50 & 100 years ago

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    50 Years Ago

    'Anatomical evidence for olfactory function in some species of birds' by Betsy Garrett Bang

    It seems curious that the large olfactory organs of certain species have so often been pointed out by anatomists, yet most olfactory learning studies have been done on feebly equipped birds such as pigeons, and have tended to keep alive in the text-books the idea that the chemical sense in birds is minimal or lacking... In dissecting the nasal tissues of birds for work on natural defences against respiratory disease, I have been repeatedly impressed by the size of some of the olfactory conchae... Of the species thus far dissected, by far the largest and most heavily innervated organs have been seen in the turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, the Trinidad oilbird, Steatornis caripensis, and the Laysan and black-footed albatrosses, Diomedea immutabilis and D. nigripes, each of which types represents a separate order with quite dissimilar feeding and nesting habits... There is no question of degenerate or indifferent function of the olfactory organs of these birds.

    From Nature 12 November 1960

    100 Years Ago

    'The Cocos-Keeling Atoll' — During a very short visit to these islands some years ago I was taken across the lagoon in a light canoe, and when wading to land, about a quarter of a mile distant, over the rough surface of fresh coral branches, I suddenly crashed downwards for about 2 feet into a mass of rotten coral which spread over an irregular area some 20 or 30 yards across. I did not investigate this further, as a shark's fin appeared above the water off shore, but Mr. Ross informed me that a good deal of the coral in the lagoon had been “killed” at various times by sulphurous exhalations from below.

    From Nature 10 November 1910

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    50 & 100 years ago. Nature 468, 182 (2010) doi:10.1038/468182a

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