Friday, July 20, 2007

Cute dogs wowed our ancestors


APART from a yap out of proportion to their size, what do chihuahuas, terriers and pekinese have in common? The answer is a mutation in a single gene. The variant is found in so many small breeds that it must have been present early in the history of dogs' domestication.

A team led by Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, looked at Portuguese water dogs, which come in an unusually wide range of sizes. The smaller dogs tended to carry a particular variant of the gene for the important growth regulator insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) on chromosome 15. The team found the same variant in every small breed they investigated, but hardly ever in very large breeds such as St Bernards, Irish wolfhounds and Great Danes (Science, vol 316, p 112).

The "small" variant of IGF1 is not known in wolves -- dogs' closest wild relative. "Perhaps man selected a small wolf that doesn't exist now, or they found a small variant that everybody liked," says team member Gordon Lark at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Great-Granddaddy of Guinea Pigs

WOW! What an ancestor this was!

In the deserts of northwestern Venezuela, paleontologists have uncovered the fossil remains of a rodent as large as a cow. Weighing more than three-quarters of a ton (1,545pounds) and standing 4.2 feet tall, the animal Phoberomys pattersoni lived about 8 million years ago during the Miocene epoch, which lasted from 23.8 to 5.3 million years ago. Nicknamed "Goya," the individual specimen is the largest rodent ever discovered--more than 13 times as large as the largest living rodent, the capybara. Capybaras weigh around 110 pounds.

Today's guinea pig

Today's guinea pig (Photo)
Teeth and other bits of the genus Phoberomys have been found before, but Goya is 90 percent complete. The research team was led by a scientist from Venezuela's Universidad Nacional Experimental Francisco de Miranda. The National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute also supported the mission.

Teeth That Grey--and Grow

Goya was found in the Venezuelan town of Urumaco in a layer of earth called the Urumaco Formation. Scientists believe that during the Late Miocene, a river called the Paleo-Orinocok, Amazon flowed parallel to the Andes Mountains through Urumaco and into the Caribbean Sea. Remains of both animals and plants found in association with Goya suggest the now-arid landscape was once a lush place of rivers and wetlands. Like the capybara, Phoberomys was probably semi-aquatic, wading and foraging in the marshes alongside rivers.



Comparison of Goya with another, less-complete specimen led scientists to classify Phoberomys pattersoni as being related to a species of South American rodent called the pakaranas. The latter is a close relative of the guinea pig. In fact, Goya looked very much like a guinea pig--except it was nine feet in length and had a long tail.

Like guinea pigs and all other rodents, the front incisors of Phoberomys grew continuously and had to be worn down through gnawing. This suggests Goya ate abrasive foods such as coarse grasses growing along riverbanks and in marshes.

Modern guinea pigs, like Goya, also have their origins in the Miocene, when the Caviidae family of rodents appeared about 20 million years ago.

Cavies--as guinea pigs are sometimes known, after their scientific name Cavia porcellus--are native to the grasslands of South America. They can also be found high in the Andes Mountains.

A Queen's Pet

The Inca domesticated guinea pigs around 5000 B.C., using them for food. Even today guinea pigs are eaten in Andean households, where they are commonly kept and raised in the kitchen. They are valued for the high-protein content of their meat.

How guinea pigs received their name is a mystery--they are rodents, not pigs. One theory holds that their meat tasted like pork to European conquistadors and traders. The "guinea" part of the name may stem from "Guyana," an area in South America from which traders sailed. It could also be a reference to the cost of the animal: one guinea, an old kind of British coin.

Regardless, the furry little creatures were big hits once traders brought them back to Europe. Even England's Queen Elizabeth I had one as a pet!

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 9, 2007

Young girl claims she is Kalpana Chawla

Young girl claims she is Kalpana Chawla (Pic)
REINCARNATION? Four-year-old Upasana from Bulandshahar (UP) claims that her name is Kalpana Chawla (PTI Photo)

KHURJA (Uttar Pradesh): A four-year-old girl who claims her name is Kalpana Chawla and that she died up in the skies four years ago is drawing huge crowds in a village here in Uttar Pradesh.

Residents of Nar Mohammadpur village, about 35 km from here, where little Upasana is visiting her relatives, think she might be the reincarnation of the India born astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who died when US space shuttle Columbia crashed four years ago.

The news of the girl's claim spread quickly in the area after she spoke to some villagers here.

"I am Kalpana Chawla," says Upasana, who reportedly fears the sight an aircraft. She has been telling her illiterate parents that she died in a "crash" up in the skies.

"Upasana has been telling us ever since she started speaking that her name was Kalpana Chawla and that her father's name was Banarsi Das Chawla but we could not figure out anything as we had never heard of Kalpana," Upasana's father Raj Kumar told reporters on Friday .

Raj Kumar is a resident of Pata village of Etawah district where he works as a labourer.

"Yet Upasana's proclamation led us all to believe that she was actually talking about her previous birth," he said. "She claims that the spacecraft was hit by a huge ball of ice that sent it crashing and ended her life."


Upasana was born barely two months after the astronaut's death in 2003.


The Times of India

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 8, 2007

New seven wonders of the world announced


The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.


The Taj Mahal in Agra, India (Amazing Pics)

The Great Wall of China.




The Great Wall of China (Amazing Pics)

The Petra in Jordan.




The Petra in Jordan (Amazing Pics)

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.




Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Amazing Pics)

The Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru.




The Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru (Amazing Pics)

The Kukulkan Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico.




The Kukulkan Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico (Amazing Pics)

Colosseum in Rome, Italy.



Colosseum in Rome, Italy (Amazing Pics)

Labels:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Chinese villagers eat dinosaur bones

Chinese villagers eat dinosaur bones (Amazing Pics)
Villagers in central China dug up a ton of dinosaur bones and boiled them in soup or ground them into powder for traditional medicine, believing they were from flying dragons and had healing powers. Until last year, the fossils were being sold in Henan province as ‘dragon bones’ at about 50 cents per kilogram, scientist told.

He said when the villagers found out the bones were from dinosaurs they donated 200 kilograms to him and his colleagues for research. “They had believed that the ‘dragon bones’ were from the dragons flying in the sky,” he said.

The calcium-rich bones were sometimes boiled with other ingredients and fed to children as a treatment for dizziness and leg cramps. Other times they were ground up and made into a paste that was applied directly to fractures and other injuries, he said.

The practice had been going on for at least two decades, he said.

Dong was among a team of scientists who recently excavated in Henan’s Ruyang County an 60-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur, which lived 85 million to 100 million years ago. Another two dinosaur fossils were being excavated in the area, which is rich in fossilised dinosaur eggs, Dong said.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 2, 2007

Dirt Footbal

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Dirt Footbal (Amazing Pics)

Labels:

Most expensive...


Most expensive hair cut (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive hair cut: 1,925 pounds

If you want London stylist Lee Stafford to cut your hair, make sure you are extra loaded. He calls it a "couture cut". And the only place where you can get one is his house. Champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a follow-up trim as part of the package.



Most expensive house (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive house: 70 million pounds

This one is hardly a secret: The infamously lavish new estate in England known as Updown Court in Windlesham, north Surrey. 103 rooms, 58 acres, a private helipad, five swimming pools. Forbes put the mansion at the top of its list of "the priciest residences on the planet" which are for sale.



Most expensive jeans (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive jeans: Over $ 4,000

They wanted to be "the Mercedes-Benz, the Maybach of the denim industry". And APO jeans have done just that with a pair costing as much as $ 4,000 or more. They offer mens and ladies jeans with Silver Buttons and Rivets at $1,000, 14k White or Yellow Gold Button and Rivets at $1,500, Platinum Button and Rivets at $3,250, and the Diamond Button and Rivets start at $4,000. All Jeans will come with Authenticity Number as well as an Appraisal Sheet from a top Jeweler in the NY diamond district. Of course, you could buy the economy version: they run only $1,000 a pair. APO jeans are constructed from denim woven in India that costs $40 a yard, compared with the $2- to $3-per-yard cost of materials for most designer denim. Buttons and rivets are made with precious metals or, if a customer is willing to shell out $4,000 or more, up to a dozen white diamonds on the main button.



Most expensive nail polish (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive nail polish: $250

How special could you feel by wearing sheer nail polish that has platinum dust in it? And how many people would be mad enough to do that? Many! The 'I Do' polish, the most expensive in the world, is a collaboration by Allure magazine, platinum supplier Johnson Matthey, PGI and Essie Cosmetics. The polish costs $250 per bottle. However, the first bottle was displayed in special bottle made with a platinum top and base that is valued at $55,000.



Most expensive pen (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive pen: $265,000

Swiss company Caran d'Ache made 'La Modernista Diamonds' a pen that was sold in Harrods, London, for $265,000. Created in memory of architect Antonio Gaudi, the rhodium-coated solid silver pen has an 18-karat gold pen point and is pave-set with 5,072 diamonds and 96 half-cut rubies.



Most expensive perfume (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive perfume: 47,500 pounds

At 47,500 pound sterling, it is the world's most expensive perfume. Indeed, the best things come in small packages. The fragrance, created by renowned British perfumer Arthur Burnham, is held in a 4 in bottle made with platinum, 24 carat gold, rubies and diamonds. Encasing the bottle is a very special box constructed by Rolls-Royce coach builders, locked with a gold and jewel-studded key. Inspired by the Rolls-Royce Phantom Six, it is called Parfum VI. Who pays pounds 47,500 for a bottle of perfume? Michael Jackson has ordered two and Mike Tyson three. Only 173 are being made.



Most expensive phone (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive phone: 28, 000 pounds

Peter Aloisson, who makes phones covered in gold and diamonds for affluent clients, is the man responsible for making the most expensive phone ever. It costs more than a BMW 3-series convertible, or a Jaguar S-Type. A Motorola covered in 1200 diamonds and featuring a keyboard soaked in 18-carat gold, the phone is priced at 28, 000 pound sterling. The new phone beat the previous record held by another Aloisson 'Diamante' phone - an identical model featuring a paltry 950 diamonds laid into the gold bodywork. That phone retailed for 23, 000 pound sterling. "The people who buy my phones don't have to worry about security - they all have bodyguards," he told UK tabloid The Sun.



Most expensive shoes (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive shoes: 1 million pounds

Would you feel like a princess or what when you wear something worth 1m pounds? The most expensive shoes in the world were on sale at Harrods in London. After a photo-call for the press, the shoes were locked away in a bullet-proof case where they will be guarded round-the-clock. The shoes, inspired by the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, were woven from platinum thread and set with 642 rubies. They were designed by Stuart Weitzman.



Most expensive tea bag (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive tea bag: 7,500 pounds

To celebrate PG Tips 75th birthday, Boodles jewelers produced this tea bag. It took three months to make and has been hand-crafted using 280 diamonds. Pete Harbour, spokesman for PG Tips has been quoted: "As it's our 75th birthday, we wanted to do something special to remind people just how much they love the great British cup of tea."



Most expensive tie (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive tie: 1 crore (INR)

When fully dressed Salman Khan paraded on a red ramp displaying the most expensive tie in the world, the picture was splashed all over the globe. The tie, studded with 261 diamonds of 77 carat each and made of pure silk with 150 grams of gold, is priced at a whopping Rs 1 crore. It is designed by Satya Paul and the Suashish Diamond group.



Most expensive watch (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive watch: $11 million

One of the most complicated watches ever made, it also became the most expensive watch ever sold when it was hammered down for $11 million at Sotheby's. The gold pocket watch features 24 complications, (Complications are mechanical functions of the watch other than the hours, minutes and seconds.)



Most expensive work of art (Amazing Pics)



Most expensive work of art: $104 million

A masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, painted in 1905 when he was just 24 years old, became the most expensive piece of art ever sold when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's in New York for $104m. The painting, Garcon a la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is one of the most important early works by the artist ever to appear on the market.

Labels: , ,