Turkey Vultures prefer their road-kill to be fresh

by Dave Hanks

Scientists, as a result of poor concepts involved in conducting experiments, concluded that birds could not smell. However, better devised experiments of more recent times have shown that birds can indeed smell. Turkey Vultures, that at one time ignored rotten meat placed under a log, do have a very good sense of smell. It’s no surprise that they react very quickly to a recent kill.

Although they are meat eating birds, they do not kill, but survive on carrion. They soar very high, and with their excellent eye sight, can survey a large area in search of dead animals. While perched, you can see their red head and brownish/black body. But in flight, the silvery/white trailing edges of their wings are now visible.

There are 7 species of New World vultures, including the California and Andean Condors. They are two of the world’s largest flying birds with wingspans of over 9 feet. DNA evidence has shown that Old World vultures are unrelated. Their claws, beaks, and behavior patterns are different. American vultures have weak, chicken-like feet which are suitable for running but not for grasping. They must put a foot on the food source to hold it in place while eating. Their beaks are thinner and not as strong as the Old World birds.

Buzzard is not a very attractive term. It is incorrect to use it on American species. It is a term for several hawk species of the Eastern Hemisphere. It does not apply to vultures.

vulture32

Resting but alert

The Importance of Sequence

by Dave Hanks

The basic building blocks of all forms of life are cells. Cells are made out of protein. Protein is made out of amino acids. Amino acids are made out of the four basic elements of life: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen.

DNA is made out of nucleotides – symbolized as A, C, G, and T. RNA is half as wide as DNA and made out of nucleotides. RNA serves as DNA’s messenger to carry the code to synthesize the proteins needed – by matching the DNA nucleotides. The specific amino acids that each different protein molecule is made up of is controlled by the SEQUENCE of nucleotides within the section of DNA that is responsible for creating that particular protein. The nucleotides A, C, G, and T can be arranged (in groups of three) in many different ways. RNA has matched the DNA code, and as amino acids are released from food through digestion, they fall into place along the RNA strip where they match to form the protein molecules being synthesized.

So, what does all the above information I’ve laid on you mean? And, how does it all relate to the tremendous variations in the earth’s lifeforms, and the variations between individuals of each specific species? It all depends on the SEQUENCE of the DNA nucleotides; which in turn determines the types of amino acids produced, which in turn determines what we are and what we look like. Body tissue must continually be replaced – thus the need for nourishment to furnish the replacement materials. We literally have different C-H-O-N atoms in us than we had years ago.

We had a ham roast over the holidays. Meat is muscle, but that pig’s muscle had a different texture than mine. How did my body change the ham into the muscle that is in my body, or into my hair type? It all comes down once again to SEQUENCE. My DNA code caused my body to rearrange the SEQUENCE of the ham’s amino acids to the SEQUENCE that my body demands. That just a few basic building materials can be arranged in so many different ways is indeed mind boggling.

The BLACK BEAR CUB is eating berries and its body will cause the berries to become bear – all because of a change in the SEQUENCE of the materials eaten as directed by the bear’s DNA. What a striking contrast between the bear and the little ANOLE lizard, even though both are made from the same materials.

UHURU

Uhuru in Swahili means freedom. In the 1960’s, the Kenyans were seeking their freedom from their British rulers. Not having experienced freedom, they did not know what it was like. They thought that immediately upon receiving it, they would have everything that their British overlords had – wealth, large houses and estates, servants, and big cars. They did not understand that it took hard work and an education to get these, and then only a few did. They also thought that freedom meant that you could do anything that you wanted to. In order for freedom to survive, certain rules and regulations and work ethics must be maintained. There is a French saying that states; “Freedom is a luxury of the self-disciplined.”

Once, my wife and I were in the Seward Harbor in Alaska. We were going on a boat trip to see the glaciers and wildlife in the bay. There on a pylon was the sickest looking Bald Eagle we had ever seen. The captain said that he was called “Hang-Over-Charlie”. He had lost his freedom all on his own. He had not used the “rules and regulations” necessary to maintain his wildness. He had become habituated to people and lived on the garbage in the harbor. Our boat went right by him, and he never flew.

To remain a regular, free living eagle, Charlie needed to respond in the way his DNA directed him – which is to hunt his own food, nest in high places, wing high above the earth, and meet all natural challenges – a fearless entity. These are the traits that caused us to embrace the Bald Eagle as our national symbol. Charlie diminished this symbolic role by his lazy, living on handouts, life style.

I’m very grateful for the freedoms I enjoy. I’m especially grateful to live here in the west where we have a lot more space and seem to enjoy more freedoms.

A non-habituated eagle getting his food as nature intended

The Importance of Sequence

The basic building blocks of all forms of life are cells. Cells are made out of protein. Protein is made out of amino acids. Amino acids are made out of the four basic elements of life: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen.

DNA is made out of nucleotides – symbolized as A, C, G, and T. RNA is half as wide as DNA and made out of nucleotides. RNA serves as DNA’s messenger to carry the code to synthesize the proteins needed – by matching the DNA nucleotides. The specific amino acids that each different protein molecule is made up of is controlled by the SEQUENCE of nucleotides within the section of DNA that is responsible for creating that particular protein. The nucleotides A, C, G, and T can be arranged (in groups of three) in many different ways. RNA has matched the DNA code, and as amino acids are released from food through digestion, they fall into place along the RNA strip where they match to form the protein molecules being synthesized.

So, what does all the above information I’ve laid on you mean? And, how does it all relate to the tremendous variations in the earth’s lifeforms, and the variations between individuals of each specific species? It all depends on the SEQUENCE of the DNA nucleotides; which in turn determines the types of amino acids produced, which in turn determines what we are and what we look like. Body tissue must continually be replaced – thus the need for nourishment to furnish the replacement materials. We literally have different C-H-O-N atoms in us than we had years ago.

We had a ham roast over the holidays. Meat is muscle, but that pig’s muscle had a different texture than mine. How did my body change the ham into the muscle that is in my body, or into my hair type? It all comes down once again to SEQUENCE. My DNA code caused my body to rearrange the SEQUENCE of the ham’s amino acids to the SEQUENCE that my body demands. That just a few basic building materials can be arranged in so many different ways is indeed mind boggling.

The BLACK BEAR CUB is eating berries and its body will cause the berries to become bear – all because of a change in the SEQUENCE of the materials eaten as directed by the bear’s DNA. What a striking contrast between the bear and the little ANOLE lizard, even though both are made from the same materials.

(Tremendous variations because of SEQUENCES)