Animal Life news stories

Scientists are spelunking for cave gunk to fight superbugs
27th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth, Tech

Caves are dark, dank, isolated, and home to very few plants or animals. At first glance they might seem devoid of life. But caves are full of microscopic creatures, bacteria and fungi at home in the gloom. These microbes, scientists are discovering, may be an untapped reservoir of new medicines to fight antibiotic-resistant germs.

Space sperm produces healthy mice, raising prospect of future human settlement
26th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Humans, Tech

Reproduction may be possible in space, Japanese researchers have said, after freeze-dried sperm stored on the International Space Station for nine months produced healthy offspring.

Social ties help animals live longer
25th May 2017 | Animal Life

Large families and strong social ties help animals live longer, new research suggests.

In a huge study of female rhesus macaques, a scientist from the University of Exeter found those with many close female relatives have better life expectancy.

Related: Friends Help Female Vampire Bats Cope With Loss

Why All of America’s Circus Animals Could Soon be Free
25th May 2017 | Animal Life

The curtain is about to fall for the last time on the self-dubbed “Greatest Show on Earth,” America’s biggest and longest-running traveling circus. On Sunday, after 146 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will pump its caravan brakes permanently. Other traveling circuses may not be far behind.

Beaver dams keeps streams cool and protect sensitive fish
25th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Dam, what a find! Beaver dams could lower maximum water temperatures in streams – keeping temperature-sensitive fish safe from dangerous highs.

Previous studies suggested that beaver dams warm up the water, for example by expanding the water’s surface area, cutting the speed of water flow and removing shade by felling trees.

Nearly Half of California’s Native Salmon, Steelhead and Trout on Track to Be Extinct Within 50 Years
25th May 2017 | | Animal Life

“This report should rightly be considered an alarm bell, but it should also be seen as a roadmap for how we can correct course to better support native aquatic species,” said lead report author Peter Moyle

Migratory birds bumped off schedule as climate change shifts spring
24th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species.

Related: Handstanding Skunks’ DNA Shaped by Ancient Climate Change

Video Solves Mystery of How Narwhals Use Their Tusks
24th May 2017 | Animal Life

Drone footage taken in the far northeastern regions of Canada finally sheds light on how narwhals use the massive tusks protruding from their heads.

Alt: What do the Narwhals do with their tusk?

Rare Mexican porpoise faces ‘imminent extinction’
24th May 2017 | | Animal Life

An immediate extension of a fishing ban is desperately needed to save the world’s most endangered marine species.

Campaigners say there are only 30 vaquita porpoises left, with their population having plummeted by 90% since 2011.

Genetic mutation trade-offs lead to parallel evolution
24th May 2017 | Animal Life

Organisms in nature adapt and evolve in complex environments. For example, when subjected to changes in nutrients, antibiotics, and predation, microbes in the wild face the challenge of adapting multiple traits at the same time. But how does evolution unfold when, for survival, multiple traits must be improved simultaneously?

Microbial fuel cell converts methane to electricity
19th May 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Transporting methane from gas wellheads to market provides multiple opportunities for this greenhouse gas to leak into the atmosphere. Now, an international team of researchers has taken the first step in converting methane directly to electricity using bacteria, in a way that could be done near the drilling sites.

Liquid-crystal and bacterial living materials self-organize and move in their own way
19th May 2017 | | Animal Life

Smart glass, transitional lenses and mood rings are not the only things made of liquid crystals; mucus, slug slime and cell membranes also contain them. Now, a team of researchers is trying to better understand how liquid crystals, combined with bacteria, form living materials and how the two interact to organize and move.

Tadpoles found to jump on backs of unknown adults to escape cannibalistic siblings
19th May 2017 | Animal Life

A pair of researchers, one with Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the other Trier University in Germany has found that splash-back poison frog tadpoles willingly seek out any adult that comes near them to escape their cannibalistic siblings.

Vultures smear their faces in red mud which they use as makeup
19th May 2017 | | Animal Life

A species of vulture has been filmed putting on make-up for the first time – a rare phenomenon in birds, known as cosmetic colouration.

These vultures dip their heads in red soil and swipe from side to side, carefully dyeing their head, neck and chest red.

Related: The Startling Intelligence of the Common Chicken

What makes an animal clever? Research shows intelligence is not just about using tools
19th May 2017 | Animal Life

Humans set themselves apart from other animals in a number of ways, including our ability to make tools. When the anthropologist Jane Goodall discovered that wild chimpanzees frequently make and use tools, her advisor Louis Leakey famously quipped that “now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans”.

Related: Watch a Problem-Solving Raven Outsmart a Trash Can

Diverse populations make rational collective decisions
19th May 2017 | Animal Life

Yes/no binary decisions by individual ants can lead to a rational decision as a collective when the individuals have differing preferences to the subject

Honey bees are known to “dance” with varying levels of enthusiasm depending on the quality of nectar they find. The more attractive the nectar is, the stronger they dance, appealing to other members. As a result, the majority of the members, and later the entire colony, gather to the better option.

Extremely Rare ‘T. Rex’ Ant Found Alive for First Time
19th May 2017 | Animal Life

For the first time, an extremely rare ant has been seen alive.

Tyrannomyrmex rex (T. rex for short) had eluded scientists since 2003, when entomologist Fernando Fernández revealed that a single dead ant from Malaysia represented a never-before-seen ant genus.

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.