Which animals are most likely to get COVID-19?

Which animals are most likely to get COVID-19?

Cats, dogs, ferrets and civets are most susceptible to COVID-19, a new research says. The findings come after a wild mink tested positive for COVID-19 in the US - the first coronavirus case detected in a wild animal.  Monitoring COVID-19 cases in animals is important, as they can become reservoirs of the virus and cause it to mutate and make potential vaccines less effective. The study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, used computer modelling to see how the virus's spike protein invades the cells of animals and humans.  It looked at 10 species in total, with humans, ferrets, cats, dogs and civets most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Mice, rats, chicken and ducks were found less prone to a COVD-19 infection.  The researchers also found that different variants of ACE-2 in humans - the receptor which binds with the spike protein - could affect the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.  Find out more about COVID-19 and animals here....
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The re-emergence of the beaver

The re-emergence of the beaver

In an unlikely upside, 2020 marks the return of beavers to England's wilderness.Beavers are back! In August, the government's five year trial to reintroduce the species into England's natural world was completed. Two family groups of beavers bred successfully in the river Otter in Devon and will now continue to settle in new areas.  Beavers are so dam important Beavers' ability to build dams helps improve water quality and flow, preventing floods and increasing biodiversity. According to research from the University of Exeter, beavers "played a significant role" in filtering pollutants from water at a place where they built 12 dams and ponds.  According to the same study, the flood-prone community of East Budleigh saw peak flood flows drop significantly, after a family of beavers constructed six dams upstream of the village.It also found that fish numbers increased in places where beavers had built their dams.  Where have they been? The Eurasian beaver was part of the British natural landscape until a few centuries ago. Its...
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Drinking coffee from a paper cup poses health risks

Drinking coffee from a paper cup poses health risks

It's the ultimate treat: a hot drink on a cold winter's morning. But your favourite takeaway coffee could hide dangerous chemicals in its cup.  A research has warned that drinking coffee or tea from a paper cup could lead to ingesting thousands of tiny microplastic particles. Consumed over time, these could pose significant health implications, including higher risks of cancer. The study, due to be published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, found that drinking three regular cups of tea or coffee daily in a paper cup could lead to ingesting 75,000 tiny microplastic particles.  These particles can contain ions and toxic heavy metals, such as palladium and could also cross into the animal kingdom, the researchers say. Alongside health risks, paper cups are also damaging to the environment. They can't be recycled and don't decompose in a landfill, which means the demand for them can only be met through more deforestation.  All this seems to prove paper cups are a double-edged sword and not...
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Why could mink threaten a COVID-19 vaccine?

Why could mink threaten a COVID-19 vaccine?

Denmark is set to cull millions of mink, amid fears a new coronavirus strain in the species could jeopardise a COVID-19 vaccine. They are cute, furry and apparently carrying a mutant form of the coronavirus, which has already spread to humans. Now Denmark will cull 17 million mink to stop the spread of the mutant virus and help protect the effectiveness of a future COVID-19 vaccine.  According to reports, more than 200 mink farms in the country have seen infections of coronavirus, while mink-related versions of it were found in 214 humans since June. However, the most worrying strain of the mutant has so far been found in only 12 people and five mink farms.  What do we know about the mutant? There are multiple mutations of the coronavirus in mink and seven of them have mutations in the spike protein, which helps the virus enter the cells. One of these viruses has four mutations in the spike protein and during laboratory tests proved less...
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Dogs are our oldest friends

Dogs are our oldest friends

Dogs are not only humans' best friend, but also the oldest, a study has revealed.  A DNA analysis has shown that dog domestication can be traced back to the end of the last Ice Age, more than 11,000 years ago. This shows dogs were domesticated before any other known species.  According to the research - which sequenced 27 ancient dog genomes - all dogs derive from a single extinct wolf population. Cats, on the other hand, became our pets some 6,000 years ago when humans settled in a farm. You can read the full study here....
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Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs

The hedgehog. Erinaceinae. These lovable spiny creatures which are a common site in our gardens and hedgerows, are Britain’s only spiny mammal. The UK is home to the West European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). This species is just one of seventeen different species worldwide from Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand. They were named for their peculiar foraging methods. These mammals search through hedges and undergrowth in search of creatures that compose most of their diet such as worms, insects, centipedes, snails, mice and sometimes even snakes! As they look for their food they snort and grunt in the hedgerows - ‘hedgehog’. Their specialised coat can contain over 6,000 spines and hangs around their body in a loose ‘skirt’, concealing the grey fur on their undersides, long legs and short stubby tail. Their spines are hollow and naturally fall out when a baby hedgehog (called a hoglet) grows adult spines. This process is called ‘quilling’ just like when our baby teeth fallout and...
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