New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins and spread of tool use in New World monkeys and, controversially perhaps, prompts us to look at whether early human behaviour was influenced by their observations of monkeys using stones as tools. The research was led by Dr Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford, who in previous papers presents archaeological evidence showing that wild macaques in coastal Thailand used stone tools for decades at least to open shellfish and nuts.
Robert Nason writes: In Alfred Hitchcock’s films, the lack of information—or the possession of it—can have deadly consequences. The titles are revealing: “Suspicion” (1941), “Notorious” (1946), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, 1956). In his concise, insightful book on the director, Michael Wood asserts that in Hitchcock’s films there are “only three options: to know too little, to know too much . . . and to know a whole lot that is entirely plausible and completely wrong.”
“Some claim that Hitch was a sadist who took ‘pleasure in seeing beautiful women in harm’s way.’ Mr. Wood argues that Hitchcock worked out his own fears on film: ‘Far from enjoying the torments of these women at risk, he identified with them.'”
Hitchcock was born on Aug. 13, 1899, the son of a greengrocer. Members of this economic class, Mr. Wood says, were suspicious of the posh people above them and the unruly ones below. Hitchcock’s films would abound with upper-class villains and fearful mobs. As a Catholic, Hitchcock was an outsider in Protestant England; he would later be an English outsider in America.
Shy, chubby and intelligent, the young Hitchcock had few friends. He preferred attending sensational London trials—and movies. Instead of fan magazines, Hitch—as he preferred to be called—avidly read technical film journals and landed a job designing movie title cards. As a fledging director of silents, he was influenced by the shadowy lighting and dynamic camera movements of German Expressionist cinema. He would combine their beauty and atmosphere of anxiety with a dash of black humor and a blonde in jeopardy. All the ingredients were in place for his third feature, “The Lodger” (1927), the film “in which he became Hitchcock,” as Mr. Wood puts it. The title character is suspected by everyone as a Jack-the-Ripperish killer. Is he or isn’t he? “Innocence and guilt,” Mr. Wood notes, “leave many of the same traces.”
When Hitchcock came to Hollywood in 1939, he had already imparted alarming warnings to his British countrymen in a recent string of thrillers. He would send the same message to Americans: A menace threatened not only Great Britain and the United States but civilization as a whole. In many of Hitchcock’s great British films, from “The 39 Steps” (1935) to “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), we’re usually not told who the spies are working for, but there’s little doubt who the enemy is. Likewise, in his early Hollywood film “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), the “peace activist,” suavely played by Herbert Marshall, is actually a spy working for the unnamed foe.
While some Hitchcock films deal with global threats, the truly frightening works dwell upon more intimate dangers. In the film that was the director’s personal favorite, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Joseph Cotton plays a dapper killer of wealthy women, proving that evil could lurk even in anytown America. In “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Rear Window” (1954), brutal murders occur, respectively, in an amusement park and a middle-class apartment building. Hitchcock became an American citizen in 1955, the same year that his hit television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” debuted. Mr. Wood suggests that the habitually fearful Hitchcock worried about “losing what he most cared about” at the pinnacle of his career, and this contributed to the richness of his confident yet melancholy films during the next few years.
Mr. Wood devotes more space to “Vertigo” (1958) than to any other Hitchcock film. In this masterpiece of misinformation and obsession, Jimmy Stewartplays a retired private investigator fascinated by a suicidal woman who is hardly who she seems to be. In “North by Northwest” (1959), Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a shallow Madison Avenue advertising man thought by enemy spies to be an American intelligence officer who in fact doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
Eva Dou reports: The scientific world is aflutter over the discovery in China of a bizarre dinosaur with bat-like wings.
“The scientists dubbed the little dino Yi Qi, which means “strange wing” in Chinese. It had a long rod-like bone connected to each wrist that is similar to the structures of flying squirrels and bats. “
Although other dinosaurs have been discovered with bird-like feathered flappers, this is the first known example of one with membranous wings. It suggests that the ancient creatures tried to fly in different ways before birds arrived on the scene, said the scientists who made the discovery in a paper published in the leading scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.
The scientists dubbed the little dino Yi Qi, which means “strange wing” in Chinese. It had a long rod-like bone connected to each wrist that is similar to the structures of flying squirrels and bats. Yi Qi likely weighed around 380 grams, or slightly less than a pigeon, the paper said.
“Yi may have been capable of flapping flight or only gliding, or may have combined the two locomotor styles as in many extant birds and some bats,” said the paper, which was written by a team of Chinese scientists led by paleontologist Xu Xing, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Read the rest of this entry »
The eagle has landed! And what a journey it was. Watch as Darshan soars above the Dubai sky, capturing stunning views of the world beneath his wings. This Imperial Eagle has broken a world record by flying from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa It was set up by conservation group Freedom Conservation, in order to raise awareness of the plight of the endangered bird of prey. Eagle-cam foogtage courtesy of Freedom Conservation…
The Rock Squirrel has been raiding our bird feeder, carrying away pounds of seed. Nancy figured a quick solution. I don’t know which is funnier, the squirrel or Nancy’s narration.
For anyone who is concerned about the squirrel, he still raids our other two feeders and the vegetable garden. The tiny amount of Vaseline used is non-toxic…He quickly learned that this feeder was not worth the trouble…(read more)
Prefer something a little more militant? In this marvel of modern aviation, witness this highlight reel of theft-prevention techniques involving what we charitably call “involuntary squirrel flight.”
Ultimate Squirrel-Launching Compilation
They didn’t…they didn’t…oh yes they did.
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Six people have been arrested in a massive crackdown on cockfighting.
Peter Bloomquist, the actor who played Big Bird for nearly thirty years, was rushed to a Philadelphia hospital after attempting to take his own life late last night. Police said that Bloomquist, 52, was at the home of a friend when he suddenly donned his Big Bird outfit, covered himself with Herbs de Province and climbed into a gas oven…
More >> via Big Bird Hopitalized…