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My picks from ScienceDaily

Echidna’s Sex Life Under Study:

A University of Adelaide-led project will study the genetic makeup of one of Australia’s most iconic animals, the echidna, to give an unprecedented insight into their sex life and behaviour. World echidna expert Dr Peggy Rismiller and geneticist Dr Frank Grützner will collaborate with the Monarto and Adelaide Zoos and South Australian Museum to learn more about these unique egg-laying mammals known as monotremes.

Sharks’ ‘Bite Force’ Under The Spotlight:

While sharks instill fear in beachgoers worldwide, they instill a deep sense of curiosity in UT assistant professor and shark expert Dan Huber. There are still many mysteries surrounding what makes sharks such perfect predators, so Huber’s research on sharks’ “bite force” – their hunting performance – may offer new insights on sharks’ habits, capabilities and evolution. The research may also lead to advances in protective swimwear, shark-proofing equipment and a better understanding of flexible cartilage – which forms the sharks’ whole skeletons, much like human ears and noses.

Pollution Harms Top Marine Predators:

A new study provides some of the first evidence that albatrosses in the North Pacific may be affected by environmental contamination. Alterations in the immune function of the black-footed albatross were associated with elevated blood levels of nonpoint source contaminants. Nonpoint source pollution comes from a wide variety of sources such as farms, cars, roads and highways, and lawns. This kind of pollution is ubiquitous and can pose a significant threat to wildlife.

Monkeys Use ‘Baby Talk’ To Interact With Infants:

Female rhesus monkeys use special vocalizations while interacting with infants, the way human adults use motherese, or “baby talk,” to engage babies’ attention, new research at the University of Chicago shows. “Motherese is a high pitched and musical form of speech, which may be biological in origin,” said Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor in Comparative Human Development at the University. “The acoustic structure of particular monkey vocalizations called girneys may be adaptively designed to attract young infants and engage their attention, similar to how the acoustic structure of human motherese, or baby talk, allows adults to visually or socially engage with infants.”

Wind Turbine Has Switch To Move Clear Of Migrating Birds:

The wind turbine off in the distance is flopped over on its side – the 11-foot blades suspended just above the ground at one end and a 2,000-pound, bulbous, galvanized steel counterbalance pitched into the air at the other. The unique turbine isn’t broken; it was lowered from a height of 80 feet to test the ability to bring it down at the drop of a hat should foul weather set in or should the migratory songbirds and nesting seabirds that frequent this 95-acre island run afoul of the whirling blades.