Fantastic Sea Creatures Photographed Up Close and Personal

Sea angels, telescope fish and blanket octopuses can be real monsters

#animals, #biology, #environment, #features, #oceans

Pigs to the Rescue: An Invasive Species Helped Save Australia’s Crocodiles

Invasive species can damage the ecosystems they wind up in. But in parts of the world, endangered predators make hearty meals out of them.

#alligators, #animals, #australia, #biology-letters-journal, #crocodiles, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #everglades-fla, #florida, #florida-panthers-animals, #invasive-species, #pigs, #united-states, #your-feed-science

Researchers Created a Potion that Turns Loud Lions into Placid Pussycats

A single whiff of oxytocin, a chemical that some call the “love hormone,” promotes tolerance among lions at a wildlife sanctuary.

#animals, #biology

Don’t Blame Monkeys for Monkeypox, W.H.O. Says After Attacks

The outbreak is centered on humans, not animals, health officials said, after a report that some monkeys were harmed in São Paulo, Brazil, out of fear of transmission, according to local authorities.

#animals, #brazil, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #monkeypox, #monkeys-and-apes, #rodents, #united-states, #viruses, #world-health-organization

For Some Dolphins, the Key to Mating is Rolling With a Tight, Noisy Crew

A pair of studies show that male bottlenose dolphins rely on wingmen when wooing mates—and that they cultivate these friendships by being vocal.

#animals, #biology

Spiders Seem to Have REM-like Sleep and May Even Dream

Jumping spiders have REM-like twitches when they sleep, suggesting dreams may be much more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously realized

#animals, #biology

Common Fungicide Kills Bee’s Sex Appeal

The chemical makes male mason bees lose their groove—and smell bad

#advances, #animals, #biology

The Outdoor Cat: Neighborhood Mascot or Menace?

To some, letting cats roam is unthinkable. To others, so is keeping them inside.

#animal-behavior, #animals, #birds, #cats, #endangered-and-extinct-species

OctaGlove brings the underwater gripping power of the octopus to humans

Researchers have developed an octopus-inspired OctaGlove that can securely grip objects under water. Credit: Virginia Tech

Any rescue diver or salvage worker knows it can be tricky to grab hold of slippery objects in a watery environment, particularly if a more delicate touch is required. That’s why scientists looked to the octopus for inspiration when they were developing a novel “OctaGlove,” a wearable system for gripping underwater objects that mimics the arm of an octopus, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances.

There are several examples in nature of efficient ways to latch onto objects in underwater environments, per the authors. Mussels, for instance, secrete adhesive proteins to attach themselves to wet surfaces, while frogs have uniquely structured toe pads that create capillary and hydrodynamic forces for adhesion. But cephalopods like the octopus have an added advantage: The adhesion supplied by their grippers can be quickly and easily reversed, so the creatures can adapt to changing conditions, attaching to wet and dry surfaces.

“When we look at the octopus, the adhesive certainly stands out, quickly activating and releasing adhesion on demand,” said co-author Michael Bartlett, a mechanical engineer at Virginia Tech. “What is just as interesting, though, is that the octopus controls over 2,000 suckers across eight arms by processing information from diverse chemical and mechanical sensors. The octopus is really bringing together adhesion tunability, sensing, and control to manipulate underwater objects.”

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#animals, #biology, #biomechanics, #biomimicry, #mechanical-engineering, #octopuses, #robotics, #science

In a First, Tiny Crustaceans Are Found to “Pollinate” Seaweed like Bees of the Sea

Small marine critters ferry around seaweed sex cells, the first recorded example of “pollination” in algae

#animals, #biology, #evolution

Study sheds light on how dogs recognize their favorite toys

A new study found that dogs form a “multi-model mental image” of their toys.

Specific breeds of dogs, like border collies, can learn the verbal names of their favorite toys, but what is going on in the dog’s mind when it’s told to fetch a given toy? According to a recent paper published in the journal Animal Cognition, these dogs store key sensory features about their toys—notably what they look like and how they smell—and recall those features when searching for the named toy.

“If we can understand which senses dogs use while searching for a toy, this may reveal how they think about it,” said co-author Shany Dror, a biologist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary. “When dogs use olfaction or sight while searching for a toy, this indicates that they know how that toy smells or looks like.”

Prior studies suggested that dogs typically rely on vision, or a combination of sight and smell, to locate target objects. Few dogs can also identify objects based on verbal labels, which the authors call “gifted word learner” (GWL) dogs. “Just like humans, GWL dogs not only recognize the labeled objects—or categories of objects—as stimuli they have already encountered, but they also identify them among other similarly familiar named objects, based on their verbal labels,” the authors wrote. They wanted to investigate whether GWL dogs have an enhanced ability to discriminate and/or recognize objects compared to typical dogs.

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#animal-cognition, #animals, #biology, #dogs, #science

A Marauding Monkey Was Killed in Japan. Others Will Take Its Place.

As Japan’s macaque population grows, clashes with humans are becoming more frequent. More than 50 people were injured by recent monkey attacks in one western city.

#animals, #assaults, #japan, #monkeys-and-apes

Polar Bears That Persist

A new subpopulation of Greenland polar bears offers insights into how this species might hang on as Arctic ice disappears.

#animals, #biology

New Evidence Emerges in Mystery of When Mammals Became Warm-Blooded

Fossil animals’ inner ear structures offer clues on when endothermy, or warm-bloodedness, evolved

#animals, #biology, #evolution

Discoveries from the Deep

Advances in robotics, sensing and genomics are accelerating findings of sophisticated life throughout the ocean depths

#animals, #biology, #environment, #features, #oceans, #technology

Scientists gain fresh insight into the secret of how gecko feet stay sticky

Close-up of a Tokay gecko's toe pads. They have many tiny hairs per foot called setae, each of which splits off into hundreds of even smaller bristles called spatulae. These help maximize contact with a surface.

Enlarge / Close-up of a Tokay gecko’s toe pads. They have many tiny hairs per foot called setae, each of which splits off into hundreds of even smaller bristles called spatulae. These help maximize contact with a surface. (credit: Yi Song)

Geckos are known for being expert climbers, able to stick to any surface thanks to tiny hair-like structures on the bottoms of their feet. Along with colleagues in Oregon, Denmark, and Germany, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) took a closer look at those structures using high-energy synchrotron, revealing that they are coated with an ultra-thin layer of lipid molecules in an upright orientation, according to a recent paper published in the journal Biology Letters.

Those tiny microscopic hairs are called setae, each of which splits off into hundreds of even smaller bristles called spatulae. It has long been known that at microscopic size scales, the so-called van der Waals forces—the attractive and repulsive forces between two dipole molecules—become significant.

Essentially, the tufts of tiny hairs on gecko feet get so close to the contours in walls and ceilings that electrons from the gecko hair molecules and electrons from the wall molecules interact with each other and create an electromagnetic attraction. That’s what enables geckos to climb smooth surfaces like glass effortlessly. Spiders, cockroaches, beetles, bats, tree frogs, and lizards all have varying-sized sticky footpads that use these same forces.

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#animals, #biology, #biomechanics, #biomimicry, #geckos, #science

Australia’s Environment in Crisis, Report Says

Climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining have contributed to a drastic decline in the populations of some wildlife species.

#animals, #australia, #biodiversity, #coral, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #global-warming, #great-barrier-reef-australia, #koalas, #reefs, #wildlife-die-offs

Did Nature Heal During the Pandemic ‘Anthropause’?

Covid precautions created a global slowdown in human activity — and an opportunity to learn more about the complex ways we affect other species.

#animal-behavior, #animals, #atlantic-ocean, #birds, #california, #canada, #conservation-of-resources, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #hawaii, #invasive-species, #mice, #noise, #roadkill, #roads-and-traffic, #san-francisco-calif, #snorkeling, #sweden, #travel-and-vacations, #turtles-and-tortoises, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

New research into why woodpeckers don’t get concussions busts a popular myth

Slow-motion video of pecking by the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). The original video was recorded at 1600 frames per second. Credit: Robert Shadwick & Erica Ortlieb/University of British Columbia

Check out almost any popular science article about woodpeckers and you’ll likely find some mention of why the birds don’t seem to suffer concussions, despite energetically drumming away at tree trunks all day with their beaks. Conventional wisdom holds that the structure of the woodpecker’s skull and beak acts as a kind of built-in shock absorber, protecting the bird from injury. But a new paper published in the journal Current Biology argues that this is incorrect and that woodpecker heads behave more like stiff hammers than shock absorbers.

“While filming the woodpeckers in zoos, I have witnessed parents explaining to their kids that woodpeckers don’t get headaches because they have shock absorbers built into their head,” said co-author Sam Van Wassenbergh of Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium. “This myth of shock absorption in woodpeckers is now busted by our findings.”

As for why this particular myth has endured for so long, Van Wassenbergh told Ars, “To us humans, the first thing that comes to our mind when watching an animal violently smashing their head against trees is to wish the animal had some kind of a built-in cushioning to prevent it from getting headaches or concussions. It is logical for us to think of such action in terms of protection and safety, as if it is an accident.”

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#animals, #biology, #biomechanics, #concussions, #evolutionary-biology, #physics, #science, #woodpeckers

Head-Banging Woodpeckers Could Give Themselves a Concussion Every Day: Here’s How They Avoid It

These avian tree drillers do tricks to protect their noggin. Meanwhile snapping shrimp avoid the problem with external eye goggles

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#animals, #biology

This is why the pistol shrimp is immune to its own powerful shock waves

A translucent "helmet" on the bigclaw snapping shrimp’s head shelters its brain from the shock waves generated by its claw-snapping.

Enlarge / A translucent “helmet” on the bigclaw snapping shrimp’s head shelters its brain from the shock waves generated by its claw-snapping. (credit: Kingston et al., Current Biology)

The tiny-but-mighty pistol shrimp can snap its claws with sufficient force to produce a shock wave to stun its prey. So how come the shrimp appears immune to its sonic weapon? Scientists have concluded that the shrimp is protected by a tiny clear helmet that protects the creature from any significant neural damage by damping the shock waves, according to a recent paper published in the journal Current Biology.

The snapping shrimp, aka the pistol shrimp, is one of the loudest creatures in the ocean, along with the sperm whale and beluga whale. When enough of these shrimp snap at once, the noise can dominate the coastal ocean soundscape, sometimes confusing sonar instruments. The source of that snap: an impressive set of asymmetrically sized claws; the larger of the two produces the snap. As I wrote at Gizmodo in 2015:

Each snapping sound also produces a powerful shock wave with sufficient oomph to stun or even kill a small fish (the shrimp’s typical prey)…. That shock wave in turn produces collapsing bubbles that emit a barely-visible flash of light. It’s a rare natural example of the phenomenon known as sonoluminescence: zap a liquid with sound, create some bubbles, and when those bubbles collapse (as bubbles inevitably do), you get sort bursts of light. I guess you could call it “shrimpoluminescence.”

Scientists believe that the snapping is used for communication, as well as for hunting. A shrimp on the prowl will hide in a burrow or similar obscured spot, extending antennae to detect any passing fish. When it does, the shrimp emerges from its hiding place, pulls back its claw, and lets loose with a powerful snap, producing the deadly shock wave. It can then pull the stunned prey back into the burrow to feed.

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#animals, #biology, #biomechanics, #physics, #science, #snapping-shrimp

4,000 Beagles Are Being Rescued From a Virginia Facility. Now They Need New Homes.

The authorities have about two months to find homes for the dogs, after they were found at a facility that had violated dozens of federal regulations.

#adoptions, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animals, #dogs, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #kaine-timothy-m, #law-and-legislation, #virginia, #warner-mark-r, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

Camo Sharks documents hunt for evidence that great white sharks change color

A Great White shark swims off the coast of South Africa. The new NatGeo documentary <em>Camo Sharks</em> explores whether these apex predators of the deep are capable of changing color to better sneak up on prey.

Enlarge / A Great White shark swims off the coast of South Africa. The new NatGeo documentary Camo Sharks explores whether these apex predators of the deep are capable of changing color to better sneak up on prey. (credit: National Geographic/Hansa Winshaw)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Geographic’s Sharkfest, and the NatGeo channel is marking the occasion with an intriguing new documentary exploring whether great white sharks can change their color to hunt more effectively. Camo Sharks follows marine biologist and research coordinator for Blue Wilderness Research Unit Ryan Johnson and graduate student Gibbs Kuguru in the field as they attempt to gather evidence to support the hypothesis that these ocean predators can tweak the dermal cells in their skin to change color as a means of camouflage.

A native of New Zealand, Johnson grew up in a beach-side town, absorbing the conventional wisdom that dolphins were “the good guys” and sharks were “the bad guys.” When he decided to become a marine biologist, he wanted to work with dolphins. When he was 20, he had the chance to do some research on great white sharks in South Africa, which were facing tremendous pressure at the time from over-fishing, leading to a rise in shark attacks.

“They had just become very popular as a delicacy,” Johnson told Ars. “The shark fin soup trade had gone crazy, and [sharks] were getting mass slaughtered. It was an awakening of awareness for me. I realized this needs attention, a lot more so from my perspective, at least, compared to dolphins.”

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#animals, #biology, #camouflage, #gaming-culture, #national-geographic-tv, #science, #shark-week, #sharks

The Quest for a ‘Tick Map’

Scientists scramble to forecast where and when the disease-carrying arthropods pose the most danger

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#animals, #climate-change, #computing, #environment, #health, #technology

How Antarctic Krill Coordinate the Biggest Swarms in the World

Video analysis in 3-D shows the tiny creatures’ swarming rules

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#advances, #animals, #biology

How Climate Change Is Leaving Some Species with ‘Nowhere Left to Go’

From the depths of the ocean to the peaks of mountains, species are moving out of their historical homes in search of cooler conditions

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#animals, #biology, #climate-change, #conservation, #environment, #plants

A Person Got COVID from a Cat in First Confirmed Case

Scientists in Thailand have established that a tabby passed SARS-CoV-2 to a veterinary surgeon—although such cases of cat-to-human transmission are probably rare

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#animals, #biology, #epidemiology, #health

How Snakes Breathe while Crushing Prey

Boa constrictors wearing blood pressure cuffs and tiny masks reveal the answer to a biological puzzle

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#advances, #animals, #biology

How AI Facial Recognition Is Helping Conserve Pumas

Researchers tricked out conventional camera traps to snap headshots of Puma concolor, revealing a better way to track the elusive species.

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#animals, #biology

Sequencing Cat Genomes Could Help Breed Healthier Kitties

A study of more than 11,000 felines reveals the benefits of genetic testing before breeding

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#animals, #biology, #genetics, #health

Venomous Snail Unlocks New Diabetes Drugs

A cone snail’s poison helps to form a fast-acting insulin

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#advances, #animals, #biology, #health, #medicine

A Herd in Exile: Riding Horses on Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago

A photographer spent a few weeks helping run a horseback riding program on the white-sand beaches of Benguerra Island. Here’s what she saw.

#animals, #beaches, #family-business, #horses, #islands, #mozambique, #photography, #travel-and-vacations

How Animals See Themselves

The most familiar of settings can feel newly unfamiliar through the senses of other creatures.

#animals, #attenborough-david, #birds, #documentary-films-and-programs, #eyes-and-eyesight, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #senses-and-sensation

Secret Polar Bear Population Is Found Living in a Seemingly Impossible Habitat

The discovery provides a glimmer of hope for the iconic white bears

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#animals, #biology, #endangered-species

How Culturally Significant Mammals Tell the Story of Social Ascension for Black Americans

Juneteenth offers an opportunity to reflect on the wildlife linked to a people’s transformation

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#animals, #biology, #ecology, #environment, #inequality, #social-sciences, #sociology

Climate Destroyers Go to Jail, Martian Travel Guide, Bee Interiority, and More

Recommendations from the editors of Scientific American

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#animals, #astronomy, #biology, #climate-change, #environment, #recommended, #spacephysics

Wiggling Whiskers Help Hungry Seals Hunt in the Dark

A new seal’s-eye view shows these specialized hairs in motion at sea

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#animals, #biology, #ecology, #environment, #oceans

Stress Management Helped Wolves Become Dogs

Genetic mutations related to production of the stress hormone cortisol may have played a role in the process of canine domestication

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#animals, #biology, #genetics

Hedgehogs Host the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

Bacteria resistant to methicillin emerged in hedgehogs long before the drug was prescribed to treat infections.

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#animals, #biology

See the Mysterious Sea Creatures that Only Come Up at Night

“Blackwater” divers photograph the largest migration of animals on the planet

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#animals, #biology

Science News Briefs from around the World: June 2022

In case you missed it

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#advances, #animals, #biology, #environment

Meerkats Are Getting Climate Sick

For meerkats in the Kalahari Desert, rising temperatures spark deadly outbreaks of tuberculosis.

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#animals, #biology, #climate-change

What the simple mathematical abilities of animals can tell us about ourselves

What the simple mathematical abilities of animals can tell us about ourselves

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

We often think of mathematical ability as being uniquely human, but in fact, scientists have found that many animal species—including lions, chimpanzees, birds, bees, ants, and fish—seem to possess at least a rudimentary counting ability or number sense. Crows can understand the concept of zero. And a study published in April found that both stingrays and cichlids can take this rudimentary “numerosity” to the next level, performing simple addition and subtraction for a small number of objects (in the range of 1 to 5).

The latter study’s conclusion doesn’t surprise cognitive psychologist Brian Butterworth, an emeritus professor at University College London and author of a new book, Can Fish Count? What Animals Reveal About our Uniquely Mathematical Minds.

“There are lots of animals that can do addition and subtraction,” Butterworth told Ars. “Bees can. Bees can represent zero as well. So it’s not surprising to me that stingrays and cichlids can do it.” His book explores how the ability to process mathematical information and extract numerical data from their environment is critical to an animal’s ability to survive and thrive. In fact, there might just be an innate understanding of math at its most basic level that was passed down the evolutionary chain from our most distant common ancestors.

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#animal-cognition, #animals, #biology, #books, #cognitive-neuroscience, #cognitive-psychology, #evolution, #gaming-culture, #mathematical-ability, #science

Jewel Beetles’ Iridescent Shells Deter Hungry Birds–By Freaking Them Out

Weirdly shifting colors may serve dual evolutionary purposes, providing both camouflage and conspicuous warning

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#animals, #biology

Why Unprecedented Bird Flu Outbreaks Are Concerning Scientists

Mass infections in wild birds pose a significant risk to vulnerable species, are hard to contain and increase the opportunity for the virus to spill over into people

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#animals, #biology, #epidemiology, #health

Hummingbirds Choose How Much to Chill Down

The birds can dramatically drop temperatures at night to save energy or linger in an intermediate state

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#advances, #animals, #biology

Mosquitoes See Red (Literally) when They Smell Human Breath

The insects target red tones when they are exposed to carbon dioxide

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#advances, #animals, #biology

The Michigan Mink Mystery: How Did an Interspecies Outbreak Unfold?

The puzzling coronavirus cases highlight ongoing surveillance challenges and blind spots.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #animal-and-plant-health-inspection-service, #animals, #antibodies, #canada, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #deer, #dogs, #livestock, #livestock-diseases, #michigan, #minks-animals, #netherlands, #ontario-canada, #taxidermy, #wisconsin, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

Scientists Uncover a Shady Web of Online Spider Sales

More than 1,200 species of arachnids are part of a largely unregulated global marketplace, according to a new study.

#animals, #collectors-and-collections, #communications-biology-journal, #conservation-of-resources, #convention-on-international-trade-in-endangered-species, #costa-rica, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #international-trade-and-world-market, #scorpions, #spiders, #united-states, #vietnam, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Dolphins Rub against Mucus-Oozing Corals to Soothe Skin

This ‘gorgoning’ releases antibacterial compounds and other substances that dolphins could be using to self-medicate

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#animals, #biology