led a cricket revolution – The Guardian

When Alex Blackwell began her elite cricket career in 2001, the landscape of the sport looked very different. The Womens National Cricket League was entering just its sixth season and it would be a very brave player who dared to dream of full-time professionalism or television coverage for womens cricket.

Never one to be plagued by a lack of courage, Blackwell took up the fight to advocate for change in the sport. Little by little, the battles were won and in 2015, she quit her job as a genetic counsellor to become one of the first full-time professionals in womens cricket, marking the beginning of an era of extraordinary change.

Blackwell has been at the forefront of this revolution her career has seen not only the shift from amateurism to full-time professionalism, but a great deal of social change as well.

While always open about her sexuality with teammates, family and friends, Blackwell chose to come out publicly in 2013. She spoke openly about her disappointment that Cricket Australia had not implemented an anti-homophobia policy, as well as criticising the marketing of womens sport more broadly, believing sporting bodies chose to centre more traditionally feminine athletes in promotional material.

In 2015, Cricket Australia agreed to sign on to the anti-homophobia policy, due in no small part to the pressure from its athletes, including Blackwell, who had the strength and conviction to speak out.

When the national body released its transgender inclusion policy in August this year, Blackwell was one of its most vocal advocates. To deprive [transgender people] of access to sport would be wrong, she said in August. We wont be discriminating based on trans or gender diverse identity.

After 18 years dominating on the field, there is little chance Blackwell will be short of things to occupy her time when Sydney Thunders WBBL season draws to a close. As well as being a qualified genetic counsellor, she is in high demand as a speaker, commentator and media personality.

In 2018 she became the first woman to be elected on to the board of Cricket NSW in the organisations 159-year history. Earlier this year she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of New South Wales for her work in fighting for equality on and off the cricket pitch.

After retiring from state and national cricket in early 2018, Blackwell threw her energy into Sydney Thunder, a team she had captained to the competitions maiden title in 2015-16. A possible retirement lurked at the end of the 2018-19 season, but an agonising final ball loss to eventual champions Brisbane Heat in the semi-final was enough to propel her into one final season, though she made the decision to step back from captaincy.

I was heartbroken, but also amazed, by last years semi-final, said Blackwell. I . . . well, a little bit selfishly . . . thought to myself: Ive worked so hard to get to this point and contributed to cricket for a long period of time for it to reach this point. I thought the WBBL was an amazing competition to be a part of and decided I could go again and Im pleased I did. Its been good fun, and Ive enjoyed supporting Rachael Haynes because I think shes led the team very well.

Her career with the Thunder has spanned five seasons, 71 matches, 1751 runs and the clubs most valuable player award has been named in her honour.

At 36, and with a player-of-the-match honour from Wednesdays win over the Melbourne Stars still fresh in her back pocket, Blackwell is part of that rare breed of athletes who are able to walk away from the game on their own terms, still at the top of their game, having achieved everything possible in the sport.

When the Womens T20 World Cup final rolls into the MCG in March 2020, with its hopes of world record crowds and Cricket Australias commitment to prize money parity for its mens and womens teams, there is little doubt Blackwell will be there to witness the spectacle, supporting the women who are carrying the baton forward.

And as she does, she may reflect on what 18-year-old Alex would think about it all seeing these women carry not just their own hopes and dreams for a World Cup win, but the pride of a nation on their shoulders as they stand on equal footing with their male counterparts.

After 18 years at the top, there is one thing certain about Alex Blackwell she has left the game of cricket in a much more fair, equitable, inclusive and better place than it was when she arrived.

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Alex Blackwell leaves the game having led a cricket revolution - The Guardian

Genetics linked to same-sex behavior, but there is no ‘gay gene,’ huge study indicates – Denton Daily

CHICAGO The largest study of its kind found new evidence that genes contribute to same-sex sexual behavior, but it echoes research that says there are no specific genes that make people gay.

The genome-wide research on DNA from nearly half a million U.S. and U.K. adults identified five genetic variants not previously linked with gay or lesbian sexuality. The variants were more common in people who reported ever having had a same-sex sexual partner. That includes people whose partners were exclusively of the same sex and those who mostly reported heterosexual behavior.

The researchers said thousands more genetic variants likely are involved and interact with factors that arent inherited, but that none of them cause the behavior nor can predict whether someone will be gay.

The research provides the clearest glimpse yet into the genetic underpinnings of same-sex sexual behavior, said co-author Benjamin Neale, a psychiatric geneticist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

We also found that its effectively impossible to predict an individuals sexual behavior from their genome. Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behavior but its still a very important contributing factor, Neale said.

The study was released Thursday by the journal Science. Results are based on genetic testing and survey responses.

Some of the genetic variants found were present in both men and women. Two in men were located near genes involved in male-pattern baldness and sense of smell, raising intriguing questions about how regulation of sex hormones and smell may influence same-sex behavior.

Importantly, most participants were asked about frequency of same-sex sexual behavior but not if they self-identified as gay or lesbian. Fewer than 5% of U.K. participants and about 19% of U.S. participants reported ever having a same-sex sexual experience.

The researchers acknowledged that limitation and emphasized that the studys focus was on behavior, not sexual identity or orientation. They also note that the study only involved people of European ancestry and cant answer whether similar results would be found in other groups.

Origins of same-sex behavior are uncertain. Some of the strongest evidence of a genetic link comes from studies in identical twins. Many scientists believe that social, cultural, family and other biological factors are also involved, while some religious groups and skeptics consider it a choice or behavior that can be changed.

A Science commentary notes that the five identified variants had such a weak effect on behavior that using the results for prediction, intervention or a supposed cure is wholly and unreservedly impossible.

Future work should investigate how genetic predispositions are altered by environmental factors, University of Oxford sociologist Melinda Mills said in the commentary.

Other experts not involved in the study had varied reactions.

Dr. Kenneth Kendler a specialist in psychiatric genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, called it a very important paper that advances the study of the genetics of human sexual preference substantially. The results are broadly consistent with those obtained from the earlier technologies of twin and family studies suggesting that sexual orientation runs in families and is moderately heritable.

Former National Institutes of Health geneticist Dean Hamer said the study confirms that sexuality is complex and there are a lot of genes involved, but it isnt really about gay people. Having just a single same sex experience is completely different than actually being gay or lesbian, Hamer said. His research in the 1990s linked a marker on the X chromosome with male homosexuality. Some subsequent studies had similar results but the new one found no such link.

Doug Vanderlaan, a University of Toronto psychologist who studies sexual orientation, said the absence of information on sexual orientation is a drawback and makes it unclear what the identified genetic links might signify. They might be links to other traits, like openness to experience, Vanderlaan said.

The study is a collaboration among scientists including psychologists, sociologists and statisticians from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. They did entire human genome scanning, using blood samples from the U.K. Biobank and saliva samples from customers of the U.S.-based ancestry and biotech company 23andMe who had agreed to participate in research.

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Genetics linked to same-sex behavior, but there is no 'gay gene,' huge study indicates - Denton Daily

Indigenous livestock breeding: Deja Moo Bringing the cows home – The Indian Express

A Gir cow dairy farmer near Halvad in Gujarats Morbi district. (Express photo by Javed Raja)

A recent decision by the Narendra Modi government to import frozen semen of Gir bulls from Brazil has generated a lively debate, incorporating shades of both cultural sentiment and the hard science of cattle breeding. Arousing excitement and curiosity is that at the centre of it all is a Bos indicus milch cattle breed native to India specifically the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and imported as early as 1849 into the US and Brazil in the latter part of the century. The decision to source the germplasm of our own breed now from Brazil re-bred and re-branded as Brahman Cattle there has naturally raised the question: Why should the country import Gir semen when we have these animals and there are many farmers, too, rearing them here?

The above question, however, needs to be addressed through the prism of pragmatism rather than simply culture, tradition and sentiment. Although India has been the worlds top milk producer for more than two decades, its annual yield per cow of 1,642.9 kg, according to the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organisation data for 2017, is behind the global average of 2,430.2 kg and the corresponding 4,237.3 kg for New Zealand, 7,026.8 kg for the European Union and 10,457.4 kg for the US.

A major reason for this abysmal milk productivity is the absence of an organised national breeding programme. Currently, artificial insemination coverage is restricted to just 30% of Indias total breedable bovine population. Whats more, hardly a fifth of the bulls in semen stations across the country have been selected through any scientific progeny testing exercise.

Simply put, more than 80% of the animals whose semen is now being used for breeding milch cows are of unknown, if not poor, genetic merit. Most of these bulls have been picked up from villages or institutional farms solely based on the dams (mother) peak lactation yields, whether recorded or otherwise. The sires (male parent) breeding value or genetic potential which is what gets transmitted to the progeny, in terms of milk production, fat and protein percentage, fertility or body confirmation traits is rarely ascertained. If the seed used is itself suspect, how can artificial insemination be of help in any breeding programme for improving milk yields, which is a function of genetic make-up as much as nutritional environment and managerial practices.

Average milk yields from cows of identified indigenous milch breeds such as Gir, Red Sindhi and Sahiwal are 1,600-1,700 kg per year. While two times or more that of nondescript animals, they are still unviable for farmers to rear, especially when yields from crossbred cows average 3,000 kg-plus. No doubt, we have Gir cows giving over 6,000 kg annually. But their number, as per records with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, is just two. Further, there are 11 that are reported to produce 5,000-6,000 kg and another 116 between 4,000 and 5,000 kg.

If a mere 129 Gir cows, out of an estimated female breed population of over five million in India, are confirmed as yielding above 4,000 kg of milk in an annual lactation cycle, it calls for an effective intervention strategy. To reiterate the earlier point, if dairying is to be profitable for those who do the real rearing, milk yields have to be substantially increased. Essential to that is the scientific selection of male parents with proven genetic potential. Import of semen or even bulls from Brazil, of what is ultimately our own native breed, should be viewed as both practical and necessary in this context.

The performance of Gir cattle in Brazil stands out in comparison to India, which is its original breeding tract. The Brazilian average milk yield for these cows is 3,500 kg/year, as against below 1,600 kg in India. The highest recorded production from any Gir cow in our country is 6,352 kg, whereas there is a sizable population of this breed in Brazil yielding between 12,000 and 15,000 kg. These facts cannot and should not be ignored. Responses such as the purity of our native breeds is being compromised overseas are based more on misplaced national pride and sentiment than sound economics or science. If Brazil, through adopting modern assisted reproductive techniques, has achieved dramatic productivity improvement in a cattle breed that is essentially ours, why should we shy away from importing their germplasm to attain similar, if not superior, levels of performance? If we can lay the red carpet and offer a plethora of incentives for our diaspora to return and invest in their homeland, why should a different and adversarial yardstick apply to our non-resident cattle?

Gir cattle are well adapted to tropical environments. Natural selection over centuries has endowed these animals with high heat tolerance, resistance to parasites and diseases, and immense capacity to survive feed and water deprivation over long periods. Also, their cows have better milk yield potential vis--vis other pure indigenous breeds, barring maybe Sahiwal. Yet, a lot of that potential remains unharnessed for want of a proper strategy of selective breeding and creation of a super elite population. What could be better than a hardy, low-input cost animal matching the best of global benchmarks in milk productivity!

The import of germplasm and bulls of high genetic merit is one of the many ways for expanding the base of our indigenous cattle population itself. The dwindling numbers of pure breeds, as opposed to nondescripts, does not augur well for small and marginal farmers, for whom rearing exotic or even crossbred cows isnt affordable beyond a point. While breed purity may be accorded importance, attachment based on blind belief and faith economics in contrast to information on ancestry derived through genomics shouldnt end up making imports too cumbersome and counterproductive.

Genetic improvement has to be an integral part of our livestock policy and plans to increase milk production, while also aiming at protection, conservation and promotion of indigenous breeds. Importing semen of high genetic merit bulls from Brazil is only a step in this direction. While apprehensions in certain quarters are understandable, the policy should be given a fair chance, as it also opens up economic opportunities for the smallholder who can ill-afford to maintain a pure Jersey or Holstein-Friesian. Breed is stronger than the pasture, the quote from George Eliots Victorian novel Silas Marner, should hopefully sum it all up.

The author is former Secretary of Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India

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Indigenous livestock breeding: Deja Moo Bringing the cows home - The Indian Express

Bedbug invasion: Why the itch-inducing pests are making a big comeback in a building near you – Ottawa Citizen

The June bug flaunts a gaudy wing, the fire bug flies for fame; the bedbug has no wings at all, but he gets there all the same. Unnamed American poet, circa 1890

In an Industrial Avenue strip mall, a working beagle named Stella vigorously noses into baseboards, bookcases, table legs and chairs.

Beagles are bred to track rabbits; Stella has learned to hunt bedbugs.

Flat, oval-shaped, rust brown and vampirish, bedbugs have skittered into the public spotlight following their discovery in nine federal government office buildings in the National Capital Region.

Civil servants are up in arms about the infestations. The Public Service Alliance of Canada has called on the government to check all federal offices for bedbugs and train workers to identify them. Meanwhile, the government has advertised a $400,000 pest control contract to clear bedbugs from employees cars and homes.

But civil servants are not alone in confronting the menace. Local office buildings, libraries, nursing homes, hotels and apartment blocks have been invaded by the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, as part of an extraordinary resurgence of the nocturnal pest.

The pest control firm Orkin Canada publishes a list of the top 25 bedbug cities in the country based on the number of treatments the company performed. Last year, Ottawa ranked sixth in the nation.

Right now, we cant keep up with demand, says Rob Caron, Ottawa regional manager for Orkin Canada, the firm that employs Stella, a trained detection dog.

Stella, Ottawas resident bedbug sniffing dog. Trained in California, Stella is now being deployed to federal government buildings at night to detect bedbugs.Errol McGihon / Postmedia

The bedbug control business has increased 10 to 15 per cent in each of the past 15 years in Ottawa, Caron says. To meet that demand, the Ottawa office has launched a nightshift and is trying to secure a second sniffer dog.

Once on the verge of disappearing from public consciousness in North America, bedbugs have roared back to prominence during the past 20 years as part of what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an alarming resurgence in the population.

Scientists say bedbugs have developed resistance to some common pesticides, while at the same time benefitted from the explosion of international travel. Bedbugs have no wings, but theyre accomplished hitchhikers: They regularly travel to new locations in clothing, backpacks, luggage and furniture.

A single, fertilized female can launch an infestation.

It means that a whole new generation of Canadians is now confronting one of mankinds oldest nemeses. As ancient as the dinosaurs, bedbugs have evolved to survive almost anything, even DDT.

As a species, they are lousy with both contradictions and curiosities. Bedbugs like to live in groups, but have insanely violent mating practices. Theyre among the most feared insects on Earth, but dont transmit disease. They eat only blood; they can starve for months; they can expand their bodies to feast.

Its enough to keep you up at night. But should it?

The dreaded bedbug.SunMedia

The history

Few animals, few objects even, evoke such profound feelings of horror, fear and fright as bedbugs, writes Klaus Reinhardt, a German professor of applied zoology, in his engrossing 2018 book, Bedbug.

It was once impolite even to say the word bedbugs in public, he says, for fear it would invite them into a home. Even today, the subject is fraught.

You can joke about cockroaches in an apartment, or fleas, he says, but you dont make a joke about bedbugs in someones house.

Bedbugs have unnerved humans for thousands of years, but the blood-sucking insects were on the scene long before Homo sapiens arrived.

A recent study found that bedbugs evolved more than 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, when dinosaurs reigned. Primitive birds were then the most likely hosts for the insects.

Bats evolved about 50 or 60 million years ago, and bedbugs developed a taste for their blood. When humans sought refuge in those same bat caves, several species of bedbugs evolved to feed on them.

Scientists have identified more than 100 different kinds of bedbug, many of them highly specialized. Latrocimex, for instance, is a bedbug that feeds exclusively on the blood of fish-eating bats that live in South Americas mangrove forests. Others feed on pigeons, swallows and purple martins.

Some bedbug species are small, others are large, most are brownish, and all suck blood, writes Reinhardt, former vice-president of the Royal Entomological Society of London. (Founded in 1833, the society counts Charles Darwin among its former vice-presidents.)

Only two types of bedbugs target humans: the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, found in temperate areas of the planet, and Cimex hemipterus, which lives in the tropics. Theyll feed on the blood of mice, rats, dogs, cats and birds if humans are not readily available.

For all of recorded history, bedbugs have been part of the human experience and the subject of our dark humour. In the ancient Greek comedy, The Frogs, first performed in 405 BC, the god of wine, Dionysus, searches out hostels with the fewest bedbugs on his way to the underworld.

A story on bedbugs from the Ottawa Citizen on Sept. 2, 1943.jpg

In Ottawa, early inhabitants of the rough-hewn lumber town shared poems and jokes about the same scourge. In 1891, the Citizen reported that a lease in Paris had been declared null and void after the discovery of a single bedbug. This may be very good law in Paris, a writer editorialized, but we fear that if an attempt was made to enforce this in Ottawa, a good many leases may be cancelled.

Bedbugs used to be associated with poverty and neglect; harbouring them was often viewed as shameful.

In 1898, a judicial inquiry was held following an uproar about a Citizen story which reported that bedbugs had been found in the Ottawa police dormitory so many that one officer threw a handful on a colleagues bed. After a hearing, Judge D.B. MacTavish ruled that only a few bugs were present; the officers who supplied the information were fined $10 each for failing to report the problem to superiors.

Bedbugs remained a common nuisance in Ottawa until the 1950s when their populations suddenly declined across North America. Better housing conditions, along with new and corrosive pesticides, combined to send them into retreat.

In the 1980s, the International Union for Conservation of Nature considered them a threatened species.

But the common bedbug would not go gently into the night.

The biology

Traumatic insemination is the scientific name for the ghastly mating practice of the bedbug.

Male bedbugs possess a knife-like penis (aedeagus) that they use to pierce the belly of females. Theres no courting ritual, no display behaviour involved: Males set upon females when theyre engorged with blood and unable to flatten themselves against the ground.

The females have a fully functional genital tract, but for reasons about which scientists can only theorize, male bedbugs only go for the stomach. (The males of one bedbug species, Afrocimex constrictus, will also skewer other males.) Their sperm is injected directly into the females abdominal cavity and propelled towards her unfertilized eggs.

To put it mildly, bedbugs have an unusual form of reproduction, says Klaus Reinhardt, an evolutionary biologist who was drawn to bedbug research decades ago.

Klaus Reinhardt, a professor of applied zoology in Dresden, Germany, is the author of the recently published book, Bedbug, an entertaining and scholarly account of the bedbug that also makes a a plea for a greater tolerance of the insects.jpg

Bedbugs are something of an evolutionary marvel since few species have flourished with such an injurious form of procreation.How do females survive to perpetuate the species?

The counter-intuitive answer is that females survive because most of their ancestors died, says Reinhardt. In other words, only females that had survived the deadly male attacks in the past were able to produce offspring, with this survival ability written in their genes.

Those females produced more offspring, which themselves laid more eggs after surviving the sexual procedure. Over time, the only females that remained were those that were best at surviving traumatic insemination and laying eggs natural selection.

Female bedbugs had to evolve quickly in order to defend themselves. Theyve developed whats known as a spermalege a unique organ that protects against bodily damage and sexually transmitted microbes. It features a deep, padded groove where theyre commonly stabbed. The padding is made from resilin, an intensely elastic material that makes it easier for males to penetrate, and minimizes the damage to females.

Despite their evolutionary battle of the sexes, bedbugs still like to huddle together in dark places.To find each other, they emit pheromones that alert other bedbugs to their presence. They release a different scent to raise an alarm.

The smell of bedbugs has been variously described as sickly sweet, musty and buggy. The 19th century novelist, Honor de Balzac, described it as the typical odour of French boarding houses.

Bedbugs like to spend their days gathered in cracks and crevices near their food source, then emerge late at night in search of a meal. Peak feeding hours are between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

All bedbugs males, females, adults, children drink blood. They have five nymphal stages and each new stage can only be reached after a blood meal, which is drawn through the bedbugs sucking mouthpart, its proboscis. Females require a blood meal to develop their eggs.

Bedbugs can sense the warmth of sleeping people, as well as the carbon dioxide they exhale. After crawling onto a victim, bedbugs rock back and forth to drive their proboscis into a blood vessel. They take about 10 minutes to drink their fill. To avoid detection and ensure a smooth flow of blood, they inject their victims with both a local anesthetic and an anti-coagulant.

They consume up to three times their own body weight in blood.

They are the ultimate binge drinkers, says Reinhardt.

Bedbugs feed on Stephen Kells, a University of Minnesota entomologist, at his lab in St. Paul, Minn.ALLEN BRISSON-SMITH / NYT

Only their segmented bodies and expandable skin allow for such overindulgence. In hard times, when a blood meal is not readily available, bedbugs can flatten themselves and endure more than six months without eating.

The parasites become sluggish after a big meal, and some are unable to stagger back to their daytime hiding places. These wayward bedbugs can end up in clothes, purses or backpacks, and be carried to a new home.

A single hitchhiker can establish a new infestation since a well-fed, fertilized female can lay more than 200 eggs.Her male offspring they take about eight weeks to mature will mate with their siblings and with their mother. Indeed, genetic tests have confirmed that most home infestations come from a lone female.

The defence

Stella is a four-year-old rescue dog trained to detect the pheromones that bedbugs excrete when theyre lonely or scared. Shes a regular visitor to office buildings and hotels in Ottawa where she scours cubicles and rooms for the telltale scent of an infestation.

If the scent is there, shes going to find it, says her handler, Natalie Leblond, 33, of Ottawa. Ive seen her alert on one baby bug hiding behind a nightstand.

Trained in California, Stella has had her bug-hunting proficiency certified by the World Detector Dog Organization, a non-profit dedicated to improving the trade, which takes advantage of the remarkable noses of dogs. Their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than our own, which means they can detect some odours in parts per trillion.

Stella will sit down whenever she smells a bedbug, and tap with her paw to confirm the location. Shes fed strictly as a reward for her discoveries.

Stella works for her food: she doesnt eat out of a bowl, says Leblond, who will plant synthesized bedbug pheromones to ensure the beagle can be fed when real bedbugs are nowhere to be found.

Bedbugs tend to stay within two metres of their food source, which means theyre commonly found along the seams of mattresses, or in the cracks formed by box springs and bed frames. They can hide behind night tables or picture frames, in wall cracks or floor seams. They also like wall plugs, clocks, radiators and radios.

Stella, Ottawas resident bedbug sniffing dog with Natalie Leblond, a K9 handler withf Orkin Pest Control Ottawa.Errol McGihon / Postmedia

Bedbugs often announce their presence with dark spots on bed sheets. This fecal spotting is the result of bedbugs releasing drops of old, blackened blood from their guts during the feeding process.

In an office environment, bedbugs are often found in the material of chairs, sofas or the cracks between cubicle partitions. They love to hide in the cubicle walls, says Orkin Candas Rob Caron. They like to be in the dark, to feel safe, and they love material more than metal.

When an infestation is confirmed, Orkin technicians vacuum and steam clean affected areas. Heat treatments are the most effective means of killing bedbugs, says Caron, since the insects will desiccate when temperatures are held at 60 C for at least two hours. The heat bomb will drive bedbugs down so floors and baseboards have to be steam treated at the same time.

With serious infestations, chemical treatments will also be used as part of an integrated pest management strategy. Bedbugs are very resilient, Caron says. If you dont remove everything, and do every single crack and crevice, theyll come back.

Entomologist Murray Isman, an emeritus professor at the University of British Columbia who has served as a consultant for the federal government on the question of bedbugs, says complete eradication is difficult since the insects can hide in tiny cracks or holes for long periods of time. Whats more, theyre easily re-introduced in high-traffic buildings.

Thats why its a real challenge to eradicate them, Isman says. Realistically, the goal is managing them to the point where someone sees one-bug-a-month kind of thing.

Nathalie Leblond didnt know anything about bedbugs when she applied for the job of dog handler at Orkin Canada two years ago. I didnt even know what they looked like, she says. But I know a lot now: We see bedbugs every day.

Working with a bedbug detection dog is not for everyone, she says, since the hours are long and some places they visit are heavily infested: You have to really want to work dogs and train. Ill steam my boots if I go into an infested place and put my clothes in the wash right away when I get home just in case.

Leblond takes Stella home with her every night; they have never brought home a bedbug.

Anyone can get them, even if you are the cleanest person, Leblond says. You can sit on a bus, and if theres one left behind, it can get on you, and you can bring it home. People who are cleaner, theyre going to find them sooner so it doesnt get to the point of a big infestation. But it has nothing to do with dirt.

Bedbugs.JEWEL SAMAD / AFP/Getty Images

The horror?

Bedbug bites dont hurt thanks to the painkiller the insects deliver in their spit.

Its one of the reasons bedbugs can survive in an office environment where sleeping is generally considered bad form. Desperately hungry bedbugs will take advantage of motionless workers to feed even during the daytime.

And its not just civil servants being victimized: Bedbugs have been reported in Googles posh New York offices and the New York Times newsroom.

Humans dont have to be sleeping, says UBCs Murray Isman. Bedbugs dont jump on people that are moving around, but if youre lying down on a sofa in a lunchroom, or sitting at your desk and not moving very much, bedbugs will have access to a decent blood meal.

In an interview from his home in Dresden, Germany, Klaus Reinhardt says office-dwelling bedbugs can also survive on mice and rats.

If youre an office worker and if you sit eight hours on your chair and dont move much, I think this might be some possibility for a little bedbug nibble, he says. But it is odd, I have to say. Most bedbugs will not feed during the daytime.

70 Cremazie in Gatineau was evacuated due to bed bugs, October 10, 2019.Jean Levac / Postmedia News

The vast majority of people will develop welts from bedbug bites, but it can take up to 11 days for the telltale, itchy red spots to appear. The welts are an allergic reaction to the chemical cocktail that bedbugs deliver through their saliva.

A small percentage of the population is immune. Reinhardt once subjected himself to repeated bedbug bites as part of a broader experiment to better understand immunity rates. Only one of the 19 test subjects failed to develop welts.

The experiment followed in the finest tradition of bedbug research. In the 20th century, biologist Albrecht Hase, best known for his work on lice control, submitted to more than 2,500 bedbug bites during his research career. Robert Usinger, widely regarded as the worlds greatest bedbug researcher, once strapped a collection of bedbugs to his body to ensure they stayed well fed while he travelled with them.

In rare cases, bedbug bites can cause a severe allergic reaction, or lead to secondary infections, or anemia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, most of the damage inflicted by bedbugs is psychological. In a 2010 study, researchers interviewed 474 people who had endured bedbug infestations; 29 per cent of them said they suffered from insomnia as a result.

Some patients have disturbed sleep from just the knowledge of having an active or past infestation in their own bed, researchers reported.

Says Isman: People are freaked out by them. They get very anxious about having them in their home, or being bitten, even though the bites themselves are typically no worse than a mosquito bite.

Reinhardt, a professed fan of bedbugs, insists the insects should not elicit so much fear and loathing.

While other insects such as lice and mites want to live on people, he says, bedbugs want to dine and dash. Whats more, unlike other blood-sucking insects such as mosquitos and ticks, bedbugs do not transmit disease. Bedbugs have been accused of spreading dozens of diseases everything from HIV to TB, from hepatitis to leprosy but scientists have always proved them innocent.

In hundreds of experiments, Reinhardt says, there has never been any proven transmission. (For some reason, pathogens do not replicate in the guts of bedbugs.)

Mosquitos have killed billions of people through the spread of malaria, dengue and yellow fever, yet it is the common bedbug that keeps people awake.

The bedbug is not even dangerous, argues Reinhardt. We should not be so scared of them. But we still are scared of them, I think, because of the intimate relationship with our beds: Mosquitos, they fly away, but bedbugs, they stay next to you.

aduffy@postmedia.com

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Bedbug invasion: Why the itch-inducing pests are making a big comeback in a building near you - Ottawa Citizen

Expert offers insights into addiction in Greenwich presentation – CT Insider

GREENWICH For years, community members have been asking substance abuse counselor John Hamilton about the root causes of drug addiction.

People want to know, is it genetics? Is it the environment? Hamilton said during a presentation at the First Presbyterian Church in Greenwich on Wednesday morning.

Both can play a role, but more factors are involved when it comes to addiction, said Hamilton, president and CEO of Liberation Programs, a Connecticut nonprofit that helps individuals overcome addiction.

Experts look at an individuals behavior, their brain mechanisms and the drug theyre using when determining a persons likelihood of experiencing addiction, he said. Even memory can play a part.

Hamilton recalled the story of a colleagues client who had struggled with heroin addiction for years. The man got into a car accident, lost his long-term memory and forgot he was addicted to heroin.

He never had a heroin problem again because he lost that memory, Hamilton said.

As the opiate crisis and a newfound vaping epidemic grip the nation, he offered community members information about substance use while providing solutions for building resiliency.

Statistics on substance use among adolescents and young adults dominated the beginning of conversation in the churchs sanctuary members of the Greenwich Retired Mens Association.

In Greenwich, the biggest issue overlooked is the high number of youths who abuse alcohol, he said. While 171 people die in America each day from the opiate epidemic, that number swells to 415, if alcohol-related deaths are added, he said. If tobacco deaths are accounted for, the number increases to 1,000 deaths per day.

What we really are getting overshadowed by with all the issues around the opiate epidemic is the fact that kids are still choosing to drink as their substance of choice, said Hamilton. And with all the anxiety and stress that theyre under, the kids that are not comfortable in their own skin, those are the ones that are going to be at risk.

In his work at Liberation Programs, Hamilton often see clients who are trying to conceal or suppress underlying traumas by using drugs or alcohol.

People do drugs for two reasons, he said. To feel good or to feel better.

Most of his clients are categorized in the latter group. They have anxiety, they have depression, Hamilton said. Its about disconnection to their feelings, disconnection to family, the community anything they can do to not have to actually be present because theyre not comfortable in their own skin.

A recent community survey gives a clearer picture of drug and alcohol use among youth in town.

More than 50 percent of 12th-graders reported drinking within 30 days of completing the survey. Results showed 34 percent of seniors had access to marijuana, 12 percent could find cocaine, heroin or LSD and 6 percent could obtain amphetamines.

While the number of students smoking cigarettes has decreased over the last five years in town, the percentage of youths smoking e-cigarettes has increased. In the survey, about 65 percent of 12th-graders reported having access to electronic cigarettes.

In drug trends, perception of risk influences (an) epidemic, said Hamilton. So, if a kid thinks something is safe, theyll use it and thats what happened with e-cigarettes. It was positioned as a safer alternative to smoking and now we know it wasnt.

Another finding of the survey showed parents perceptions of substances, could influence their childs likelihood of experiencing problems with drugs of alcohol. A parents disapproval of drugs or alcohol can reduce the likelihood of their child using them.

While Hamilton acknowledged that Wednesdays presentation was morbid, he offered attendees a glimmer of hope.

The good news is, we know, every year you delay the age of onset for that first use of a substance, it significantly reduces the likelihood that (the) child is gonna have a problem with alcohol and drugs in their lifetime, he said.

If a kid starts drinking before the age of 14, they have a 40 percent chance of having a problem with alcohol in their life, regardless of genetics, he said.

But if the person waits to until theyre 21 to have their first drink, that number drops to less than a 7 percent chance, he concluded.

Just before closing the discussion, Hamilton offered tips to parents and other adult attendees with children or youth in their lives.

He encouraged parents to lead by example and to exhibit healthy mood-regulation during times of stress. Parents should refrain from judging their children and remain open, nurturing and responsive when their youngsters approach them about these issues, Hamilton said.

If parents want children to change their behaviors, they should give them the skills and support to do so while providing incentives and other motivations, he said.

You here in this room could be that consistent, supportive, loving person in the childs life, Hamilton said. And that could make a difference for everything else going on in their life.

tatiana.flowers@thehour.com

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Expert offers insights into addiction in Greenwich presentation - CT Insider

In Search of Galpagos Short-eared Owls on Floreana Island – Island Conservation – Island Conservation News

The Galpagos Islands are famously known asthe Enchanted Islesdue to the treacherous currents and swirling mists that often cause the islands to disappear right in front of your eyes. During the colonial period, the Galpagos was sometimes considered a menacing and ominous place full of mystery. Several mysteries unfolded on Floreana, an island located in the southern end of the Archipelago with a history of love affairs and mysterious deathswhich continues to fascinate all who visit the island.

Today, Floreana is home to a community of 140 people as well as marvelous native and endemic faunaalthough this island has lost more species than any other in Galpagos. Some of the unique species found on the island include the endemic Floreana Medium Tree-finch, the endemic Galpagos Petrel, and the Galpagos Short-eared Owlthe latter being the islands only native predator.

Galpagos Short-eared Owls are considered a sub-endemic species of the Short-eared Owl found in other parts of the world. They are widely distributed among the Enchanted Isles, but the Floreana population possesses unique genetic traits not found in neighboring populations. Genetic population-level analyses have shown no evidence of owl movement from nearby Santa Cruz Island to Floreana Island, although the same analyses suggest that owl movement does occur in the opposite direction, from Floreana to Santa Cruz, but why this happens is unknown.

In addition to occasionallong-distance travel to Santa Cruz Island (34 miles), prior to our study therewere indications that Floreana owls may also travel to Isabela Island (around43 miles) on the western side of the Archipelago (birds banded on Floreanalater were observed on Isabela), adding uncertainty to the Floreana owlmovement patterns.

To date, evidence suggesting these long-distance movements have come from banding and point count studies conducted on Floreana, where the number of owls sighted at different times of the year varies greatly (from two to 40 or more). This high fluctuation may result from owls leaving the island at certain times of yearperhaps due to changes in preferred prey availability. It is known that the owls feed on Galpagos Petrel chicks on Floreana Island, observational studies indicate that their population numbers appear to increase when petrels are breeding in the highlands and decrease during the months when petrels are absent.

As on most islands around the world, and within the Enchanted Isles of Galpagos, native and endemic fauna are not alone in paradise. Invasive mammals, such as mice, rats, and feral cats are also present on Floreana and negatively impact native and endemic fauna. The Galpagos National Park Directorate, with support from Island Conservation and other partners, is working torestore the islandthrough the removal of these invasive species. This would allow the unique species of Floreana to recover and prepare the island for the reintroduction of some species that have disappeared from the island (e.g., the Floreana Giant tortoise, Mockingbird and snake species).

Before removing invasive rodents and feral cats from the island, risk to native species needed to be evaluated and managed. Therefore, in 2017 the Galpagos National Park, with support from Island Conservation and other scientists, determined that the population of Galpagos Short-eared Owls on Floreana would need to be placed in temporary captivity to minimize any risk from the operation. We also identified knowledge gaps associated with the owls ecology on the island that required additional research in order to implement this mitigation tactic.

In mid-2019, we worked to identify and resolve the movement patterns of Floreana Short-eared Owls to inform risk mitigation planning for the species during the rodent and feral cat eradication proposed for the island, and to recommend the best dates for trapping and placing owls in temporary captivity prior to the established implementation date for the eradication campaign. To obtain the required data, we walked for hours at night through vast open, often muddy areas, and through thick forests. We searched for Short-eared Owls to trap and fit with satellite transmitters utilizing a backpack fashion-like deployment.

Prior to our field work, we carried out extensive research to identify the appropriate equipment to deploy on the species, with careful consideration of their crepuscular (twilight) and nocturnal habits. The Short-eared Owls required small satellite transmitters, which are only available as solar-powered units. We also had to determine the most appropriate data transmission schedule to increase our chances of gathering the most accurate information while reducing the amount of power required to do so.

After our preparation and research, we successfully deployed four transmitters on four Short-eared Owls (females and males). The data transmitted shows fascinating movement patterns within the owl population. After deploying the transmitters in August and September, in early October one of the owls fitted with a satellite transmitter translocated itself to Isabela Island (data shows the bird spending time in an area between Cerro Azul and Sierra Negra volcanoes). So far, the other three have remained on Floreana.

We look forward to learning more from these owls and improving our understanding of their movement patterns. With this information, we will be able to develop the best protocols for ensuring the protection of this species during the invasive rodent and feral cat removal phase of this project torestore Floreana.

This article was originally published by the Galapagos Conservancy

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A Brief History of Wheat – Resilience

Most of us eat grains every day in bread, cereals, biscuits or pasta. In recent years, withgluten intolerance on the rise, wheat has been getting bad press. But how much do you know about this grain that forms such a significant part of our diet, and how has the wheat we eat changed over the centuries?

The era of the landrace

Wheat has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years, beginning in theFertile Crescentand arriving in the UK around 5,000 years ago. Milling wheat for flour only became common in the 12thcentury, but by the turn of the 19thcentury, wheat was the UKs most significant crop grown for human consumption. However, this wheat was very different to the crops that fill our fields today the ears would tower over our modern dwarf varieties, commonly reaching 160 centimetres tall, and with great genetic diversity. These landrace varieties were created by generations of natural selection and farmers saving diverse seed year after year. Over time, the landrace would become adapted to the specific soil and climate of the region, as the genotypes that do best in those environments became more prevalent. However, the pursuit of higher yields and industrialisation of agriculture over the past 150 years has meant these ancient varieties have been lost from our fields and all that remains of these traditional landraces is a handful of seeds that make up a series of entries, known as accessions, in gene-banks around the world.

Selecting the best

Around the mid-1800s, the first plant breeders realised that if they saved the best ears out of the landrace they got single varieties that yielded higher, but werent as diverse, explains Ed Dickin, a keen grain breeder who lectures in crop production at Harper Adams University. The first of these seedsmans varieties, such as Squareheads Master, were developed in the 1860s; measuring in at around 130 centimetres, they had a shorter and stiffer straw as well as a significantly higher yield.

At a similar time, around the 1870s, the UK began importing more wheat from Canada. The millers started using roller mills, and roller milling works well with a hard wheat with a thick bran, as the bran is easily separated from the white flour stream, Ed explains. This, combined with the rising demand for white loaves to make the sandwiches of the increasingly industrialised workforce, meant bakers were also keen on the higher protein levels of the imported wheat.

The laws of inheritance

Around 1900, the work of the monk Gregor Mendel was rediscovered. Mendel had worked on the ideas of genetics and the laws of inheritance at a similar time to Darwin, but it wasnt until the turn of the 20thcentury that this work was applied to the breeding of wheat. It was discovered that although imported Canadian grains didnt produce a good yield in our climate, they still produced high protein grain, and the newly formedPlant Breeding Institute (PBI)set about capturing this trait by crossing it with some of the British varieties.

A key part of wheat genetics is that the plant is self-pollinating, meaning the pollen from the anthers falls onto the stigma within the same flower. To cross varieties, breeders must remove the male anther part of a wheat flower before it produces pollen, then once the stigma has matured, introduce pollen from the plant they wish to cross the wheat with. This process, known as hybridisation, produces a first-generation F1 plant that will be a genetic cross of the parents. However, the next generation, an F2, will have huge diversity because of the large number of genotypes created by the hybridisation process. To produce a stable variety, multiple generations of self-pollination and careful selection of plants is required. This is the method the PBI utilised in 1916, crossing the Canadian Red Fife with a low protein British variety to produce Yeoman, a hard wheat that measured in at around 110 centimetres tall.

While this breeding improved the bread making properties of homegrown wheat, the UK was still importing much of its bread wheat a trait that continued until the 1960s when a trio of changes came into place. The first was the advent of theChorleywood Bread Process, an industrialised process that could utilise lower protein wheats. In combination with this, thePlant Varieties and Seeds Act of 1964allowed breeders to collect royalties from the seeds they bred, and the UKs entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) meant that there were tariffs on the import of Canadian wheat consequently, the use of British wheat began to increase.

The quest for higher yields

Since the 1980s, breeders of milling wheat have been increasingly focused on their largest market white sliced bread meaning that the modern varieties such as Skyfall are bred for this purpose, producing high yields, of sufficient protein levels for roller milling and the Chorleywood Bread Process.

Baker, miller and grain grower Andy Forbes points out the wider impact this had on the wheat grown: Wheat used to be tall to out compete the weeds, but if you put chemical fertiliser on it to increase the yield, theres a risk it will fall over, known as lodging. Thats one of the main reasons shorter varieties were grown, but once its shortened, the wheat doesnt shade out the weeds, so farmers started using herbicides to get rid of weeds.

One of the global figures at the heart of developing these new wheats was Norman Borlaug, who spearheaded the so called green revolution. But while the grain volume produced by his semi-dwarf crops was significantly higher, the use of nitrogen fertiliser to drive up yield, and herbicides and fungicides to manage disease, has been shown tohave an impact on soilhealth, and the genetic homogeneousness of modern wheats also means theyre highly susceptible to disease. By growing the pure line varieties, you get a high yield, but you lose the ability to adapt, Ed explains. Theyellow rustpopulation, like any other diseases, is a diverse population, so the parts of the population that can overcome the plants resistance become more dominant. But the modern wheat cant adapt because its a monoculture, so the breeders are constantly having to bring in new sources of resistance to address this. Its the breeders treadmill.

The pressure for high yielding wheats is also driven by the way the commodity market operates. Most grain in this country is sold via a trader, who acts as a middleman between farmers and buyer whether thats a flour mill, grain exporter or feed mill. The traders set the price based on the global market, taking the sale price out of farmers control. Producing a commodity means the cost of production is the only thing a farmer can reasonably expect to influence, farmer Fred Price from Gothelney Farm points out. As a price taker, this creates an inevitablebias towards increasing yield in an attempt to reduce cost of production.

Fit for purpose?

From the agroecological farmers perspective, modern wheats dont grow well in a low input, organic system; quite simply, theyre designed for a different growing system that is reliant on external inputs. Organic farmers dont have access to or want to use these chemicals, Andy explains. But they also dont have access to wheats that dont need these inputs, or that are suited to their local climate.

In a regenerative farming system, Im looking for flavour and resilience, says Fred. Andby resilience, I mean varieties that have genetic diversity and traits that put crop resources into physiological traits such as root density and crop height that buffer fluctuations in climate and pathogen pressure. These, in theory, are going to impact the yield. But there is a trade-off between resources being put into yield or traits which improve resilience:height improves weed competition, restricts fungal spread upwards through the plant, genetic diversity restricts susceptibility to particular strains of infection, and so on.

In addition, there has been an increase in demand for sourdough bread, as well as a rise in awareness about the health benefits of whole grains. But the modern wheat we grow in this country is suited to neither market. Thick branned wheat thats suitable for roller wheat is no good for stone milling, Ed points out. You want a variety with a thinner bran because all the bran is going to go in the flour. Similarly, the gluten levels in the flour will be different than those used in Chorleywood bread, meaning these flours arent ideal for sourdough baking.

Its clear our modern wheats, bred for high input farming systems and roller milling, arent suitable for agroecological farming or whole wheat baking. So, what grains should we be growing? How can we rebuild genetic diversity in our wheat? And can we re-localise our supply chains?

Photograph:Brandon Giesbrecht

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Losing Nemo: Clownfish ‘cannot adapt to climate change’ due to their specific mating habits, scientists say – The Telegraph

The star of Pixar's blockbuster "FindingNemo" may be about to vanish again - this time for good - as its peculiar mating habits put it at risk from climate change, scientists said on Tuesday.

They observed the vibrantly coloured clownfish - which live in anemones - for more than 10 years around Kimbe Island off eastern Papua New Guinea.

A team from France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) along with other scientists established that the fish were picky about the way they choose their mates.

Given that both anemone and their clownfish tenants ultimately rely for their survival on coral, which is under threat from warming seas and threats such as pollution and human intrusion, they may need to adapt quickly.

The scientists say this can be achieved only with great difficulty.

"The reproductive success of a population is what guarantees (its ability) to adapt," CNRS researcher Benoit Poujol said. And clownfish have a "very particular" reproductive cycle, dependent on a stable, benign environment.

Each anemone is home to one female fish, a sexually active male and several other males who are not sexually active. "When the female dies, the male becomes female and the largest of the non-sexually active males became sexually active," Mr Poujol said.

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Men and women need different treatments for mental illness, expert says – ISRAEL21c

Why do men with schizophrenia tend to get addicted to smoking, and women schizophrenics dont?

The answer lies in understanding brain differences between men and women with mental diseases, according to a new resource article in the journal Cell Reports.

The lead author, Israeli molecular neuroscientist Hermona Soreq, concludes that treatment ought to vary by gender.

A member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem faculty since 1986, she is now a professor at the universitys Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.

Looking into the cortex of the human brain, Soreq studies the molecular regulators of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important for muscle function and communications processes in the brain.

Shes president of the International Organization on Cholinergic Mechanisms, comprised of scientists researching acetylcholine and other compounds that mimic or block its action.

Photo of Prof. Hermona Soreq courtesy of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center of Brain Science/Hebrew University

Soreq has found that malfunctioning acetylcholine is linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

However, dysfunctional acetylcholine doesnt affect males and females the same way.

In the last couple of years, my research has focused on finding differences between men and women with mental disease, Soreq tells ISRAEL21c.

Were looking at the genes controlling the cholinergic pathway in men and women, and how the genes operate in health and in disease.

Hidden differences between sexes

Last year, Soreq read two papers in Science by leading psychiatric genetics researchers. The papers argued that mental diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect the brain on a spectrum, much like autism.

But there was no word about differences between men and women. That upset me, says Soreq.

Its commonly known that these conditions affect males and females differently. For example, men develop schizophrenia about 10 years earlier than women do, and male schizophrenics often take up smoking.

Soreq decided to parse the papers data, looking separately at results in males and females.

Guess what? In women, the spectrum described in the study population was less apparent. The way the data was presented, the difference between sexes was faded.

A bioinformatics PhD student and postdoc graduate in her 15-person lab investigated the data in the Science papers further. They saw that in study participants, nicotine mimicked the way acetylcholine normally sends activation messages to nerve cells.

Acetylcholine, of course, is the very substance Soreq has dedicated her life to investigating.

Prof. Hermona Soreq and her lab staff at Hebrew University. Photo by Douglas Gathry

Soreq hypothesized that men with schizophrenia have an urge to smoke cigarettes to make up for their dysfunctional acetylcholine. In women, different regulation of acetylcholine apparently reduces their urge to smoke.

Lots of genes are expressed more strongly or weakly in the brains of diseased individuals compared to healthy brains. These modifications are different between men and women, Soreq explains.

To challenge her hypothesis, Soreq looked at cells in cultures from men and women separately. Sure enough, the genes that are modified in a diseased brain showed male-female differences.

I have been using cells in culture for many years. We dont ask if they derive from men or women, Soreq says. Now we specifically took cells of male or female neuronal origin and found they behave differently when you go down to individual cell level. We are the first to show these differences.

Men and women need different treatments

The practical implication is that medical treatments for mental disease should be different for men and for women.

Nobody has talked about that before. Women with mental disease deserve to be studied separately and therapeutics should be developed targeted to them, says Soreq.

We already know women have different symptoms and react to drugs differently, but we know that after the fact, not from research. I think its important to do the research purposefully.

The big problem is that medical treatments are almost always tested only in male mice before theyre tested in humans of both sexes.

Why? A simple reason: money, says Soreq.

Female mice, like humans, have a hormonal cycle and you would need to adjust for the day in their cycle. That quadruples the cost of the testing, because youd need to raise enough female mice to find those in the right time in their cycle. Its really a pain. So scientists, including me, have only studied male mice for many decades.

She thinks that situation needs to change despite the cost involved.

Meanwhile, in December Soreq and her colleagues will host the 16th annual International Symposium on Cholinergic Mechanisms, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. This is where she received her PhD in biochemistry in 1976 before doing a postdoc in molecular cell biology at Rockefeller University in New York.

She also has studied the role of the acetylcholine signaling system in the long-term health impact of terrorism-related stress; and in circadian rhythm disturbance after the switch from standard to daylight savings time and vice versa.

This, too, affects men and women differently. Women seem to have a more difficult adjustment.

The clock was changed a few weeks ago in Israel and I still wake up at 4 while my husband sleeps nicely, she observes with a laugh.

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SBC Pres. JD Greear says he’ll refer to trans individuals by their preferred pronouns – The Christian Post

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter | Tuesday, November 26, 2019 J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., said Southern Baptists must be willing to do whatever it takes to reach all people, during his president's address June 11 during the morning session of the two-day SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala. | Kathleen Murray

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear said he would use atrans-identified individual's preferred pronoun and name as a show ofpronoun hospitality," but would also be clear on biblical truth.

The 46-year-old Greear tackled the question of transgender pronoun use on the Nov. 18 edition of his podcast Ask Me Anything.

When talking with a transgender person, which pronoun should you use? was the question posed to the senior pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina.

Greear responded with a long disclaimer that when a question about how Christians should show love to the LGBT community, it is often thought that there can only be two categories: alienation and affirmation.

Let me just kind of lean on [Baptist ethics professor] Andrew Walker here and the book God and the Transgender Debate, Greear said. He points out, and I actually think this is charitable and accurate, that Christians disagree. I think they should disagree charitably about what is the right thing to do specifically with pronoun usage.

Some people on one side are going to say, Hey, we got to tell the truth. And the truth is this person is male or female. So I would be lying if I called somebody who is female and identified as male, Greear added.

There are others who would say, Look, as a courtesy, you should refer to a transgender person by their preferred pronoun as sort of a generosity of spirit kind of approach. You see evidence in the Bible of that.

Personally, Greear said he leans a little bit toward the generosity of spirit.

If a transgender person came into our church, came into my life, I think my disposition would be to refer to them by their preferred pronoun when we want to talk about gender, Greear said. I will be clear with him on the truth. The question is: Is that the battlefront that you want to choose?

Earlier in his response, Greear laid out assumptions about the transgender movement and said it is important to answer the question: What determines gender?

The scientific answer and I would say the biblical answer is your genetics, Greear said. God made them male and female.

Our identity comes from not looking within. Our identity comes from what our Heavenly Father declares over us, Greear continued.

That is important at every level of the spiritual life, but its important in creation because God declares through DNA male or female. I am not who I feel like I am, I am who God says I am. Jeremiah 17 teaches that our heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, which means the heart is the last place that I want to be looking for my identity.

Greear cites Preston Sprinkle, head of the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender, to layout examples of Christians displaying a generosity and accommodation of spirit.

When missionaries go into tribes where they are polygamous. What do they do when a chief has 10 wives? Do you take the first one and call her a wife and refuse to call anybody else a wife because a man can only be married to one wife? Greear asked.

Is that what you do? Somebody who is unlawfully divorced in our culture, Jesus says that they never really relinquished their marriage and that he is actually married to this other woman even though he divorced her. Should you insist on calling the former woman his wife and the current woman adulterous? I think there is a generosity of spirit that you can communicate there.

When it comes to generosity of spirit in the transgender context, Greear said hes heard it called pronoun hospitality.

That is the way that I would lean in this, he said. I would say this is one of perhaps Roman 14 situations where you need to do what your conscience is allowing you to do.

Greear concluded by assuring that the debate over such a question between Christians should be done so charitably because there is no one-size-fits-all right and wrong answer.

The SBC leader suggested that those who can't in good conscience use the preferred pronoun of a transgender individual should consider avoid using pronouns when speaking with a transgender individual.

A Christian high school teacher who did as Greear suggests and used a trans-identified student's preferred name and avoided using pronouns in the classroom altogether was fired from his job.

We should be generous of spirit regardless of the way you answer this, he said. Two, we should tell the truth. I think those two things are bigger than just the pronoun question. You will apply it to the pronoun question but the bigger thing is to make sure you have those two attitudes as you approach the question.

In a 2017 op-ed, Walker, a research fellow with the SBCs Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said that he would probably use a transgender individual's preferred name because names are not intrinsically gendered.

Walker stressed also that when meeting someone who identifies as transgender for the first time, the name associated with their biological sex will not be known.

However, Walker assured that he will not refer to someone with their desired pronoun in a public venue such as when he gives a speech.

Those with writing or speaking platforms have an obligation to speak and write truthfully and not kowtow to political correctness or excuse falsehood, Walker wrote. This means I will call Bruce Jenner he, or if I do say Caitlyn, I will still say, him.

Greear received push back on social media from other Christian conservatives in response to his podcast.

Conservative columnist and author Rod Dreher wrote in an op-ed that he understands the desire for a pastor to be gracious to people he is trying to evangelize to, but stressed that the pronoun issue is not merely a matter of courtesy.

It means something substantively. The use of language creates social realities, wrote Dreher, author of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.Read your Orwell: what we say and how we say it frames the way we perceive and interpret the world. Progressives understand this well, which is why they insist on preferred pronoun usage. By doing so, they are creating facts on the ground.

When religious and cultural leaders concede this territory for the sake of being nice, they surrender more ground than they realize, Dreher continued. They are laying down arms in the face of the ideological colonization of our collective moral imagination.

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Kuno, India’s second home for the Asiatic lion, is ready – Mongabay-India

Still waiting for new beginning.

The words in bold, white, are painted alongside a mural of a lion and lioness, on a sign near the forest guest house in Palpur village inside the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The guest house overlooks Kuno river and offers a clear glimpse into the heart of the forest and the wildlife of the sanctuary. The sun shines bright on the landscape, welcoming a new day and perhaps the start of a new chapter for the sanctuary.

After more than two decades of roadblocks, the Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary is ready as the new home for Asiatic lions, starting with those that are to be relocated from Gujarats Gir sanctuary, currently the only home of the Asiatic lions in India. In a recent visit over two days, Mongabay-India witnessed the revamped sanctuary.

The areas of grassland habitat are ready to provide food for the animals that lions prey upon like nilgai (blue bull), chital (spotted deer), sambhar, chinkara. The grass on the sites of the 24 villages that existed here and have already been relocated outside, as a part of the lion reintroduction program, have grown. There is no sign of human habitat. The villages have been developed into large grasslands, making the sanctuary almost free from human habitation for the free and flexible movements of lions, Vijendra Shrivastav, sub-divisional officer, Kuno Palpur (West) Wildlife Sanctuary told Mongabay-India as he spoke about the preparations of the sanctuary to receive lions from Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat.

We are asking just for two pride of lions that typically includes a male, three to five females and their young cubs. On successful relocation, the family of lions will access the unused habitats and will also increase the seasonal mast availability for wildlife in the sanctuary and diversity.

It has been 29 years since Kuno Palpur was identified as the site for the relocation of Asiatic lions, from their last habitat in Gujarat, to protect them from extinction. Currently, there are 523 (as per the last census carried out in 2015) lions in Gir and this relocation project was supposed to have been completed by 2020.

The Action plan for the reintroduction of the Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary Draft 2016 prepared by the expert committee for translocations of lions from Gir to Kuno Sanctuary observed that the last free-ranging population of approximately 523 Asiatic lions Panthera leo persica are found in the 22,000 square kilometreof the Gir landscape in Gujarat, western India. Carnivore populations restricted to single sites face a variety of extinction threats from genetic and stochastic environmental factors. The draft is now under implementation.

Catastrophes such as an epidemic, an unexpected decline in prey, natural calamities or retaliatory killings could result in the extinction of the lion population when they are restricted to single populations, the action plan adds.

Reintroduction of Asiatic lions to an alternative site to ensure their long-term viability has become a major conservation agenda since the late-1950s. Failure of the first attempt of the Asiatic lion reintroduction in India (Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttar Pradesh) in the 1960s has been ascribed to the lack of an a priori scientific study on lion prey base, habitat requirements, local peoples attitude and a post-release monitoring program, notes the plan.

In the early 1990s, after ecological assessment of some protected areas within the historical range of lions was undertaken, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) identified Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (Kuno WLS) in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh as the most potential reintroduction site. Subsequently, between 1996 and 2001, 23 villages were resettled from inside the identified Kuno sanctuary by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) and an area of about 1,280 square km was demarcated as Kuno wildlife division.

Located in north Madhya Pradesh, Kuno was one of the hunting grounds of the royal families of the region and was notified as a sanctuary in 1981. The sanctuary is classified under the semi-arid Gujarat Rajputana biogeographic zone, a senior forest officer of the Madhya Pradeshs forest department said.

According to Azad Singh Dabhas, a retired forest officer, in the 1990s, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) took up the matter of finding an alternative home for the species and identified Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary as the most suitable site.

He explained that the idea was that in case of catastrophes such as an endemic, an unexpected decline in prey, natural calamities or retaliatory killings could result in the extinction of threatened species which are restricted to a single site Gir National Park in Gujarat.

Between 1996 and 2001 the Madhya Pradesh Government relocated 23 villages containing 1,547 families from Kuno Sanctuary in preparation for the new lion population. Not a single incidence of poaching and human-animal conflict has been reported in the last three years, said a senior official of the sanctuary.

Though the sanctuary is inhabited by carnivores such as leopard, wolf, jackal, Indian fox and striped hyena, in the last over two decades, the population of chital, sambar, nilgai, chinkara, wild pig, chowsingha, and blackbuck are found in abundance.

One of the major challenges was of the sites of the relocated villages to develop them into grasslands. The sites of the relocated villages have developed into large grasslands, extending in size to as much as 1,500 ha in some cases, said Shrivastav.

According to Atul Chouhan, Kuno Sangharsh Samiti, The state tourism department is successfully running a three-star hotel located on the Shivpuri Highway. A large number of visitors prefer to stay in the forest guest house, which is located inside the Kuno Reserve and is around 25 kilometres from the Tiktoli, the entry gate to the Kuno Reserve. Round the year more than 2,000 visitors come to Kuno Reserve. And the number of visitors to Kuno is rising up. If, lions are going to be introduced in Kuno Reserve the footfall is certainly going to rise.

The Samiti, now with about 2,000 members, was formed by like-minded people of Sheopur district in 2009-10 after the Gujarat government refused to share lions. The Samiti, along with the forest dwellers who were shifted from the sanctuary have held protests, submitted memorandums to the government alleging that they sacrificed their ancestral homes and land in a way to provide a safe place for the lions. They demanded that the government should respect their sacrifice and take constructive efforts to introduce lions in Kuno Palpur.

Chouhan wants the government to involve youth of the villages in tourism activities by training them as field guides of the sanctuary.

From the 24 villages, a total of 1,545 families were affected. The villagers were relocated to Karhal tehsil of Sheopur district.

We have left our ancestral homes, anticipating that we are doing it for a bigger cause by understanding the need of the government to provide a safe place for lions and conversation of our natural heritage. But, what we have received nothing in return. There are no signs of lions being introduced in the Kuno. The government has done injustice with us, said Kapoor Singh Yadav, a resident of village Naya Paron situated on the Sheopur-Shivpuri State Highway.

Yadav, along with his family members and 50 odd families of village Paron, which was situated inside the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, shifted to the new location in 2004.

As per the action plan, the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) endorsed the lion reintroduction program in Kuno. However, the proposal met with resistance from the Gujarat Forest Department (GFD) which was reluctant to provide founder lions from Gir for reintroduction purposes. An affidavit was also filed before the Supreme Court of India objecting the lion reintroduction.

Gujarat government has been refusing to give lions to Madhya Pradesh alleging that it would not be safe to shift the mighty beast to a state which has failed to protect its own tiger population.

After legal tangles spanning for almost two decades, the apex court finally gave its verdict in April 2013 and explicitly directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI) to expedite the lion reintroduction in Kuno in compliance with the IUCN guidelines of carnivore reintroduction.

Accordingly, the 2016 draft action plan was developed under the directives of the Additional Director General (Wildlife) to guide a successful lion reintroduction in Kuno. The plan, now under implementation, enlists various ecological, biological, management and social facets in accordance with the IUCN/SSC guidelines to develop a time-bound protocol essential for implementing the reintroduction program. Some management actions recommended in the action plan are concomitant and should continue for long-term, it notes.

Gir in Gujarat is the last refuge of the Asian lion population. According to the 14th Lion Estimation Population Report, the lion population has increased by 27 percent from 411 in 2010 to 523 in 2015. The increase in lion numbers inside the protected area has been just six percent (as of 337 to 356), however, the rise outside has been higher 126 percent (from 74 to 167).

A large number of lions wander outside the Gir National Park in the eco-sensitive zone of the Gir Protected Area. In 2018, when the deaths of 23 lions in Gir took place, the Gujarat government maintained it to be a one-off incident. The government allegedly refused to touch and go in deep to dig out the medical analytical cause behind the deaths. After the incident, the Gujarat government launched a Rs. 350 crore (Rs. 3.5 billion) lion conservation project. The project was reviewed by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in July 2019, when, during rains visuals of lion frisking in the urban areas of Gir Forest hit social media.

The expert committee has suggested a four-phase plan for the reintroduction of lion in Kuno which involves organisational commitments, ecological monitoring and quantifying social carrying capacity of lion reintroduction, followed by capture, translocation and soft release of lions in Kuno, post-reintroduction monitoring & research, conflict mitigation, followed with an annual review of the project. The first three phases would be undertaken over a period of two years, after which, upto the next 20 years or so the plan highlights genetic management & supplementation, under which six lions (two males and four females) should be supplemented in the Kuno population from Gir until 16-20 years from the first reintroduction at an interval of 4 years.

The report maintains, carnivore reintroduction is an appropriate conservation strategy to restore the integrity of ecosystems. However, many pitfalls exist that can result in the total or partial failure of a reintroduction program and can potentially waste valuable and limited resources.

According to Kuno divisional forest officer, current habitat management initiatives by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) inside Kuno WLS such as weed eradication, fire management, grassland management, waterhole management etc. would continue so as to enhance nutritional carrying capacity for wild ungulates, which would serve as a prey base for the lions

Although the current carrying capacity of lions at Kuno WLS is a maximum of 40 lions, Population Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA) models for Kuno lions show that the lion population will be viable for long- term only at a minimum figure of around 80 individuals.

Expecting approximately a realised growth that has been observed for recovering tiger populations, along with supplementation every four years from Gir; the lion population in Kuno WLS should reach the current carrying capacity of 40 within 15 years.

To reach the required self-sustaining population size of 80 lions, the time required would be close to 30 years.

Banner image: A lioness and her cub at Gir. Photo by Ivy Dey/Wikimedia Commons.

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