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Feeding pigeons bread could be making them more aggressive and dominant

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feeding pigeons bread could be making them more aggressive and dominant

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant.

A team from the University of London examined dominance in pigeon society and looked at which had better access to resources such as food and mates. 

They found that heavy birds dominated in pigeon groups and if a light bird was ‘fattened up’ it would be quickly climb the ranks and become dominant.   

‘It’s possible the added mass made them feel in better physiological condition, and more willing, therefore, to pick a fight,’ according to the research team. 

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant

Many animals live and travel in groups, giving them enhanced vigilance and predator detection – but individual personality characteristics can lead to conflict. 

This leads to some individuals within a group coming out as dominance and this has been seen throughout the animal kingdom, the team explained. 

There are benefits to this ‘dominance hierarchy’ within a group – the team say it reduced the severity and incidence of physical conflicts with other groups. 

By reducing the time devoted to these encounters, time can be invested in other important behaviours such as maintenance, vigilance and foraging. 

Previous studies have linked linear hierarchies – that is an order of dominance – to parameters such as body mass and size.

The order is stable or unstable and varies over time and the researchers from London found that in pigeons size really does matter.

The bigger the bird the more aggressive they are likely to be and the most aggressive birds tend to become the most dominant within a group.

To determine this was the case the team studied 17 homing pigeons held at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, Hertfordshire – eight males and nine females.

They were all six years old and had been held since they were a year old – they were given regular access to food and awater and no other birds were added to the group.

Birds were studied at three points in their annual cycle over three years and after 19 months the nine birds at the bottom of the pecking order were made heavier.

The team added artificial weights to the backs of the birds – who were used to having artificial objects applied to their bodies. 

Before the extra weights were added the dominance hierarchy among the birds was stable, but this changed dramatically at the next measuring session.

Those with ‘extra mass’ became noticeably more dominant and became more aggressive – increasing their rank in the group.

It was the male birds that became the most aggressive when they ‘got bigger’ with one becoming up to 750 per cent more aggressive, according to researchers.

The experiment actually led to an overall increase in the aggressiveness of the flock and in the number of aggressive encounters. 

They found that heavy birds dominated in pigeon groups and if a light bird was 'fattened up' it would be quickly climb the ranks and become dominant

They found that heavy birds dominated in pigeon groups and if a light bird was 'fattened up' it would be quickly climb the ranks and become dominant

They found that heavy birds dominated in pigeon groups and if a light bird was ‘fattened up’ it would be quickly climb the ranks and become dominant

When the ‘extra weights’ were removed from the birds the original hierarchy – from before the experiment – returned and the previously weighted birds stepped back into line – suggesting no carry-over or memory of the effects.

‘There is no clear pattern yet determined as to why body mass is such a strong determinant of dominance in some species but not others,’ the authors explained.

‘It is possible that body mass is a significantly correlated with dominance in species where secondary-sexual ornamentations are less pronounced, and as a result, signalling is less clear. 

‘In such cases, body mass may become more of an important indicator of fitness.’ 

The study shows that aggressive traits can be modified and increased by ‘feeding up’ birds – so pigeons who compete for breadcrumbs in cities could be more aggressive as a result of humans leaving food out for them. 

The findings have been published in the journal Biology Letters

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Massive data leak of Microsoft’s Bing mobile app left more than 100 MILLION records exposed online

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massive data leak of microsofts bing mobile app left more than 100 million records exposed online

An unsecured database belonging to Microsoft’s Bing mobile app left more than 100 million user records exposed online. 

Security experts say this was a Meow attack, where hackers scrapped the database with location coordinates and search queries that can be used in blackmail attacks and phishing scams.

The team spotted search results for child pornography and gun-related terms referencing to shootings and ‘kill commies.’

Researchers with Wizcase say ‘it is safe to speculate that anyone who has made a Bing search with the mobile app while the server has been exposed is at risk.’

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33492916 8761047 image m 13 1600798223777

An unsecured database belonging to Microsoft’s Bing mobile app left more than 100 million user records exposed online. Security experts say this was a Meow attack, where hackers scrapped the database that included location coordinates and search queries that can be used in blackmail attacks and phishing scams

The database was discovered on September 12 without a password, but was secured four days later on September 16.

Wizcase, an online security research group, spotted the unprotected Microsoft-owned database, which they say was two days after the password had been removed.

The firm, led by white hacker Ata Hakcil, determined the server contained 6.5 terabytes of information and saw it increase by as much as 200 gigabytes each day.

Chase Williams, researcher with Wizcase, wrote in a blog post: ‘Based on the sheer amount of data, it is safe to speculate that anyone who has made a Bing search with the mobile app while the server has been exposed is at risk.’

The unprotected database was discovered on September 12 without a password, but was secured four days later. The team found search results made by users looking for child pornography

The unprotected database was discovered on September 12 without a password, but was secured four days later. The team found search results made by users looking for child pornography

The unprotected database was discovered on September 12 without a password, but was secured four days later. The team found search results made by users looking for child pornography 

‘We saw records of people searching from more than 70 countries.’

‘According to our scanner, the server was password protected until the first week of September. Our team discovered the leak on September 12th, approximately two days after the authentication was removed.’

Wizcase said they alerted Microsoft of the unprotected database on September 13, which then added a password September 16.

It appears the server was hit by a Meow attack, which searches for unsecured databases and wipes them clean.

Researchers with Wizcase say 'it is safe to speculate that anyone who has made a Bing search with the mobile app while the server has been exposed is at risk.' There were also a number of search terms for guns and others that showed interest in shootings to 'kill commies'

Researchers with Wizcase say 'it is safe to speculate that anyone who has made a Bing search with the mobile app while the server has been exposed is at risk.' There were also a number of search terms for guns and others that showed interest in shootings to 'kill commies'

Researchers with Wizcase say ‘it is safe to speculate that anyone who has made a Bing search with the mobile app while the server has been exposed is at risk.’ There were also a number of search terms for guns and others that showed interest in shootings to ‘kill commies’

The team found that location data, search terms and other information was collected, but specifics like people’s names and exact addresses were not in the database.

‘While the coordinates exposed aren’t precise, they still give a relatively small perimeter of where the user is located,’ Williams wrote.

‘By simply copying them on Google Maps, it could be possible to use them to trace back to the owner of the phone.’

However, the search queries found in the database could be used to blackmail users, as some were looking for child pornography and guns for interest in shootings.

‘As ethical hackers, we don’t have the resources to identify these people and turn them over to the authorities,’ stated Williams.

‘Yet, this discovery revealed how many predators and dangerous people are using search engines to find their next victims and what websites they are visiting.

Wizcase also notes that this data was ‘exposed to all types of hackers and scammers.’

‘This could lead to a variety of attacks against users of the Bing mobile app.’

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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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Earth is set to capture a minimoon in October – but some experts it could be space junk

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earth is set to capture a minimoon in october but some experts it could be space junk

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet’s gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021. 

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk.

A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966.

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Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

DailyMail.com has contacted NASA for more information and has yet to receive a response. 

Tony Dunn, an astronomer, told DailyMail.com: ‘Further observations will reveal its density. If it is hollow like a rocket booster, solar radiation pressure will significantly alter its course.’

Earth has only had two minimoons on record – one in February 2020 and the other in 2006.

Unlike the other two, 2020 SO has yet to be confirmed as an asteroid, as some scientists believe it could be space junk hurling towards Earth.  

However, 2020 SO has been classified as an Apollo asteroid in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Small-Body Database, which is a class of asteroids whose paths cross Earth’s orbit.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet's gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet's gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet’s gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long.

Experts have also noted that 2020 SO’s velocity is much lower than that of an Apollo asteroid.

Space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia told ScienceAlert: ‘The velocity seems to be a big one.’

‘What I’m seeing is that it’s just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That’s essentially a big giveaway.’

Paul Chodas with JPL identified this with the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket body, launched on September 20, 1966.

‘The very low Earth encounter velocity (0.6 km/sec is even low for lunar ejecta, so it is unlikely it is a natural body, even lunar ejecta, more likely space junk,’ he wrote. 

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth’s gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years 

An animation of the object in question shows that it is in fact heading towards Earth and will make to close swoops when it arrives. 

In December,  2020 OS is expected to pass by Earth at a distance of around 31,000 miles and two months later, it will fly by at 136,701 miles. 

In February, NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth’s gravity.

NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years.

The tiny cosmic object was estimated to be about six to 12 feet in diameter and had a surface brightness similar to C-type asteroids, which are carbon rich and very common.

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