Calhoun’s prophet rodents and the creation of the “behavioural sink”

I first read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH as a young’un. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was inspired by a series of experiments on population dynamics from the 1940s to the 1970s. The two studies, over a total of eight years, aimed to explore the effects of population … Continue reading Calhoun’s prophet rodents and the creation of the “behavioural sink”

Giant centipedes devour thousands of seabird chicks every year

Hot on the heels of revelations about murderous tortoises comes a new study about equally deadly centipedes that hunt and eat birds. Predominantly carnivorous, centipedes – which are predatory arthropods, belonging to the same animal group as millipedes and other multi-legged monsters – are one of the largest invertebrate predators on land. The residents of … Continue reading Giant centipedes devour thousands of seabird chicks every year

World first: Watch a deadly tortoise murdering a baby bird

Filmed in the woodlands of Frégate Island in the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, this is the first documented evidence of a giant tortoise hunting a baby bird. Credit: Anna Zora. The word ‘predator’ usually conjures an image of a lion running down a gazelle, or a pod of orcas tearing apart a seal. But … Continue reading World first: Watch a deadly tortoise murdering a baby bird

Mouse mothers tutor new mums

Mice learn how to mother through observation, and experienced mouse mothers tutor inexperienced female mice in the practice of mothering before they have babies of their own, according to a new study in the journal Nature. The research, from New York University (NYU), also reveals that the oft-described ‘love hormone’, oxytocin, plays a critical role … Continue reading Mouse mothers tutor new mums

Puppies born ready to communicate with people

In a result that won’t come as a surprise to dog lovers, US researchers have found that puppies are born with an innate ability to interact with humans. The team studied eight-week-old puppies to see how they responded to human gestures without much (if any) training by giving 375 dogs the exact same tasks. They … Continue reading Puppies born ready to communicate with people

Bee behaviour: what do bees do at home?

What goes on in the beehive? These videos, published in the journal PLOS ONE by Paul Siefert from Goethe-Universität, Germany, and colleagues, give a fascinating insight into what a bee actually gets up to in the hive, by showing close-up clips of honeybee (Apis mellifera) behaviour from behind closed doors. The recordings show how workers, … Continue reading Bee behaviour: what do bees do at home?

You may have missed…

Last week featured a wide range of stories that either made us smile or have a little giggle. We’ve rounded a few of them up for your Monday morning.  Naked mole-rats speak in dialect It’s not only humans who can be identified by the diversity of their languages: it turns out naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) … Continue reading You may have missed…

Durophagy was in full swing half a billion years ago

By Russell Dean Christopher Bicknell, James D. Holmes and John Paterson from the University of New England Shell-crushing predation was already in full swing half a billion years ago, as our new research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals. A hyena devouring an antelope carcass, a bonnethead shark feasting on hard-shelled … Continue reading Durophagy was in full swing half a billion years ago

You may have missed…

Last week featured a wide range of animal stories that either made us smile or have a little giggle. We’ve rounded them all up for your Monday morning.   A hole new image  If you’re interested in how a dinosaur poops, researchers have described (in explicit detail) a Psittacosaurus cloaca; the multipurpose opening some animals use … Continue reading You may have missed…

Butterfly turn-off, flower turn-on

Seems that some smelly butterflies don’t get a lot of action, thanks to an anti-aphrodisiac. A new study, led by Kathy Darragh, from the University of California, Davis, has found that male postman butterflies (Heliconius melpomene) make a chemical compound called ocimene in their genitals, which they leave on female butterflies to deter other males. … Continue reading Butterfly turn-off, flower turn-on

You may have missed…

Big, BIG night sky map An international research collaboration has just released a map of more than 690 million celestial objects, including stars, galaxies and quasars, as part of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). Over eight years, telescopes in Australia and Chile scanned nearly an eighth of the night sky and looked back in time … Continue reading You may have missed…