Flying into turbulence

Wind farms are not the bird killer of popular imagination, but as more and more towers rise over the Australian landscape and as the country’s first offshore wind farm inches towards an end date, avian death counts are an easy headline. Experts such as Emma Bennett, whose company Elmoby Ecology specialises in the effects of … Continue reading Flying into turbulence

5 remarkable reptile facts herpetologists want you to know

Today is Reptile Awareness Day! We reached out to our lizard-loving scientist friends to learn their favourite reptile facts to bring them to you to celebrate the day. 1. Big and venomous The Komodo dragon is venomous! And the extinct giant relative Megalania was the largest venomous animal to have ever lived. Brian Fry, University … Continue reading 5 remarkable reptile facts herpetologists want you to know

Using AI to probe the dawn of animal life

A joint Australian-US team has a plan to use AI to understand the oldest complex fossils on Earth – and they’ve just received a cool US$300,000 (about $410,000) grant from NASA to do it. The natural archive of Earth’s geological record contains fossils and other signals of living creatures, which helps us understand the evolutionary … Continue reading Using AI to probe the dawn of animal life

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Fish camouflage better without friends watching Like chameleons of the sea, gobies change colour to hide from predators like larger fish and birds – and they do so better when they’re alone. A new study published in Royal Society Open Science tested the colour-changing ability of these bottom-dwelling fish alone and in pairs. When by … Continue reading You may have missed…

Snakes dined out after dinosaurs died out

Around 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs died out. But it wasn’t a sad day for everyone, with mammal and bird evolution exploding, leading to a variety of new species. But what about snakes? Researchers have found that snakes also experienced rapid evolution following the demise of the dinos. This was primarily driven by a … Continue reading Snakes dined out after dinosaurs died out

Feeling twitchy? Get ready for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count

On Monday 18 October, the 2021 Aussie Backyard Bird Count begins! This annual outbreak of citizen bird-geekery involves observing and counting the birds that live near you – whether that’s in a backyard, local park, or even a town-centre green space. Participants record observations within a 20-minute period, and the data goes to BirdLife Australia, … Continue reading Feeling twitchy? Get ready for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count

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Meat-eating sloths? Meat and three veg is the perfect meal for an extinct giant ground sloth – Mylodon darwinii – that lived 10,000 years ago. Researchers from the American Museum of Natural History analysed amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – found in preserved sloth hair and learnt that the sloths were probably … Continue reading You may have missed…

Oral vaccines, rare ecosystems and microplastic map

Black summer bushfire research, a vaccine against a childhood virus and a science education program for Indigenous students are among the winners of the 2021 Eureka Prizes, announced Thursday night at a virtual ceremony. Presented annually by the Australian Museum since 1990, the Eureka Prizes recognise scientific excellence of both individuals and organisations. Seventeen prizes … Continue reading Oral vaccines, rare ecosystems and microplastic map

Your Fat Bear Week 2021 Champion is here: Meet Otis

With a belly full of salmon and a body full of fat, Otis the bear claims the title of the fattest bear in Katmai National Park and Preserve, US. Fat Bear Week 2021 celebrates the hefty Ursidae who gorge themselves on salmon before hunkering down for winter hibernation. Meaty and undefeated, bodacious Otis beat 11 … Continue reading Your Fat Bear Week 2021 Champion is here: Meet Otis

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Elephants are friends until there isn’t enough food Elephants are great cooperators until there isn’t enough food, suggests a study published in PLOS Biology. The researchers, led by Li-Li Li at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, gave the elephants food challenges to see whether or not they worked together. When there were enough trays of food, … Continue reading You may have missed…

Bushfires push native bees to the brink

The Black Summer bushfires may have been more devastating to Aussie bees than previously thought, new research indicates. Among hundreds of native bee species investigated in the study, led by Flinders University, researchers believe that the number of threatened species has increased by almost a factor of five. Nine species were assessed as vulnerable and … Continue reading Bushfires push native bees to the brink