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Cactus roots at high magnification

Plants are active communicators capable of warning nearby plants of an impending insect infestation when they themselves are being eaten alive. They can also execute surprisingly sophisticated interpretations of their surroundings. Plants can compute their survival chances with a cost-benefit analysis of available resources. They can distinguish between positive and negative experiences and are even capable of forming memories from stressful events. They can recognize self vs. non-self, taking over territory from plants they deem weaker. As plants rapidly exchange chemicals and genetic material with other species, they constantly update their own behavior to better compete for light and food in order to survive.

Image by Matt Sharp.

from: cognitive dissonance via  america-wakiewakie:

Documentary recommendation for the week:

Class Dismissed 

Class Dismissed provides a critical look at how U.S. history is taught in high school, at the myths that reduce the complexity of history into simple soundbites, and the information that never seems to make it onto the textbook pages. How can we alter this system to address the limitations of the current curriculum, to allow students to find their own place in history and the world today, to inspire them to become active learners andagents for social change? This video takes a beginning step by looking at the textbook industry, standardized testing, the lack of race and class analysis in textbooks, and the teacher’s role in introducing a range of perspectives into the classroom. Featuring authors Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) and James Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me), New York public high school students, textbook industry insiders, and teachers, this is a must-see video for any student of American History.

Interbreeding Among Early Hominins | IFLScience

The evolutionary tree for modern humans a bit of a mess - humans haven’t had a close relative on this planet for over 10,000 years, but there used to be several other closely related species living at the same time.

Genetic analyses on bone fragments from Neanderthals and Denisovans has given us new insight into our not-so-distant evolutionary past. The results indicate that not only did Denisovans and Neanderthals interbreed with modern Homo sapiens, but they also mated with an unidentified fourth hominin group…

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