The return of the American robin to back yards across the country is a lovely sign of coming spring. But the little songbird with the orange-red breast and bright blue eggs has some not-so-lovely relatives: the crocodile and the alligator.The connection was made during a riveting lecture, “What Art Thou, Little Bird? Developmental Mechanisms for the Origin and Evolution of Birds” by Arkhat Abzhanov, associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology, on Jan. 31 at the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s Geological Lecture Hall.The talk, introduced by Jane Pickering, executive director of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, kicked off the five-part series “Evolution Matters,” made possible by a gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.Abzhanov is an expert in cranio-facial evolutionary development, and a pioneer in the field of evolutionary developmental biology (“evo-devo”). He’s been interested in birds since childhood, and Nature named his work on beak development one of the top evolutionary discoveries of the last decade. Abzhanov began his talk by pointing out that humans have long observed and portrayed birds in everything from prehistoric cave paintings to religions, fairy tales, and computer games.But what makes a bird?The taxonomic group Archosauria, Abzhanov explained, includes dinosaurs, crocodiles, and birds.Abzhanov said birds’ feathers evolved from scales, and their wings evolved from the five-fingered hands and agile wrists of early reptiles. Birds’ beaks are used variously — to catch fish, shrimp, and bugs; to crack open nuts; to make nests — with shapes and sizes that depend on the bird, and its evolution.Beaks, along with wings and the ability to fly, Abzhanov said, make birds extremely successful and diverse. There are 29 orders and 10,000 species, making it the largest group of land vertebrates.In Abzhanov’s research, after identifying the molecules that control the shape the beak takes (long and good for drinking nectar, for example, or short and strong and good for cracking nuts), using the chicken embryo, he successfully made molecular changes that forced the expression of particular genes. Through that manipulation, Abzhanov was able to make a chicken’s beak grow much bigger.“When and how the molecules are used determine the bird,” he explained.Abzhanov showed a slide with an image of an alligator embryo, which looked strikingly similar to the image of a chicken embryo next to it.And while it’s been 75 million years since birds lost their teeth, to this day mutant chickens will grow teeth — teeth that bear a close resemblance to their ancient and remarkably close relative, the alligator.“I think [birds] developed gradually, step by step and piecemeal,”Abzhanov said.Abzhanov noted that fossils tell of some birdlike dinosaurs with plumage that didn’t fly; the Tyrannosaurus rex, he said, probably had big fluffy feathers as a juvenile. And as the audience gasped, chuckled, and murmured over the idea, the lecture ended.“Evolution Matters” continues at the Harvard Museum of Natural History at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 with “Looking for Signs of Evolution: Bees, Butterflies, and Bacteria.”
10Feb Rep. Dr. Bizon meets with Flint doctors Tags: Flint water, Medical Society, REp. Bizon Categories: Bizon News,Featured news,News ##### Rep. Dr. John Bizon visited the city of Flint on Feb. 4 to meet with the Genesee County Medical Society leadership group and discuss the city water issue.Before the GCMS’s meeting, Rep. Bizon had the opportunity to discuss the health situations facing many in the city with executive director and group chief, Dr. Peter Levine.“We were able to talk about the health crisis going on in the city,” Rep. Bizon said. “Along with getting funding and resources to the people of the city, it is important that we know what health problems need to be solved as well.”The GCMS works to connect doctors and medical personnel from across the state to help spread information and tools. The GCMS is part of the Michigan State Medical Society.“The situation in Flint needs medical leadership to help the most people,” Rep. Bizon said. “Communication between doctors and political leaders in Lansing is the key to solving this crisis. We need to continue that communication.”For more information, contact Rep. Bizon’s office by email to [email protected] or by phone to (517) 373-0555.
Lithuanian service provider Teo is looking to boost the popularity of its IPTV service with the launch of wildlife and extreme sports 3D channel 3flow and basketball channel NBA TV HD. The latest additions follow an offer last month to customers to acquire both TVs and tablet computers via monthly fees.Teo added 15,200 TV subscribers in the year to March 30, with growth to its IPTV service compensating for lack of progress with digital-terrestrial TV.The telco said that IPTV subscribers increased by 17.2% over the year to March, reaching 97,200. The number of digital-terrestrial TV customers stood at 72,200 at the same date.Teo’s broadband base grew by 15,600 over the last year, with approximately 42.6% of the group’s broadband customers now having access via fibre. FTTH and FTTB connections grew by 13.2% with DSL connections falling by 6.1%.TV services accounted for 8.4% of Teo’s revenues for the first quarter, while internet services accounted for 24.1%.
Vodafone has been named as best fibre-optic network operator in Europe at the FTTH Council Europe event in Stocholm.Vodafone received the Operator Award for FTTH for its deployment in Portugal, Spain and Italy.Vodafone Portugal CEO Mário Vaz received the award at the FTTH Council Europe conference in Stockholm this week.Vodafone has committed to spend an additional €3 billion in its networks across the three countries over the next two years.“In Portugal , we strive to give the best to consumers and ensure that they have a choice. Despite all the challenges and difficulties , we are reinforcint our investment to more than €500 million within the next two years,” said Vaz.“Innovation, modernity and striving to offer the best deals to customers is part of the DNA of Vodafone and this award – which makes us very proud – is a recognition of the work that we have undertaken.”