How some ants feed without drowning

Animals have been known to develop clever tricks to ensure a full stomach. Some dolphins, for example, use empty shells to catch fish, and chimps use rocks to open nuts and hard-shelled fruit.   Now, black imported fire ants (Solenopsis richteri) have been observed using an unlikely tool to avoid drowning when foraging for liquid food … Continue reading How some ants feed without drowning

Power games may make animals smarter

Animals display some awe-inspiring feats of intelligence, from making tools and counting to eavesdropping, making deceptive calls and learning new tricks. This has long fascinated scientists, but what drives the evolution of this intelligence remains “one of the most hotly debated topics in biology”, says Benjamin Ashton from the University of Bristol, UK, lead author … Continue reading Power games may make animals smarter

The rat pack gets the job done

Rats work well in teams, it seems. A new study suggests rodent groups outperform individuals in searching for a target, even when they have limited ability to communicate or share information. Researchers in Europe report this discovery after tweaking the classic “rat in a maze” experiment to make it “rats in a maze”. They used … Continue reading The rat pack gets the job done

More proof of animal smarts

For behaviours once presumed to be mere instinct, it’s become increasingly clear that animals, from bears, whales and elephants to cats, insects and birds, learn tips and tricks from others. The scale of animal intelligence and social learning still continues to amaze scientists, and no less so in two new studies looking at dolphins and … Continue reading More proof of animal smarts

The complex choices of animals

How do animals make decisions, such as where to live? This is an important choice with implications for key life matters such as rearing offspring, interacting with others, accessing food and staying safe from predators. But these are constrained by what’s available in the environment, where many structural traits such as size, shape, colour and … Continue reading The complex choices of animals

Just how well do bees count?

If you were a honeybee, how would you choose where to find flowers? Imagine your first flight out of the hive searching for food. What would you do if you saw flower patches with one flower, or three, or twelve, or twenty? Our new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, tested honeybees on … Continue reading Just how well do bees count?

I count, therefore I am

From birds and bees to frogs, wolves and ants, it’s an enduring source of wonder that animals can count. This is not just a fancy trick – its importance for survival has been highlighted by a review in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. They may not be able to perform calculus, but animals’ adaptive ability to grasp … Continue reading I count, therefore I am

Some birds with small brains aren’t that silly

It’s not just big brains that can give birds a survival advantage in harsh urban environments. Some small-brained birds, like the ubiquitous pigeons, keep their lineage going by breeding more, European researchers have discovered. The finding, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, solves the mystery of conflicting evidence for the popular theory that birds … Continue reading Some birds with small brains aren’t that silly