See photos of the bird that researchers scientifically deemed the ‘most Instagrammable’

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Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) seen roosting on low fallen tree.

  • Two German scientists set out to answer a simple question: What makes a good bird photo?
  • They examined thousands of Instagram photos and users’ “like” behavior to find the champion.
  • In the end, a nocturnal fowl native to Australia and Southeast Asia came out on top.
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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in the tawny frogmouth’s case, the creature’s wide, emotive eyes helped secure it the title of the most photogenic species of its class.

Two German scientists – one, a photography aestheticist, and the other, an avid bird aficionado – set out to use empirical evidence to answer a seemingly subjective question: “What makes a great bird photo?”

In a study released last week, Dr. Katja Thömmes and Dr. Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring, both postdoctoral researchers at the University Hospital Jena in Germany, examined more than 20,000 photos of birds across nine Instagram accounts with a total following of more than 3 million users in search of their answer.

Some of the results were surprising.

For example, researchers found that a photograph’s “aesthetic appeal” was frequently unrelated to how “beautiful” the picture is in a traditional sense of the word. Certain colors on a bird, including blue and red, may garner more “likes” from Instagram users, but the “interestingness, idiosyncrasy, and…situational context” of a feathered fowl plays a larger role in accumulating social media approval.

In other words, the weirder the bird looks, the more likely people will be to respond positively to the photograph. And Instagram users’ appreciation for the unusual birds is likely responsible for the study’s overall victor: the frogmouth.

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Bird keeper at the Australian Reptile Park Kellie Masters looks after a 2-month-old Tawny Frogmouth on December 7, 2010 in Gosford, Australia.

Often confused for an owl, the nocturnal frogmouth boasts long wings, short legs, a hooked beak, and front-facing eyes. The birds are most commonly found in their native Australia and Southeast Asia.

While most birds’ eyes are positioned on the sides of their head, the frogmouth’s forward-facing eyes make the creatures appear more “personable” and “humanlike,” Tim Snyder, the curator of birds at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago told The New York Times.

“They always look perpetually angry,” Snyder told the outlet. “The look on their face just looks like they’re always frustrated or angry with you when they’re looking at you…it’s kind of funny.”

Thömmes told The Times she didn’t expect the frogmouth to take the number one spot. Out of more than 27,000 images examined by the duo, the frogmouth was only in 65, she said.

“The frogmouth brings that factor of surprise as it just does not look like any other bird, with its almost anthropomorphic, facial features,” Thömmes told The Times. “I must admit that I have grown quite fond of this peculiar nocturnal bird myself.”

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A 2-month-old Tawny Frogmouth looks on at the Australian Reptile Park.

To conduct their experiment, the scientists used a method Thömmes developed called the Image Aesthetic Appeal, or IAA.

Thömmes provided an in-depth explanation of how the method works to The Times: “[The number of likes on an Instagram photo] alone doesn’t have much meaning to it, especially if we want to compare it to another photo,” she said. But once the scientists control for “reach and time,” “we can for example, state that Photo X received 25 percent more likes than the exposure to the audience alone can explain.”

Other popular birds on Instagram include the pigeon, the turaco, the hoopoe, and the fairywren, according to the study.

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Pfizer vaccine may be less effective against South African and UK coronavirus variants, according to Israeli study

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vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line health care workers under an emergency use authorization at a drive up vaccination site from Renown Health in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020.

  • An Israeli study found that the Pfizer vaccine may not provide full protection against the South African strain.
  • Fully vaccinated patients saw protection against a surging UK strain, but partially vaccinated patients did not.
  • Israel has the world’s fastest vaccine roll-out, but has excluded Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Coronavirus variants first found in South Africa and the UK are able to partially “breakthrough” the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to an Israeli study that studied real-world infection data. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The study, released on Saturday, compared the incidences of both variants between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The study, conducted by Tel Aviv University and Israeli healthcare provider Clalit tracked almost 400 people, and counted both partially vaccinated (one dose) and fully vaccinated (two dose) patients.

The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to be eight times more prevalent among vaccinated patients while the UK strain, B.1.1.7, was more prevalent among partially vaccinated patients, though the fully-vaccinated showed increased protection against the UK strain.

The study suggests that the Pfizer vaccine provides less protection against the South African variant than the original coronavirus, but it is not able to actually conclude that because it is focused on those who have already tested positive for the virus, not total infection rates.

Roughly 80% of Israel’s population is vaccinated, with almost 53% of the population having received both Pfizer doses. The study found that only 1% of total cases in the study were the South African variant, a promising sign for Israel, the most vaccinated country.

Israel’s vaccine totals do not include Palestinians. Israel occupies the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, and has rolled out the vaccine much more slowly in Palestinian territories, claiming that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the distribution of vaccines.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian student studying at Tel Aviv University in Israel won the right to be vaccinated after being turned away from a school vaccination site and then suing. Israel has just recently begun to vaccinate Palestinians.

In data released on April 1, Pfizer and Biotech found that their shot was 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 and showed early signs of preventing the spread of the B.1.351 strain as well. Earlier lab trials had suggested that the vaccine provides some protection against the strain, but not full protection.

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Rubius Therapeutics surges 84% on encouraging results from early-stage testing of cancer treatment

NYSE traders
  • Rubius Therapeutics shares surged 84% during Monday’s trading session.
  • The biotech firm outlined encouraging data from testing of RTX-240, a potential cancer treatment.
  • Rubius said data collected provide initial proof-of-concept of its red blood cells generation system Red Platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rubius Therapeutics shares more than doubled during Monday’s session after investors received the biotech firm’s outline of results from early-stage tests of a potential cancer drug.

The company said data from an ongoing clinical trial of patients with advanced solid tumors contributed to providing initial proof-of-concept for its platform to generate red blood cells.

Shares of Rubius jumped as much as 136% to $38.71 then trimmed closed the session up by 84%. Trading was heavy, with volume of nearly 38 million shares outrunning the average daily volume of about 1.5 million shares.

Among the data from an ongoing phase 1/2 trial of RTX-240, the company’s cellular therapy product candidate, there was a 54% reduction in target lesions in a patient with metastatic anal cancer.

Rubius said the data collected “provide clinical validation” of its Red Platform red blood cells generation system, said Pablo Cagnoni, chief executive at Rubius, in a statement.

With “encouraging” initial safety and preliminary efficacy data for RTX-240, he said the company plans to initiate a phase 2 expansion cohort in the first quarter of 2022 and a new phase 1 arm of the RTX-240 trial to evaluate it in combination with another therapy during the second half of 2021.

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Tesla shares are being driven more by Reddit posts rather than the automaker’s fundamentals or valuation, Barclays study finds

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Tesla CEO, Elon Musk.

  • Tesla’s stock performance is positively correlated to the number of Reddit posts citing TSLA, Barclays found.
  • The automaker has seen outsized attention from retail investors with active discussions on social media. 
  • “We have painfully learned that social media memes can matter more for TSLA share performance.”
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Tesla’s stock performance might just be linked to online chatter over the automaker on social media forums like Reddit, according to a Barclays study released on Tuesday.

“On the autos team, we have painfully learned that social media memes can matter more for TSLA share performance than actual financial metrics, fundamentals or (dare we say) valuation,” strategists Ryan Preclaw and Brian Johnson wrote.

Barclays examined data on the Wall Street Bets subreddit to find big upticks in posts about Tesla have been predictive of stock returns a few days later. “In the model we think is most appropriate, a swing up of 7 or more submissions today over yesterday has been predictive of outsized returns in TSLA stock tomorrow,” the investment bank said.

The strategists laid out a scatter plot that suggests there is at least some relationship between attention on Wall Street Bets and Tesla returns. In conducting the analysis, Barclays focused on posts that reference either $TSLA or TSLA (in all caps), and no other identifiable ticker. 

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The strategists said there are statistically significant relationships between the number of returns and the absolute number of posts one and two days earlier, and between changes in post counts and following days’ returns.

“However, all of this analysis is ‘in sample.’ The situation has been so dynamic that there are simply too few examples to be confident of a stable process between WSB posts and TSLA returns,” Barclays said. “Even more than usual, past results might not predict future performance.”

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Tesla tumbled as much as 20% this week, making CEO Elon Musk relinquish his title as the world’s richest person. Shares in the EV-maker sank after the company halted new orders for its cheaper version of the Model Y crossover. The drop was also partly driven by Musk tweeting that the prices of bitcoin and Ethereum “do seem high” after their recent rallies. Tesla was trading 1.6% lower, at $730 per share, in pre-market trading on Thursday.

“With only 2-3 total submissions on each of the past several days, we remain below the trend in attention that has come along with big returns jumps in the past,” Barclays said. “It remains to be seen if WSB posters bring their attention back to TSLA anytime soon.”

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Alligators are now the largest animal that can regrow their limbs

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 file photo, an alligator rests in Everglades National Park, near Flamingo, Fla. Louisiana is suing California over the state's decision to ban the import and sale of alligator products, saying the ban will hurt an important state industry and ultimately could hurt the state's wetlands. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019,  Louisiana said the economy surrounding alligators has played a key role in bringing back the American alligator population and is an important factor in protection wetlands and other species besides alligators that depend on the wetlands. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Alligators can regrow their tails, scientists found.

  • Alligators are now the largest species with known abilities to regenerate their limbs, a new study published in Scientific Reports found.
  • Scientists at Arizona State University and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries found that, like lizards, young American gators can regrow their tails up to 9 inches.
  • The findings might be able to assist in research in human skin regeneration therapy, the team said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Scientists recently found that alligators can regrow their tails, making them the largest species to be able to regenerate severed limbs, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

Young alligators can regrow their tails up to nine inches, the study from Arizona State University and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries found, which we first saw when Smithsonian Magazine reported it this week.

“The regrown skeleton was surrounded by connective tissue and skin but lacked any skeletal muscle (which lizard tails do regenerate with),” Kenro Kusumi, co-senior study author and professor and director of ASU’s School of Life Sciences, told CNN.

Lizards have been long known to be able to form new limbs that had been severed, but until this study it wasn’t clear whether the much larger reptile had a similar ability.

Alligators can grow up to 15 feet and 1,000 pounds, according to National Geographic.

Kusumi had started the investigation into gator regrowth after receiving a package in the mail that contained a deformed alligator tail in a pickle jar with ethanol, National Geographic reported.

The tail, which he received in 2017, stood out to him. It was discolored, forked, and the scales were smaller than normal, according to Nat Geo.

Kusumi realized that the tail looked like it had been regrown, and he and his team confirmed that it had.

They also analyzed regrown tails from three other alligators, according to the study.

Knowing that the regenerated tails are formed differently – without skeletal tissue – than the original, might play a role in understanding how to develop regenerative therapies in humans, Kusumi told CNN.

“We know that humans – who are incapable of regenerating – have the same cells and pathways being used to regenerate in these other animals,” Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, co-senior study author and associate professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences, told CNN. “If this very large long-limbed animal has this ability, can we take advantage of this to help people who have lost limbs or burn victims who need skin regeneration?”

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