CREATURE FEATURE: Linear Cobalt Crayfish

The Linear Cobalt Crayfish (Cambarus gentryi) is a freshwater decapod (10-legged) crustacean in the Cambaridae family of crayfish. 

The Linear Cobalt Crayfish has a cobalt blue shell with orange or yellow markings. It has 10 appendages – two of them are large pincers. Its other legs have a small claw at the end. It has 20 body segments grouped into two main parts: the cephalothorax and the abdomen.

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What is a smart egg?

What is a smart egg?

The Oregon Zoo and researchers at the San Jose State University of California, in the United States, used a smart egg to learn more about the nesting behaviour of the California Condor. The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a large accipiter, bird of prey, in the Cathartidae family. Native to North America, it is critically endangered. 

Zoologists placed a smart egg – a dummy egg – into the nest of a pair of nesting California Condors during the spring of 2023. It was a single, enormous egg.

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Hundreds of new animal species found in Asia’s remote Mekong region 

Hundreds of new animal species have been found in Asia’s remote Mekong region, say scientists, due to the inaccessibility of humans and other animals in the mountainous area. Not only new animal species, but also new plant species have been found, reported the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in May 2023. 

The greater Mekong region is a forested mountain area around the Mekong River that separates the countries Laos and Thailand, and also covers areas in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. It has no roads, making it remote and inaccessible to humans. 

Scientists from universities, research institutes, and conservation organizations have, to date, found 290 new plants, 19 new fish, 24 amphibians (such as frogs), 46 reptiles (such as snakes), and one mammal (a bat). 

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RESEARCH: Parrots love video chats 

Parrots love video chats, say scientists conducting research on parrot intelligence.  

Scientists have found that parrots need social connection and mental stimulation. They then wondered whether parrots would welcome video chats to satisfy their need for sociability.

Rebecca Kleinberger, a researcher at the Northeastern University in Boston, America, enrolled 18 parrots and their human owners in an unusual experiment to see if the parrots would connect with their owners and other parrots over video calls.

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RESEARCH: Hammerhead Sharks conserve body heat during deep dives 

Tropical Hammerhead Sharks can dive into frigid depths to find food, say scientists in a recent study of shark behaviour documented in The New York Times on 11 May 2023.

The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini) is an elasmobranch ectotherm fish in the Sphyrnidae family with a cartilaginous skeleton. It is also known as the Bronze Hammerhead, the Kidney-Headed Hammerhead, or the Southern Hammerhead. It likes warm ocean water, such as the tropical waters of Hawaii. 

Research scientists have found that the tropical Hammerhead Shark can dive more than 790 metres (2,600 feet) from the warm ocean surface to frigid depths multiple times a night to hunt for fish and squid.

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Why are insects thriving in England’s rivers?

Why are insects thriving in England’s rivers?

Researchers have studied insects in English rivers for thirty years. The Environment Agency monitoring data shows that insects and other invertebrates are increasing and it may be linked to lower levels of metals in the rivers, such as zinc and copper.

The New Scientist magazine (19 May 2023) reported that insects are more abundant now than at any time over the past thirty years. 

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RESEARCH: Gibbons plan ahead for breakfast

Gibbons plan ahead for breakfast to beat out their rivals and competitors. This is the view of scientists studying Gibbon behaviour, who maintain that the reason they plan ahead is to get the best breakfast spots. 

Scientists say that the Gibbons remember the locations of the best food and they go to these locations earlier than other animals when they want to eat fruit for breakfast.

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Emu head feathers

What do the emu head feathers look like?

The Australian Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is a flightless bird in the Casuariidae family of ratites, and a relative of the Ostrich. It is the second tallest bird in the world, after the Ostrich.

The Emu has soft, shaggy feathers, that are mostly brown or flecked with black. In the red desert of Australia, the feathers have a reddish or red-bown colour. It does not fly, but it can run fast – and it flaps its wings as it runs.

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Why are snails active when it rains?

Why are snails active when it rains?

Land snails are active when it rains. 

They must keep their bodies moist to survive. The human body consists of 60% water, but the bodies of snails consist of about 80% water. If the weather is hot and dry, their bodies will shrivel up and they will die. 

Their shells protect them from the weather. Summer is too hot and dry, and they could die in the heat so they stay inside their shells. Winter is too cold with too much rain on the ground so they hibernate or estivate in their shells. Land snails cannot breathe under water, so they don’t like flooded areas. Whenever they are in their shells, they seal the opening of their shells with mucus that dries, making it act like a plug or a door.

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Slug poop can produce mushroom colonies

Slug poop can produce mushroom colonies, say scientists in Japan. Scientists have found that a Mantleslug (Meghimatium fruhstorferi) can play an important role is dispersing the spores (seeds) of fungi – especially species of mushrooms.

Scientists at Kanazawa University in Japan examined the faeces of the Mantleslug and its DNA. Researcher Nobuko Tuno said she initially did not think the role of the slug was effective because it is not very mobile. However, when she saw the results of a different study on mushroom-eating fly larvae, which reported increased fungal colonisation in soil, Nobuko Tuno took a closer examination of slugs.

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What is a koala corridor?

What is a koala corridor? 

In Australia, koala populations are benefiting from two farming families who have partnered with Landcare Australia and the clothing brand Country Road since 2020 in The Biodiversity Project to restore farmlands and increase biodiversity in cotton-growing regions. 

Brother and sister farmers, John and Juanita Hamparsum, are continuing their father’s farm, Drayton, bought in the 1960s, and are revegetating 16 hectares along the Mooki River near Gunnedah as part of the Biodiversity Project.

The Hamparsum’s are also creating wildlife corridors, including a koala corridor on land and a fish passage in the river. The wildlife corridors enable a variety of native animals to travel across their habitat easily and safely. 

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RESEARCH: How do balls of worms untangle? It’s in the way they move!

How do balls of worms untangle? Harry Tuazon of the Georgia Institute of Technology in America has found that a ball of worms can untangle in milliseconds with a corkscrew wiggle.

What does this mean? And why is it important to know?

Researcher Harry Tuazon studied California Blackworms (Lumbriculus variegatus). He found that they tangle themselves into a ball to preserve moisture during droughts. He calls these ‘balls’ of worms knotted ‘worm blobs.’ In the wild, these balls can have up to 50,000 individual worms.

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