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Oxford calls for Bigfoot hair samples for DNA tests

Photographers Roger Patterson and Bob Gilim made this image Oct. 20, 1967, during a horseback search in northern Califronai for Sasquatch or Bigfoot.

Associated Press

DNA search for Yeti

"European researchers are planning to use new techniques to analyze DNA that could help crack the mystery of whether Bigfoot exists," The Boston Globe reports. "Oxford University and Lausanne Museum of Zoology scientists appealed to museums, scientists and Yeti aficionados to share hair samples thought to be from the mythical ape-like creature. New genetic tests will be done on just a few strands of hair and should be completed within weeks. Even if the sample is judged to come from an unknown species, scientists should be able to tell how closely it is related to other species, including apes or humans. … Some scientists theorize Yetis are either a distinct hominid species, or a mix between homo sapiens and Neanderthals or other species."

Abandoned Potter owls

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"Animal sanctuaries in England," says The Huffington Post, "are caring for hundreds of pet owls that were abandoned by their owners in the past year, a disturbing trend rescuers believe is linked to the end of the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter fans enchanted with the boy wizard's owl sidekick Hedwig drove up demand for the birds during book and movie releases, the Mirror reports. But now that all book instalments and film adaptations have been released, many owners are abandoning their pets into the wild, where they are unprepared to care for themselves. 'Before the films were out I had six owls, now it's 100. It's all down to Harry Potter,' Pam Toothill, a rescue worker at the Owlcentre sanctuary in Corwen, North Wales. Ms. Toothill said that in order to properly care for owls, owners need to purchase a 20-foot aviary … Unfortunately, many unprepared pet owners have kept birds in apartments with limited space – one owl Ms. Toothill rescued had been living in a man's bedroom."

Gun-toting in India

"When Dr. Harveen Kaur Sidhu travels from her home in an upmarket neighbourhood of the northwestern Indian city of Chandigarh, she always slips her lightweight .22 revolver in her bag," says The Guardian. "The gun is a new purchase – Dr. Sidhu got her licence only a year ago – but now the 33-year-old dentist won't travel without it. 'I don't have faith in the police to protect me. There are so many attacks on women these days.' … There are estimated to be 40 million guns in India, the second highest number in the world after the U.S. Licences are hard to obtain and most are illegal weapons … Ownership levels per capita remain low – three guns for every 100 people in India – but there is strong anecdotal evidence that middle-class interest in firearms is rising fast."

When an animal attacks

"Know how to react before you are attacked," advises. "Learn when you would curl into a ball and play dead [polar bear] run away [elephant] stand your ground [lion – nothing turns a lion on more than fleeing prey] or run perpendicular to the animal and climb a tree [black rhino – extremely unpredictable and bad-tempered but tend to charge in a straight line]"

Colour-blind masters of disguise

"Instead of blending in with the background, says Live Science, "octopuses hide from predators by taking on the shape and colour of specific objects in their environment, new research suggests. 'Octopuses are considered to be the master of camouflage. An octopus can change its colour, pattern and texture of its skin in an instant,' study researcher Noam Josef of Ben Gurion University in Israel [said] 'By reproducing key features of well-chosen objects, the octopus can produce an effective camouflage that may fool a wide range of potential predators,' Mr. Josef [a PhD student]and colleagues wrote online Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE. … Interestingly, they can do this even though octopuses are essentially colour blind."

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Thought du jour

"Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience – the knowledge that our mighty deeds will come to the ears of our contemporaries or 'of those who are to be.' " – Eric Hoffer (1902-83), American social writer

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