31. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Nicki Marcus was helping customers at her dog grooming business in Athens Sunday when her pet macaw “Pretty Bird” decided to take off.

Julie Ritterbush and Ricky Adams feed the bird. (Photo: Floyd Johnson, Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson)

Julie Ritterbush and Ricky Adams feed the bird. (Photo: Floyd Johnson, Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson)

Marcus recalls, “He was very scared because of the dogs barking so loud or something triggered him and he decided to fly out the door when a man went out the door with his dog.”

For days “Pretty Bird” explored a new world while Nicki was worried sick. A post on Craigslist led to a tip. He was three buildings away, 40 feet up in a tree. They called in a bucket truck. Unfortunately, it didn’t do the trick.

Marcus says, “He just decided to fly off again. He wasn’t ready to be captured. He was enjoying his freedom.”

But “Pretty Bird” had a change of heart, or at least a change of flight path today. He flew onto the highway. A woman stopped just in time and called for help.

Ricki Adams was there. “I actually pulled up when he was crossing the road. We got up in the ditch with him and talked to him and calmed him down till Miss Nicki got there.” He went on to say, “She was in tears yesterday and I saw some tears today. She is very happy to have him back home.”

According to Marcus, “When I arrived he was on a lady’s lap eating wheat bread. I guess he was ready to come home.”

Marcus says her exotic macaw is very tired and dehydrated from his time out and about. But after he recovers she plans to have his wings clipped.

“Pretty Bird” has a 200 word vocabulary, but is apparently too tired to talk right now.  With a 60 year life span, he does have plenty of time to talk about his big adventure.

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29. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

At a Republican Party event in Iowa earlier this month, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky did a bit about the scale of Obamacare’s diagnostic coding. It killed. The only problem was that Paul’s critique of the new codes are a critique of codes that aren’t new and aren’t Obamacare. A lot of them aren’t even American.

Paul delivered the bit as a small part of a long speech, but — given the solid punchlines — the routine has at last been picked up by the conservative media. An article at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze walks through the jokes, dubbing the speech “hilarious — yet revealing.”

Here’s the relevant stretch.

An excerpt:

I’m a physician, and when you come in to see me, I put down a little diagnostic code and there was 18,000 of these. But under Obamacare, they’re going to keep you healthier, because now there’s going to be 140,000 codes. Included among these codes will be 312 new codes for injuries from animals. 72 new codes for injuries just from birds. Nine new codes for injuries from the macaw. The macaw? I’ve asked physicians all over the country: Have you ever seen an injury from the macaw?

Paul goes on to note other weird or excessive codes besides these violent macaws, unseen by the country’s medical experts. Turtles get two codes. Walking into a lamppost gets one. Walking into a lamppost for a second time gets its own. Big government, amirite.

But there’s probably a good reason Paul didn’t find any doctors who’d experienced macaw injuries. (He apparently didn’t talk to this guy in Arkansas.) Senator Paul only asked doctors in America. Perhaps he should have spoken to doctors in a country with more macaws — a country that uses the same diagnostic codes we do, since the new Obamacare codes he refers to predate Obama, are not in any way specific to the Affordable Care Act, and largely derive from international guidelines.

The codes cited by Paul all appear in a document known as the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision. Donna Pickett of the Centers for Disease Control explains how the codes work in a brief article at the CDC website.

The ICD-10 is copyrighted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which owns and publishes the classification. WHO has authorized the development of an adaptation of ICD-10 for use in the United States for U.S. government purposes. As agreed, all modifications to the ICD-10 must conform to WHO conventions for the ICD. ICD-10-CM was developed following a thorough evaluation by a Technical Advisory Panel and extensive additional consultation with physician groups, clinical coders, and others to assure clinical accuracy and utility.

We spoke with Pickett this afternoon, and she explained just how “thorough” that evaluation was. “The Affordable Care Act came well after the development of the ICD,” Pickett told The Atlantic Wire in a phone interview. The CDC worked with a number of groups on developing the modification to the WHO’s core set of diagnostic codes — work, she pointed out, that “started in 1997 and continues to the present.” They weren’t doing so on behalf of the Affordable Care Act, of course. The new, expanded code set is the intended replacement for ICD-9, as mandated by 1996′s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The document’s WHO pedigree is likely why it includes things like turtle and macaw attacks. Pickett:

The WHO version is an international classification, so there are things that are broadly grouped. … So yes there may be things in there that are not specific to the US and some things that are specific to the US. The idea being that you have a code for any particular classification.

The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics website explains how the lengthy ICD-10 was developed, pegging the starting point for its adoption in 1994. (At the time, Barack Obama was an attorney in Chicago, having not yet signed the ACA into law.) The 1997 date cited by Pickett was the date at which the initial draft modifications became available for public comment, meaning that there already existed a robust set of updates.

Senator Paul’s office did not respond to an email. Below, the list of diagnostic codes included in the ICD-10. Feel free to make up your own jokes, but do try and be specific on the details.

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
pbump at theatlantic dot com.

You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.


29. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

A special pair of scarlet macaws are the newest residents of Hamilton Zoo.

The male and female macaws (Ara macao) arrived on Friday 24 May and are extra special as they are a completely genetically unrelated pair.

Although their exact ages are unknown, they are of breeding age and Hamilton Zoo hopes they will breed in the near future.

The pair came from former Hilldale Game Farm owner Murray Powell who, with his wife Gloria, opened the Hilldale Zoo and Wildlife Park in 1969.

Since his retirement and Hamilton City Council taking over management of Hamilton Zoo in 1976, Mr Powell has still had a close connection with the zoo.

“Murray has extensive knowledge of exotic birds and has provided invaluable support to Hamilton Zoo over many years” said Education Team Leader Ken Millwood.

“He has helped out on numerous occasions with the hand-raising and rearing of some of our birds, and it is fantastic that we have been able to add these two beautiful birds to our collection so that we can all enjoy them.”

The keepers will now spend the coming months getting to know the personalities of the birds – with the female macaw already showing to be a ‘pretty feisty lady’!

The birds can be found in the zoo’s Parrot Court. Make sure you head down and check them out during the long weekend!

Did you know?

- Scarlet macaws come from Central and South America and are native to humid evergreen forest in the American tropics.

- Their diet consists of fruits, nuts seeds and occasionally nectar and flowers.

- Macaws are the longest parrots in the world – the body of the scarlet macaw can be as long as 96cm.

- Scarlet macaws mate in monogamous pairs, forming bonds that last a lifetime.

- They can live up to 75 years in captivity, although a more typical lifespan is 40 to 50 years.

- Parrots frequently use their left foot in handling food and in grasping other things. This left handed condition seems to be based on the same principle as the preferential hand that humans utilise.

26. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

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25. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

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May 10, 2013

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Feathered friend: John Ibrahim and Meg. Photo: Supplied

He’s a former debt collector and bikie associate. But now Mark Judge is in a flap after losing his much loved pet parrot ”Paris”.

Mr Judge, who is now running a jewellery store in Bondi Junction Westfield, said the macaw, reportedly worth $10,000, flew the coop from his Bellevue Hill home at lunchtime on Thursday.

”I love this bird. It’s only 16 weeks old and I’m devastated the bird got out,” he said.

Missing: Paris the macaw.

Missing: Paris the macaw.

In August last year, Mr Judge, a former debt collector, was granted bail over an alleged fight with three men outside Kings Cross nightclub Sapphire.

A former bikie associate, Mr Judge, who was repeatedly stabbed in the garage of his home in 2011, is offering a large reward for the red parrot.

”Paris can’t fly too far, probably a kilometre or so, so anyone who sees a red parrot in the area contact the paper,” he said. It is not the first time one of Sydney’s colourful characters has expressed a deep love for a feathered friend.

John Ibrahim's parrot, called Meg.

John Ibrahim’s parrot, called Meg.

Last August, Fairfax Media reported a friend of Mr Judge being reunited with their pet. Kings Cross nightclub identity John Ibrahim’s multimillion-dollar seaside home was the scene of a police rescue when his much-loved macaw Meg escaped and flew over the nearby Dover Heights cliffs.

A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the bird was perched on a ledge and could not get back up to safety. But Rose Bay police along with police rescue abseiled down and retrieved Meg.

”Meg is very happy to be back. John really loves this bird,” she said at the time.

Another well-known parrot lover is businessman John Singleton, who subsequently denied he gave Meg to Mr Ibrahim when paying off a $100,000 bet.


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23. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

BUTTE — An exotic bird that was reunited with its former owner earlier this month has been returned to a Butte sanctuary after the staff suspects that the scarlet macaw may not belong to him.

Lori McAlexander, who runs the Montana Parrot and Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Butte, drove to Great Falls on Friday and took the bird back from Mike Taylor, who said he was the long-lost owner. McAlexander told The Montana Standard on Monday that she found inconsistency in Taylor’s story and she doesn’t believe he ever owned the bird.

Taylor contacted the sanctuary earlier this month to say that his macaw named “Spike” (but he called it “Love-Love”) was at the Butte sanctuary. He claimed that his ex-wife took the bird from him five years earlier in a divorce and he had not seen the bird since.

McAlexander said she believed his story because he accurately described certain traits and characteristics of the macaw. Taylor was reunited with the bird on April 21 in Butte, and the story received plenty of local and national media coverage.

After the story came out, Taylor’s ex-wife contacted McAlexander and told her the bird she returned to Taylor wasn’t Spike. Belinda Carrillo told The Montana Standard on Monday that she and Taylor have been separated since 2011 but were married.

She claims they didn’t divorce five years ago, and that she had adopted Spike five years ago. Carrillo says she gave the bird to a couple in Great Falls just before she left the state in 2011.

Carrillo noted that the bird Taylor got from the Butte sanctuary is blind in one eye, and that Spike isn’t blind. She even presented photos to McAlexander that she claims clearly shows the two birds look different.

Taylor, reached by phone on Monday, said he willingly turned the bird back over to McAlexander on Friday. He said he still believes the bird is his, but he didn’t want to press the issue.

“I’m not going to get involved, especially now that my ex-wife is involved in this,” Taylor said.

Since this incident, McAlexander said she’s going to be more careful when dealing with bird adoptions. She plans to check further into people who try to adopt one of their exotic birds.

23. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

By Bonnie James/Deputy News Editor

Pioneering efforts by Qatar’s Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation to conserve the extinct-in-the-wild Spix’s macaw have achieved a key milestone with the world’s first artificial insemination in the parrot species native to Brazil, under a partnership with a German firm.  
Founded by Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani, AWWP, which has been a champion in Spix’s macaw conservation for over a decade, holds over 77% (64 out of 83) of the world population of the bird and is actively involved in grassroots conservation in its home country.
Given that a narrow genetic pool is one of the biggest problems for the worldwide breeding programme, as it causes suboptimal fertility in the population, researchers from AWWP together with Parrot Reproduction Consulting from Germany decided to help the species through artificial insemination.
As soon as a female laid her first egg, the team took sperm from a male and immediately deposited it by micro-capillary tube into the oviduct of the female Spix hoping to fertilise the next egg to be laid before the egg shell would be formed.
“This process was repeated after the second and third eggs were laid as Spix are known to often lay four eggs in a clutch,” Dr Tim Bouts, director of AWWP told Gulf Times.
After seven days the eggs were candled to see if they were fertile. Two – out of the seven artificially inseminated – proved to be fertile and developed well in the incubator.
The eggs were checked daily for development and as the chicks were growing their heart rates monitored in the egg until they hatched after 26 days.
The first chick to hatch was called ‘Neumann,’ named after veterinarian Daniel Neumann, from Parrot Reproduction Consulting, the executor of the first successful artificial insemination in Spix.
“I have performed many artificial inseminations in parrots over the years but none have been as special as the ones in the Spix,” he said while recalling that as a boy, following the sad story of the disappearance of the Spix’s macaw in the wild, he dreamt about becoming involved in its conservation.
This success story is hopefully the beginning of the recovery of the species in the wild as successful breeding in captivity with a wide genetic pool will be the most important tool for its survival.
The blue macaw co-ordinator in AWWP, Dr Cromwell Purchase, said: “Since we know that artificial insemination is possible in this species, we have a lot more possibilities for breeding as we can use different males and females to make up the best possible genetic combinations.”
The next step will be to perform artificial insemination in Spix’s macaws already in Brazil and to set up an AWWP breeding facility inside Brazil.
Dr Bouts pointed out that currently AWWP manages 10 out of 11 Spix’s macaws owned by the Brazilian government in NEST, a private breeding facility in Sao Paulo State.
“We need to kick-start breeding and possibly artificial insemination in their native country as soon as possible. We are also looking to set up our own breeding facility and send some birds from Qatar to Brazil.”
AWWP, well-recognised and respected globally for its focus on breeding and protecting threatened species, is non-commercial and not open to the public. A member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, AWWP has so far this year bred four Spix’s macaw chicks, including the two conceived by artificial insemination, of three different mothers.
AWWP, which owns 2,380 hectares of prime Spix’s habitat near the town of Curaçá in the Caatinga in Brazil, is involved in habitat restoration to prepare the area for reintroduction of the Spix’s macaw in the wild.
AWWP spends over QR1mn each year for Spix’s macaw conservation in Qatar and Brazil.

19. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

After nearly a week of frantic efforts to corral a wayward pet macaw who spread his wings and flew away, all the effort paid off just after noon on Saturday when Tango glided down to his owner and, in effect, turned himself in.

“Tango has been captured!” said Kelly Adair, whose brother’s bird flew the coop.  “From what I understand as my brother was going to try a ladder he flew down to the ground and Brian grabbed him. He is on the way to see a vet and yes, have his wings clipped. Thank you so much for your help, ideas, and suggestions. This surely is something we will never forget. Thank you again!”

Tango, a blue and yellow macaw, escaped his home Tuesday—at just a year old, it was the bird’s first flight.

He moved from tree to tree around Peyton Avenue and refused to come down. The family located him, but Tango won’t or couldn’t get down from the tree, said Adair, whose brother owns the bird.

The family tried many approaches, from calling him, coaxing him with toys and even laying out a buffet for Tango.

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15. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:



Scarlet macaw, Ara macao, in flight.
Image: Tambopata Research Center. [NOTE: This image has been altered; it has been cropped.]


After many years of research into the behaviours, diseases, genetics and life history of scarlet macaws, a team of scientists have taken their studies to the next level. Christopher Seabury, an Assistant Professor of Genetics at Texas AM University’s college of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Ian Tizard, Director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center and a Professor of Microbiology Immunology at Texas AM University’s college of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, spearheaded an international collaboration of scientists that sequenced the genome of the scarlet macaw, Ara macao. This work significantly expands the range and depth of research opportunities involving scarlet macaws and other parrots. In addition to important conservation applications, this research may provide insights into the genetics that contribute to key traits of parrots, such as cognitive and speech abilities as well as longevity.

Scarlet macaws are large and showy parrots with brilliant red, yellow and blue plumage and long pointed tails. Endemic to Central and South America, this impressive neotropical parrot occupies a large range from southeastern Mexico throughout the Amazon basin region of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Easily trained to do complex tasks and to mimic human speech, wild scarlet macaws have been persecuted by the caged bird trade. Additionally, their preferred habitat of lowland evergreen rainforests makes them vulnerable to deforestation and habitat destruction.

To do this work, Drs Seabury and Tizard and their team obtained a blood sample from an adult female scarlet macaw known as “Neblina” who resides at the Blank Park Zoo in Iowa. A wild-caught parrot from Brazil, Neblina had been seized in 1995 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service after she illegally entered the United States.

Unlike mammals, avian red blood cells are nucleated, so a small sample of whole blood from a bird is an excellent source of DNA for molecular, chromosomal and cytological studies. Some cells were grown in cultures so the intact chromosomes could be harvested and examined whilst DNA was extracted from other cells for sequencing. These gene sequences were then assembled into the complete scarlet macaw genome by Seabury and his team.

Similar to almost all vertebrates, scarlet macaws are diploid; having two copies of each chromosome type, one contributed by each parent. Like all birds except birds of prey (Falconiformes), parrot genomes contain macrochromosomes and a larger number of microchromosomes.

Macrochromosomes are what most people think of when they hear the word “chromosome” and they are the type of chromosomes that are typically found in mammals. Macrochromosomes, which include autosomes and sex chromosomes, are large — generally more than 40 megabases (Mb) in size (1 megabase is 1,000,000 nucleotide basepairs in length).

Microchromosomes, on the other hand, are very small — usually less than 20 Mb in size. Due to their small size, microchromosomes are often impossible to distinguish when creating a traditional karyotype, as you see in Figure 1 (larger view):



Figure 1. Consensus Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) Karyotype.
Scarlet macaw diploid chromosome number is 2n=62–64, as inferred from chromosome counts of multiple cells derived from three individuals, including the sequenced female macaw (Neblina). All investigated scarlet macaws had 22 macrochromosomes, which included 10 pairs of autosomes and the sex chromosomes, and approximately 40–42 microchromosomes.


Scarlet macaws have somewhere between 62 and 64 chromosomes; including 22 macrochromosomes (10 pairs of autosomomes and two sex chromosomes) and between 40 and 42 microchromosomes.

To identify similar regions between scarlet macaw and chicken macrochromosomes, the team used chromosome painting. This method uses fluorescently labeled chromosome-specific DNA probes that hybridise to complementary DNA regions, thereby identifying macaw chromosome regions that are similar to chicken chromosomes (Figure 2; larger view):



Figure 2. Chicken-Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) Comparative Chromosome Painting (ZooFISH).
Using chicken flow sorted macrochromosomes (GGA1-GGA9) as well as GGAZ and GGAW, the homologous chromosome segments of the scarlet macaw were established via fluorescent in situ hybridization. [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062415.s019]


As expected, the final completed scarlet macaw genome shows similarities to that of the domestic chicken. However, there are a number of important differences, which are to be expected since parrots and chickens (taxonomic order: Galliformes) diverged approximately 122–125 million years ago. For example, several macaw macrochromosomes (1, 6 7) show significant rearrangements. The sex chromosome W shows no similarities at all between chicken and macaw, indicating that this chromosome is changing rapidly and thus, has not been conserved across such a large evolutionary distance.

As typical for other avian genomes studied so far, scarlet macaw genomes are smaller than mammalian genomes.

“The final analysis showed that there are about one billion DNA bases in the genome, which is about one-third of that found in mammals,” Dr Tizard explained in a written press release.

“Birds have much less DNA than mammals primarily because they do not possess nearly as much repetitive DNA.”

Repetitive DNA has no currently known function. The amount of repetitive DNA varies greatly between taxa: for example, more than 50 percent of the human genome is repetitive DNA [doi:10.1038/nrg3117].

According to Dr Seabury, comparing the scarlet macaw genome to other avian genomes will provide scientists with a better understanding of avian biology.

“The Scarlet Macaw Genome Project opens a variety of doors ranging from modern forensics to determining how the macaws utilize their natural habitat and landscape, as inferred from variable genetic markers,” said Dr Seabury in a written press release.

In addition to research into evolution and population genetics, and conservation biology applications, what can we learn from the scarlet macaw’s genome? First, even though birds have higher metabolisms than mammals, they enjoy much longer life spans than do mammals with the same body mass. In the case of scarlet macaws, adults weigh somewhere between 1000 and 1200 grams (roughly 2.2 pounds), and they reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age, yet their life span rivals that of humans. By comparing avian genomes to those obtained from other animals, it may be possible to identify which genes contribute to birds’ remarkable longevity.

Other genes of interest are those involved in heart and cardiovascular fitness, and those that contribute to the risk for diabetes. But perhaps most interesting are those genes involved with cognition and brain size.

“A preliminary analysis of their genome suggests that [macaws] have a lot of genes involved in brain development”, said Dr Tizard in a video press release. “Which fits, knowing how smart they are.”

Despite differences from humans in brain development and structure, macaws are much like humans: they are very intelligent and live in highly complex social groups. Additionally, when corrected for differences in body size, macaws’ brains are twenty-one percent larger than those of zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, which are the model system for vertebrate learning and memory. Thus, comparing the scarlet macaw, zebra finch and human genomes could provide greater insight and understanding into important genetic differences in brain development, structure and volume.

Sources:

Seabury C.M., Dowd S.E., Seabury P.M., Raudsepp T., Brightsmith D.J., Liboriussen P., Halley Y., Fisher C.A., Owens E. Viswanathan G. Tizard, I.R. (2013). A Multi-Platform Draft de novo Genome Assembly and Comparative Analysis for the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), PLoS ONE, 8 (5) e62415. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062415.s019

TAMU written and video press releases.

Also cited:

Treangen T.J. Salzberg S.L. (2012). Repetitive DNA and next-generation sequencing: computational challenges and solutions, Nature Reviews Genetics 13: 36-46. doi:10.1038/nrg3117

Ried T., Schröck E., Ning Y. Wienberg J. (1998). Chromosome painting: a useful art, Human Molecular Genetics, 7 (10) 1619-1626. doi:10.1093/hmg/7.10.1619 [OA PDF]

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

GrrlScientist is an evolutionary biologist, ornithologist and freelance science writer who writes about the interface between evolution, ethology and ecology, especially in birds. You can follow Grrlscientist’s work on her other blog, Maniraptora, and on facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest and of course, on twitter: @GrrlScientist

14. May 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Macaw News · Tags:

redOrbit Staff Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

In what is being hailed as a “groundbreaking” advancement in the fields of avian evolution, biology and conservationism, researchers from the Texas AM University (TAMU) College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Sciences have successfully sequenced the complete genome of a Scarlet macaw.

Dr. Christopher Seabury and Dr. Ian Tizard of the College Station, Texas-based university’s Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center are the first scientists to successfully sequence the complete genome of the South American parrot. The results of their work are detailed in the current edition of the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

According to the researchers, they used a female macaw from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa known as Neblina. The parrot is believed to have come from Brazil, and was confiscated during a 1995 US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) raid on illegally imported exotic birds. Tizard said he and his colleagues took a blood sample and extracted DNA from Neblina in order to complete the steps required for the sequencing process.

“The final analysis showed that there are about one billion DNA bases in the genome, which is about one-third of that found in mammals. Birds have much less DNA than mammals primarily because they do not possess nearly as much repetitive DNA,” he explained in a statement. While the final genome is similar to that of the chicken, Tizard said there are “significant differences at both the genome and biological level.”

“Macaws can fly great distances, while chickens can’t,” he said. “In addition, brain development and volume are very different in macaws, which is unsurprising since they are very intelligent birds compared to chickens. Likewise, macaws can live many years, while chickens usually do not, and therefore, our macaw genome sequence may help shed light on the genetic factors that influence longevity and intelligence.”

Tizard explained the researchers selected a Scarlet macaw for the sequencing effort because researchers at Texas AM had been studying the species for several years – analyzing macaw diseases, behavior, and genetics at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru. He and his colleagues report that their work will also enhance the research-related possibilities surrounding the Scarlet Macaw.

There are 23 different species of macaws, some of which have become extinct and several others of which are currently endangered, the researchers said. The birds, which are typically found in Central and South America, have been targeted by trappers and negatively affected by deforestation in their natural habitats.

“They are considered to be among the most intelligent of all birds and also one of the most affectionate – it is believed they are sensitive to human emotions,” Tizard said, adding they can live to be 50 to 75 years of age. “Possessing stunning feathers that are brightly colored, some macaws have a wingspan approaching four feet. They also usually mate for life and can fly as fast as 35 miles per hour.”