My picks from ScienceDaily

'Mafia' Behavior In Cowbirds? Study First To Document Evidence:

Cowbirds have long been known to lay eggs in the nests of other birds, which then raise the cowbirds' young as their own. Sneaky, perhaps, but not Scarface. Now, however, a University of Florida study finds that cowbirds actually ransack and destroy the nests of warblers that don't buy into the ruse and raise their young.

Man's Best Friend Lends Insight Into Human Evolution:

Flexibly drawing inferences about the intentions of other individuals in order to cooperate in complex tasks is a basic part of everyday life that we humans take for granted. But, according to evolutionary psychologist Brian Hare at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, this ability is present in other species as well.

Irish Potato Famine Disease Came From South America:

Scientists at North Carolina State University have discovered that the fungus-like pathogen that caused the 1840s Irish potato famine originally came from the Andes of South America. By comparing the sequences of both the nuclear and the cellular powerhouse, mitochondria, of nearly 100 pathogen samples from South America, Central America, North America and Europe, Dr. Jean Beagle Ristaino, professor of plant pathology at NC State, and a small team of researchers created "gene genealogies" that point the finger at an Andean point of origin for the pathogen, which is known as Phytophthora infestans.

'Wingman' -- How Buddies Help Alpha Males Get The Girl:

Why do some individuals sacrifice their own self-interest to help others? The evolution and maintenance of cooperative behavior is a classic puzzle in evolutionary biology. In some animal societies, cooperation occurs in close-knit family groups and kin selection explains apparently selfless behavior. Not so for the lance-tailed manakin. Males of this little tropical bird cooperate in spectacular courtship displays with unrelated partners, and the benefits of lending a helping wing may only come years down the line.


More like this

It's hard to believe that just over fifty years ago psychology was in the firm grip of behaviorism, which denied any semblance of intelligence or emotion in animals. (They were just biological machines.) Talk of anything but stimulus and reward was just sentimental pseudoscience. Then came Chomsky…
Brown-headed cowbirds cannot incubate their own eggs. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, who incubate them and raise the cowbird chicks as their own. According to a new study by Jeff Hoover of the Florida Museum of Natural History published in Proceedings of the National…
From NESCent: > "Re: Design" - This is a dramatization of the scientific correspondence between Charles Darwin and botanist Asa Gray, and is a product of the Darwin Correspondence Project. NESCent is co-sponsoring this theatrical production with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, WUNC-TV and…
Study Finds How Organs Monitor Themselves During Early Development: Scientists at NYU School of Medicine have unraveled the signals in a feedback loop governing ovarian development. This work has been several years in the making and is being published on August 27 in the advance online issue of the…