Animal Life news stories

Antarctic penguin numbers double previous estimates: scientists
24th March 2017 | | Animal Life

Almost six million Adelie penguins are living in East Antarctica, more than double the number previously thought, scientists said Wednesday in findings that have implications for conservation.

Related: Some penguins mooch off parents after leaving the nest

Metabolism may be older than life itself and start spontaneously
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

A set of chemical reactions occurring spontaneously in Earth’s early chemical environments could have provided the foundations upon which life evolved.

The discovery that a version of the Krebs cycle, which occurs in most living cells, can proceed in the absence of cellular proteins called enzymes suggests that metabolism is older than life itself.

Complex Life Could Be Vastly Older Than Thought
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

It was around 1.6 billion years ago that a community of small, bright red, plantlike life-forms, flitting around in a shallow pool of prehistoric water, were etched into stone until the end of time. Or at least until a team of Swedish researchers chipped their fossilized remnants out of a sedimentary rock formation in central India.

Phosphorus is vital for life on Earth – and we’re running low
22nd March 2017 | Animal Life, Earth

Phosphorus is an essential element which is contained in many cellular compounds, such as DNA and the energy carrier ATP. All life needs phosphorus and agricultural yields are improved when phosphorus is added to growing plants and the diet of livestock. Consequently, it is used globally as a fertiliser – and plays an important role in meeting the world’s food requirements.

In order for us to add it, however, we first need to extract it from a concentrated form – and the supply comes almost exclusively from phosphate mines in Morocco

As the planet gets hotter, some mammals may get smaller
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Fifty-six million years ago, about 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, something strange happened to our planet.

It got hot. Really hot.

Hotter than it had ever been since the Earth formed a few billion years earlier.

Microbes evolved to colonize different parts of the human body
22nd March 2017 | | Animal Life

As the human species evolved over the last six million years, our resident microbes did the same, adapting to vastly different conditions on our skin and in our mouths, noses, genitalia and guts.

The secret of how a shark senses its prey: Researchers reveal killers use electrical fields to spot signs of life
20th March 2017 | | Animal Life

Sharks, rays and skates are able to hunt for prey hidden in the sandy sea floor thanks to their ability to ‘listen’ to their prey’s heartbeat.

These animals have electro-sensory organs that allow them to do this, but until now the way they work has remained a mystery.

Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot
20th March 2017 | | Animal Life

A machine learning algorithm helped decode the squeaks Egyptian fruit bats make in their roost, revealing that they “speak” to one another as individuals

Gene therapy treats muscle-wasting disease in dogs
20th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Tech

Work on gene therapy is showing significant progress for restoring muscle strength and prolonging lives in dogs with a previously incurable, inherited neuromuscular disease. UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine scientists are leading the multi-institutional research effort.

Get ready for the SuperBees: Scientists reveal plan to breed insects resistant to diseases and even stress
20th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Tech

A key set of genes involved in honey bee responses to multiple diseases caused by viruses and parasites has been identified by researchers.

The findings are important given that honey bee populations have experienced severe losses across the Northern Hemisphere, mainly due to parasites and pathogens.

Probiotic found in yogurt can reverse depression symptoms, UVA finds
19th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Humans

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them Lactobacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yogurt. Further, they have discovered a specific mechanism for how the bacteria affect mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health.

Figuring Out When and Why Squids Lost Their Shells
18th March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Shaped like a torpedo and about as swift, squids are jet-propelled underwater predators. Together with their nimble brethren, the octopus and cuttlefish, they make for an agile invertebrate armada.

But that was not always the case.

The ‘safer’ plastics designed to replace BPA may be just as bad for you
17th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Humans

A chemical called BHPF—found in some ‘BPA-Free’ plastics—may cause harmful outcomes in mice, according to a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

Why Is Itching So Contagious?
17th March 2017 | | Animal Life, Humans

Scientists figure out how compulsive scratching spreads in mice, and maybe humans

We’ve all felt it. Sitting in the office, you see somebody reach up and scratch their head, or merely hear someone mention being itchy. All of a sudden, you feel the compulsive urge to itch, too. It

Wasp offspring found to take on the personality of the queen
17th March 2017 | Animal Life

A small team of researchers with members from the University of California and the University of Michigan has found that some personality traits unique to a queen wasp are passed down to her offspring, the worker wasps.

Sociable woodpeckers that cooperate have evolved smaller brains
17th March 2017 | | Animal Life

In primates such as humans, living in cooperative societies usually means having bigger brains — with brainpower needed to navigate complex social situations.

But surprisingly, in birds the opposite may be true. Group-living woodpecker species have been found to have smaller brains than solitary ones.

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.