A Whale with a Human Voice
Certain whales can imitate the voices of humans
The marine mammal, a white whale named NOC, copied the sound of people so well that at first, researchers thought they were hearing humans conversing in the distance. A diver who worked with NOC once even left the water, wondering, “Who told me to get out?” The voice turned out to be that of NOC.
“They are highly vocal animals,” lead author Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal Foundation told Discovery News, adding that NOC was not the first to copy human speech.
“A major instance occurred at Vancouver Aquarium in 1979,” he said. “In that case, people thought the whale uttered his name (“Lagosi”) and other sounds that were like garbled German or Russian. Our whale was the second example, however, ours was the first solid demonstration using acoustic analysis including ‘voice print’ simultaneously with human speech.”

A Whale with a Human Voice

Certain whales can imitate the voices of humans

The marine mammal, a white whale named NOC, copied the sound of people so well that at first, researchers thought they were hearing humans conversing in the distance. A diver who worked with NOC once even left the water, wondering, “Who told me to get out?” The voice turned out to be that of NOC.

“They are highly vocal animals,” lead author Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal Foundation told Discovery News, adding that NOC was not the first to copy human speech.

“A major instance occurred at Vancouver Aquarium in 1979,” he said. “In that case, people thought the whale uttered his name (“Lagosi”) and other sounds that were like garbled German or Russian. Our whale was the second example, however, ours was the first solid demonstration using acoustic analysis including ‘voice print’ simultaneously with human speech.”

A quick audio lesson on American Southern Linguistics by Judy Whitney-Davis

Indian Languages: Linguistics in India and Pakistan

A wealth of languages make their home on the Indian Subcontinent.  Estimates for the number of languages spoken range from over three hundred to well over a thousand, though the bulk of these are dialects of one language or another.  Even with the most conservative estimates, these languages differ greatly in their technical aspects, but a Russian linguist, G.A. Zograf, assigns four major language families to the Subcontinent: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and Tibeto-Burman.  Most languages come under one of the first two categories which, together, account for nearly 75% of the various idioms of the Subcontinent (Ethnologue)

In his book, The Languages of South Asia, Zograf provides detailed descriptions of many of the sub-categories of languages in this part of the world.  This website considers only the two broadest categories: the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian language families.  It should also be noted that the history of the Indus Valley and its civilizations is currently a hotly debated issue.  In no way is this site meant to favor one theory of migration and/or conquest over another; rather, its purpose is simply to shed some light on some important differences between the major Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages in the context of India, specifically.

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I saw this and knew it was too cool not to share… a lab from North Carolina State University has figured out a way to basically control the movements of a cockroach.  As you can see in the video above, they can effectually get it to walk along a curved line pretty accurately.  There is a microcontroller that is connected the roach’s antennae and cerci (both of which are their sensors for the rest of the world).  The microcontroller basically just sends an electrical impulse onto the antennae or cerci, which makes the roach think it’s hitting a barrier, so it will move away from it.  You can then get it to move along a pathway by sending the appropriate signal to the appropriate body part.  A suggested use for this kind of technology is to search collapsed buildings for survivors (such as after an earthquake).  It’s a fairly impressive result from a logical idea.  For more information, see this article.

1959 the Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev began one of the most intensive experiments into domestication, in spite of intense political problems in the past. Starting with a group of wild foxes he tested categorised them into groups based on how they reacted to humans and allowed the most approaching, and consequentially the tamest, to mate. By continuing this practice with the resulting offspring for many generations Belyaev eventually had a group of foxes that would not only approach humans but actively seek their attention through nuzzling and wagging their tails.


Sound familiar? Well it is not the change in the fox’s behaviour that is the most startling aspect of this experiment, but their change in appearance. The foxes seem to not only have taken on behaviour similar to a dog’s but also a similar appearance. The colouration of the fox’s fur and the shape of their skulls had changed to be more dog like and their ears even became floppy. This change of appearance is so surprising as Belyaev did not breed based on appearance merely behaviour. The effects shown in this change in appearance are evidence of a phenomenon known as pleiotropy. Pleiotropy is the presence of genes that affect more than one trait. In this example the allele of the gene that caused tameness also caused this striking change in appearance.

neurolove:

This is an image taken by the McNeil lab of a hippocampal growth cone exploring.  Growth cones are the part of the neuron (from the axon which has to make connections) that grow outward to seek out other neurons and make connections/synapses.  For more information, see this post.
This image is property of the McNeil lab at Baylor.

neurolove:

This is an image taken by the McNeil lab of a hippocampal growth cone exploring.  Growth cones are the part of the neuron (from the axon which has to make connections) that grow outward to seek out other neurons and make connections/synapses.  For more information, see this post.

This image is property of the McNeil lab at Baylor.

The human brain