Animals

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Category archives for Animals

Last week the European Union voted to ban neonicotinoid pesticides in an effort to fight colony collapse disorder among honeybees.  Although research has clearly fingered these pesticides in bee behavioral problems, the ban is still rather speculative, as multiple environmental factors may be at play in CCD.  Greg Laden writes “navigation over long distances, communicating…

Endlessly Adaptable Animals

Dr. Dolittle spent a few days at the Experimental Biology meeting of the American Physiological Society, learning incredible facts about animal adaptability. In the Sunday session, researchers showed that metabolic byproducts called ketones can protect against seizures caused by hyperbaric oxygen therapy, while seal pups, who fast for up to three months once weaned, increase…

New Flu Emerges in China

A new strain of bird flu is circulating in China, and authorities are keeping a close eye on a potentially disastrous scenario.  On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith writes that by now, “the microbe may have already become established in the population, adapting to humans stealthily before we were even aware of it.”  Greg Laden writes,…

Meet the Matamata

When we last left Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology, he was analyzing a famous crytpozoological photograph, purported to be an undiscovered species of big cat, or perhaps the last surviving member of a Tasmanian cat-like marsupial. Of course, Naish generally prefers to write about strange and superlative animals that actually exist (or did at one…

“Photographic evidence” is sometimes taken as shorthand for cold, hard proof. Seeing, after all, is believing, and if we have a permanent record of an image that anyone can examine, what more verification can be necessary? Of course, we can’t really trust our eyes or memories, something that has been exacerbated by how trivial manipulating…

From “quantum teleportation” to “Superconducting Super collider”, there’s nothing like an unusual word or intriguing turn of phrase to draw someone into a science story. Yesterday, the New York Times’ lead tech writer Nick Bilton took a shine to “charismatic megafauna,” after reading a post on The Thoughtful Animal about social cognition in polar bears.…

Variations on a Theme

On Laelaps, Brian Switek considers the fate of Smilodon, a saber-toothed hypercarnivore that roamed through ancient Los Angeles. Although textbook descriptions of such animals are usually cut-and-dried, Brian writes that “genetic, anatomical, or behavioral variations are grist for natural selection’s mill,” and so individuals within a species can vary considerably over space and time. On…

Egg-laying and Circadian Clocks

On A Blog Around The Clock, Bora Zivkovic shares a newly published paper which he co-authored with researchers inspired by his blog. Their team recorded the egg-laying cycle of birds in the wild, where clutch sizes must answer to nature and not the hungry stewardship of a poultry farmer. They discovered that Eastern Bluebirds lay…