Animals, Biology, News

“Sparklemuffin” and “Skeletorus” are two new spider species

All photos: Jurgen Otto

It’s not every day that species get such awesome names – but then again, it’s not every day that such awesome spiders are discovered. Two gorgeous new species of spider have been discovered in Australia (where else?), and the researchers who made the discovery decided to give them these memorable names. The species are a part of the jumping spider family,

Animals, Did you know?

How urban pigeons dodge obstacles: they trade efficiency for safety

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Big cities are crammed with millions of pigeons, but despite their large numbers the birds seem to have no problem navigating through bustling urban environments. I’ve often wondered how pigeons manage not to hit each other, first of all, when they sudden burst in a flock or why you never seem to see pigeons hit by taxis or poles. A new study suggests that this remarkable dodging is made by the pigeon through a trade-off between efficiency and safety, depending on the situation.

Animals, Climate, News

Too much of a good thing: Emperor penguins were almost killed of by the Ice Age

Emperor penguins. Image via Wiki Commons.

They like freezing conditions, but the Emperor penguins struggled during the last Ice Age, a new study concluded. In fact, if they hadn’t been able to change their breeding habits and even their genetic make-up, they might have not survived.

Animals, Biology, News

Scientists create the perfect music for cats

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We all know how therapeutic and soothing (or on the contrary, motivating) music can be; and we all know that different people like different types of music… so it seems safe to say that different animals also like different types of music. Now, a joint team of scientists and musicians believe they found how to compose the purr-fect music for animals, including monkeys and cats.

Animals, News, Science

The world’s most trafficked animal: the pangolin

The Cape pangolin, pictured here, could become increasingly imperiled if trade moves from Asia to Africa. Photo by: Maria Diekmann/Rare and Endangered Species Trust.

This gentle and secluded creature is called a pangolin. Bet you’ve never heard of him. It looks sort of like a walking pinecone, a dragon or a dinosaur. It’s tongue is as long as its body and can curl, then roll in a scaly ball. It’s a pretty amazing animal and it’s a shame so few people know of its existence. But more worrisome is that the pangolin might cease to existence entirely, with or without we knowing about it. Many believe it’s the most trafficked animal in the world.

Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Bees have false memories too – this might help explain how our own form

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Memories aren’t infallible – even for those with photographic memory – so, more often than not, they’ll seem fuzzy. And the older these get, the fuzzier they’re recalled. Mixing names, faces and events in your head can sometimes be embarrassing, but at least we’re not alone. Seems like bees have false memories too, according to a study made by British researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Previously, false memories had been induced in other animals, like mice, but this is the first time natural false memories have been shown to happen. Research like this might help us, in time, understand how false memories are formed and, in a more general sense, how we recall events.

Animals, News

Hippo ancestor was the size of an overgrown sheep

Illustration of what's believed to be  a common ancestor to hippos. (Image: Dmitry Bogdanov/Wikimedia Commons). The animal was a bit larger than a sheep.

Paleontologists have excavated and analyzed the remains of an ancient hypo ancestor in Kenya. The 28 million-year-old fossils paint a broader picture revealing the missing link between modern day hippos and the earliest ancestor who lived some 53 million years ago. As an interesting tidbit, the closest living relatives of the hippo are whales and dolphins, as revealed by previous

Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Rats Remember Who’s Nice to Them—and Return the Favor

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Rats remember acts of kindness done by other rats, and are more helpful to individuals who previously helped them. It’s not clear if they do this because they are grateful or if they are trying to make sure that they will get helped in the future as well, but their behavior gives scientists a new understanding of animal social behavior.

Animals, News, World Problems

Ocean Acidification Threatens to Destroy Shellfish Populations

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Mollusks such as oysters, clams and scallops are highly vulnerable to the increasing acidification of the world’s oceans. A new study concluded that the acidification is so intense that the mollusks aren’t able to properly produce a hard shell, putting them in peril.