Animal Life news stories

End of species extinctions is in sight as we bring animals back
28th December 2016 | newscientist.com | Animal Life, Tech

Unleash the long-gone beasts. We won’t see a woolly mammoth in 2017, but a host of schemes to bring animals back from the brink of extinction will kick in next year.

Genetic and stem cell technologies are on the cusp of letting us clone even infertile endangered animals when intact DNA is available. And some extinct species could be brought back by tweaking the genome of a living close relative. It should also be possible to engineer lost traits into a population.

Evolution 2.0: Gene Editing Could Bring Extinct Species Back to Life
28th December 2016 futurism.com | Ancient, Animal Life, Tech

The Anthropocene—a proposed new geological era defined by human domination of the planet—will be marked by the loss of two-thirds of wildlife on Earth. Just let that settle in a minute.

China’s giant cow farms leave neighbours up milk creek
28th December 2016 phys.org | Animal Life, Earth

Giant piles of black manure towering over cornfields, while rancid-smelling effluent from thousands of cows spills onto the land—this is the price of a glass of milk in China today.

Large-scale dairy farms have boomed in the Asian giant, as its near 1.4 billion consumers overcame centuries of cultural reluctance to embrace the white fluid.


Related: Despite Pledges To Cut Back, Farms Are Still Using Antibiotics
Related: Consumers fuelling demand for high-protein products unlikely to see any benefits as people already eat more protein than they need, say dietitians

NASA ‘space laser’ detects eco-disaster in ocean
26th December 2016 | rt.com | Animal Life, Earth, Space, Tech

A tiny organism at the base of the food chain, but vital for life to exist on Earth, is under threat, according to data collected by a NASA satellite that has been firing a laser into the ocean for a decade.

Antibiotic resistance will hit a terrible tipping point in 2017
24th December 2016 | newscientist.com | Animal Life, Humans

“We are about to reach the point where more antibiotics will be consumed by farm animals worldwide than by humans,” says Mark Woolhouse, at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

This will mean more resistant bacteria, which could be a big threat


Related: Antibiotic cream could prevent Lyme disease: research

Sex evolved to help future generations fight infection, scientists show
24th December 2016 phys.org | Animal Life

Why does sex exist when organisms that clone themselves use less time and energy, and do not need a mate to produce offspring? Researchers at the University of Stirling aiming to answer this age-old question have discovered that sex can help the next generation resist infection.

Brainless Slime Can Share ‘Learned’ Knowledge
24th December 2016 news.cnrs.fr | Animal Life

Following up on their earlier revelation that blobs of slime mold possess previously unsuspected learning capacities, a group of French scientists now go on to show how readily blobs share what they learn with one another.

Really big brains can evolve only if constraints on energy intake are lifted
24th December 2016 phys.org | Animal Life

As a species we’re so brain-proud it doesn’t occur to most of us to ask whether a big brain has disadvantages as well as cognitive benefits.

“We can think of tons of benefits to a larger brain, but the other side of that is brain tissue is incredibly ‘expensive’ and increasing brain size comes at a heavy cost,” said Kimberley V. Sukhum, a graduate student in biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mexico bid to save world’s smallest vaquita porpoise
21st December 2016 | bbc.com | Animal Life

Mexican authorities and scientists are trying to save the world’s smallest porpoise by capturing illegal “ghost” fishing nets.

They have managed to remove more than 100 dumped or lost nets left floating in the sea from October to December.

Praying Mantis Looks Like a Flower—And Now We Know Why
21st December 2016 news.nationalgeographic.com | Animal Life

When is an orchid not an orchid? When it’s a female orchid praying mantis, a Southeast Asian insect that masquerades as a flower to attract prey.

With petal-like legs and a yellow or whitish pink color, females share little resemblance to males, which are about half the size and sport a dull, greenish brown color.

Scientists catch male spiders giving oral sex.
21st December 2016 blogs.discovermagazine.com | Animal Life

Several clades of spiders whose females evolved giant sizes are known for extreme sexual behaviors such as sexual cannibalism, opportunistic mating, mate-binding, genital mutilation, plugging, and emasculation

New spider species resembles Harry Potter ‘Sorting Hat’
21st December 2016 | bbc.com | Animal Life

A spider bearing an “uncanny” resemblance to the sorting hat in the Harry Potter series has been discovered by scientists in India.


Related: Rainbow Snake, Klingon Newt Among 163 Newfound Species

Light pollution dampens urban robins’ song
21st December 2016 | bbc.com | Animal Life

The song and behaviour of the UK’s favourite bird is being affected by light and noise pollution.

That is according to research from Southampton University, which revealed how robins are affected by night-time lighting and road noise in a city park.


Related: Study: There Are Twice as Many Bird Species as Previously Estimated

Reindeer are shrinking: warming threatens Christmas icon
19th December 2016 phys.org | Animal Life

If Santa is recruiting helpers to haul Christmas presents around the world this year he had better take a few extra, said researchers Monday who warned that reindeer are shrinking.

Over the past 16 years, the weight of adult reindeer in Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic has dropped by 12 percent

When horses are in trouble they ask humans for help
19th December 2016 | eurekalert.org | Animal Life

Research Fellow Monamie RINGHOFER and Associate Professor Shinya YAMAMOTO (Kobe University Graduate School of Intercultural Studies) have proved that when horses face unsolvable problems they use visual and tactile signals to get human attention and ask for help. The study also suggests that horses alter their communicative behavior based on humans’ knowledge of the situation.

Tibetan dogs can survive at high altitudes, thanks to ancient breeding with wolves
19th December 2016 | sciencemag.org | Ancient, Animal Life

Tibetan mastiffs thrive where most dogs and people can’t: in the thin, frigid mountain air above 4000 meters. A new study suggests they acquired this talent by interbreeding with gray wolves that already ranged to such heights more than 20,000 years ago. Intriguingly, Tibetan people received their high-altitude fitness via the same mechanism—by interbreeding with now extinct humans known as Denisovans.

Pets Help People Manage The Pain Of Serious Mental Illness
19th December 2016 | npr.org | Animal Life, Humans

Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. When people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were asked who or what helped them manage the condition, many said it was pets that helped the most.

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.