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Rare orange-eyed owl spotted for the first time in more than 125 years

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Rare orange-eyed owl spotted for the first time in more than 125 years

For the first time since its discovery more than 125 years ago, scientists have documented the Bornean subspecies of the Rajah Scops-Owl in the montane forest of Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center announced their rediscovery of the orange-eyed bird last month in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, including the first photographs of it in the wild.

In their report’s Abstract, the ecologists noted that while almost all of the basic elements of the species’ ecology are unknown – like  vocalizations, distribution, breeding biology, and population size – the “phylogeographic patterns of montane birds in Borneo and Sumatra, as well as plumage characters, suggest that O. b. brookii may be deserving of species classification.” 

According to Science Direct, phylogeography is a field of study that works to understand relationships among individual genotypes within a species or a group of closely related species and correlate the examined relationships to the species or group’s spatial distribution.

In doing so, scientists are able to trace the biogeographic history of infraspecific populations and better comprehend other factors like gene flow, fragmentation, range expansion and colonization. 

However, in the case of Otus brookii brookii, the ecologists say that quantitative phylogenetic analysis is not possible, though noting that resolving the owl’s ecology, distribution and taxonomic standing “could have important conservation implications.”

Taxonomy is the study of principles of the scientific classification of organisms and their arrangement based on “presumed natural relationships,” according to the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary.

In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, study author Andy Boyce said the rediscovery – made in Sabah in 2016 – was largely due to good timing.

He was there to research how different bird species behave across various elevations with the University of Montana when he got a tip from technician Keegan Tranquillo about a strange-looking owl with orange eyes.

“If we didn’t document it right then and there, this bird could disappear again for who knows how long,” Boyce told the publication. “It was a really rapid progression of emotion. There was nervousness and anticipation as I was trying to get there, hoping the bird would still be there. Just huge excitement, and a little bit of disbelief, when I first saw the bird and realized what it was. And then, immediately, a lot of anxiety again.”

Not much is known about Otus brookii brookii, including its song and the location of its core habitat. Its partner subspecies Otus brookii solokensis is found in Sumatra.

Boyce said he believes the largely nocturnal owl hasn’t been seen in so long because population density is low and that it may be “endemic” to that island, though he was able to find the owl again after an exhaustive two-week search.

He noted that while species are “going extinct so fast that we’re probably losing species that we never even knew existed,” humans “can’t conserve what we don’t know exists.”

“It reminds us as humans, and as scientists, that there are things, there are places in this world—even at this point where we have our fingerprints all over the planet—that we still just don’t have a grasp of and we’re still surprised on a daily basis by things that we find,” Boyce said.

According to Mongabay, the conservation status of the Rajah scops-owl is currently listed as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List. The outlet also notes that Malaysia and its forests are being increasingly impacted by climate change.

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Can someone have a word with my co-worker about her plunging necklines?

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Can someone have a word with my co-worker about her plunging necklines?

My co-worker has a Jayne Mansfield figure and continually wears plunging necklines, resulting in stares from staff. Can human resources legally advise her to dress more appropriately?

The answer is generally yes. HR can legally have a conversation with an employee about their manner of dress, provided someone isn’t being singled out because of gender, race or religious observance. However, one needs to tread very carefully because unless there is a specific dress code, this conversation is fraught with negative outcomes. Since this is an observation of a coworker and you aren’t this person’s boss, do you really want to engage in this matter or refer it to HR? Do you have the kind of relationship where you can speak to them privately about how their manner of dress is impacting other colleagues? You’d better be damn close colleagues in order to have that conversation, though, otherwise, this is best left to the boss and HR.

I work on a contract basis and there are times when I’m working overtime, but the company will not approve my time sheet past 40 hours. My agency said I should put in for the OT, but I don’t want to rock the boat. Is this legal? Full disclosure: The department I work in is HR so it would be ironic if they are bending the rules.

Well, the fact that you work in the HR department gives me some confidence that they are following the rules, although it’s not like HR hasn’t failed to protect employee rights now and then. A person’s eligibility for OT depends on the work they are doing, whether they are paid a flat fee, or if they are OT eligible, meaning the company approves the extra hours before they are worked. If you are eligible then by law they have to pay you for those hours. You can and should ask for clarification of your situation. If you are eligible and they won’t authorize the extra pay then you shouldn’t work the extra hours. Keep a detailed log of your hours and who was aware that you worked them. If this is a temporary job, you can also consider raising the issue at the end of the assignment. If they don’t comply with back pay, you will have the facts and law on your side.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com

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Woolly mammoth tusk found during roadwork in Oregon

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Woolly mammoth tusk found during roadwork in Oregon

It was a mammoth discovery!

Crews rerouting a gas line in the city of Corvallis, Ore., uncovered the 12,000-year-old tusk of a woolly mammoth beneath the roadway.

“Whenever doing this type of work, our crews are very careful to keep any eye out for any type of materials they may find while working that could be fragile or historic,” a spokeswoman for NW Natural, the gas company doing the work, told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “As is our protocol, we stopped work immediately.”

The excavation work was being done for the city government, part of a project on water lines and storm drains in the area. The company contacted Corvallis officials, who brought in Oregon State University’s Loren Davis, an anthropology professor who researches archaeological sites from western North America that date from the Pleistocene era, more than 12,000 years ago.

Davis said that the mammoth, which co-existed with early humans, probably was buried in the great Missoula floods of the Pleistocene era. The tusk is about 6 feet below ground level, and extends into the construction trench wall, meaning more of the animal’s body might be hidden underground.

The exact reason it ended up there is “a bit of a mystery,” Davis said. “The world was changing structure to a post-glacial one. People also were present. There might have been environmental factors as well as hunting pressure. It could be lots of things.”

Early humans not only hunted mammoths for food, but used their bones and tusks to make tools, dwellings and art.

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McDonald’s worker rage-quits with sign at drive-thru

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McDonald's worker rage-quits with sign at drive-thru

McDonald’s may want to reconsider its “I’m lovin’ it” slogan.

A Louisville, Kentucky, employee apparently despised working at the fast-food chain so much that they hung up a sign on the drive-thru speaker that read: “We are closed because I am quitting and I hate this job.”

After Twitter user Great Ape Dad snapped and posted a picture of the straight-to-the-point sign on Monday morning, it quickly went viral. He later elaborated that the sign supposedly was put up by a night shift manager who had “suddenly quit” the previous night.

Great Ape Dad told Today that he was on his way to pick up the new BTS meal for his wife when he saw the note. “I took a picture, uploaded it to Twitter, not thinking much of anything about it,” he said. “And much to my surprise, it’s had quite a success.” Apparently, none of the employees had seen the sign until he pointed it out.

“I used to work in the service industry myself,” he said. “I think that people are just frustrated, especially the working-class people who are there in the front line … things that are in a boiling point where I can definitely see where someone on a Saturday night that doesn’t want to be working the drive-thru — wants to just call it quits.”

This isn’t an isolated incident. Minimum wage workers have been rage-quitting their low-level jobs in mass quantities as businesses begin to open up again in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Combined with a need for new hires and a push for working wages, companies have begun to take action. 

McDonald’s reported in May that it plans to raise employee wages by 10% in the next few months. Based on location, all entry-level employees can look forward to making anywhere $11 to $17 per hour, and all shift managers will make $15 to $20 an hour.
According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey, 40% of small businesses have job openings that have yet to be filled, while a poll found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if they weren’t offered more flexibility about continuing to work remotely.

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