Russian crafts lands safely on earth – most mice, gerbils and other critters perish aboard perished

In April, the Russian space agency launched the Bion-M craft which carried quite a few mice, gerbils, newts, snails and some microfauna into Earth’s orbit. The experiment was designed to test how weightlesness affect them and how these organisms adapt in the process. The craft returned back to Earth on May 19th in an otherwise safe landing, however most of

CT scan images caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis in 3-D

Serving as one of the strongest metaphors nature has to offer, at the later stages of its evolution the caterpillar – a soft bodied, not very pretty, ground based insect – morphs into a butterfly – a majestic flying insect of varying coloring and shape. What exactly goes inside the chrysalis the caterpillar wraps itself with for the many weeks required for metamorphosis remains a mystery, though.

“Living fossil” fish DNA may help explain how the first animals to walk on land evolved

A matter of great debate and ardent discussion in the field of evolutionary biology today is the transition of complex life from a watery environment to land. So far, there have been numerous speculations put forward in attempt to explain how tetrapods (four-legged land animals) first evolved and washed ashore to start life fresh as land-based animals, however the missing

Primate howl hints towards origins of human speech

Scientists have always tried to answer how speech developed in humans or what are its evolutionary mechanisms, a mystery made even more difficult to unravel since none of our close primate relatives has been granted with even the most primitive forms of speech, or so it was thought. Researchers studying the gelada – a primate that closely resembles the baboon

Article suggests dragonflies are the most effective predators in the animal world – 95% success rate

Lions roar and act tough, and they’re often regarded as kind of the land, but only 1 in 4 of their hunts is successful. Sharks have been on top of the food chain for hundreds of millions of years, and still half of their attempts fail. Dragonflies on the other hand, look soft and fragile, and are among the few

Lizards have survival instincts even before they are born

Unborn lizards can erupt from their eggs days before they should if they recept vibrations that hint at a predator coming. The premature hatchlings literally begin their life by running as fast as they can. Talk about having an escape plan! The fact that lizards can have such spectacular survival reflexes even before they are born seems abolutely baffling to

The world bee populations are dwindling, and we still can’t make it stop

In case you don’t know, global bee populations have been dropping dramatically in latest years – and this is not an exaggeration. In 2012 alone, a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD) wiped out about half of honeybee hives. What happens in CCD is that bees just leave the hive, never to return again. This was reported since 1900, but

Chimps also ‘think about thinking’ akin to humans

Our close primate relatives, chimpanzees, have been constantly amazing us with their incredible cognitive abilities and personality traits that are so similar to our own. If you believe much of what you undertake today is limited to human cognition only, think again. Chimps do it too – thinking about thinking that is, as the findings of a recent research by

New tarantula species discovered in Sri Lanka is huge

A Sri Lanka researcher has discovered a new tarantula species, and it’s literally a big deal. Spanning across eight inches, this tarantula is big enough to cover your entire face and boasts a unique coloring. Ranil Nanayakkara, a local researcher, along with his team found the tiger stripped arachnid while on a typical arachnid expedition in 2009. Imagine Nanayakkara’s surprise

Gecko clinging ability on wet surfaces might inspire water-resistant adhesive tape

The gecko is a phenomenal reptile which has always amazed observers, and especially scientists, thanks to its remarkable ability to cling to surfaces. Though they’ve been studied for a while now, it’s only recently that researchers have learned how geckos scale across wet surfaces, like leaves and trees found in its natural tropical environment. The discovery might find its use

In India, leopards are now backyard wildlife

A recent study led by WCS-India scientist Vidya Athreaya finds that certain areas in India, in which human settlements have greatly expanded, and which, as a result, are basically devoid of wilderness are teeming with another type of backyard wildlife: leopards. Camera traps set up at night in a densely populated region of India virtually devoid of wilderness revealed not

Namibian fairy circles mystery finally solved: they’re made by termites

A while ago, we wrote about the ongoing efforts to pinpoint the cause that gives rise to the thousands of so called “fairy circles” scattered around hundreds of square miles from the edge of the Namib Desert in Angola to South Africa. These great rings of grass that cover whole patches of arid desert have intrigued scholars for years, especially

World’s most endangered wild cat embryos frozen and stored in hope of restoration

The Iberian lynx is the only wild cat listed as  critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), numbering no more than 200 specimens, all of whom are entirely confined to southern Spain. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin recently salvaged embryos and egg cells from a pair of captive Iberian lynxes before the animals

Humans caused ancient Pacific bird extinction that killed 10% of world bird population

A new study sheds new light on the impact humans had on the local aviary fauna in the Pacific, after the authors conclude that human colonization of the Pacific Islands is the main driving factor that wiped out some 1,300 bird species in the area or roughly 10% of the entire bird population on the planet. The study also shows

Animal hybridization accelerated by climate change

What do you get when you cross a grizzly bear with a polar bear? Simple, a prizzly bear or golar bear, depending on the side you’re looking from. What about a narwhal with a beluga whale? A narluga! No, these aren’t childish word plays, nor elaborated photoshop attempts – these animals truly exist and come as a result of animal

Better looking specimens have healthier children, a study on great tits shows

Great tits are widespread species throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and Northern Asia, and parts of North Africa in any sort of woodland. They tipically don’t migrate, except for very harsh winters. According to a new paper published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Frontiers in Zoology, the female’s appearance can be correlated with healthy attributes in offspring. The

Scientists want to ‘de-extinct’ 22 species, including the wooly mammoth, the Dodo bird and the tasmanian tiger

So far… it’s re-extinction Almost 10 years ago, on July 30, 2003, a team of Spanish and French scientists reversed time. They brought an animal back from extinction, if only just to see it go extinct again. The animal they revived was a kind of wild goat known as a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex. For tens of thousands of years,

Scientists discover vividly colored lizards in the Peruvian Amazon

There is still unbelievably much we have yet to discover from the Amazon. Now, researchers have uncovered two new species of woodlizards from Peru. Woodlizards are little known species of reptiles, with only 10 species being described so far, all of which are found in Central or South America (9 in Peru). These new found species were found in Cordillera

The beautiful amphibian from hell: the crocodile newt in Vietnam

Researchers find out new species all the time, but really, when do they ever find a creature that looks like it was spawned by the fiery volcano of Mordor? Coal-black with orange-tinted toes, the new crocodile newt was identified as a different species when biologists spotted a series of differences to nearly related species. “I was asked by a curator

All giant squids are just one species

The fearsome monster that inspired Greek and Norse mythology was once driven almost to extinction, facing a genetic bottleneck event that marked their evolution as a species. The finding comes from an analysis of tissue samples from 43 giant squid (Architeuthis spp.) from around the world. The analysis were mostly concluded on specimens which were washed up onshore or accidentally