Six spooky creatures to scare you this Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, so we’ve asked the staff here at Cosmos to nominate their favourite scary creatures to share with you. Irukandji jellyfish These tiny jellyfish, found in tropical waters including around northern Australia, carry a mean sting. Both the ‘bell’ (main body) and tentacles carry highly venomous stingers. Getting stung leads … Continue reading Six spooky creatures to scare you this Halloween

Forget indie bands, meet the indri bands

Rhythm is a rare trait in mammals, but it turns out that it’s not unique to humans. An international team of researchers has spent 12 years studying Madagascar’s critically endangered Indri indri lemur – one of the world’s few ‘singing’ primates – trying to determine if these songsters also have a sense of rhythm. “There … Continue reading Forget indie bands, meet the indri bands

Seeing science differently

Cosmos spoke to Dr Chadden Hunter, who has worked with David Attenborough to direct Seven Worlds One Planet, winner of the 2021 Best Film award in our very own SCINEMA International Science Film Festival, about why film is so important for communicating science and inspiring curiosity. SCINEMA is the largest science film festival in the … Continue reading Seeing science differently

Animals don’t mind inbreeding

Because it’s evolutionarily unfavourable, there is a common assumption that animals will avoid mating with relatives. Inbreeding can lead to ‘inbreeding depression’: a reduction in available traits for offspring, making the population less genetically diverse and thus less able to adapt to their environments. But nature doesn’t operate with a genetic testing kit in hand. … Continue reading Animals don’t mind inbreeding

Spotting cows from space

When looking down upon the Earth through the eyes of a satellite, what would you choose to look at? For students at the University of California Santa Barbara, they watched cows from space. In a recent paper published in Biological Conservation, a team of students, along with ecologist Doug McCauley, scrutinised satellite images of cattle herds around Point Reyes … Continue reading Spotting cows from space

You may have missed…

Prehistoric giant bird had tiny brain The largest flightless bird to ever have walked the Earth had a disproportionately small brain, according to new research. The prehistoric birds of the clade Dromornithidae roamed north-west Queensland for millions of years before going extinct along with many other species of megafauna 50,000 years ago. The largest species, … Continue reading You may have missed…

You may have missed…

Bonobo adoptees It’s always nice to see animal altruism. A paper published in Scientific Reports has described the adoption of two bonobo infants by mothers outside their social groups. The researchers spent a year observing bonobo populations in the Wamba forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They noted two separate instances of adult … Continue reading You may have missed…

Deceptive smells

It’s not only humans who can be fooled with misinformation to change their choices. Animals can be tricked too, it seems – and when used with good intentions, fake cues might help conservation initiatives without resorting to lethal culling.  By spraying pheromones at nesting sites in New Zealand weeks before native birds arrived there, scientists report in … Continue reading Deceptive smells

Blind shrimps, translucent snails

By Jenny Davis, Charles Darwin University; Daryl Nielsen, CSIRO; Gavin Rees, CSIRO, and Stefanie Oberprieler, Charles Darwin University There aren’t many parts of the world where you can discover a completely new assemblage of living creatures. But after sampling underground water in a remote, arid region of northern Australia, we discovered at least 11, and … Continue reading Blind shrimps, translucent snails

Range roiled

The destructive impact of human activities on other animal species’ survival and biodiversity across the globe is increasingly clear.  Urbanisation and habitat modification are well known culprits. But sporadic events such as hunting, recreation, military activity and aircraft have an even bigger impact, according to a meta-analysis of more than 200 studies. The analysis focused … Continue reading Range roiled

Fat as an elephant?

Obesity isn’t just a human scourge – it can also impact animal health. And looking at elephants, you could be excused for thinking they need to go on a diet. But researchers have found that, on the whole, they have less body fat than the average person. “We know that in other species, excess adiposity is … Continue reading Fat as an elephant?