Discovered: Koshik the elephant can say "hello"; turning hurricane research into music; UK officials keep finding illegal waste sites; how to reduce livestock ammonia emissions.
The Korean-speaking elephant. But can he sign "Gangnam Style?" The University of Vienna's Angela Stoeger-Horwath has been studying an elephant that can speak a few words of Korean for the last six years. Koshik is able to say five words, including "choah," which means good, and "annyong," which means hello, as Arrested Development fans will already know. Stoeger-Horwath believes the elephant developed this ability because he was raised in captivity, starved for social interaction. Without other elephants to converse with, he reached out to humans by trying to mimic their speech. Elephants don't have the same vocal anatomy as humans, so instead of forming words with his lips as humans do, Koshik sticks his trunk inside his mouth. "Our research suggests that Koshik is somehow moving his vocal tract to mimic the characteristics of human speech," says Stoeger-Horwath. See the elephant hold a limited conversation with a trainer below. [New Scientist]
More illegal dump sites found in the U.K. The U.K.'s Environment Agency has found loads of rubbish where they don't belong. In the past three months, they've uncovered 400 previously covert illegal trash disposal sites, bringing the total number of unsanctioned dumping grounds the government knows about in England and Wales to 1,195. These sites cause lots of pollution, especially when the trash is burned. Many were found in close proximity to schools and homes. Organized crime is often involved in overseeing these dump sites, and Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith says, "The involvement of criminals in high-value waste crime is now a nationwide and worldwide challenge for enforcement agencies." [BBC News]