Heat stress among dairy cows is a growing problem in the US as the climate warms and farmers look to increase production.
Now, researchers say farmers can predict which cows are in danger of overheating: the ones that stand for long periods without lying down.
Researchers from the University of Arizona fitted cows with vaginal sensors that measured core body temperature and leg sensors that determined whether the animal was sitting or standing.
The cows were more likely to stand for long periods when their body temperature rose above 38.8 degrees, probably because standing exposed more of their surface area to air, allowing body heat to disperse.
But while that might help the cows feel cooler, it ultimately uses more energy than lying down, the researchers say.
''Heat exhaustion is a fairly common problem in summer months over most of the US, especially as our cows have gotten to be high-producing animals,'' Robert Collier, of the University of Arizona, says. ''They're eating more and producing more heat, so they're more sensitive.'' He says farmers should encourage cows to lie down, or at least mist them with cool water.
The fit ticker list
The American Heart Association has issued a list of seven steps to minimise the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They are: not smoking, being physically active, not being overweight, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, keeping blood pressure down, regulating blood sugar levels and eating healthily. But there is a downside. Professor Jean-Pierre Despres, scientific director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk, estimates only one in 1000 people — from Western populations from around the world — would meet all seven.
A mite challenging
Dollo's law, named after 19th-century palaeontologist Louis Dollo, states that evolution always moves forward — that an organism cannot redevelop an organ or attribute discarded by its ancestors. But research on dust mites is challenging this.
Using DNA data to build a family tree, University of Michigan biologists showed that dust mites, which are free-living organisms, evolved from parasites that, in turn, evolved from other free-living organisms. That would seem to contradict Dollo's law, since the mites should be unable to readopt free-living characteristics discarded by their ancestors.
How does a mite evolve in reverse? The family tree shows the closest living relatives to the mites are able to tolerate low humidity and digest tough materials such as skin and keratin. Researchers think this helped the mites break free from birds and mammals to live off material found in nests and homes.
Glasgow's renowned College of Piping has issued a warning to bagpipes players everywhere to clean their instruments regularly, after an elderly Glaswegian piper developed pneumonia from two types of fungi — rhodotorula and fusarium — that had taken hold inside his bagpipes, reports London's Telegraph. The 77-year-old confessed he had not cleaned his bagpipes for about 18 months. A case of bagpipe-related pneumonia was described in The Lancet in 1978.
Sharing words, just words
While four-year-olds know the rules about sharing and talk the talk of equal portions, they're still inclined to favour themselves in deed, University of Michigan researchers say in a study published in PLOS One. The gap between word and deed narrows about the age of seven, the researchers found, when children are more likely to share.
Survival of the shortest
The wingspans of swallows may be changing in response to selection pressures from urban environments, according to research published in Current Biology. A team of researchers from several US universities has found swallows in Nebraska are being killed by highway traffic significantly less often (the researchers have been collecting road kill for 30 years) and that those still killed by traffic tend to have longer-than-average wingspans. The researchers suggest birds with shorter wingspans can pivot away from passing cars more quickly.