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Tuesday, September 20, 2022


Hello, dear reader! So, a bunch of science dudes & dudettes working mostly in France & Spain sticks its nose in the "what else the climate change causes?" business, "identified colorful flying living objects" branch. And it finds something interesting (López-Idiáquez et al, 2022 (P)).
The researchers indeed, for fifteen years (2005-2019)
stalk birds, specifically, two Mediterranean blue tit subspecies, more specifically, the Cyanistes caeruleus caeruleus and the Cyanistes caeruleus ogliastrae, which tipically have bright blue crowns and yellow breasts.
The scientists collect more than 5800 observations on these winged animals, and, thank to these data, the brains can then say that the birds'
colors are now "duller and less chromatic in both sexes" (P) than when the study began.
The researchers, besides, perform a genetic analysis on the animals to check if evolution be at work on their color traits, and eventually they verify that, well, it is not.
So, the people of the science conclude that the
loss in brilliance of the birds' colors is "caused by a plastic response to the environmental conditions [and their work] suggests that ornamental colorations could become less conspicuous because of warming" (P).
In short, climate change strikes again! And it even influences the colors of birds, which are
not (the colors) just there by chance, or to catch the eye of human photographers so to end up on some bird-fashion journal's glossy glamorous cover and get all lavishly birdy-rich&famous. Nope.
Colors are part of the "
sexual and social ornaments" family (P), meaning they are important for the mating and breeding process of animals, since they are used as markers of the quality of the biological stuff specimens are made of.
So, dear reader, to sum up, climate change, among other tons of not particularly pleasant things, makes colorful birds less colorful.
As to the why
this de-balzing thing happen, well, this dumb blog has an idea that you can find in the following cartoon. Ciao!

Bird's coloration gets less blazing due to global warming (by @sciencemug)
Bird's coloration gets less conspicuous due to climate change (by @sciencemug)
Top bird pic and bottom bird pic are CC0 Public Domain images (source: pxhere); mirror pic by Dalida's Art is under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License (source: deviantart); all pics adapted by @sciencemug

Friday, January 14, 2022


Goldfish drives fast a super car (by @sciencemug)
Goldfish drives fast a super car (by @sciencemug)
Goldfish pic by zhengtao tang, and car pic by Damian Ochrymowicz, are free images (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug

So folks, four researchers from Israel (aka the Fab4), put six goldfishes (Carassius auratus) at work (Givonet al, 2022 (P)) to see whether space representation and navigation skills (which allow animals to do plenty of things, like finding food, shelter, sex buddies and so on) are shared properties across the animal kingdom, or, instead, they specifically depend on the different species, brain structure, and ecological system.

The researchers, in their study, use the "
domain transfer methodology, where one species is embedded in another species’ environment and must cope with an otherwise familiar (in [their] case, navigation) task" (P): in layman's terms, the Fab4 want to see if a fish can navigate through a terrestrial environment.
To check that, the brains train each fish to "drive" something called <Fish Operated Vehicle> (aka FOV). The FOV is a water tank (35×35×28 cm) put on a four wheeled self-propelled platform (40×40×19 cm), equipped with a pole, on top of which there are a computer, a camera and a lidar. By this control apparatus, whenever (and only when) "
the fish [gets] near one of the water tank walls and facing outwards, the FOV is automatically propelled in [such] direction" (P).

The machine, with its aquatic driver, is then placed in the center of a three by four meters room, illuminated with artificial light, and with white walls and one or more colored boards stuck on them. The colored spots are the targets the fishes are trained to reach in exchange for a food reward (consisting of a 0.002 g food pellet of the same kind the fishes are usually fed with).

Well, dear reader, in the end, the goldfishes training's success, they can reach the targets, adapt to changes in such targets positioning and overall overcome the "
distortion in vision due to refraction through the air-to-water interface [and the] differences in the natural structure of the terrestrial and aquatic environments" (P).

The Fab4's work (that they define "
an observational report, rather than a scientific study" (P), and that needs follow-ups ) shows, thus, that "a fish [is indeed] able to transfer its space representation and navigation skills to a wholly different terrestrial environment, thus supporting the hypothesis that the former possess a universal quality that is species-independent" (P).

But this dumb blog, in the following cartoon, shows you, dear reader, what's the next step of this experimental journey humanity has embarked on.

A fish drives a car full of water to go to a sushi bar (by @sciencemug)
A green fish drives a car full of water to a sushi bar (by @sciencemug))
The car pic by Dan Gold , the green fish pic by Gábor Szűts, the bubbles pic by Alberto Bianchini and the spilling water pic by Pixa Karma, are free images (source: Unsplash)
; the fish drawing by Mrmw, is
under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication (source: Wikimedia Commons); all images adapted by @sciencemug