With the death at San Diego Zoo Safari Park of a northern white rhino, the species is five animals away from extinction.

The death of Angalifu, a 44-year-old male northern white rhino, leaves an elderly female at the park, three in a Kenyan preserve and one at a Czech Republic zoo. There were more than 2,000 northern whites in 1960, said the World Wildlife Fund, but poachers obliterated the population. By 1984, there were about 15 of the rhinos left. That population was doubled by 1993 through aggressive conservation efforts. But heavily armed poaching gangs have now virtually annihilated the species, the WWF says. The white rhino is the largest of all the rhino species and ranks as the second-largest mammal on land, after the African elephant, the WWF said.


Baby bird avoids detection by being mimic

A baby bird in the Amazon rain forest has downy feathers with long, orange barbs and white tips that make it look like a poisonous hairy caterpillar.

The disguise helps the young birds, with the poetic name cinereous mourner, avoid the clutches of hungry snakes and monkeys, said Gustavo Londoño, an ecologist at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia, and an author of a new paper about them in The American Naturalist. The birds are rarely seen by humans and, as a result, hard to study. “They are very shy and quiet, and their vocalization is a very low whistle,” Londoño said. “They stay in heavily forested areas in the Amazonian.”

When the researchers took measurements of the baby, it started moving its head very slowly from side to side, much like the hairy caterpillar it resembles. After about 14 days, the bird no longer looked so much like caterpillar, but by then it had the strength to jump out of the nest if a predator arrived.


Food may not be such a comfort after all

Are you feeling sad or stressed? Put down that Oreo or bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese and brace yourself for another bummer: The emotional healing powers of comfort food may be overrated.

In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that even when you don’t soothe yourself with food, your mood will probably bounce back on its own.

The research led by Traci Mann, a psychology professor, was funded by NASA, in hopes of improving the mood of astronauts on space missions. Although research has shown that eating food high in fat, sugar or salt activates the brain’s reward system, Nicole M. Avena, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who writes about eating disorders, said the study suggested that such neural response may not translate into measurable mood changes.

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