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Animal Behavior

November 19, 2005 | Alex Raksin, Times Staff Writer
Scientists have identified a "fear" gene in mice that when removed turns them into daredevils, seemingly heedless to both inborn fears and risky situations that normal mice have learned to avoid through experience. The gene, known as stathmin, controls the production of a protein linked to the creation of long-term fear patterns, said Rutgers University geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky, who led the study, published Friday in the journal Cell.
November 8, 2005 | Scott Doggett
WILDLIFE officials are reminding Californians not to feed deer in the wake of three recent buck attacks, including a fatal assault on a San Diego man. According to Ryan Broddrick, director of the California Department of Fish and Game, this is the time of year bucks exhibit breeding behavior and become more aggressive. In San Diego County, a 73-year-old Rancho Santa Fe man died several weeks after he was gored in the mouth by a buck he surprised while working in his backyard.
October 1, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Two female gorillas have been photographed using sticks as tools to get through swampy areas, the first time the apes have been seen doing so in the wild, researchers reported this week in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology. The findings can help shed light on how humans came to use tools, and also broaden the understanding of how animals use them, the researchers said.
September 24, 2005 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
A species of Amazonian ant has adopted a unique method of providing Lebensraum for its expanding colonies: It kills off all other species of vegetation in an area of forest to give its host trees the "living space" to expand. The ant's housing tracts, called "devil's gardens" by the region's human inhabitants, are curiosities amid the normal diversity of trees, vines, shrubs and wildflowers in the jungle. Biologist Deborah M.
August 13, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Satellite tracking has shown a polar bear swimming at least 46 miles in just one day, the first conclusive proof that the bears can cover such distances in the water. The collared bear entered the water from the east side of the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen early July 20, swam northeast and reemerged on Edgeoya island July 21, the Norwegian Polar Institute reported Friday.
August 9, 2005 | Lomi Kriel, Times Staff Writer
A 195-pound sea lion was recovering Monday after swimming nearly five miles up the San Diego Creek channel, reaching the unlikely destination of the Irvine Civic Center before calling it a day. The mammal, a 3- or 4-year-old female dubbed Irvine, was expected to be released back into the ocean Wednesday after resting at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.
July 5, 2005 | Joe Robinson
Wildlife experts hope a secluded beach on Santa Cruz Island turns into a maternity ward for a mystery mother over the next couple of weeks. Since March, a wayward and persistent sea turtle has left telltale signs of nesting. Tracks suggest it could be an olive ridley hundreds of miles north of its main breeding grounds in Mexico and Costa Rica. Sea turtles are rare off Southern California, but when the occasional stray is sighted, it's more likely a green turtle.
July 5, 2005 | Hugo Martin
University of California scientists have wired a forest in the San Jacinto Mountains with high-tech gadgets for a close-up study of nature. About two dozen remotely operated cameras -- including one slung from cables and operable via Internet connection -- zoom in on feeding sparrows, nesting bluebirds, grazing deer and other wildlife at the James Reserve near Idyllwild. The equipment enables scientists to study previously unobserved phenomena, such as animal behavior during weather changes.
June 22, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by seven men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently chased off her captors, a policeman said. She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa, the capital. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo said.
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