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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
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Video: Ostriches Are Stealth Sleepers
26 August 2011 2:38 pm
Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don't sleep with their heads in the sand. In fact, to all appearances, they never sleep at all: their eyes stay open, although they appear to doze off from time to time. To learn more about the sleep patterns of this unusual bird, researchers captured six ostriches in South Africa and measured their brain wave patterns with data loggers while they slept They expected the brain waves to look like those of other birds and mammals, which cycle between two patterns: deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM). When the loggers showed that the ostriches were in deep sleep, the birds looked entirely alert. But when they entered another sleep cycle, their heads started to droop. This second brainwave pattern wasn't classic REM, but a unique hybrid of REM and deep sleep patterns, the researchers report this week in PLoS ONE. The only other animal to show this pattern is the platypus, a member of an ancient group of egg-laying mammals known as monotremes. As ostriches are an ancient type of bird, this similarity suggests that the separation between REM and deep sleep may have evolved recently in birds and mammals. One can only speculate on whether ostriches and platypuses have similar dreams, too.
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