National Geographic : 2012 Jul
PHOTOS: KEVIN PULLEN, APPALOOSA HORSE CLUB; PATRICK CABROL, CENTRE DE PRÉHISTOIRE DU PECH MERLE, CABRERETS, FRANCE (LEFT). GRAPHIC: ÁLVARO VALIÑO University of Chicago research shows that RATS HAVE EMPATHY and value freeing trapped fellow rats on par with eating chocolate. • A South African excavation found a 77,000 YEAR OLD LEAF MATTRESS, likely used by multiple family members. • New evidence from NASA's WISE telescope may exonerate ASTEROID FAMILY BAPTISTINA, charged with killing off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. • Biologists have identified 12 NEW FROG SPECIES, plus rediscovered three not seen in 75 years, in western India. ET CETERA NOW Ancient Appaloosas Cave artists aren't known for their precision---archaeologists have debated whether prehistoric paintings were mostly symbolic or accurate reflections of animals. The creatures that grace the walls of Pech Merle cave (left) in France date back to 23,000 B.C. Horses? Definitely; predomestic equines had been roaming Europe for millennia by then. But spotted horses? New research says yes. Though dappled coats were thought to exist only in a few modern breeds, the genotype showed up frequently in DNA analysis of horse bones from western Europe's Pleistocene epoch. This means early humans "made very correct observations of their environment," says study co-author Arne Ludwig of Berlin's Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. In other words, those prehistoric artists were spot-on. ---Amanda Fiegl A white rump marked by patches of pigment, known as leopard spotting, is a hallmark of the Appaloosa horse breed. The kiwi is the same size as a chicken, but its eggs are six times as big---and equal to one-fifth its own weight.