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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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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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