In Oscar season, biology on film

When biologists at the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx heard last fall that a beaver was making New York City home for the first time in 200 years, they were understandably excited. Unlike some other biologists, however -- say, those who said they had seen an linkurl:ivory-billed woodpecker;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/84/ in 2005 -- the Bronx group made sure they caught Jose the beaver, on a video everyone could agree was actually a beaver, before linkurl:announcing it t

Ivan Oransky
Feb 25, 2007
When biologists at the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx heard last fall that a beaver was making New York City home for the first time in 200 years, they were understandably excited. Unlike some other biologists, however -- say, those who said they had seen an linkurl:ivory-billed woodpecker;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/84/ in 2005 -- the Bronx group made sure they caught Jose the beaver, on a video everyone could agree was actually a beaver, before linkurl:announcing it to the press;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/nyregion/23beaver.html last week. (See Jose linkurl:here;http://www.wcs.org/media/file/WCSBeaverontheBronxRiverOFFICIAL.mpg .) Video of another claimed 'first' last week was a bit more controversial. Iowa State's linkurl:Jill Pruetz;http://www.anthr.iastate.edu/pruetz.shtml and the University of Cambridge's Paco Bertolani linkurl:reported in Current Biology;http://download.current-biology.com/pdfs/0960-9822/PIIS0960982207008019.pdf that they had documented ''the first account of habitual tool use during vertebrate hunting by nonhumans.'' Specifically, they report observing chimpanzees in Senegal making and using wooden spears to hunt bushbabies in tree hollows. The find was the talk...

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