At 17, Juliane Diller was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Amazon. Fifty years later she still runs Panguana, a research station founded by her parents in Peru.
At 17, Juliane Diller was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Amazon. Fifty years later she still runs Panguana, a research station founded by her parents in Peru.
In early 2020, Kristian Andersen wrote to Anthony Fauci about the possibility of an engineered coronavirus. His research has since dispelled those suspicions.
Many of them aspire to be good civic institutions that care for animals on their grounds and in the wild. But is it really worth their captivity?
The microscopic animals were frozen when woolly mammoths still roamed the planet, but were restored as though no time had passed.
That special social bond between dogs and humans might be a genetic trait that evolved as dogs became domesticated and diverged from wolves, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, looking at the cognitive and behavioral social skills of hundreds of adorable puppies.
“People have been interested in dogs’ abilities to do these kinds of things for a long time, but there’s always been debate about to what extent is this really in the biology of dogs, versus something they learn by palling around with humans,” said co-author Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “We found that there’s definitely a strong genetic component, and they’re definitely doing it from the get-go.”
His co-author, Emily Bray, an anthropology postdoc at the university, has spent the last ten years studying how dogs think and solve problems, in conjunction with Canine Companions, a California-based service dog organization catering to people with disabilities. It’s known that human children can reason about the physical world, and have sufficient social cognitive skills for cooperative communication by the age of two-and-a-half years. But according to the authors, there is also a growing body of research showing evidence that domesticated dogs share similar social cognitive skills, although possible biological bases for those abilities had not been tested.
The elephants have roamed 300 miles across southern China, in the longest movement recorded in the country by the animals. Researchers are mystified.
To most people, giraffes are merely adorable, long-necked animals that rank near the top of a zoo visit or a photo-safari bucket list. But to a cardiovascular physiologist, there’s even more to love. Giraffes, it turns out, have solved a problem that kills millions of people every year: high blood pressure. Their solutions, only partly understood by scientists so far, involve pressurized organs, altered heart rhythms, blood storage—and the biological equivalent of support stockings.
Giraffes have sky-high blood pressure because of their sky-high heads that, in adults, rise about six meters (almost 20 feet) above the ground—a long, long way for a heart to pump blood against gravity. To have a blood pressure of 110/70 at the brain—about normal for a large mammal—giraffes need a blood pressure at the heart of about 220/180. It doesn’t faze the giraffes, but a pressure like that would cause all sorts of problems for people, from heart failure to kidney failure to swollen ankles and legs.
In people, chronic high blood pressure causes a thickening of the heart muscles. The left ventricle of the heart becomes stiffer and less able to fill again after each stroke, leading to a disease known as diastolic heart failure, characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath and reduced ability to exercise. This type of heart failure is responsible for nearly half of the 6.2 million heart failure cases in the US today.
Seven babies were born in the semi-wild of a nature preserve, millenniums after the animals were wiped out on the Australian mainland. Whether they can survive is another question.
The study, a tour de force in bioengineering, comes after two decades of research on brain-to-brain synchrony in people.
A newly identified coronavirus may not pose a serious threat, but the finding highlights the need to monitor animal viruses more proactively, scientists say.
The 9-month-old Bengal, which appeared to be unharmed, was taken to an animal shelter, the Houston police said on Saturday evening.
Puppies and kittens shipped in packages across the country have ended up dead, distressed or infected, spurring outrage.
A man fled with a Bengal tiger after the police responded to complaints from a Houston neighborhood where the wandering cat had startled homeowners, the authorities said.
Culture, once considered exclusive to humans, turns out to be widespread in nature.
Officials euthanized a grown female bear and two smaller bears that were found nearby. It was one of only a few fatal bear attacks ever recorded in the state.
Mother’s Day is a time for contemplating the ways we’re connected, through joy and sorrow, across time and across species.
It wouldn’t actually take that much of an investment for Biden to get us headed in the right direction.
This year’s specials include a Greta Thunberg documentary, a David Attenborough extravaganza, James Cameron on whales and Cher rescuing an elephant.
Kristi Wade credits her husband, Happy Wade, with saving her life when a rabid bobcat attacked her in their North Carolina driveway.
This Earth Day, show kids they can find refuge in the outdoors.
In “Beloved Beasts,” Michelle Nijhuis tells the stories of the men and women who have fought to rescue endangered animals from extinction.
The long-term needs of ecosystems should come before our knee-jerk demands to get back to life.
The Zebra, an Austin-based company that operates an insurance comparison site, has raised $150 million in a Series D round that propels it into unicorn territory.
Both the round size and valuation are a substantial bump from the $38.5 million Series C that Austin-based The Zebra raised in February of 2020. (The company would not disclose its valuation at that time, saying now only that its new valuation of over $1 billion is a “nice step up.”)
The Zebra also would not disclose the name of the firm that led its Series D round, but sources familiar with the deal said it was London-based Hedosophia. Existing backers Weatherford Capital and Accel also participated in the funding event.
The round size also is bigger than all of The Zebra’s prior rounds combined, bringing the company’s total raised to $261.5 million since its 2012 inception. Previous backers also include Silverton Partners, Ballast Point Ventures, Daher Capital, Floodgate Fund, The Zebra CEO Keith Melnick, KDT and others.
According to Melnick, the round was all primary, and included no debt or secondary.
The Zebra started out as a site for people looking for auto insurance via its real-time quote comparison tool. The company partners with the top 10 auto insurance carriers in the U.S. Over time, it’s also “naturally” evolved to offer homeowners insurance with the goal of eventually branching out into renters and life insurance. It recently launched a dedicated home and auto bundled product, although much of its recent growth still revolves around its core auto offering, according to Melnick.
Like many other financial services companies, The Zebra has benefited from the big consumer shift to digital services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And we know this because the company is one of the few that are refreshingly open about their financials. The Zebra doubled its net revenue in 2020 to $79 million compared to $37 million in 2019, according to Melnick, who is former president of travel metasearch engine Kayak. March marked the company’s highest-performing month ever, he said, with revenue totaling $12.5 million — putting the company on track to achieve an annual run rate of $150 million this year. For some context, that’s up from $8 million in September of 2020 and $6 million in May of 2020.
Also, its revenue per applicant has grown at a clip of 100% year over year, according to Melnick. And The Zebra has increased its headcount to over 325, compared to about 200 in early 2020.
“We’ve definitely improved our relationships with carriers and seen more carrier participation as they continue to embrace our model,” Melnick said. “And we’ve leaned more into brand marketing efforts.”
The company was even profitable for a couple of months last year, somewhat “unintentionally,” according to Melnick.
“We’re not highly unprofitable or burning through money like crazy,” he told TechCrunch. “This new raise wasn’t to fund operations. It’s more about accelerating growth and some of our product plans. We’re pulling forward things that were planned for later in time. We still had a nice chunk of money sitting on our balance sheet.”
The company also plans to use its new capital to do more hiring and focus strongly on continuing to build The Zebra’s brand, according to Melnick. Some of the things the company is planning include a national advertising campaign and adding tools and information so it can serve as an “insurance advisor,” and not just a site that refers people to carriers. It’s also planning to create more “personalized experiences and results” via machine learning.
“We are accelerating our efforts to make The Zebra a household name,” Melnick said. “And we want a deeper connection with our users.” It also aims to be there for a consumer through their lifecycle — as they move from being renters to homeowners, for example.
And while an IPO is not out of the question, he emphasizes that it’s not the company’s main objective at this time.
“I definitely try not to get locked on to a particular exit strategy. I just want to make sure we continue to build the best company we can. And then, I think the exit will make itself apparent,” Melnick said. “I’m not blind and am very aware that public market valuations are strong right now and that may be the right decision for us, but for now, that’s not the ultimate goal for me.”
To the CEO, there’s still plenty of runway.
“This is a big milestone, but I do feel like for us that this is just the beginning,” he said. “We’ve just scratched the surface of it.”
Early investor Mark Cuban believes the company is at an inflection point.
” ‘Startup’ isn’t the right word anymore,” he said in a written statement. “The Zebra is a full fledged tech company that is taking on – and solving – some of the biggest challenges in the $638B insurance industry.”
Accel Partner John Locke said the firm has tripled down on its investment in The Zebra because of its confidence in not only what the company is doing but also its potential.
“In an increasingly noisy insurance landscape that includes insurtechs and traditional carriers, giving consumers the ability to compare everything in one place is is more and more valuable,” he told TechCrunch. “I think The Zebra has really seized the mantle of becoming the go-to site for people to compare insurance and then that’s showing up in the numbers, referral traffic and fundraise interest.”
The artist Ai Weiwei is inspired by the resilience and self-contentment of his beloved cats.
The 74-year-old is believed to have developed Alzheimer’s disease and will retire from public life, his daughters said in a letter.
A scientific mission to China proposed further study for a number of topics. Critics and the director of the W.H.O. have weighed in as well.
Infected rodents pose no immediate danger to humans, but the research suggests that mutations are helping the coronavirus expand its range of potential hosts.
In the Indian state of Assam, a group of women known as the Hargila Army is spearheading a conservation effort to rescue the endangered greater adjutant stork.
Smartphone cameras have improved dramatically since the first camera-equipped cell phone was introduced in 1999, but they are still subject to tiny errors in the alignment of different wavelengths of light in the final image. That’s not a concern for your average Instagram selfie, but it’s far from ideal when it comes to scientific image analysis, for example.
Nature seems to have provided a solution in the eyes of the mantis shrimp, which inspired researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) to develop a new type of optical sensor. The sensor is small enough for smartphone applications, but it’s also capable of breaking down visible light wavelengths into narrower bands than current smartphone cameras can manage, as well as capturing polarized light, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances.
Human eyes have three photoreceptors for detecting red, green, and blue light. Dogs have just two photoreceptors (green and blue), while birds have four, including one for detecting uaviolet (UV) light. Octopuses, meanwhile, can detect polarized light. But mantis shrimp (aka stomatopods) have the most complex eyes of all: they can have between 12 and 16 individual photoreceptors and can thus detect visible, UV, and polarized light.
Those who still suspect the outbreak in China may have been caused by a lab leak or accident are pressing for an independent investigation.
An oily, 100-nanometer-wide bubble of genes has killed more than two million people and reshaped the world. Scientists don’t quite know what to make of it.
It’s astonishing how relentlessly Western philosophy has strained to prove we are not squirrels.
With new puppies and kids at home, doctors are worried about treating more children for dog bites.
Since July, four attacks on Bay Area residents have involved the same coyote, according to DNA taken from the victims’ bite wounds and clothing.
Her birth represents the first cloning of an endangered species native to North America, and may bring needed genetic diversity to the species.
Researchers calculated the likelihood of different viruses recombining in the same animal to make new disease-causing pathogens.
An interview with Peter Daszak, an animal disease specialist, just after his return from an investigative research mission to Wuhan, the site of the original Covid outbreak, and surrounding areas.
The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on choosing a humane end for a pet and what to do with P.P.P. loan money you turned out not to need.
A new review of the scientific literature confirms that anthropogenic noise is becoming unbearable for undersea life.
Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, who runs an exotic animal ranch, illegally sold rare monkeys, prosecutors said.
Every year, around 10 million pets go missing in the U.S., and millions of those end up in shelters where they aren’t always reunited with their owners, due to their lack of identification or a microchip. A new mobile app, Shadow, aims to tackle this problem by leveraging a combination of a volunteer network and A.I. technology to help dog owners, in particular.
The startup is working in partnership with animal shelters and rescue organizations around the U.S. to pull in photos of the dogs they’re currently housing, then supplements this with photos pulled from social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook.
It then uses A.I. technology to match the photograph of the missing dogs to possible matches from nearby shelters or the web.
If there’s not a match found, Shadow will then programmatically set a search radius based on where and when the dog went missing, and suggest other actions that the dog’s owner can take as the next steps.
This includes viewing all the photographs from the shelters directly, in the case that the technology matching process missed a possible match, as well as working with other Shadow users to help crowdsource activities like hanging “Lost Dog” flyers around a neighborhood, for example, among other things.
The app also relies on a network of volunteers who help by also reviewing shelter photographs and broadcasting missing posters to social media sites they use to increase the chances of the dog being found. Dog owners can even advertise a reward in the app to encourage people to help search.
Today, Shadow has grown its volunteer user base to over 30,000. And it’s partnered with the ASPCA, Animal Care Centers of New York and L.A., the Dallas shelter system, and others.
While Shadow is free to use, it makes money through a virtual tipping mechanism when it makes a successful match and the dog is found. It also offers users the ability to buy an Instagram ad in-app for $10. Here, Shadow provides the visual assets and manages the ad-buying process and placement process on owners’ behalf.
The startup, founded by former Zocdoc founder Cyrus Massoumi, has been in a sort of public stealth mode for a few years as it grew beyond its hometown of New York. It’s now offering dog-finding services in 76 counties across 20 U.S. states.
We should note that Massoumi’s exit from Zocdoc was complicated. He sued his co-founders and CFO for orchestrating a plot to oust him from the company during a Nov. 2015 board meeting, claiming fraud. The lawsuit detailed the internal strife inside Zocdoc at the time. A New York Supreme Court judge recently determined this lawsuit, which is ongoing, needs to be filed in Delaware, instead of New York. So a ruling is yet to be determined.
Ahead of this, Zocdoc had been accused by Business Insider of having developed a stressful, “bro culture,” in which young, male employees would make inappropriate remarks about the women who worked there. This was ahead of the larger rise of the Me Too movement, which has since impacted how businesses address these issues in the workplace.
Massoumi disputes the claims were exactly as described by the article. The company had 300 salespeople at the time, and while he agrees some people may have acted inappropriately, he also believes company’s response to those actions was handled properly.
“The allegations were fully investigated at Zocdoc and found to be without merit,” he told TechCrunch, adding that Zocdoc was repeatedly recognized as a “best place to work” while he was CEO. (There were never allegations against Massoumi, but ultimately, the buck stops with the CEO.)
Shadow today claims a different makeup. It has a team twelve people, and two-thirds of its product and engineering team are women. Some Zocdoc investors have also returned to back Massoumi again.
The startup is funded by Founders Fund, Humbition (Massoumi and Indiegogo founder Slava Rubin’s fund), Lux Capital, firstminute Capital, and other angels, including a prior Zocdoc
Despite the complicated Zocdoc history, the work Shadow is doing is solving a problem many people do care about. Millions of pet owners lose their pets to euthanization as they end up at shelters that cannot keep animals indefinitely due to lack of space. Meanwhile, the current system of having lost pet messages distributed across social media can mean many of those posts aren’t seen — especially in larger metros where there are numerous “lost pet” groups.
As Shadow began its work in 2018, it was local to the New York area. Its first year, it reunited 600 dogs. The next year, it reunited 2,000 dogs. The third year, it reunited 5,000 dogs. Today, it’s nearing 10,000 dogs reunited with owners.
More than half of those were since the pandemic began, which saw many new pet owners and increased time spent outdoors with those pets, when dogs can sometimes get loose.
Massoumi says he was inspired to found Shadow after a friend lost his own dog, the namesake Shadow. It took the friend over a month to find the dog after both following false leads and being connected with people who tried to help him.
“I’m thinking to myself, this is something that happens 100 million times a year, globally…and for people who love pets, this is a lost family member,” Massoumi explains. “It seemed to me to be a similar problem that I’d already been solving in healthcare, where there’s fragmentation — people want to see the doctor and the doctor wants to see the patient, but there’s just not a central way to make it work,” he says.
More broadly, he wants to see technology being put to good use to solve problems that people actually care about.
“I think there needs to be more technology that injects the humanity back in what everyone does. I think that it’s very core that’s what we’re doing,” he says.
Shadow’s app is a free download on iOS and Android.
Gorongosa National Park, steadily recovering from the ravages of civil war, recently added to its list of resident predators.
What will we lose when Najin and Fatu die?
The small apes were once widespread across much of Asia. But rampant deforestation and ruthless hunting of the acrobatic animal has greatly reduced its numbers and its habitat.
This astonishing documentary offers an intimate look at the lives of a sow, her rambunctious piglets, a one-legged chicken and a herd of cows.
Researchers in China spent a decade studying this question.
Emotional support animals are considered pets instead of service animals under the new rules, which go into effect next month.
She rewrote the global Red List, which describes which species are in trouble, and warned that the world must restore its ecological balance or pay a steep price.
The long tradition of presidential pets is set to resume this January with two German shepherds belonging to President-elect Joe Biden. Their predecessors weren’t always cats and dogs.
Climate change is shifting the habitats of endangered species and requiring conservation scientists to think outside traditional park boundaries.