Count Dracula was a fictional creation, but many of the things that made him distinctive can be found in nature. Behavioural ecologist Louise Gentle from the UK’s Nottingham Trent University explains.
What’s that sound? The aliens are coming! No, wait – it’s only insect defence signals. These eerie sounds are the result of simulations created by entomologist Jean-Luc Boevé, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and informatics engineer Rudi Gio. They mapped the chemical defence signals produced by sawfly (Craesus septentrionalis) larvae to musical … Continue reading These sounds scare humans: Did they come from aliens?
Fast food for bats Just like cheeseburgers, too many fast bananas makes for an unhappy meal for bats. Banana flowers are fully of tasty sugars that nectar-feeding bats love to indulge in, but this might not be great for their gut – especially if they are mass-produced bananas. “Organic and conventional monoculture banana plantations both … Continue reading You may have missed…
Fossilised baby elephant tracks Researchers found 14 fossilised footprints in southwestern Spain that may have been from a 10,000-year-old elephant nursery. The footprints belonged to an extinct straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) that might have been killed by Neanderthals for food. Using the size of the footprints, the researchers estimated that the body mass of the … Continue reading You may have missed…
Anxious cats aren’t comforted by the scent of their absent human alone. It just reminds them that their human is gone. Most cats that love their human form a strong bond and feel less stressed in their presence. You might often see your kitty snuggling up in your clothes and enjoy being around things that … Continue reading Anxious cats just want real cuddles from their human
My passion has always been in conservation. Before my PhD I worked at The National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua. It’s the biggest kiwi hatchery New Zealand. That was a super inspiring experience – but it’s only recently that I’ve admitted to myself that I’m actually obsessed with New Zealand birds. There’s something special about all … Continue reading Bring on the conservation champions!
Frogs have been vanishing in concerning numbers along the east coast of Australia since June, and we’re not yet sure why. Cosmos spoke to Dr Jodi Rowley, reptile and amphibian curator at the Australian Museum, about how scientists and the public are working together to find out what could be causing this worrying die-off. What … Continue reading Is this frogpocalypse? The frogs are vanishing
Moths vs bats: moths use sound to thwart bat attacks Who would win in a bat-moth fight? A new study has found that moths have more of a leg-up than previously thought, because their wings are structured to mess up the echolocation of bats. Researchers from the University of Bristol have found that the wingtips … Continue reading You may have missed…
Every year, the science humour magazine the Annals of Improbable Research awards the Ig Nobel Prizes – a riff on the prestigious Nobel Prizes, for weird and wacky research that “first makes people laugh, and then think”. This year, the pickings are particularly hilarious. We’ve ranked our top five for your reading pleasure. 5. Why … Continue reading Our 5 favourite Ig Nobel Prize Winners
Eat your young, load up on supplements, and woo the ladies – it’s all in a day’s work for male milkweed butterflies, according to new research. In a study that would make Hannibal Lecter proud, published in Ecology, researchers investigated a strange cannibalistic mating ritual, where male milkweed butterflies (Danainae subfamily) harassed, subdued, and subsequently … Continue reading Butterflies feed on live young to steal chemicals for good sex
The kākāpō (Strigops habroptila), the world’s heaviest and arguably dumbest parrot, doesn’t seem to suffer from a history of inbreeding, according to a study published in Cell Genomics. The critically endangered bird is native to Aotearoa/New Zealand, and is known for clumsily falling out of trees (it is flightless), freezing in the face of impending … Continue reading After 10,000 years of inbreeding, the kākāpō is hanging on
It’s been a more than 70-year mystery in the making, but now we may finally understand how the leopard got its spots – thanks in part to the decades-old workings of one of the UK’s greatest minds. In 1952, Alan Turing – more famous as the code-busting war hero ultimately destroyed by the country he … Continue reading How a leopard gets its spots