The Striated Caracara can solve problems just as much as Cockatoos can, reports the New Scientist magazine in November 2023 about a study at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria. The Johnny Rook Project was conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Research at the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina and the Austral Scientific Research Centre in Ushuaia in Argentina. It was funded by the Austrian Science Fund.
Researchers at the Comparative Cognition Unit at the University of Veterinary Medicine (VetMedUni) Vienna, led by cognitive ecologist Katie Harrington, conducted studies on the problem-solving skills of the Striated Caracara in the Falkland Islands.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020, humans stayed inside. This period was called the ‘anthropause period.’ This gave researchers an opportunity to study the behaviour of urban (city) birds when humans were not around.
During the anthropause, in cities, there were fewer people, fewer vehicles, less pollution, and less noise. In a study published in the Science journal in September 2020 by researchers in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in America, it was found that White-Crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) changed their songs – with less noise to compete with, their songs became louder.
When lockdown finished, researchers were interested in how birds behaved when humans resumed their usual acitivities.
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Scientists knew that rats like to be tickled on their stomachs and backs, so they conducted further studies.
Researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany discovered that rats could laugh in 2016. With special microphones, they tickled the rats and recorded squeaky giggles. Even when rats playfully chased the researchers’ hands, the rats laughed. Their laughs are too high-pitched to be heard by human ears, and can only be heard through the recordings.
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Male moths make perfume to attract females, say scientists in a new study in July 2023.
The male Tobacco Budworm Moth (Chloridea virescens) collects perfume – a sweet-smelling chemical – from flowers and emits the scent from its appendages when it courts a female. The perfume makes the male more attractive to the female.
Previously, scientists knew that the female moth released scented chemicals to lure a male from long distances to come closer to her, but less was known how the male moth used scent.
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When the weather is too hot, Spiny Lava Lizards spend less time trying to attract a partner, says an article in New Scientist (26 July 2023). In fact, they get less selective – less picky – in the heat.
Nicola Rossi at the National University of Cordoba in Argentina, and his colleagues, studied the behaviour of the Spiny Lava Lizard (Tropidurus spinulosus), which is a reptile native to South America.
The researchers tested two groups of Spiny Lava Lizards living in a nature reserve in Argentina. One group lives on a rocky outcrop that receives lots of sunlight with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (86F). The second group lives in a zone with lots of shade trees, where the average temperature is 26.5C (80F). The researchers watched the lizards in the wild for 20 days.
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Orangutans know how to make a musical beat, using two sounds at the same time, like a beatboxer, say animal researchers in a new study.
New Scientist magazine (27 June 2023) reported on a new study of two separate groups of Orangutans. The findings show that they were making calls that use two sounds simultaneously.
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Mother dolphins use ‘baby talk’ with their young, say researchers studying thirty years of dolphin data. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June 2023.
Marine biologists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Hampshire College in Massachusetts examined data on the Bottlenose Dolphin and found that they have complex communication patterns that are similar to humans. The researchers analysed recordings of 19 female dolphins over 34 years. They also observed a pod of wild Bottlenose Dolphins in Florida’s Sarasota Bay.
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To protect Black Rhinos from poachers killing them for their horn, conservationalists use a strategy of de-horning. The theory is: if the Black Rhino has no horn, then poachers won’t kill it, and the rhino lives longer. Rhino horns are more valuable than diamonds or gold on the black market in Southeast Asia. Over the past decade in southern Africa, steps were taken to save the rhinos from being poached, maimed, and killed for their horns.
De-horning is painless for the rhino, taking about 20 minutes. Veterinarians sedate the rhino, blindfold it, and insert earplugs, then use a chain saw to cut off the top of its horn, but only the section that does not contain nerves. When poachers cut of a rhino’s horn, they do it quickly at night, and they often damage the nerves or kill it. Rhino horns grow back, and veterinarians usually de-horn a rhino once every 18 months.
Scientists wanted to know more about rhinos that had been de-horned. New research has found some interesting results.
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Ants in the Saharan Desert are famous for finding their way home in a seemingly sparse and featureless desert. It’s called wayfinding. How do Desert Ants find their way home?
Desert Ants (Cataglyphis fortis) build landmarks to help them find their way home. What kind of landmarks?
Scientist Markus Knaden from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, and his colleagues, studied the Desert Ant in the salt flats of Tunisia in Saharan Africa.
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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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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?
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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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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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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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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Studying innovation in animal behaviour is difficult, say psychologists. Innovation in animals is determined by the way they solve new problems or if they find new ways to solve old problems.
When studying animal innovation, most animals are scared or cautious about new things, especially new objects, near them. Also, most animal psychology studies focus on birds (crows and parrots are very innovative) and primates (chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas, etc.).
Psychology students at the University of Barcelona, Spain, conducted a recent study on animal innovation and cognition, and published the results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Alvaro Caicoya and his research team wanted to study animals that were not birds or primates – i.e., animals not usually known for being innovative. They looked at 13 species of hoofed mammals (ungulates) – a total of 111 animals in zoos in Spain and Germany.
Continue reading “Goats that take more risks get more food”
Why is seabird poop good for the environment?
The poop of seabirds is important for the environment, writes Jason Bittel for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Jason Bittel writes that seabird droppings – from Penguins and especially flying seabirds – help to fertilize plants, and whole colonies of seabirds depositing their poop can have a positive affect on coral reefs and climate.
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Research shows that wild African Elephants act like domestic animals, and that they may have domesticated themselves.
Humans have domesticated many animals to be friendly, sociable, and docile. Scientists have seen that wild African Elephants play, care for their young, and show social behaviours that domesticated animals have, even though they have never been domesticated by humans.
Scientists say that wild African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) are one of the few species to show self-domestication, which has only previously been documented in Bonobo Chimpanzees (Pan paniscus).
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A March 2023 study says that the Jewel Beetle evolves its vision to see new colours.
Scientists at the University of Minnesota in America are studying the Jewel Beetle, known for its elytron (shell) of vivid, iridescent, and metallic colours.
The Jewel Beetle is an insect in the Buprestidae family of wood-boring beetles. It has large, well-developed eyes, and scientists in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota want to learn about its vision.
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An American-based company called Beewise created the world’s first robotic hive – called a Beehome – in 2017 to help save and protect the planet’s bees.
The Beehome is a solar-powered, artificially-intelligent, robotic hive, placed in a field, that accommodates 24 colonies of bees – about 2 million bees. It is 1 metre (3 feet) high and 3 metres (10 feet) wide. It can replace the traditional 150-year-old Langstroth wooden bee boxes used by beekeepers.
The beekeeper can care for the bees remotely.The Beehome replicates what human beekeepers do, but on a minute-by-minute real-time basis.
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