Archive | Animal Kingdom


New type of avian flu found in Antarctic penguins

An international team of researchers has identified a previously unknown avian influenza virus in a group of Adelie penguins from Antarctica. The new virus is described in a study published this week in mBio. Other research groups have previously detected influenza antibodies in Antarctic birds, but until now no one had detected an actual live […]

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Camouflage or bright colors? What’s better to live long and prosper?

In nature, bright colors are signals that scream, “Don’t eat me!” But how did prey species evolve these characteristics? Now, thanks to a computer simulation of evolving populations of organisms, evolutionary scientists think they know the answer. In the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at Michigan State University reveal that these color-coded communications evolve over time […]

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Bees using scavenged plastic to build hives

The scientists who discovered that urban bees are using plastic bags and building sealant to construct hives say it demonstrates bees’ resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world. The study, published in the journalEcosphere, was carried out by University of Guelph researchers Scott MacIvor and Andrew Moore. MacIvor says it’s an important discovery […]

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Testosterone enhances desire to sing, but not song quality

Scientists listening to the effects of testosterone on birdsong say their findings have broad implications for understanding how steroid use in humans affects sexual behaviors and how hormones regulate the different components of speech in humans. Their research is detailed in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For the male canary, the ability […]

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Loved-up bonobos stay young longer

Bonobos and chimpanzees are closely related but bonobos lack of aggression, playfulness, and strong familial ties make them very different to their chimp cousins. Now, researchers say that these behavioral differences might be because bonobos retain elevated thyroid hormone concentrations well into adulthood, whereas in humans and chimps, levels decline after puberty. The researchers, from […]

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Read my skin: chameleon color communication deciphered

Chameleons can change color to blend in with the environment, but biologists from Arizona State University now say that chameleons’ body regions can also function as “billboards” for communicating different types of information during social interactions. Chameleons typically have resting colors that range from brown to green, with hints of yellow, but each chameleon also […]

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Gay insects are just confused, say scientists

Homosexual behaviors in birds and mammals are thought to provide a number of evolutionary benefits, but scientists trying to find explanations for similar behavior in insects say a different imperative may be at work. Reviewing past studies on some 110 species of male insects and spiders, researchers Inon Scharf (Tel Aviv University) and Oliver Martin […]

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This bird sings Bach

U.S. and German researchers have found striking parallels between the music of Bach and Haydn and the songs of a small brown wren living in the Amazon region. According to a new study penned by the appropriately named Emily Doolittle (Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle) and Henrik Brumm (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology), […]

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Evidence for sonar contributing to mass whale strandings

For the first time, a mass stranding of marine mammals has been linked to the high-frequency sonar mapping systems used by the petrochemical industry. Importantly, the findings from the stranding of approximately 100 melon-headed whales in northwest Madagascar in 2008 were made by an independent scientific review panel. Additionally, a multi-stakeholder steering committee – that […]

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