Animal Life news stories

Resistance to last-ditch antibiotic has spread farther than anticipated
15th June 2017 | | Animal Life

Eighteen months ago, a gene that confers resistance to colistin — known as an ‘antibiotic of last resort’ — emerged in bacteria from pigs in China. Since then, the resistance gene, called mcr-1, has been found around the world at an alarming rate, according to several presentations at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, last week.

Sea Cow Baby Boom Is Good News for Great Barrier Reef
14th June 2017 | Animal Life

It’s rare to hear good news about Australia’s ailing Great Barrier Reef, but some of its larger animals are surviving against the odds.

Populations of dugongs—a relative of the manatee—have surged throughout the southern region of the coral reef, according to newly released aerial surveys, taken in November.

Watch cuttlefish apparently pretending to walk just like crabs
14th June 2017 | | Animal Life

Cuttlefish have been caught on film walking like crabs by moving their tentacles in novel ways.

Kohei Okamoto at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, and his team first spotted pharaoh cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis) displaying the unusual behaviour while feeding them in the lab.

Extinct species of Galapagos giant tortoise may be resurrected
14th June 2017 | | Animal Life

Conservationists believe they can bring back a species of giant tortoise unique to Floreana Island in the Galapagos and considered extinct since the mid-19th century.

Budgerigars can identify spoken sounds without prior exposure to human speech
14th June 2017 | | Animal Life

No experience with human speech is necessary for budgerigars to perceive the difference between “d” and “t,”.

The debate over speech perception is unresolved, with some evidence supporting a speech-specific mechanism and other evidence supporting a general auditory mechanism.

Snakes Gang Up to Hunt Prey—a First
14th June 2017 | Animal Life

Many of us have seen those classic wildlife documentaries of wolves or lions working in packs to chase down their prey.

But snakes?

A new study has revealed that Cuban boas coordinate bat hunts in the sinkhole caves of Cuba’s Desembarco del Granma National Park.

Faces recreated from monkey brain signals
10th June 2017 | | Animal Life, Tech

Scientists in the US have accurately reconstructed images of human faces by monitoring the responses of monkey brain cells.

The brains of primates can resolve different faces with remarkable speed and reliability, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood.

Ravens Hold Grudges Against Cheaters
10th June 2017 | Animal Life

Ravens and other members of the corvid family (crows, jays, and magpies) are known to be intelligent. They can remember individual human faces, expertly navigate human environments (like trash cans), and they even hold funerals for their dead. Some ravens, it seems, even know the art of making a deal.

A new paper published in the journal Animal Behavior tested how well a raven could judge a deal that was “fair” or “unfair.”

Alt: Ravens remember when they have been swindled: The clever birds have the human-like ability to recognise and avoid people who have tricked them

The Secret Lives of Horses
10th June 2017 | | Animal Life

Long-term observations of wild equines reveal a host of unexpected behaviors

Some time around 35,000 years ago, when much of Europe was locked up in sheets of ice, an artist acquired a bit of mammoth ivory and began carving. A masterpiece emerged in the form of a two-inch-long horse. Its magnificently arched stallion’s neck combines muscular potency and natural grace. Its head, slightly cocked, gives the animal an air of deep contemplation. One can almost hear him snort and see him toss his head, warning rivals to take care. No one knows who created this miniature marvel, dubbed the “Vogelherd horse” after the cave in Germany in which it was found, but it is clear that this ivory carver spent a lot of time watching wild horses, studying their social interactions and learning their body language.

From The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

Chimpanzees Show ‘Cumulative Culture’
10th June 2017 | | Animal Life

Chimpanzees share our human ability to amass knowledge, a new study led by a University of St Andrews researcher has found.

The ability to achieve great feats by building on the work of others is known as cumulative culture.

Until now humans, baboons, and pigeons were the only species thought to be capable of it.

Saved Once by Social Media, Rare Rhino’s Luck Runs Out
10th June 2017 | Animal Life

A Sumatran rhino that symbolized the power of social media to potentially save wildlife was euthanized Sunday in Malaysia. Puntung, a 20-year-old female, succumbed to cancer. She was one of three remaining Sumatran rhinos in the country.

Two lions, freed from circuses, are poached in South Africa
10th June 2017 | Animal Life

In 2016, 33 lions freed from circuses in Peru and Colombia were transported to South Africa to live out their days in a wildlife refuge. Last week, poachers broke into the sanctuary, killing two of the big cats.

Tree-Climbing Goats Keep the ‘Desert Gold’ Growing
10th June 2017 | Animal Life, Earth

What do goats and squirrels have in common?

They both climb trees, of course. While squirrels live amongst the branches, goats, or at least those in arid regions, climb them for dinner. And that’s good for the goats, and the trees.

Earliest evidence for dog breeding found on remote Siberian island
6th June 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

The hunter-gatherers of Zhokhov Island were a hardy folk. Nine thousand years ago, they survived frigid year-round temperatures in animal-skin tents some 500 kilometers north of what is now the Russian mainland, and they were the only people ever known to hunt large numbers of polar bears without firearms. Now it appears these ancient Arctic dwellers did something even more remarkable: They may have been among the first humans to breed dogs for a particular purpose.

Why killing coyotes doesn’t make livestock safer
6th June 2017 | Animal Life

Few Americans probably know that their tax dollars paid to kill 76,859 coyotes in 2016. The responsible agency was Wildlife Services (WS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This broad mandate includes everything from reducing bird strikes at airports to curbing the spread of rabies.

In China, maggots finish plates, and food waste
6th June 2017 | Animal Life, Earth

Thousands of voracious white maggots wiggle frenetically while tearing through trayfuls of leftover meat, vegetables and fruits in an unusual farm in southwestern China.

It may not be a pretty sight, but the gluttonous larvae could help China eat away something far uglier: the country’s mountain of food waste.

Related: Cold conversion of food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.