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Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art
Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art

San Francisco Might Get a Bridge With Glowing-Eyed Cat Sculptures

Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art
Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art

San Francisco may soon be home to an odd piece of public art. One of the three final designs being considered for the pedestrian bridge section of the Moscone Expansion Project, Peter Shelton’s “Catbridge” is certainly unique. His proposal would include several pedestal-mounted cat sculptures, each sporting at least two faces and two sets of glowing eyes that would be used to light up the bridge at night. 

Shelton says the design draws inspiration from the two-faced Roman god, Janus. In his proposal he writes:

“Janus is the two-faced God of transitions—of gates and doors, doorways, endings, and time. In ancient sculpture, we usually encounter his dual faces looking both forwards into the future and backwards into the past.”

Wikimedia Commons

He also provided an image of what these demonic glowing eyes might look like on such a sculpture, which he captioned “two kitties in the night.” 

SFAC Public Art

You can check out his concept art below, and see art from the other two finalists on the San Francisco Art Commission’s website. The winning proposal will be announced early next year.

Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art

Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art

Peter Shelton //SFAC Public Art

[h/t: City Lab]

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science
Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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iStock

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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paleontology
Extinct Penguin Species Was the Size of an Adult Human
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iStock

A penguin that waddled across the ice 60 million years ago would have dwarfed the king and emperor penguins of today, according to the Associated Press. As indicated by fossils recently uncovered in New Zealand, the extinct species measured 5 feet 10 inches while swimming, surpassing the height of an average adult man.

The discovery, which the authors say is the most complete skeleton of a penguin this size to date, is laid out in a study recently published in Nature Communications. When standing on land, the penguin would have measured 5 feet 3 inches, still a foot taller than today’s largest penguins at their maximum height. Researchers estimated its weight to have been about 223 pounds.

Kumimanu biceae, a name that comes from Maori words for “monster" and "bird” and the name of one researcher's mother, last walked the Earth between 56 million and 60 million years ago. That puts it among the earliest ancient penguins, which began appearing shortly after large aquatic reptiles—along with the dinosaurs—went extinct, leaving room for flightless carnivorous birds to enter the sea.

The prehistoric penguin was a giant, even compared to other penguin species of the age, but it may not have been the biggest penguin to ever live. A few years ago, paleontologists discovered 40-million-year-old fossils they claimed belonged to a penguin that was 6 feet 5 inches long from beak to tail. But that estimate was based on just a couple bones, so its actual size may have varied.

[h/t AP]

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