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Animals lose fear of predators after they start encountering humans, study says

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animals lose fear of predators after they start encountering humans study says

Animals such as mammals, birds and reptiles lose their fear of predators after they start encountering humans, experts say.  

Biologists analysed nearly 200 scientific studies to investigate changes in different ‘anti-predator’ traits – which can help an animal outwit a predator and escape with their lives – following human contact. 

Contact with humans – such as in zoos and tourist enclosures – gradually wears away the natural ‘anti-predator’ instincts in multiple species, they found.  

In the wild, these animals are put in great danger when they have to escape from predators, the international team of scientists claim. 

The issue also affects animals in the wild that live near cities and new urban developments, which are being lured by scraps and tamed by humans.   

Zookeeper feeds a young amur leopard in Canada. Contact with humans - such as in zoos and tourist enclosures - compromises the natural 'anti-predator' instincts of species

Zookeeper feeds a young amur leopard in Canada. Contact with humans - such as in zoos and tourist enclosures - compromises the natural 'anti-predator' instincts of species

Zookeeper feeds a young amur leopard in Canada. Contact with humans – such as in zoos and tourist enclosures – compromises the natural ‘anti-predator’ instincts of species

ANTI-PREDATOR RESPONSES 

– Staying out of sight.

– Camouflage.

– Masquerade.

– Startling the predator.

– Distraction – such as emitting chemicals. 

– Mimicry – impersonating another organism   

– Vocalisations

– Selfish herd – seeking central positions in a herd 

– Playing dead. 

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‘While it is well known that the fact of being protected by humans decreases anti-predator capacities in animals, we did not know how fast this occurs and to what extent this is comparable between contexts,’ said Benjamin Geffroy from the Institute of Marine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation in France.  

‘We believe they should be systematically investigated to draw a global pattern of what is happening at the individual level. 

‘We need more data to understand whether this occurs also with the mere presence of tourists.’

Examples of anti-predator techniques can vary between species – from changing colour as a method of camouflage, to living underground, only coming out of their habitats at night, playing dead or simply fleeing.     

The researchers analysed the results of 173 peer-reviewed studies investigating anti-predator traits in 102 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and molluscs. 

The team looked at the change in anti-predator responses during contact with humans under three different contexts – urbanisation, captivity and domestication. 

As an example, an animal in the context of urbanisation would be a fox in a back garden or a pigeon in Trafalgar Square. 

A pigeon in London. Urbanisation can result in rapid behavioural changes in animals over time

A pigeon in London. Urbanisation can result in rapid behavioural changes in animals over time

A pigeon in London. Urbanisation can result in rapid behavioural changes in animals over time

THE THREE DIFFERENT CONTEXTS 

Below are animals that may lose their anti-predator responses following contact or exposure to humans, in three different contexts. 

Domestication:

European sea bass, fox, chicken

Captivity:

Atlantic silverside (fish), Vancouver Island marmot (rodent), red rock lobster

Urbanisation

Common pigeon, Carrion crow, black-tailed prairie dog 

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Captivity would be an impala in an African shooting range or a Atlantic silverside fish in a farm, while domestication could simply be a chicken in a coop. 

The scientists found that contact with humans led to a rapid loss of animals’ anti-predator traits. 

Animals showed immediate changes in anti-predator responses in the first generation after contact with humans.

This initial response is a result of behavioural flexibility, which may later be accompanied by genetic changes if human contact continues over many generations, the team claim.  

The researchers also found that domestication altered animals’ anti-predator responses three times faster than urbanisation, while captivity resulted in the slowest changes. 

It’s likely that animals kept in captivity – such as tigers and elephants in Africa – have less immediate contact with humans than those in domestic or urban environments. 

The results also showed that herbivores changed behaviour more rapidly than carnivores and that solitary species tended to change quicker that those that live in groups.  

An 'urbanised' Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) tolerating close human approach in the Mitzpe Ramon town, Israel

An 'urbanised' Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) tolerating close human approach in the Mitzpe Ramon town, Israel

An ‘urbanised’ Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) tolerating close human approach in the Mitzpe Ramon town, Israel

The loss of anti-predator behaviours can cause problems when those domesticated or urbanised species encounter predators or when captive animals are released back into the wild. 

We may be creating ‘a human shield’ for animals that protects them from predation – but without this shield in the wild, they’re vulnerable. 

‘Conserving the variety of anti-predator responses that exist within a population will ultimately help sustain it,’ the experts say in their research paper. 

‘This might involve intentionally exposing animals to predators or to predator-related cues for conservation purposes to prevent the loss of necessary anti-predator traits.’

Understanding how animals respond to contact with humans has important implications for conservation and urban planning, captive breed programs and livestock management.               

The study has been published in PLOS Biology.  

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Diet: Drinking tea and eating apples could help lower blood pressure and fight off heart disease

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diet drinking tea and eating apples could help lower blood pressure and fight off heart disease

A diet rich in flavanols — such as are found in apples, berries and tea — can help to lower your blood pressure and stave off heart disease, a study has claimed.

British and US researchers studied the diet and blood pressure of 25,168 people living in the English county of Norfolk.

They found the difference in blood pressure between people with a high- and a low-flavanol diet lay between 2–4 mmHg (millimetres of mercury).

This is the same as the ‘meaningful’ change in blood pressure seen in those adhering to a Mediterranean or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. 

A diet rich in flavanols — such as are found in apples, berries and tea, pictured — can help to lower your blood pressure and stave off heart disease, a study has claimed

A diet rich in flavanols — such as are found in apples, berries and tea, pictured — can help to lower your blood pressure and stave off heart disease, a study has claimed

A diet rich in flavanols — such as are found in apples, berries and tea, pictured — can help to lower your blood pressure and stave off heart disease, a study has claimed

Unlike past studies which have typically relied on people reporting their own food and drink intake, the team used nutritional biomarkers — blood-based indicators of dietary intake, metabolism or nutritional status — to determine flavanol intake.

‘What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols — found in tea and some fruits — and blood pressure,’ said paper author and nutritionist Gunter Kuhnle of the University of Reading.

‘This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols.’

‘In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries,’ he added.

‘This is one of the largest ever studies to use nutritional biomarkers to investigate bioactive compounds,’ Professor Kuhnle continued.

‘Using nutritional biomarkers to estimate intake of bioactive food compounds has long been seen as the gold standard for research, as it allows intake to be measured objectively,’ he added.

‘In contrast to self-reported dietary data, nutritional biomarkers can address the huge variability in food composition. We can therefore confidently attribute the associations we observed to flavanol intake.’ 

'This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols,' said paper author and nutritionist Gunter Kuhnle of the University of Reading

'This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols,' said paper author and nutritionist Gunter Kuhnle of the University of Reading

'In the British diet, the main sources [of flavanols] are tea, cocoa, apples and berries,' Professor Kuhnle added. Pictured: mixed berries

'In the British diet, the main sources [of flavanols] are tea, cocoa, apples and berries,' Professor Kuhnle added. Pictured: mixed berries

‘This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols,’ said paper author and nutritionist Gunter Kuhnle of the University of Reading ‘In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries,’ he added. Pictured: apples, left, and mixed berries, right

‘This study adds key insights to a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of dietary flavanols in health and nutrition,’ said Hagen Schroeter, the chief science officer at Mars Edge, which funded the study and participated in the research. 

‘But perhaps even more exciting was the opportunity to apply objective biomarkers of flavanol intake at a large scale.’

‘This enabled the team to avoid the significant limitations that come with past approaches which rely on estimating intake based on self-reported food consumption data and the shortcomings of current food composition databases.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF I HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won’t realise it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
  • A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • heart failure
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • aortic aneurysms
  • kidney disease
  • vascular dementia

Source: NHS

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US election: Experts ‘easily hijack’ the apps of both Biden and Trump

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us election experts easily hijack the apps of both biden and trump

Security experts reported being able to ‘easily hijack’ the 2020 election apps of both US President Donald Trump and his opponent, Democrat Party nominee Joe Biden.

The exposure of the vulnerabilities came just days after Mr Trump falsely claimed that ‘nobody get hacked’ during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday.

‘To get hacked you need somebody with 197 IQ and he needs about 15 per cent of your password,’ the President had continued. 

Mr Trump’s comments — which experts branded ‘dumb’ — were made despite that fact that both his Twitter account and hotel chain have both previously been hacked.

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate’s election apps.

While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a ‘MAGA’ cap and making Mr Trump’s app fundraise for his opponent — the exploit may be used maliciously.

For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details. 

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Security experts reported being able to 'easily hijack' the 2020 election apps of both US President Donald Trump and his opponent, Democrat Party nominee Joe Biden. The exposure of the vulnerabilities came just days after Mr Trump, pictured, falsely claimed that 'nobody get hacked' during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday

Security experts reported being able to 'easily hijack' the 2020 election apps of both US President Donald Trump and his opponent, Democrat Party nominee Joe Biden. The exposure of the vulnerabilities came just days after Mr Trump, pictured, falsely claimed that 'nobody get hacked' during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday

Security experts reported being able to ‘easily hijack’ the 2020 election apps of both US President Donald Trump and his opponent, Democrat Party nominee Joe Biden. The exposure of the vulnerabilities came just days after Mr Trump, pictured, falsely claimed that ‘nobody get hacked’ during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday

‘The President’s statement sadly reflects a widely believed sentiment that secure passwords will protect you from hackers and that hacking, in general, doesn’t affect the average citizen,’ said Promon Chief Technology Officer Tom Lysemose Hansen.

‘Sadly, this isn’t the case. Absolutely nothing is “unhackable” and even the most secure, high profile accounts are vulnerable should the user fall victim to a phishing attack which seeks usernames and passwords.’

‘The claim that “nobody gets hacked” is simply untrue and — given the influence of the President — can have dangerous impacts on the behaviour of hundreds of thousands of people, he added.

The nature of cybercrime is constantly evolving, Mr Lysemose Hansen warned — adding that malicious attacks often take advantage of current events, such as the US election, or prominent figures to maximise their chances of success.

He added that for ‘security-sensitive apps —such as banking or medical apps —implementing protocols that prevent spyware from spoofing or recording what happens on the app’s screen is crucial if developers are to [stop] hackers.’

Google — and similar operators of other online app and software stores — face ongoing challenges from hackers who aim to sneak their malicious programs onto user devices to secretly harvest sensitive and personally identifiable information.

Promon, however, have some tips to help you remain secure online. 

‘We would advise that users always keep their devices up-to-date and running the latest firmware and that they only ever download apps created by trusted developers,’ Mr Lysemose Hansen said.

‘One way to check this is to see if the developer has created any other apps and check the reviews for any and all apps they have developed.’

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate's election apps. While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a 'MAGA' cap and making Mr Trump's app fundraise for his opponent (pictured) — the exploit may be used maliciously. For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate's election apps. While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a 'MAGA' cap and making Mr Trump's app fundraise for his opponent (pictured) — the exploit may be used maliciously. For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate's election apps. While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a 'MAGA' cap (pictured) and making Mr Trump's app fundraise for his opponent — the exploit may be used maliciously. For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate's election apps. While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a 'MAGA' cap (pictured) and making Mr Trump's app fundraise for his opponent — the exploit may be used maliciously. For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details

Norwegian app security firm Promon used a well-known vulnerability in the Android operating system to add fakes screens to the two candidate’s election apps. While their additions were comical — showing Mr Biden in a ‘MAGA’ cap (right) and making Mr Trump’s app fundraise for his opponent (left) — the exploit may be used maliciously. For example, hackers can easily force vulnerable to prompt users into handing over sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords or even credit card details

The technical expertise required to hack the election apps was minimal, Mr Lysemose Hansen added — and certainly does not call for an IQ of 197.

‘Regardless of whether you are new to the world of hacking or are a world-leading security researcher, it is not difficult to hack these apps,’ he explained.

‘Due to this critical Android vulnerability being so well-known, hackers can easily hijack these apps and overlay fake screens.’

These, he added, ‘can depict anything the attacker wants, including screens that ask the user to hand over sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords.’ 

WHICH SMART HOUSEHOLD GADGETS ARE VULNERABLE TO CYBER ATTACKS?

From devices that order our groceries to smart toys that speak to our children, high-tech home gadgets are no longer the stuff of science fiction.

But even as they transform our lives, they put families at risk from criminal hackers taking advantage of security flaws to gain virtual access to homes.

A June 2017 Which? study tested whether popular smart gadgets and appliances, including wireless cameras, a smart padlock and a children’s Bluetooth toy, could stand up to a possible hack.

The survey of 15 devices found that eight were vulnerable to hacking via the internet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. 

Scary: Which? said ethical hackers broke into the CloudPets toy and made it play its own voice messages. They said any stranger could use the method to speak to children from outside

Scary: Which? said ethical hackers broke into the CloudPets toy and made it play its own voice messages. They said any stranger could use the method to speak to children from outside

Scary: Which? said ethical hackers broke into the CloudPets toy and made it play its own voice messages. They said any stranger could use the method to speak to children from outside

The test found that the Fredi Megapix home CCTV camera system operated over the internet using a default administrator account without a password, and Which? found thousands of similar cameras available for anyone to watch the live feed over the internet.

The watchdog said that a hacker could even pan and tilt the cameras to monitor activity in the house.

SureCloud hacked the CloudPets stuffed toy, which allows family and friends to send messages to a child via Bluetooth and made it play its own voice messages.

Which? said it contacted the manufacturers of eight affected products to alert them to flaws as part of the investigation, with the majority updating their software and security. 

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Democratic congresswoman gets one of the largest Twitch streams ever

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democratic congresswoman gets one of the largest twitch streams ever

A live-stream of Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing the popular game ‘Among Us’ amassed almost half a million viewers last night. 

During the event, which lasted for more than three hours, the politician urged people to vote in the upcoming US election. 

The stream of Ocasio-Cortez, who is known by her initials AOC, has become the third largest on the Amazon-owned online gaming site, Twitch.  

Among Us is a multiplayer social deduction game set in space where players have to uncover murderous impostors who attempt to sabotage a mission. 

Twitch confirmed to Mashable that the broadcast peaked at 439,000 views.

The record is 667,000 held by popular streamer Ninja when he teamed up with rapper Drake for a game of Fortnite in 2018. 

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) had 439,000 views on video live streaming service Twitch when she played multiplayer game Among Us

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) had 439,000 views on video live streaming service Twitch when she played multiplayer game Among Us

AOC had tweeted earlier in the week: ‘Anyone want to play Among Us with me on Twitch to get out the vote? (I’ve never played but it looks like a lot of fun).’ 

For the session, she was joined by popular Twitch streamers Pokemane and Hasanabi and the stream kicked off around 8:40pm ET on Tuesday (1:40am BST Wednesday).   

The New York representative spent the start of the broadcast trying to work out how the game works and fretting that she couldn’t kill anyone. 

‘Oh my gosh guys, I can’t believe I have to kill people in this,’ she said. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seen here during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seen here during a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC 

In Among Us, one or two players are randomly selected as ‘impostors’ who must then sabotage a team of crewmates by bloodily murdering them. 

Ocasio-Cortez was initially nervous at the prospect of being the duplicitous impostor during the session.  

‘Guys, I really don’t want to be impostor, please don’t let me be impostor – I’m so nervous,’ she said.

However, she was designated as an impostor in her very first game and rose to the task by slaughtering her teammate and pretending to have found the body. 

Video shows musician Maia was killed by AOC brutally within the first five minutes.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she appeared during the gameplay. Among Us is an online multiplayer social deduction game where players are tasked with being murderous 'impostors'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she appeared during the gameplay. Among Us is an online multiplayer social deduction game where players are tasked with being murderous ‘impostors’ 

AOC was joined by fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar during the stream and both politicians took time during the broadcast to encourage viewers to vote.

Her Twitch page included a link to iwillvote.com, where Americans can register to vote for the presidential election on November 3.   

‘Make sure that you have your voting plan put together,’ AOC said.

‘Figure out if you want to vote early, mail in, in-person, day of. Make your plan and stick to it… let’s all participate in this election and save our democracy!’

AOC later tweeted: ‘Thank you so much for joining… I had a blast.’  

AOC as she appears following her murder and the discovery of the body on the Twitch game Among Us

AOC as she appears following her murder and the discovery of the body on the Twitch game Among Us

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (pictured) joined AOC and popular Twitch personalities on Tuesday night

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (pictured) joined AOC and popular Twitch personalities on Tuesday night 

For the session, she was joined by popular Twitch streamers Pokemane and Hasanabi and the stream kicked off around 8:40pm ET on Tuesday (1:40am BST Wednesday)

For the session, she was joined by popular Twitch streamers Pokemane and Hasanabi and the stream kicked off around 8:40pm ET on Tuesday (1:40am BST Wednesday)

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