Rats and pigeons are slowly replacing iconic species, and it’s our fault

The “losers” are exactly the ones you want to protect.

Rats successfully sniff out tuberculosis in children

The rats are much more efficient than the conventional test.

Giant (adorable?) species of rat discovered in the Solomon Islands

It’s not good news for the rat…

Great Barrier Reef rodent becomes first extinct mammal at the hand of climate change

Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal, the Bramble Cay melomys, is now officially extinct, scientists say.

Hero Rats detect landmines and TB for a living

Detecting landmines can be difficult, dangerous and expensive, but an unsung hero is set to change all this.

Why rats can’t vomit, and how they make up for it

Sure vomiting can be gross, but it’s also an essential survival reflex that’s saved countless lives. Humans are very fortunate to able to vomit, unlike other species like rats.

Fossils of huge rats found in Asia

Archaeologists have discovered fossils of rats 10 times bigger than modern rats. Working with the Australian National University (ANU), the team made the findings in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony in south-east Asia. Dr Julien Louys of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language said these are the largest rat fossils ever to be found, and by all accounts, these are the

Meet the hog-nosed rat, a new species of mammal

While surveying the island of Sulawesi right in the center of Indonesia, a group of researchers came across a previously undocumented species of rodent. It was pretty easy too, considering the animal’s uncanny appearance: what would otherwise look like a normal looking rat, but with the nostrils of a hog.

Blind rats ‘sense’ their location after a geomagnetic compass was strapped to their brains

Blind rats learned to navigate mazes just as well as those that could see, after scientists strapped a simple geomagnetic compass – the kind that’s found in your smartphone – fitted with electrodes directly onto their brains. Though they’re not naturally equipped to sense magnetic fields, the rats’ brains demonstrated tremendous plasticity and effectively incorporated a new sense! We can only presume this is possible in the case of humans as well, so the team from Japan which made the study believes blind people could incorporate a similar device – minus the brain hack. There are other alternatives after all, like say an iPhone app that acoustically alerts the blind person which way to turn or a sensor directly fitted into a walking cane.

Rats reward their friends for help – first such act seen among non-humans

Norwegian rats know how to keep their friends close. A new study found they reward other rats for their help even though there’s no immediate gain at hand as a result of this behavior. Called direct reciprocation, this is the first time something like this has been recorded by science outside human interactions.

Exonerate the rats – it was gerbils that brought the Black Plague

It’s always the cute ones – a team of Norwegian researchers found that the Black Plague, which arrived in Europe in the 14th century and wiped out up to 200 million people was brought by gerbils, not by rats.

Paralyzed rats regain use of hind legs with flexible spinal cord implant. Humans to follow

Swiss scientists demonstrated a flexible ribbon-like implant that attaches itself to a paralyzed rat’s spinal cord, allowing the animal to walk again. The prosthetic, described by foremost experts in the field as ‘remarkable’, works by delivering timed electrical impulses and drugs along the spinal cord. In this particular case, rats aren’t that different from humans, and true enough clinical trials are now one step closer. In the future, paralysis might just be another word for “walking funny.”

Mothers teach babies fear through smell

Babies can learn what to fear from the first days of life simply by smelling their distressed mothers, a new study has shown. This doesn’t only work after the pregnancy, but also during it and even before – if a mother experiences something specific which makes her fearful. It’s the first direct observation of this kind – University of Michigan

Brain-computer interface restores brain connectivity in injured rats

Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center  researchers recently report they’ve devised a neural prosthetic that partially restored brain connectivity in rats whose brains were injured. Effectively, the rats regained their functional behavior and were able to perform tasks similarly to normal rats, something that otherwise wouldn’t had been possible. The research gives hope that the interface may be

Virtual reality for rats shows how different brain functions cooperate during navigation

Some people are better navigators than others, i.e. men better than women. Whether you can make your way effortlessly through the woods to reach a safe house or get seemingly lost on your way home from a different bus stop, it doesn’t make that much of a different at a sensory level. Navigation is often taken for granted, but the

Rats have a double view of the world

Rodents are able to move their eyes in different directions, thus always keeping an eye on the the airspace above them, researchers from Max Planck Institute have shown. Using miniaturised high-speed cameras and high-speed behavioural tracking, they found that rats can move their eyes in different directions, both in the horizontal and in the vertical plane; the eyes move individually

Poisoning rats is poisoning birds

Law-makers in Canada and the US are making moves to restrict rat poisons based on blood thinners as studies show that the toxins accumulate in birds of prey and other animals. Blood thinning and rats For many people, rats are the worst pets, and they will use all sorts of methods to get rid of them; one method, really common

Scientists create brain with 12 seconds memory

The purple round thing you are looking at is actually a microscopic brain derived from rat neurons, just about 50 of them. Developed by researchers from the University of Pittsburg, it only has a memory of 12 seconds, which is about 11 more than what researchers were hoping for. The brain was created in an attempt to artificially nurture a

Over 1000 new species discovered near Mekong in the past year

According to a report launched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), more than a thousand species were discovered just in the last decade in that particular area. A rat thought extinct for 11 million years and a hot pink, dragon millipede that produces cyanide are just two of the amazing species found there. If you’re still not convinced how amazing