200 Goats Run Wild Through California Neighborhood
A California neighborhood was treated to an unusual lockdown protest Tuesday evening when around 200 goats broke through a fence and ran shoulder to shoulder through the streets.
The moment was captured on video and shared on social media by 23-year-old Zach Roelands, who returned to his San Jose home around 5 p.m. to find the goats on the loose, as USA TODAY reported.
"This is the craziest thing to happen all quarantine," Roelands tweeted.
I’m dead 😂☠️ When I got back from the store all the goats had broken through the fence and were recking havoc on ou… https://t.co/BZmgvpmXUq— Zach Roelands (@Zach Roelands)1589336066.0
While goats may not be very good at social distancing, they are very helpful at combating another potential crisis—California wildfires. Their ability to munch on flammable non-native grasses while navigating steep hillsides has made them a valuable (and adorable) part of fire-prevention efforts across the state.
That is the reason the goats were in the neighborhood to begin with, Zach's father Terry Roelands told NBC Bay Area. The hill behind the Roelands' home caught fire around 15 years ago, so goats have since come to eat the brush a few times a year. This time, one of the goats went to eat a flower on the other side of the fence and tapped an electric fence, which then broke the boards on the fence, allowing the goats to escape.
"All of a sudden they get onto our driveway and it was very exciting but I was a little bit nervous because the garage was open and I thought they might get into the garage," neighbor Amit Patel told NBC Bay Area.
But the goats were mostly interested in eating the plants, and then doing their business, in neighbors' front yards, Zach Roelands told USA TODAY. They were not interested in bothering people.
"The goats are actually pretty scared of humans, it seemed like," he said.
Good social distancing vs bad social distancing. Stay safe 👍🏻 https://t.co/sWZHBXeBT2— Zach Roelands (@Zach Roelands)1589341823.0
The whole thing was over fairly quickly. Terry Roelands told NBC Bay Area that a rancher wrangled the goats back to the hillside in about five minutes. But people had to spend the next hour cleaning up their droppings, Zach Roelands told The Guardian.
However, he said people were mostly diverted by the goats.
"The goats have come for the past 12 years but this was the most entertaining they've been," he told The Guardian.
The San Jose goats aren't the only herd of renegade goats to gain fame during the coronavirus lockdown. A seaside town in Wales has been taken over by a herd of around 122 Kashmiri goats that wandered down from the cliffs into the empty streets in March.
They run Llandudno now and we just have to accept that as fact. Shenkin must be giving them tips from the Royal Wel… https://t.co/axR8R9xLAa— Andrew Stuart (@Andrew Stuart)1585565772.0
"They are curious, goats are, and I think they are wondering what's going on like everybody else," Llandudno town councilor Carol Marubbi told BBC News.
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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