Biology, News

Language is not restricted to humans: Scientists find bird species with its own language


Joining sounds together to create a meaningful language was thought to be a human characteristic, but a new study published in PLoS Biology found that blabber birds also developed their own phonetic language, just like we did! Researchers also believe that studying these birds could give us hints of why and how our language evolved to what it is today.   Biologists

Biology, Discoveries, News

Earth-loving Hades: meet the centipede from Hell

The entrance of cave Munižaba. Photo: D. Bakšić.

Deep below ground level, 3,500 feet (1000 meters) down a Croatian cave, scientists have discovered a new species of centipede. They named this incredibly resilient creature Geophilus hadesi – earth loving Hades – in honor of Hades, the Greek God of the underworld and ruler of Hell. Centipedes are elongated arthropods with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes

Animals, Biology, News

Fish diversity took off once dinosaurs went extinct

Perch (Ray-Finned Bony Fish)

Today, ray-finned fish make up 99% of all fish species, but it wasn’t always like this. In an attempt to find out what triggered this spectacular multi-niche dominance, paleontologists traveled back in time sort of speak and analyzed ancient fossils to see what the fish diversity makeup looked like millions of years ago. Intriguing enough, the ray fish practically exploded in their diversity right after the last great mass extinction which occurred 65 million years ago. An asteroid impact wiped out thousands of species, including all dinosaurs. But there was now enough room for other creatures to take their place. On land, mammals started filling in the large-scale niches eventually reaching a dominant position. In the water, it was the ray-finned fish that seized the opportunity.

Biology, Chemistry, Climate, News

Carbon emissions threaten to destroy pink salmon population


The effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are great and long reaching – a new study has found that pink salmon in the Pacific Ocean are threatened by increasing ocean acidification.

Biology, News

Like mustard and wasabi? You should thank this catterpillar

The Cabbage Butterfly Caterpillar played a key role in developing plants like mustard or cabbage. Image via Gardening Know How.

In a paper published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists explain the process through which plants like mustard came to be – as it turns out, an evolutionary arms race with a caterpillar played a key role.

Biology, Geology, News

500 million year old worm had impressive spiky armor

Collinsium ciliosum. Image credit: Jie Yang.

Paleontologists working in China have discovered fossils of an impressively armored worm that lived during the Cambrian, 500 million years ago. Called  Hairy Collins’ Monster, this is one of the first creatures to develop a spiky armor. Today, the 180 species of velvet worms are pretty similar – they have tiny eyes, antennae, multiple pairs of legs, and slime glands. They

Animals, Biology, News

New firefly species from California discovered by undergrad student

fireflies glow

Despite what you might have seen or not seen, there are actually some fireflies living west of the Rocky Mountains, though they mostly keep to themselves and are rarely spotted by humans. Every once in a while, people spot some. This time, one undergrad who was busy insect hunting in the Los Angeles County hit the jackpot after he discovered a new firefly species.

Animals, Biology, News

Monarch butterfly populations went down 80% in 21 years


A new study has found that monarch butterfly populations have went down at alarming rates in the past couple of decades, going down on average by 80%. In the forests of Mexico, they went down by as much as 90%.

Biology, News

Rats dream of getting to a brighter future

Image via Like Cool.

It’s not just us humans that dream of a better future – rats do too. When rats rest, their brains imagine a favorable future such as a tasty treat, a new study by UCL researchers found.

Biology, News, Physics

Why ants don’t have traffic jams – hint: it’s because they don’t show off

Unless there's a serious pileup, ants in traffic tend to bypass a collision and just keep going. A physicist has found a way to model this behavior with a mathematical equation.
Image via iStockphoto

Studying ants could help us reduce or even eliminate traffic jams, but only if we let go of our ego. Physicist Apoorva Nagar at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology found that ants don’t have traffic jams, and we have much to learn from them when it comes to using a road.