Subscribe to get full access to all our content
interactive news
Scientist Fights For Endangered Tortoise With Secret Weapon: Lasers
Ravens pose a threat to the very existence of the desert tortoise (CCSS Level: Grade 6, Words: 399)
Nov 1, 2016 Science & Technology
A
A
A

In the Mojave desert in the south-west of the USA, ravens are wiping out the desert tortoise. There has been a huge increase in the number of ravens living in this dry desert area. Some estimates put the growth of the birds' population over the last 25 years at around 700%. All of these birds need food, and the desert tortoise provides a very tasty snack for a hungry raven.

A baby desert tortoise has very little defense against the strong beak of a raven. The little reptile does have a shell, but until it gets much older it is quite soft. They raven has no trouble breaking through and eating the soft delicacy inside.

The growth in raven populations, combined with low rainfall and disease, are all having a huge impact on tortoises. Their numbers have dropped 90% over the last few years. And it is not only the tortoises that are being affected. Ravens eat other birds, as well as lizards and snakes.

Coming to their rescue is super-hero and tortoise expert Tim Shields. Shields has spent more than forty years studying desert tortoises in the Mojave desert. Now he wants to help them to survive and avoid extinction. Coming to the aid of the tortoises, he has brought weapons including robots, lasers, 3D-printed lures and his knowledge of how ravens "think".

Shields first weapon is remote controlled robots with cameras that thousands of online helpers can drive around the desert, keeping an eye on turtles and scaring away ravens. Then there are the lasers beams. Shields has been using lasers to sweep around the desert to frighten the birds. Ravens really don't like the light from a laser and after firing the beams at the birds, Shields found they would stay away for weeks.



Another way to convince the birds to be scared of tortoises is to make replicas using 3D printers. The fake tortoises can be packed with unpleasant chemicals and can also sound a noisy alarm when disturbed. Some could even have the lasers as well, so that the attacking birds really get the message to "stay away".

The trials have only just begun, but Shields is sure that, with help, he can change the ravens eating habits. Shields is obviously very attached to the tortoises of the Mojave. "If they were completely wiped out, I would be crushed. It would be hard to take", he commented.

What reason is given for the fall in tortoise numbers?
disease
drought
ravens
all of these
The phrase "I would be crushed" means…
I would be very very upset
I would be broken into pieces
I would be squeezed by something
I would feel very strongly about it
The fact that scientists are trying to "train" birds to leave tortoises alone shows that the birds are…
quite stupid
very intelligent
not sensitive
always hungry
Related Articles
World's First Synthetic Antibiotic
Feb 16, 2018
China's War On Pollution - Shivering For Cleaner Air
Feb 12, 2018
SpaceX's Starman Looking Down At Earth From His Gleaming Red Sports Car
Feb 7, 2018
Lift Off, NZ-based Rocket Lab Has Completed First Successful Launch
Jan 23, 2018
Starfish Destroying Great Barrier Reef
Jan 22, 2018
Ozone Layer is Healing Due to Chemical Ban
Jan 18, 2018
Drinking Too Much Water As Harmful As Too Little
Jan 9, 2018
Bitter Taste Preferences Related To Harsher Moral Judgements And Interpersonal Hostility
Jan 3, 2018
The World's First Commercial Flying Cars Could Soon Take Off
Dec 19, 2017
New Zealand Giant Ancient Penguin Unearthed
Dec 15, 2017
Astronomers To Check Mysterious Interstellar Object For Signs Of Technology
Dec 13, 2017
When Everything Is Silent, The Earth Produces A Mysterious Hum
Dec 11, 2017
Scientists discover a 245,000 million-year-old 'Darth Vader' horseshoe crab fossil
Dec 7, 2017
First Ever Kid-Focused Coding Google Doodle
Dec 5, 2017
Google faces mass legal action in UK over data snooping
Dec 1, 2017
Teenage Brains Can't Tell What's Important and What's Not
Nov 28, 2017
Fears For World's Rarest Penguin As Population Plummets 
Nov 28, 2017
Singapore To Start Using Driverless Buses by 2022
Nov 26, 2017
Cinnamon Helps Burn Fat Cells, Study Finds
Nov 24, 2017
Fake WhatsApp Fools Thousands Of Android Users
Nov 6, 2017
More Than 75 Percent Decline Over 27 Years In Total Flying Insect Biomass
Oct 20, 2017
Major Wi-Fi Security Flaws Affect Billions Worldwide
Oct 18, 2017
NASA Is Running Our Of The Most Precious Ingredient Needed For Future Space Missions
Oct 11, 2017
Women Can Be Just As Risk-taking As Men
Oct 9, 2017
Google's New Earbuds Can Translate 40 Languages Instantly
Oct 5, 2017
This Ancient Giant Frog Had Powerful Jaws And May Have Eaten Small Dinosaurs
Sep 21, 2017
End Of Mission Timeline, As Cassini Makes Its Final Approach To Saturn
Sep 15, 2017
Mystery Blob Creature That Looks Like A Brain
Sep 4, 2017
Cheese Impacts Skull Shape
Aug 29, 2017
China To Launch New, 400km/h Trains on Beijing to Shanghai Route
Aug 25, 2017
Google Docs Just Made A Big Update
Aug 17, 2017
GM Pigs Move A Step Closer To Being Organ Donors
Aug 11, 2017
Apple's China App Store Has Removed VPN's
Jul 31, 2017
Scientific Breakthrough That May Change The Colours Of Our Gardens
Jul 28, 2017
Preparing For Life On The Moon, China Tests Self-Sustaining Space
Jul 10, 2017
Why Ancient Roman Concrete Lasts For Millenia
Jul 9, 2017
Grandma Throws Coins Into Plane Engine - For Good Luck
Jul 5, 2017
Annual New Zealand Garden Bird Survey Kicking Off This Saturday
Jun 22, 2017
Australian Scientists Pull Up Nightmare Deep Sea Creatures
Jun 20, 2017
Auckland Bridge Will Be Flooded In Light Powered By Solar And Battery Energy
May 28, 2017
The World's First Robot Police Officer Goes On Duty In Dubai
May 25, 2017
World's Hottest Chilli Grown in Wales
May 18, 2017
AI Movie Writing Skill Turns Out To Be Hilarious and Intense
May 3, 2017
China Builds World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft
May 2, 2017
Cassini Passes By Titan One Last Time
Apr 25, 2017
Scientists Discover Massive Sulfur-Eating Hell-Clams
Apr 18, 2017
NASA Will Destroy A US$3.26 Billion Saturn Probe this Summer To Protect An Alien Water World
Apr 6, 2017
New Application For The The World's Strongest Material
Apr 5, 2017
Australia's Own 'Jurassic Park'
Mar 27, 2017
Incredible Ice House in New York State Encased In Ice During Five Days Storm
Mar 13, 2017
Why Did Australian Lake Turn Bright Pink?
Mar 12, 2017
'Parched' Chinese City Plans To Obtain Water From Russian Lake
Mar 9, 2017
Wild African Elephants Sleep 2 Hours Only
Mar 5, 2017
How Clean Are Our Swimming Pools?
Mar 1, 2017
Scientists Excited By Gigantic New Global Continent Zealandia
Feb 19, 2017
Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads
Feb 14, 2017
123456 Is Still The World's Most Popular Password
Jan 17, 2017
US Woman Killed By Superbug Resistant To Every Available Antibiotic
Jan 16, 2017
Dutch Electric Trains Become 100% Powered By Wind Energy From January
Jan 11, 2017
Incredible New Image Shows The Earth And Our Moon From Mars
Jan 8, 2017
2016 Will Be Longer Because Of A Leap Second
Dec 29, 2016
Explosion Means Shortage Of Canned Whipped Cream
Dec 27, 2016
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This
Dec 7, 2016
Nestle says it can make chocolate taste just as good with far less sugar
Dec 4, 2016
Paper Helmets May Solve A Problem For Bike Renters
Nov 16, 2016
Samsung Involved In Another Major Product Recall
Nov 6, 2016
Scientist Fights For Endangered Tortoise With Secret Weapon: Lasers
Nov 1, 2016
Featherless Penguin At SeaWorld Gets Wetsuit To Keep Warm
Oct 27, 2016
Will Global Warming Make Fish Stupid?
Oct 24, 2016
This Is The Voice Of Siri
Oct 20, 2016
Makers Of The World's Smallest Machines Win Nobel Prize
Oct 11, 2016
It Seems That Dogs Can Tell Time With Their Noses
Oct 9, 2016
Stephen Hawking Warns Against Seeking Out Aliens
Sep 26, 2016
Huge 30 tonne meteorite dug up in Argentina
Sep 22, 2016
FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps
Sep 4, 2016
Pizza Delivery From The Sky
Aug 29, 2016
Oldest Living Vertebrate May Be Greenland Shark
Aug 17, 2016
One Drug May Be Able To Treat Three Dangerous Diseases
Aug 11, 2016
Solar Impulse Completes Round-the-World Flight
Jul 25, 2016
Transparent Wood Could Transform Buildings
Jul 22, 2016
Space Craft Reaches Jupiter
Jul 5, 2016
Army Of Great Spider Crabs
Jun 20, 2016
Jellyfish or Pixar Character
May 15, 2016
Transit of Mercury
May 6, 2016
Solar Plane Makes Record Journey
Apr 25, 2016
Which Dogs Smell Best?
Apr 11, 2016
Dinosaur with Wings Found in China
Mar 30, 2016
Ghost Octopus
Mar 15, 2016
About Pluto
Nov 4, 2015

aid

help


n,v.援助

an-oth-er

in addition to


pn.另一个

at-tached

joined or stuck to something


adj.附属

a-void

keep away from something


v.避免

brea-king

separate into pieces, smashing


v.破坏

chem-i-cals

form of matter


n.化学制品

com-bined

put together, mixed


v.结合

com-plete

to finish, end 


v.完成

com-plet-ly

totally, entirely


adv.完全

con-trol

operate a machine or equipment / the power to change or direct something


v,n.控制

con-vince

persuade, make people believe something


v.说服

de-fense

defending against attack


n.防御

de-li-ca-cy

a special or expensive food


n.美味

es-ti-mates

rough judgements of the number or value of something


n.估计

ex-tinc-tion

the process of an animal becoming extinct or disappearing


n.灭绝

fake

not genuine or real


adj.假/伪造

frigh-ten

made afraid or worried


v.吓唬

im-pact

a strong effect


n.影响

in-clu-ding

containing, having as part of the whole


prep.包含

in-crease

growing or becoming greater


n.增加

la-ser

a high-energy beam of light


n.激光

ob-vi-ous

easily seen, clear


adj.明显

ob-vi-ous-ly

easily seen or recognized


adv.明显

on-line

while connected to a computer


adv.线上

pop-u-la-tion

the people who live in a particular place


n.人口

pop-u-la-tions

the numbers of people living in a place


n.人群

re-mote-con-trolled

controlled by a user at a distance, using radio


adj.遥控

re-pli-cas

an exact copy or model of something


n.副本

rough

having an uneven or irregular surface; not smooth or level


adj.粗暴

shell

the outer part or covering


n.外壳/贝壳

snack

a small amount of food eaten between meals


n.小吃

sur-vive

live, especially after illness or injury


生存

tor-toise

a plant-eating turtle that lives on land


n.龟

tri-al

a test of how something works    


n.审讯/考验