RESEARCH: Insects play dead to avoid being eaten

Insects play dead to avoid being eaten. Playing dead might help prey animals stay alive.

Nigel R. Franks at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and his colleagues, were conducting a study on beetle-like larvae (grubs) of the flying Antlions (Euroleon nostras). When they dropped the 12-millimetre-long larvae onto a tray to weigh them, the insects froze.

Franks and his colleagues observed the behaviour repeatedly, noting that the insects would stay immobile for a few seconds to more than an hour.

The researchers thought that this behavioiur was a survival mechanism, imitating the times when birds accidentally dropped the Antlions after grabbing them out of their sandpits.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Insects play dead to avoid being eaten”

RESEARCH: Sparrows are healthier when living in groups with diverse personalities

House Sparrows are healthier when living in groups with diverse personalities. Research scientists think that House Sparrows that live in groups in which different individuals have different personality types are healthier than those that live in groups with the same personality type.

The “surprising” findings suggest that personality diversity promotes not only a healthier society of sparrows, but also better physical and mental health for each individual within that society, says Zoltan Barta at the University of Debrecen in Hungary.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Sparrows are healthier when living in groups with diverse personalities”

RESEARCH: Fish are getting smaller as sea temperatures rise

Scientists think that adult fish are getting smaller as sea temperatures rise. 

Research scientists have been studying the size of fish in the ocean over the past 50 years, since 1970, and they think that they are shrinking in size due to warmer oceans.

At the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, Idongesit Ikpewe and his colleagues have found that warmer seas are linked to changes in fish size. They looked at trends in four commercially fished species: cod, haddock, whiting, and saithe. They researched these fish in two locations: (1) the North Sea and (2) in the waters of Scotland. 

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Fish are getting smaller as sea temperatures rise”

RESEARCH: Kangaroos can learn to ask humans for help

Research scientists have recently found that kangaroos in zoos and sanctuaries use body language to ask humans for help, much like horses and dogs do. The researchers think this suggests that wild animals can learn to engage in inter-species communication just by being around humans.

Previously, researchers thought that only domesticated animals had the ability to communicate with humans, said Alan McElligott at City University of Hong Kong.

Kangaroos in Australia have never been a domesticated animal. In Australia, there are about 50 million kangaroos that roam in groups, called mobs. But there are also thousands of kangaroos, and other marsupials such as wallabies and pademelons, that live in zoos, parks, and sanctuaries.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Kangaroos can learn to ask humans for help”

RESEARCH: Animals have played an important health role during the COVID-19 pandemic

A 2020 research study indicates that animals, mainly pets, have played an important health role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers at the University of South Australia studied the effects of animals during the pandemic when human-to-human contact was restricted to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Researcher Dr. Janette Young said, “To fill the void of loneliness and provide a buffer against stress, there has been a global upsurge in people adopting dogs and cats from animal shelters during lockdowns. Breeders have also been inundated with demands for puppies quadrupling some waiting lists.”

It is estimated that more than half the global population share their lives with one or more pets. The health benefits have been widely reported, but little data exists regarding the specific benefits that pets bring to humans in terms of touch. 

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Animals have played an important health role during the COVID-19 pandemic”

RESEARCH: Humans love big animals

All creatures great and small, but which ones are the best of all?

Humans seem to love big animals. Research scientists have found that people think that larger animals are more charismatic than smaller ones, with some exceptions.

Scientist Emilio Berti, previously from the Aarhus University in Denmark, and his colleagues, compiled information from 9 existing datasets on animal charisma. Some datasets included information from volunteers about their attitude to particular species of birds and mammals. Other datasets included information on the number of Wikipedia page views seen by readers for particular species of animals, and the number of images of species posted to Twitter and the photo-sharing site Flickr.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Humans love big animals”

RESEARCH: Bumblebees can fly sideways

Can bumblebees fly sideways? New research shows that bumblebees can fly sideways to fit through tight gaps.

In November 2020, the New Scientist magazine included an article about bumblebees. Researcher Sridhar Ravi and his science colleagues from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, studied the flight of the Buff-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris).

The scientists were testing whether bumblebees are aware of their size, because they are larger than honeybees. The scientists connected four bee hives to tunnels. The Buff-Tailed Bumblebees had to go through the tunnel to reach some food. Then the science researchers put a wall in the middle of the tunnel which partially blocked the tunnel, leaving a small gap (space). The scientists observed the bees to see what they would do when they reached the wall. Would they go through the gap or not?

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Bumblebees can fly sideways”

The longest whale dive ever recorded

Scientists have recorded the longest ever dive by a whale. The whale was a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris). 

The time of the longest whale dive ever recorded was 3 hours and 42 minutes holding its breath. It broke the previous record in 2016 of 2 hours and 43 minutes. The human record for holding their breath underwater is 24 minutes. The human is floating motionless, but the whale is moving.

Continue reading “The longest whale dive ever recorded”

RESEARCH: Crocodile tears are true – reptiles and birds can cry

Animal evolutionary researchers have found that reptiles and birds cry similar tears to humans.

Researchers in Brazil, at the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, published their new study in Frontiers in Veterinary Sciencein 2020.

They collected samples of the tears of captive healthy animals in conservation centres. The tears were from seven species of reptiles and birds. The reptiles included tortoises, caiman lizards, and sea turtles. The birds included macaws, hawks, owls, and parrots.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Crocodile tears are true – reptiles and birds can cry”

RESEARCH: Reef Sharks have friendship groups

Marine research scientists have found out that Grey Reef Sharks hang out with the same friends in the same spot for years.

Researchers at the Florida International University in America have studied Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) for four years in the remote Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

To study the Grey Reef Sharks, the researchers tagged about 40 individual sharks with acoustic transmitters that emit a unique high-frequency sound. A network of 65 receivers recorded the identiy of any tagged shark that came within 300 metres of any of the receivers. The batteries on the transmitters last for four years.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Reef Sharks have friendship groups”

Spider webs provide DNA information about insects

Scientists have discovered that spider webs provide DNA information about insects in forests. The information enables scientists to monitor the biodiversity of ecosystems.

Matjaž Gregorič at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and his colleagues, conducted a study on spider webs in 2020. 

They used the webs of two species of spiders: (1) Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus) that make orb webs, and (2) Common Hammock-Weaving Spiders (Linyphia triangularis) that make cup-shaped webs. 

The spider webs act like a filter, trapping air particles, which also contain DNA from insects, fungi, and other bacteria. 

Continue reading “Spider webs provide DNA information about insects”

Rare Chequered Skipper Butterfly reintroduced to England

The Chequered Skipper Butterfly (Carterocephalus palaemon) died out in England in 1976 due to changes in the woodlands. A rise in conifer plantations did not suit the butterfly, which led to their extinction. 

The Chequered Skipper Butterfly exists in parts of Europe, including Belgium. After more than 40 years of extinction, 24 butterflies were caught in Belgium and sent to England by Eurostar in 2018. They were released at a secret site in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire, as part of a wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation project called “Back from the Brink.”

Continue reading “Rare Chequered Skipper Butterfly reintroduced to England”

What is the difference in the way a baboon and an orangutan sleep?

What is the difference in the way a baboon and an orangutan sleep? 

Scientists conducted a research study to see if there was a difference in the way large primates sleep.

American scientists, Dr. Samson of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and Robert Shumaker of Indiana University in Bloomington, chose two primate species to study, and they published their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2015. 

The primate species they chose to study were the baboon and the orangutan. The baboon is a monkey (it has a tail) and the orangutan is an ape (it does not have a tail). 

They video-taped 12 baboons and 5 orangutans sleeping over a period of 1-4 months. The scientists studied their sleeping positions, body movements, sleep patterns, and brain activity by measuring rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (which is light sleep) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep (which is deep sleep associated with dreaming). 

Continue reading “What is the difference in the way a baboon and an orangutan sleep?”

RESEARCH: Scientists think penguins in Antarctic prefer ice-free conditions

Scientists have been studying penguins in the Antarctic Region.

Polar biologists have seen populations of penguins increase during years when there is not a lot of ice in the region. They have also seen breeding reductions during the years when there is a lot of sea ice. However, they did not know why ice-free conditions made populations increase. But after this recent study, the polar biologists think they know why.

Polar biologists at the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research put electronic global positioning system (GPS) tags on 175 Adelie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the Antarctic Region. They also put video cameras in different locations to monitor what happens during the four seasons of the year when there are different sea ice conditions.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Scientists think penguins in Antarctic prefer ice-free conditions”

RESEARCH: Tracking Red Pandas in Nepal

Research scientists are satellite tracking the movements of Red Pandas in the mountains of Nepal. 

Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are endangered and there are only a few thousand individuals in their native environment in the eastern Himalayas and in southwestern China. The population numbers are declining due to habitat loss, poaching (illegal hunting), and inbreeding. 

In Nepal, Red Pandas are a protected species. The conservation scientists have put Global Positioning System (GPS) collars on 10 Red Pandas to remotely monitor their range of movements in the forests near Mount Kangchenjunga. 

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Tracking Red Pandas in Nepal”

RESEARCH: Orangutans scratching is contagious

Contagious behaviour occurs when someone sees a behaviour and then does the same behaviour involuntarily as a reflex action. For example, if we see someone yawn, we yawn. We say that yawning is contagious. 

Scientists have found that orangutans scratch as an involuntary reflex when they see another orangutan scratch. 

Scientist Daan Laméris and a team of researchers studied Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus).

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Orangutans scratching is contagious”

RESEARCH: Otters juggle stones when they are excited about food

Scientists have shown, in a new study, that otters juggles stones when they are excited about food.  

Scientists think that the behaviour might help to train young otters to learn the skills they will need to help them get food from mussels and clams. For older otters, the behaviour might keep them active and busy. 

The scientists observed zoo otters tossing stones in the air, like juggling stones, while standing or lying on their backs. 

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Otters juggle stones when they are excited about food”

RESEARCH: Insect numbers are decreasing

German researchers wanted to determine the effects of urbanisation on insect numbers. They found that insects are disappearing more quickly than they expected.

The researchers collected more than one million insects across 300 sites in Germany in 2008. They did the same exercise in the same sites 10 years later in 2018. They wrote about their experiment results in the Nature journal in 2019.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Insect numbers are decreasing”

RESEARCH: African Grey Parrots help other parrots

African grey parrots voluntarily and spontaneously help other parrots to achieve a goal, without obvious immediate benefit to themselves. Research co-author Désirée Brucks of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany, announced this result in January 2020.

Parrots and crows are known for having large brains relative to the size of their bodies, and that they are good at problem-solving. However, earlier studies showed that crows don’t help other crows, so researchers wondered whether parrots help other parrots, explained Désirée Brucks and study co-author Auguste von Bayern.

In their new study, Brucks and von Bayern enlisted several African Grey Parrots and Blue-Headed Macaws to help the research team.

Continue reading “RESEARCH: African Grey Parrots help other parrots”

RESEARCH: Fish can sing, researchers say

Marine biologists have found that fish can sing.

Some marine biologists have recorded fish singing. The sound recordings were captured by two sea-noise loggers (marine biologists) near the Port Hedland shore in Western Australia and also 21 kilometres (13 miles) away from shore. The sounds were recorded for 24 hours a day for seven days a week for 18 months. 

Continue reading “RESEARCH: Fish can sing, researchers say”