The Reporter
ssue 492, 29 September 2003
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In the news


The start of the grouse season on August 12 brought widespread interest in research into game birds by biologist Dr Graham Askew. He has discovered game birds have the most powerful muscles of any animal measured. "If one of these birds were the same size as a human, they could generate five times more power from their muscles than an elite human sprinter," he told the Daily Telegraph. In the Financial Times, Dr Askew explained: "There's no wasted space in these muscles; everything is packed in for power generation." Unfortunately for game birds, the strong muscles form the lean breast meat which is good to eat, reported the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mirror and Yorkshire Post.

The UK’s bogs could help the country’s attempt to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets set in the Kyoto protocol, reported the Guardian. Researcher Mark Reed from the school of the environment said: “A growing peat bog actually takes out carbon from the atmosphere and stores it on the land.” The bog’s ability to hold carbon dioxide is reduced when drained. “Planting trees is already popular. Blocking bog drains could be a cheaper alternative, with important benefits in terms of reducing flood risk and ecological impact,” Dr Reed told the Yorkshire Post.

Leeds expert on animal mechanics Professor McNeill Alexander commented in Science on the discovery in South America of the remains of the largest rodent known to have existed. In the Times, Professor Alexander explained what the 700kg, three-metre long guinea pig – Pheroberyms pattersoni – looked like: "If you saw it in the distance on a misty day, it would look much more like a cow or a buffalo than a guinea-pig. The big question is why haven't other rodents grown to this size, and why didn't this one survive?" Channel 4, BBC Radio 4, the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail and Mirror also reported the story.

Chinese teachers have visited Leeds for training under a project led by Dr Martin Wedell in the school of education. The Yancheng Evening News interviewed Dr Wedell and students about the training. Student Qiu Yudou said: “British teachers are very good at praising and encouraging students.”

Fish are more intelligent than they are given credit for, according to researchers at the universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and St Andrews. Dr Jens Krause and colleagues in the school of biology found that ‘fish are regarded as steeped in social intelligence pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions, and cooperating to inspect predators and catch food’ reported the Yorkshire Post. The Daily Mail, Times, Sun, Sunday Times, Mirror, Sky News, Irish Independent and international media the Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Germany’s Fisch und Fang and Singapore based AsiaOne LTD also covered the research published by the journal Fish and Fisheries.

The Watch it! Programme to help obese children lose weight set-up by Dr Mary Rudolf received a visit from the commons select committee on health, see pages 6-7. Their visit, part of their research into the UK’s obesity problem, was reported in the Times, Guardian and Yorkshire Post. Mother of Leeds teenager Sophie Henderson explained to the Yorkshire Post that her daughter had lost a stone since joining Watch it! six months ago. In the Guardian, Sophie explained what the programme involved: “They've given me a step-counter and I've done more than a million steps already. I do lots more walking and I'm steadily losing weight.”

See the press releases at and details of press coverage at http://wwwnotes2.

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