Tusk DNA tracking to handle illegal trade

International treaties to protect the elephants are not working – that’s the sad truth. There is no real, practical way of enforcing them, and as a result, whatever few elephants are left are still being tracked down and hunted, mostly for their tusks. Researchers estimate that tens of thousands of African elephants are now being killed by poachers each year,

Japanese minister says he sees no end to whaling

Japan will never stop its annual hunt for whales, a government minister has reportedly said, despite recent clashes between whalers and environmental organizations. “I don’t think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan,” Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said in an interview with the French news service Agence France-Presse on

Robotic bat wing teaches scientists new things about aerodynamics

For some time now, researchers have been experimenting with the idea of an aircraft that operates with flapping wings, just like insects or birds do, instead of conventional flat and long wings. The idea is that flapping wings allow a much greater degree of control and stability, allowing the aircraft to perform maneuvers otherwise impossible. Still, such concepts are very

What cockroaches can teach us about balance

Cockroaches are maybe the most amazing insects in the animal kingdom – they’re simply made to survive. These little buggers can survive in sub-zero temperatures, can withstand a lethal dose of radiation up to 15 times of that for humans, can live without food for a whole month and … they can live with a severed head for up to

Chimps enjoy solving puzzles just for the thrill of it

Earlier today I wrote about some recent findings that suggest humans have evolved unique brain structures from other primates. Don’t be fooled however in thinking many of the activities we undertake every day are solely found in human culture. Dolphins communicate with each other much like humans do and besides tool use, chimps know that cooperation is key. The latest

Holy Carp! Giant goldfish invade lake tahoe

A new type of lake monster has been found, in the depths of Lake Tahoe: gigantic goldfish; and as cute as they are, their influence is just disastrous for the local ecosystem. The goldfish is an invasive species for that environment, adapting to the situation so well that it pretty much annihilated its competition, growing even to humongous size (for

Flowers use electrical signals to summon bees

Pollination is the game, “summon bees” is the spell, and electricity is the mana – that’s how I’d try to explain it to a gamer. A little more on the serious side, flowers advertise presence of nectar to bees using electrical signals, basically indicating if they’ve been visited by another bee or not. Usually, plants are negatively charged and emit

A book on the Cambrian – with some mind blowing illustrations

Paleontologists have found evidence of animal life dating back at least 635 million years. Those animals acted much like today’s sponges, stuck in the sea floor, filtering water particles for useful nutrients in the sea. But just over 100 million years later, during the Cambrian explosion, life really started to pump its engines. All sorts of creatures were filling all

How seals sleep with only half their brain

A new study led by an international team of biolgoists has shown just some brain chemicals allow seals to sleep with only half of the brain. “Seals do something biologically amazing — they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake. Seals sleep this way while

First baby portrait of a giant armadillo

The giant armadillo, Priodontes maximus by its scientific name, or the tatou, as it is colloqually called was once found widely throughout the tropical forests of eastern South America, but now, thanks to deforestation and human city expansion, it faces extinction. It’s quite a rare sight to see one, but with patience and knowledge, Brazilian researchers managed to take the

Origins of alcohol consumption traced back to 10-million-year-old common ancestor

Now, I’m not advocating alcohol consumption, but truth be told most of us take alcohol for granted, and I’m not referring to abusing either. Millions of years ago, our ancestors and primate relatives had a very poor ability of metabolizing ethanol — the alcohol in beer, wine and spirits — and were it not for their pioneering “work”, we humans might

Rats given ‘sixth sense’ after they recognize infrared light

Most brain-machine prosthetic research today is focused on supplementing a missing sense, like medical devices that restore hearing or sight. In a novel research, however, scientists at  Duke University Medical Center have literally granted rodents a sixth sense after they implanted them with an experimental prototype that allows rats to “touch” invisible infrared light. At first, six rats were trained to stick their

Dogs understand humans’ point of view – are much more likely to steal food at night, when they can’t be seen

A study conducted by Dr. Juliane Kaminski of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology concluded that when humans forbid dogs to eat foods, dogs are 4 times more likely to steal the food in the dark, when they think humans can’t spot them. It’s interesting to see how dogs actually adapt to what they believe humans can see, basically

Sea Slug boasts disposable penis

Well we all use disposable tissues, dishes, I’ve heard of disposable tails of even limbs, but a disposable penis? Talk about taking things to the next level… But that’s exactly what this sea slug has. After mating, it simply discards its penis, grows a new one, and can even have sex again the same day. Chromodoris reticulata, is a type

Dreadful contest in California: who can kill most coyotes wins

Hunters are having a blast in northern California, with a simple purpose: hunt as many coyotes as possible. As you could guess, the event’s organizers tried to keep it as secretive as possible, but the local press estimated over 200 hunters participated in the (more or less) annual event. Opponents of the hunt – which began Friday evening and was

Salmon uses magnetic field to guide itself back home

For years scientists have been studying the salmon migration path, which is one of the most fascinating, yet dangerous. Once it’s born in its freshwater breeding location, the salmon heads for salt water in the ocean, before it returns to its exact  freshwater stream of birth in order to restart the process – a journey that lasts for years and carries the

Earliest mammal pinpointed suggests the ancestry expanded after dinosaurs died off

For the past twenty years there’s been a debate whether the mammal explosion that eventually made the class of animals dominant on Earth happened before or after the end of the dinosaur reign. Scientific papers and various evidence supporting both views have surfaced along the years, but a recent massive study conducted by a collaborative team of scientists may have

European Parliament supports major fishery reform

Overfishing is a dramatic problem in most areas of the oceans, and many people are desperately trying to protect what’s left of the ecosystems; thankfully though, the European Union has approved a major reform by an enormous majority. The European Parliament was having its say in the on-going attempt to shake up Europe’s controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), with many

Moles smell in stereo to navigate for food

Stereo sensing is a highly important skill that most animals possess that creates a directional perspective. Not all senses are stereo, however, in some animals. For instance, humans have stereo vision and hearing, however no stereo smell – the latter being a trait that not too many animals possess. The common mole has been found to display such an ability,

62 year old albastross, tracked since 1956 by USGS, gives birth to a healthy chick

Her name is Wisdom, and she’s absolutely awesome! She’s the world’s oldest known living wild bird, at 62, and she produced a healthy living chick, surprising the entire world. It’s remarkable enough that she reached this age, with the lifespan for the typical albatross being somewhere between 30 and 40 years, but giving birth, and to a healthy offspring… that’s