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A frozen baby mammoth

The woolly mammoth was one of the last in a line of mammoth species. Its appearance and behaviour are among the best studied of any prehistoric animal due to the discovery of frozen carcasses (example pictured) in Siberia and Alaska, as well as skeletons, teeth, stomach contents, dung, and depiction from life in prehistoric cave paintings. The animal was only identified as an extinct species of elephant by Georges Cuvier in 1796. Its closest extant relative is the Asian elephant. The woolly mammoth was well adapted to the cold environment during the last ice age, and had long, curved tusks. Its habitat was the mammoth steppe, which stretched across northern Eurasia and North America. The woolly mammoth coexisted with early humans, who used its bones and tusks for making art, tools, and dwellings, and the species was also hunted for food. It disappeared from its mainland range at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago, most likely through a combination of climate change, consequent disappearance of its habitat, and hunting by humans. Recreation through cloning has been proposed, but this is as yet infeasible; the ethics of this have also been questioned. (Full article...)

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October 24: United Nations Day (1945)

William Lassell

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Man in robes with long brown hair practicing speaking by the ocean with pebbles in his mouth

Stutterers are people who have a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks during which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was one of the 30% of stutterers who have an associated speech disorder—a lisp in his case—yet led his nation through World War II. Demosthenes (pictured) stuttered and was inarticulate as a youth, yet, through dedicated practice, using methods such as placing pebbles in his mouth, became a great orator of Ancient Greece. King George VI was so embarrassed by his stutter that he hired speech-language pathologist Lionel Logue and greatly improved his public speaking. Country singer Mel Tillis stutters when talking but not when singing. English comedian Rowan Atkinson incorporates his stuttering into his work by using over-articulation to overcome problematic consonants. German actor Dieter Thomas Heck started stuttering after being trapped under a staircase after a bombing raid in World War II. (Full list...)

Today's featured picture

Northern carmine bee-eater

The northern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicus) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. Native to Africa, the species is predominantly carmine in colour. Its diet consists mostly of bees and other flying insects.

Photograph: Luc Viatour

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