See-through Glass Frog hides its blood

People can see the beating heart of the see-through Glass Frog. But, its blood is less visible. Scientists have recently discovered why. The Glass Frog hides its blood in its liver when it sleeps.

The Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium yaku) and the Fleischmann’s Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) live in the tropical, dense Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. 

The size of a marshmallow, the amphibians are called Glass Frogs because their skin is translucent and transparent (see-through). Jesse Delia at the American Museum of Natural History in New York said to the New Scientist LIFE magazine in 2022, “If it wasn’t for that green skin on their back, you would probably be able to read a newspaper through them.”

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RESEARCH: Reindeer can help humans treat depression

In 2019, the New Scientist LIFE magazine wrote about the superpowers of reindeers. Do they really have superpowers?

The Reindeer, or Caribou, is a large mammal in the Cervidae family of deers. Nearly 5 million Reindeers live in the freezing climate of the Arctic, from Alaska to Siberia and Greenland, where there are more periods of night-time darkness than day-time light. 

Genetic scientists know that Reindeers can change the colour of their eyes from gold in summer to blue in winter. They are also working on the Ruminant Genome Project to study Reindeer genes – their DNA – to compare their genes to human genes and other animals, especially other ruminants. Ruminants are animals that chew their cud, such as deer, cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, gazelles, and antelopes.

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RESEARCH: Mice can tell the difference between an image and the real thing

This is the first study that shows behavioural evidence that laboratory mice have perceptual abilities, just like mammalian humans and non-human primates (apes, chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, lemurs, monkeys, etc.). 

Robert W Stackman and FAU neuroscience researchers from the Department of Psychology, Charles E Schmidt College of Science, Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, Center for Complex Systems and Brain Science, and Institue for Human Health and Disease Intervention found that ‘a functional mouse hippocampus is required for this form of non-spatial visual recognition memory and picture-object equivalence.’

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Why do parrots live long lives?

Why do parrots live so long?

Scientists knew that large birds and parrots live long lives, but now a new study reveals the mystery of parrot longevity.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany studied 217 parrot species (half of the known species of parrots), such as the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) in South America and the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita galerita) in Australia. They published their results in March 2022 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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RESEARCH: Long distance travel for migrating birds has disadvantages – a high ‘divorce’ rate

There are some disadvantages of long distance travel for migrating birds says a scientific study.

The New Scientist’s LIFE magazine (November 2022) reports on the high rate of break-ups – ‘divorce’ – in bird species with longer migration routes. But why would there be a high rate of bird divorce?

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Do Bumblebees play?

Do Bumblebees play?

A recent study published in Life magazine in November 2022 shows Bumblebees playing with wooden balls.

The study on Buff-Tailed Bumblebees found that they seem to play with wooden balls rather than go around them to get to a food snack.

The Buff-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris audax) is an insect in the Apidae family of bees. It is also known as the Large Earth Bumblebee. It feeds on pollen from flowers.

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RESEARCH: Scientists enhance silkworm silk to make it one of the strongest materials on Earth

Scientists have enhanced silkworm silk to make it one of the strongest materials ever – stronger that spider’s silk. But how? 

New Scientist magazine reports in October 2022 on recent research in which standard silkworm silk has been made stronger than spider’s silk, one of the toughest materials on Earth. 

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RESEARCH: Ant numbers – how many Ants are there in the world?

The number of humans in the world is about 8 billion. But how many ants are there? 

Entomologists (insect scientists) from the University of Wurzburg in Germany and the University of Hong Kong published their findings of global ant populations in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September 2022.

The entomologists studied 489 research papers about ant populations. 

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RESEARCH: Three factors why big-eyed frogs have big eyes

In September 2020, the New Scientist magazine reported on research to determine why frogs have evolved big eyes. 

Some frogs have the biggest eyes of all vertebrates (animals with backbones), in relation to their body size, and zoologists did not know why. Now researchers have found that the size of the eyes of these vertebrates seems to depend upon their environment.

Eyesight requires a lot of energy to function – focusing, adjusting peripheral vision, calculating distance, determing what the object is, and so on. There is a lot of things the eye must do quickly to ‘see’ what is in front and around it. Scientists think this is why animals living in dark environments, such as caves, often evolve to have smaller eyes.

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RESEARCH: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low

Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low. Why is this?   

Previous studies of cheetah cub survival rates on the Serengeti Plains of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa in 1994, 2000, and 2004, found that it was exceptionally low because of the lion population attacking them. The survival rate was only 4.8% of cubs – that is 5 cubs out of every 100 cubs born survived beyond 14 months of age.

Researchers from the Zoology Department of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom conducted a similar study on cheetah cub survival rates in 2013 and published the results in the Journal of Zoology. They compared the cheetah cub survival rate in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park on the border of Botswana and South Africa with the Serengeti study.

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RESEARCH: The West European Hedgehog is common in mainland Europe but classified as vulnerable in the United Kingdom

The West European Hedgehog is common in mainland Europe but classified as vulnerable in the United Kingdom – in danger of becoming extinct. Why is this the case?

In Europe, the brownish-white West European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is widespread and found from Portugal to Russia. Researchers think that the numbers are high because hedgehogs have a varied diet with an abundant choice in mainland Europe.

However, in the United Kingdom, the numbers of West European Hedgehogs have declined significantly although exact numbers are not available. Scientists think that one main reason may be the high number that are killed on the roads – which is estimated to be thousands each each. In addition, modern farming methods and few hedgerow plants might also contribute to the declining numbers in the United Kingdom. 

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RESEARCH: The Hummingbird is the most colourful bird in the world

A research study published in June 2022 in the Communications Biology journal found that the Hummingbird species, collectively, is more colourful than any other type of bird.

One way to measure colourfulness is to consider the theoretical total number of colours a bird can detect, and then estimate how many of these colours are produced on the feathers of the bird. Most birds can see more colours than humans can see because birds have extra receptors in their eyes to detect light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum of colour. Using this method, a 2011 study published in the Behavioral Ecology journal by researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and Yale University in America, found that birds typically produce on their feathers only about 30% of the colours they see. 

In this new 2022 study, Gabriela Venable at the Duke University in North Carolina, America, and her researchers, looked at 114 species of Hummingbirds. It is the first time that a group of related birds have been studied in relation to colourfulness.

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RESEARCH: Turtle Dove numbers are declining in the United Kingdom

A research study in 2021 found that the number of Turtle Doves were declining in the United Kingdom. Volunteers, farmers, study groups, bird clubs, and other organizatios all contributed to the research. 

The first national survey of Turtle Doves in the UK in fifty years showed that there were only 2,100 pairs of Turtle Doves that now breed in the country, which is a decline of 98% from 125,000 pairs in 1970.

The survey found that the Turle Dove is now concentrated in south-eastern and eastern England, and as far north as Yorkshire.

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What is catnip?

What is catnip?

Catnip is not an animal. Catnip is a plant in the mint family. Cats like to like and chew on catnip (Nepeta cataria) and spit it out.

When cats lick and chew on catnip, they help to release iridoid chemicals in the plant. Iridoid chemicals are natural insect repellents. The chemicals repel mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, roaches, and possibly mites.

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RESEARCH: Do American households have more cats or more dogs as pets?

Do American households have more cats or more dogs as pets? A recent 2022 research in America studied the types of pets in a household and whether dogs or cats were more popular as pets.

Studies show that, globally, dogs outnumber cats. The study showed that, in America, cats outnumber dogs. There are about 86.1 million cats and 79.7 million dogs in America. 

However, dogs are more popular as pets than cats in America – 36.6% of households own one or more dogs, whereas 30.4% of households own one or more cats. 

Why did more American households choose a dog instead of a cat? 

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RESEARCH: Dolphins May Be Able to Heal their Own Wounds

Do dolphins heal their own wounds?

Scientists think that dolphins rub against coral to treat wounds on their skin. The New Scientist magazine in May 2022 explained that Bottlenose Dolphins appear to look for specific corals and sea sponges that produce anti-bacterial or hormone-like substances, which may indicate that they are trying to heal their own wounds and infections by rubbing against them.  

Scientists have observed orcas and Beluga whales rubbing their bodies against underwater sand and pebbles, but similar behaviour in dolpins has not been widely observed.

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RESEARCH: Harbour Seals can change their voice to make them sound bigger

Scientific researchers have determined that Harbour Seals can learn to change their voice to make them sound bigger, and that the behaviour is not a result of their anatomy.

Bigger animals usually have deeper (lower pitched) voices than smaller animals, but the Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) seems to be different. The Harbour Seal seems to be able to learn to change its voice. 

The Harbour Seal, a marine (saltwater) mammal in the Phocidae family of seals is a pinniped (fin-footed, semi-aquatic mammal such as a seal, sea lion, and walrus) found in the Northern Hemisphere. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Baltic Sea, and the North Sea.

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