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Photographer Benjamin Drummond and writer Sara Joy Steele work as a documentary team, producing top-notch audio, video, research and still photography looking at environmental issues facing people around the world. Their ongoing, award-winning project Facing Climate Change examines how global environmental changes are affecting people in localized ways. The images in this gallery are from a recent collaboration with the Conservation International–a new global camera mammal study that seeks to provide data on species from protected areas in the Americas, Africa and Asia. A total of 420 cameras were placed around the world, with 60 motion-activated cameras set up in each site at a density of one per every two square kilometers for a month in each site.

“What makes this study scientifically groundbreaking is that we created for the first time consistent, comparable information for mammals on a global scale setting an effective baseline to monitor change. By using this single, standardized methodology in the years to come and comparing the data we receive, we will be able to see trends in mammal communities and take specific, targeted action to save them”, said Dr. Jorge Ahumada, ecologist with the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network at Conservation International, noting that 2010 cameras have been installed in new places, expanding the monitoring network to 17 sites (Panama, Ecuador, another site in Brazil, two sites in Peru, Madagascar, Congo, Cameroon, Malaysia and India). “Without a systematic, global approach to monitoring these animals and making sure the data gets to people making decisions, we are only recording their extinctions, not actually saving them.” To see a gallery of remarkable images made with the motion activated cameras in the study, click here.

Photos by Benjamin Drummond, August, 2011

The first global camera trap mammal study has documented 105 species in nearly 52,000 images from seven protected areas across the Americas, Africa and Asia. In the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, field technicians hike cross-country to install a motion-triggered camera.

At each research site, 60 cameras are placed on a grid of one camera per two square kilometers. The photographic data helped scientists confirm that habitat loss has a direct and detrimental impact on the diversity and survival of mammal populations.

Tanzania field technicians Steven Shinyambala, Emanuel Martin, and Aggrey Uisso check the alignment of a newly set camera trap in Udzungwa National Park.

Each camera will run day and night for 30 days to photograph passing mammals and birds. The study is the first to collect comparable information on mammals at a global scale and provides a baseline to monitor change.

The forests of Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains provide a critical source of water to surrounding rice and sugarcane fields. The camera trap data helps scientists understand how mammals are impacted by local, regional and global threats such as overhunting, conversion of land to agriculture and climate change.

This African leopard, a threatened species, was captured by a camera trap in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains. This image is one of nearly 52,000 photos taken as part of the first global camera trap mammal study.

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Daniel Lieberman - Brains, Brawn & the evolution of the Human Body

TEDxBermuda - April 23rd, 2011 Havard Professor, Daniel Lieberman discusses how to many, a massive brain is the quintessential human trait, but humans are also superlative endurance athletes compared to other mammals, especially in the ability to run long distances in the heat. In fact, the evolution of endurance made possible the evolution of large brains, and is so fundamental to our species' biology that vigorous endurance exercise is necessary for physical and mental health.

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We've talked here about the possible merging of Triceratops and Torosaurus into just Triceratops. Jack Horner is one of the paleontologists involved in that research. And, for him, it's more than just a single study of a couple of species. Horner thinks that scientists have identified far more dinosaur species than actually existed. It's not just Torosaurus he'd like to see consigned to the trash heap, as he explains in this TEDxVancouver talk. The Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs blog offers a little background on Horner:

In this talk, I find the way Horner sells himself as something of a rogue paleontologist pretty interesting. I don't use the word "rogue" to imply that his ideas are absolutely crazy, but in that he's willing to do things like cut into dinosaur bones at the Museum of the Rockies, whereas other museums consider their collections too precious to risk. Perhaps "maverick" would be a better word here. Many of his big laughs come from the way he packs his observations in a pragmatic, blue collar, almost John Wayne-y persona. This is an old tradition in science: establishing oneself as a member of the masses, willing to get dirty while effete intellectuals bandy about theories in the parlors of academia.

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