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We’re not friends anymore

Coral can remove the little algal buddies that live inside their tissues so other, more heat-tolerant algae can move in, suggests research published in Nature Climate Change.

As the oceans warm due to climate change, the new algae friends can help the coral survive the heat. The US research team compared two competing species – corals that are likely to evolve to survive climate change, and corals that can swap their symbiotic algae – and found that the friend-shuffling coral was far more effective at adapting.

I don’t look at my phone that much

According to a new study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, people are pretty bad at saying how long they spend on their phones.

Researchers from Stellenbosch University in South Africa asked a group of volunteers how long they spend on their phones and then compared this to digital screen time data logged through their device.

The results were quite different, but the gap got even bigger when volunteers were reporting use of problematically excessive media use, suggesting that self-reporting isn’t the best way of measuring phone use.

Tracking down mysterious fast radio bursts

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has traced the location of five fast radio bursts (FRBs) to the spiral arms of dive galaxies. These powerful blasts of radio waves can generate as much energy as the Sun does in an entire year – but in just a thousandth of a second, making it difficult to figure out where they came from, let alone what created them. Only 15 of the roughly 1,000 FRBs discovered have been tracked back to specific galaxies.

The two images at left show the full Hubble snapshots of each galaxy. The two digitally enhanced images on the right reveal each galaxy’s spiral structure in more detail. The dotted oval lines in each of the four images mark the location of the brilliant radio flares. Credit SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, Alexandra Mannings (UC Santa Cruz), Wen-fai Fong (Northwestern) IMAGE PROCESSING: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

“This is the first high-resolution view of a population of FRBs, and Hubble reveals that five of them are localized near or on a galaxy’s spiral arms,” says Alexandra Mannings of the University of California, Santa Cruz, lead author of the new study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

“Most of the galaxies are massive, relatively young, and still forming stars. The imaging allows us to get a better idea of the overall host-galaxy properties, such as its mass and star-formation rate, as well as probe what’s happening right at the FRB position because Hubble has such great resolution.”

You don’t have to be ‘smart’ to make good decisions

The ability to make good decisions – called decision acuity – has nothing to do with IQ, suggests a study published in the journal Neuron.

The researchers assigned decision-making tasks to young people between 14 and 24 that assessed risk-taking, impulsiveness, beneficial social judgements and assessment of losses and gains. Comparing the results with self-reported psychological dispositions and mental health symptoms, the team found that decision acuity appears to be independent of IQ – and was instead associated with higher social functioning skills.

Female orangutans look up to their mums

Young orangutans, like humans, have a lot to learn in their early years – and they do so by watching and imitating their elders. A study published in PLOS Biology has shown that female orangutans use their mothers as role models as they grow up, while male orangutans tend to look to individuals in other social groups – even while they are still in constant association with their mothers, and the mothers acted no differently.

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Females develop a similar feeding pattern to their mothers, while males extend it. Credit: Julia Kunz

“Young male and female orangutans simply use these opportunities differently,” explains co-author of the study, Caroline Schuppli from the University of Zurich and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour. “The differences in role models are also reflected in the immatures’ socially learned knowledge. Females thus develop feeding behaviors that are similar to those of their mothers, whereas males acquire a greater share of their knowledge from animals other than their mothers.”

This may be because males must leave the area they were born in and migrate to different areas, while females tend to remain in the same place.

The researchers studied 50 young orangutans at research stations on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo over 13 years.

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