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Feb. 5, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Missing McGee Back at Home
When her fluffy gray 2-year-old cat disappeared from her Long Island, N.Y., home three years ago, Charlene Lanigan searched everywhere for him, posting signs and wandering nearby streets shaking a container of food. But she wasn’t prepared to get a phone call from the East Islip animal shelter recently saying that the cat had been found. A local resident had seen McGee hanging around his yard for the last month, and when the weather started getting colder, he brought him to the shelter to have him checked for a microchip. Now, he’s back home with Lanigan. “I just said to him this morning, ‘why can’t you tell me where you were?’ I just missed him so much,” said Lanigan. McGee’s vet believes he must have been taken in by someone else because he’s in perfect health. — Watch it at My Fox New York
Following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, who raised pigeons, a team led by Michael D. Shapiro at the University of Utah has so far sequenced the DNA of 40 pigeon breeds to determine the mutations that created their different forms. Their findings support Darwin’s theory that all pigeon breeds descend from the rock pigeon that lived in Europe, North Africa and Asia. And they’re hoping what they learn about these birds will help them discover more about how evolution works in general. “It’s a brilliant bit of investigative science, the type of research that hopefully will come to define the genomic era,” said Beth Shapiro, who’s no relation to Michael, of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The findings were published in the journal Science. — Read it at The New York Times
Thirty years ago, when the Almeida family couldn't find their pet tortoise Manuela, they assumed she'd wandered out of their home in Brazil, which is why they were shocked to discover her —alive — in a box when they were cleaning out an old storage shed recently. “No one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there — it’s just unbelievable,” said Lenita Almeida, who had gotten Manuela as a childhood pet. Rio-based veterinarian Jeferson Peres said that although the red-footed tortoise has been known to go two or three years without eating in the wild, 30 years has been unheard of. He said Manuela may have stayed alive by eating termites and other small insects, and licking condensation in the shed, where she’s apparently been since 1982.— Read it at National Geographic
The free app, which debuts today, lets owners record the results of playful experiments with their own dog. The owners get to learn more about their dog, while Brian Hare, director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, and his team can potentially gather data from dog owners all over the world. "In a weekend, we could have 10,000, maybe 50,000 people give data," he said. "I can't even say how big of a quantum leap this will be." Dognition includes games owners can play with their dogs to assess five areas: empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. The launch of the app coincides with a new book that Hare co-authored with his wife, Vanessa Woods, called The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think.— Read it at Live Science
Phoebe, the singer’s “gentle” chocolate Labrador Retriever, went missing while she was on a walk in London. Bunton quickly took to Twitter to ask for help in finding her beloved pooch."My gorgeous brown Labrador went missing on daily walk," she Tweeted on Monday. Saying the dog, who is microchipped, would be scared, she included some of the areas in London where she might be, and asked her followers to be on the lookout for Phoebe. — Read it at People Pets
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