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News articles on Animal behvaior
Mongabay.com news articles on Animal behvaior in blog format. Updated regularly.
(09/06/2007) Toddlers have more sophisticated social learning skills than their closest primate relatives, researchers report in the 7 September issue of the journal Science.
Second set of jaws help moray eels feed
(09/06/2007) Moray eels have a unique way of feeding reminiscent of a science fiction thriller, researchers at UC Davis have discovered. After seizing prey in its jaws, a second set of jaws located in the moray's throat reaches forward into the mouth, grabs the food and carries it back to the esophagus for swallowing.
Squid chasing drove evolution of whale sonar
(09/06/2007) A University of California at Berkeley study argues that dolphins and other toothed whales developed sonar to chase schools of squid swimming near the ocean surface at night.
Researchers head to Congo to study Bonobo psychology
(09/05/2007) Researchers have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo to study the social behvaior of bonobos -- a close relative of the chimpanzee -- in the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa.
Flies prefer Coke
(08/29/2007) While you may not catch a fly sipping Perrier, the insect has specialized taste cells for carbonated water that probably encourage it to binge on food with growing microorganisms. Yeast and bacteria both produce carbon dioxide (CO2) when they feast, and CO2 dissolves readily in water to produce seltzer or soda water.
How do snakes survive starvation?
(08/27/2007) Starving snakes employ novel survival strategies not seen before in vertebrates, according to research conducted by a University of Arkansas biologist. These findings could be used in conservation strategies to determine the health of snake populations.
Monkey mothers use "baby talk" too
(08/24/2007) Female rhesus monkeys use special vocalizations to communicate with infants much like human mothers use "baby talk" or "motherese" reports a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago.
Cats have 10-minute short term memory
(08/22/2007) New research suggest cats have short-term memory of about 10 minutes, according to CBC News.
Legless lizard retracts eyes to avoid retaliatory prey bites
(08/14/2007) For creatures without legs, snakes are remarkable predators. Pythons can capture and eat animals well over twice their size, while a mere drop of venom injected by an Australian death adder can kill a person. Scientists believe the main purpose for these adaptations is to help snakes avoid injury when pursuing and eating prey. However, snakes are not the only legless reptiles -- there are more than a dozen species of legless lizard distributed around the world. A new paper examines how these reptiles subdue their prey without venom or constriction.
Squirrels communicate with rattlesnakes using heated tail
(08/13/2007) Ground squirrels heat their tails to defend their young against predatory rattlesnakes, reports a study published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Nectar feeding bats are powered by pure sugar
(08/06/2007) Nectar-feeding bats are particularly vulnerable to environmental change due to their high-energy dietary requirements, reports a new study published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology.
Wild parrots tracked by satellite for the first time
(08/06/2007) Researchers are now tracking wild parrots from space.
Overfishing takes toll on Bluefin tuna
(08/06/2007) Overfishing has caused dramatic shifts in bluefin tuna populations that have pushed the species closer towards extinction in some areas, reports a series of studies by the Census of Marine Life (CoML) and other researchers.
New device allows biologists to track seals under sea ice
(08/06/2007) Biologists have devised a new device for tracking how environmental change affects the physiology, behvaior, and populations of Southern elephant seals, according to a paper published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fish cultivate gardens of algae
(07/24/2007) Damselfish cultivate "gardens" of algae, according to a study published last October in the journal Biology Letters.
Polar bears avoiding sea ice for cub dens
(07/15/2007) Polar bears in Alaska are increasingly setting up dens on sea on land because sea ice is thinning, reports a new study by U.S. Geological Survey (UCGS) researchers.
Antioxidant use helped some birds after Chernobyl nuclear accident
(07/11/2007) Brightly colored birds were more adversely affected by high levels of radiation around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, reports a study published online in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology.
Orangutans use water as a tool
(07/06/2007) German researchers have observed orangutans using water as a tool. Natacha Mendes, Daniel Hanus, and Josep Call of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany conducted an experiment with five orangutans to see whether the red apes could access an out-of-reach peanut floating inside a vertical transparent tube. They quickly found that all five orangutans were able to do so by collecting water from a drinker and spitting it into the tube to raise the water level and win access to the peanut.
Man-eating piranha are actually cowards
(07/01/2007) Despite their reputations as aggressive blood-thirsty carnivores, piranha schooling behvaior is a defensive measure to protect against predators rather than an offensive hunting maneuver, reports new research presented at the Royal Society's summer science exhibition in London. Piranhas face many predators in their Amazon habitat, including caiman, freshwater dolphins, and giant fish like the pirarucu or arapaima.
Mother lizards select color patterns of offspring
(06/13/2007) Mother lizards can induce different color patterns in their offspring in response to social cues, reports research published June 10 in the online early edition of the journal Ecology Letters. Female side-blotched lizards determine the patterns "most likely to ensure success under the conditions they will encounter as adults," according to scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Elephants respond to calls from friends, not strangers
(06/05/2007) Elephants can distinguish between friendly calls and those of strangers reports a new study covered in ScienceNOW Daily News. In 2004 Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell of Stanford University discovered that elephants use low-frequency, partially infrasonic ground vibrations to communicate with each other from miles away. The pachyderms press their trunks against the ground to detect the calls.
Human ancestors first walked in trees
(05/31/2007) Walking on two legs is likely to have first arisen among apes living in trees, rather than ground-dwelling prehistoric ancestors of humans, reports research published in the June 1st issue of the journal Science.
Cheetah are unfaithful mates
(05/30/2007) Female cheetah are highly promiscuous reports a new study by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) scientists.
Army ants form living pothole plugs to speed up delivery
(05/27/2007) Certain army ants in the rainforests of Central and South America conduct spectacular predatory raids containing up to 200,000 foraging ants. Remarkably, some ants use their bodies to plug potholes in the trail leading back to the nest, making a flatter surface so that prey can be delivered to the developing young at maximum speed.
Shark has virgin birth
(05/23/2007) A captive hammerhead shark gave birth to a pup without mating, reported researchers on Wednesday. It is the first time that parthenogenesis, as virginal birth as called, has been observed in a shark.
Why poison dart frogs are poisonous
(05/14/2007) Mites -- not ants as long believed -- appear to be the primary source of toxins used by poison arrow frogs to defend against predators, reports new research published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Poison dart frogs, colorful amphibians with skin secretions so toxic that they are used by indigenous populations to poison the tips of hunting arrows, are one of several groups of animals capable of sequestering deadly compounds from dietary sources without being harmed. Until now, it was believed that ants were the primary source of these defensive skin alkaloids in frogs.
Frogs avoid damaging UV-B radiation, reducing extinction risk
(04/18/2007) Poison arrow frogs appear to make special effort to avoid exposure to damaging ultraviolet-B radiation, according to research published in the journal Biotropica. The findings are significant in light of increasing levels of UV-B radiation due to ozone depletion.
Neon green gecko key to preventing Mauritian plant extinction
(04/17/2007) A vibrantly colored gecko plays a key role in a highly threatened ecological community in Mauritius reports new research published in American Naturalist. Studying plant-animal interactions in Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island famous for its extinct dodo bird, researchers found that a rare plant, Trochetia blackburniana, benefits from its proximity to Pandanus plants because they house high densities of geckos responsible for pollination. The findings, which unusually identify a lizard as a key pollinator, are significant because they provide "valuable management insights for ongoing conservation efforts to save the highly endangered flora of Mauritius.
Tear-sucking moth in Madagascar feeds on bird eyes
(04/10/2007) Biologists have documented the first known case of moths feeding on the tears of birds. The research, published in the January 4 2007 issue of the journal Biology Letters, reports that Hemiceratoides hieroglyphica 'attacks sleeping birds in Madagascar' using its sharply barbed proboscis to penetrate the bird's eye. While similar behvaior has been reported in mammals, this is the first known case of tear-feeding on birds.
Can penguins be used as bio-indicators of climate change?
(04/04/2007) Scientists at the University of Birmingham are working to determine whether the king penguin can be used as a bio-indicator for global warming.
Chernobyl birds prefer to breed in sites with low radioactivity
(04/03/2007) Birds appear to prefer breeding sites with lower levels of radiation, according to research conducted in the immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. The study, published in the current edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, may be the first to look at the effects of radiation on animal breeding behvaior in the aftermath of Chernobyl.
Pythons turn bones of prey into calcium
(04/01/2007) Burmese pythons don't eat very often, but when they do they like to pig out, ingesting the whole of their prey. There's very little waste as they are able to digest everything, apart from hair and feathers. Dr Jean-Herv Lignot (Louis Pasteur University) and Dr Robert K. Pope (Indiana University South Bend) will talk about the implications this has on the way these snakes digest food on Saturday 31st March at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Glasgow.
Fruit bats crave sugar to overcome 'hangover'
(04/01/2007) Many of us will be familiar with cravings for sweet food, after having overindulged in alcohol the night before. It appears that Egyptian fruit bats also crave particular types of sugar to reduce the effects of ethanol toxicity.
Monkeys have culture too
(03/24/2007) A study carried out in the Caatinga forest of Serra da Capivara National Park in the Piaui state of northeast Brazil provides new evidence for the existence of culture in monkeys. The research, published by Dr Antonio Moura, a Brazilian researcher from the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, suggests that monkeys can learn skills from each other, in the same manner as humans. Moura found signs that Capuchin monkeys in Brazil teach each other to bang stones as a signaling device to scare off potential predators.
Pigeon beaks have navigation system
(03/14/2007) Birds may use sensors in their beaks to navigate long distances without getting lost according to a new study published in the scientific journal Naturwissenschaften. German scientists found iron-containing structures in the beaks of homing pigeons that might enable the birds to use the earth's magnetic field for navigation.
Human hunting causes changes in monkey behvaior
(03/08/2007) Human hunting pressure causes significant behvaioral changes in Central Africa monkeys and duiker according to a paper published in the March issue of the journal Biotropica.
Birds follow racoon-like coati to find food
(03/08/2007) A number of rainforest bird species are known to follow columns of army ants eating insects and other animals as they try to escape the marauding ants. Now the behvaior has been documented in birds that follow the coatimundi, a racoon-like mammal, as it forages in the rainforest.
Birds exhibit thuggish mafia-like behvaior as nest enforcers
(03/05/2007) Parasitic birds engage in mafia-like reprisals to encourage host acceptance of their eggs according to researchers writing in the online early edition of PNAS.
Why do birds migrate? Seasonal food scarcity finds study
(03/01/2007) A new paper attempts to argue the age old question of why birds migrate. The authors, Dr. Alice Boyle and Dr. Courtney J. Conway of the University of Arizona, argue that birds are driven to fly long distances due to seasonal food scarcity.
Sea turtles use Earth's magnetic field to return to nesting beaches
(02/27/2007) New research suggests that sea turtles use a 'relatively simple navigation system' involving the Earth's magnetic field to return to the same beaches to lay their eggs, even after venturing across thousands of miles of open ocean without visible landmarks.
Doctor performs kidney surgery on egg-eating snake
(02/22/2007) In early February Dr. Robert Moore performed microsurgery on an adult African egg-eating snake at the Bronx Zoo's Animal Health Center.
Chimps hunt bush babies with spears
(02/22/2007) Researchers have observed wild chimpanzees in Senegal hunting bush babies with spears, according to a paper published in the March 6 edition of the journal Current Biology. The study is the first to report primates using tools for hunting other vertebrates.
Balloon technology could cut cost of solar energy 90% by 2010
(02/21/2007) With high energy prices and mounting concerns over human-induced climate change, there is intense interest in renewable energy, especially solar, which produces no pollution and is readily available in the form of sunlight. In recent years, however, the solar energy market has been hampered by supply shortages of refined silicon, the critical resource needed for solar cell fabrication. Further, because solar installations traditionally require a large surface area to capture as much sunlight as possible, solar arrays often take up real estate, occupying land used agricultural production and other purposes. Without government subsidies, solar is not presently viable in many areas.
Birds plan for the future
(02/21/2007) New research suggests that some birds plan for the future. Previously it was believed that planning was exclusively a human activity. Writing in the current edition of the journal Nature, scientists at Cambridge Univeristy found that western scrub-jays plan for future food shortages by storing food. Unlike squirrels and other animals that store foods during lean times as a matter of habit, the researchers show that the birds actually learn from their previous experiences of food scarcity, saving food for future consumption when they anticipate future periods of famine.
Rare giant bat eats night-flying birds
(02/13/2007) A new study published in PLoS ONE, an open online journal, reports that nocturnally migrating songbirds are preyed upon by giant bats. The findings go against the belief that night-flying birds lacked predators.
U.S. leads world in shark attacks in 2006
(02/13/2007) The United States led the world in shark attacks in 2006, according to figures released from the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. The U.S. had 38 shark attacks, down from 40 in 2005. Globally there were 62 known shark attacks in 2006, an increase of 1 from 2005, but well below the 79 attacked recorded in 2000.
Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males are scarce
(02/05/2007) Female butterflies become more promiscuous when males die from bacteria outbreaks, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology. The research suggests that surviving males have a tough time keeping up their frisky mates, showing "signs of fatigue and put less effort into mating."
Snake becomes poisonous by eating toxic frogs
(01/29/2007) A new study shows that the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus becomes poisonous by sequestering toxins from its prey which consists of venomous toads. While sequestering defensive toxins from prey is unusual among terrestrial vertebrates it is not unknown. Research published last year by Valerie C. Clark of Cornell University showed that poison dart frogs (Dendrobates species) and their Madagascar counterparts, the Mantella frogs, sequester toxic skin chemicals, called alkaloids, from the ants they eat. These alkaloids protect the frogs from predation. Similarly, some garter snakes are known to store tetrodotoxin from ingested newts while birds in New Guinea appear to sequester poisons from insects.
Captive chimpanzees 'talk' to humans
(01/29/2007) Captive chimpanzees use specific vocalizations to communicate with humans according to new research published in the current issue of the journal Animal Behaviour. The researchers, lead by Dr. William Hopkins of Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, say these sounds are not used in other contexts -- only to elicit attention from humans. The researchers say the findings may help explain the evolution of language in primates.
Lemurs communicate by scent
(01/29/2007) Ringtailed lemurs can recognize each other by scent according to a study published in the current issue of the journal Animal Behaviour. The research, conducted by Elizabeth S. Scordato and Christine M. Drea of Duke University, looked at olfactory communication in the ringtailed lemur, a charismatic primate that forms complex social groups led by a dominant female, so see what information is contained within the scent marks of the species.
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