Animal Life news stories

Newly-evolved microbes may be breaking down ocean plastics
5th June 2017 | newscientist.com | Animal Life, Earth

Plastic. There should be hundreds of thousands of tonnes of the stuff floating around in our oceans. But we are finding less than expected – perhaps because living organisms are evolving the ability to break it down.


Alt: Newly-Evolved Microbes Could Be Eating 90% of Ocean Plastic

‘Faceless’ fish missing for more than a century rediscovered by Australian scientists
5th June 2017 | theguardian.com | Ancient, Animal Life

A “faceless” deep-sea fish not seen for more than a century has been rediscovered by scientists trawling the depths of a massive abyss off Australia’s east coast, along with “amazing” quantities of rubbish.

A third of the nation’s honeybee colonies died last year. Why you should care
4th June 2017 | usatoday.com | Animal Life

America’s beekeepers watched as a third of the country’s honeybee colonies were lost over the last year, part of a decade-long die-off experts said may threaten our food supply.

What Hyenas Can Tell Us About the Origins of Intelligence
4th June 2017 | scientificamerican.com | Animal Life

Physical similarities aside, we share a lot in common with our primate relatives. For example, as Jane Goodall famously documented, chimpanzees form lifelong bonds and show affection in much the same way as humans. Chimps can also solve novel problems, use objects as tools, and may possess “theory of mind”—an understanding that others may have different perspectives than oneself. They can even outperform humans in certain types of cognitive tasks.

The rules of baboons: Biologists study the principles underlying the collective movement of baboons
4th June 2017 | sciencedaily.com | Animal Life

How do baboons succeed in coordinating the movements of their group? Biologists have studied these organisms in the wild to find out which behavioral rules baboons use when interacting with others.

Scientists are accidentally helping poachers drive rare species to extinction
4th June 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

If you open Google and start typing “Chinese cave gecko”, the text will auto-populate to “Chinese cave gecko for sale” – just US$150, with delivery. This extremely rare species is just one of an increasingly large number of animals being pushed to extinction in the wild by animal trafficking.

Scientists to probe dolphin intelligence using an interactive touchpad
2nd June 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

The system involves an underwater computer touchscreen through which dolphins are able to interact and make choices. The system, the first of its kind, will be used to investigate dolphin intelligence and communication by providing them choice and control over a number of activities.


Related: Killer Whales Attacked a Blue Whale—Here’s the Surprising Reason Why

Monkey mafia steal your stuff, then sell it back for a cracker
2nd June 2017 | newscientist.com | Animal Life

Long-tailed macaques living near an Indonesian temple have figured out how to run a ransom racket on visiting tourists.

The monkeys grab valuables, such as glasses, hats, cameras or, in one case, a wad of cash from the ticket booth, then wait for temple staff to offer them food before dropping their ill-gotten gains and dashing off with the tasty prize

Meet This Newly Discovered Flying Squirrel
2nd June 2017 news.nationalgeographic.com | Animal Life

A new species of flying squirrel has been found in the Pacific Northwest. The discovery means that three—not two—species of the furred gliders live in North America, and it changes our understanding of how these squirrels evolved and spread across the continent


Related: New species of frog from the Neotropics carries its heart on its skin

New species of meat-eating sponge found off the coast of Canada
2nd June 2017 | theverge.com | Animal Life

Canadian researchers have discovered a new species of meat-eating sponge in the North Atlantic Ocean. Don’t worry, though, it doesn’t eat human meat — it feeds on zooplankton, tiny animals that drift in sea water. (With those fish bone-looking spikes, though, it sure looks like a creature from hell.)

Bioelectric tweak makes flatworms grow a head instead of a tail
30th May 2017 | newscientist.com | Animal Life, Tech

Cut off the head of a planarian flatworm, and a new one will grow in its place. The worm is one of many creatures that have some kind of memory for lost limbs, enabling them to regenerate what was there before.

Now it seems that this memory can be altered by meddling with the electrical activity of the animals’ cells.

Scientists Sneak A Peek At How Ladybugs Fold Their Wings
30th May 2017 | npr.org | Animal Life

They replaced those distinctive red and black cases with transparent ones — built out of a kind of UV-cured resin that’s often used in nail art, according to a press release from the university. The artificial wing case, called an elytron, allowed the researchers to watch how the wing folded.

Whales Only Recently Evolved Into Giants
30th May 2017 | seeker.com | Ancient, Animal Life

The early ancestors of 100-foot-long blue whales were dolphin-sized, according to new research that explains how they and other whale giants got to be so big.

Gorillas Hum and Sing While They Eat to Say, “Do Not Disturb”
30th May 2017 | scientificamerican.com | Animal Life

Where, an old joke asks, does a 400-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere it wants to, the superannuated gag answers. In keeping with that line of reasoning, a 400-pound gorilla should similarly hum anytime it wants to. The scientifically verified answer, however, is that the gorilla in question actually hums when he’s eating—if the gorilla in question is a socially prominent male, anyway

Orangutan Moms Are The Primate Champs Of Breast-Feeding
30th May 2017 | npr.org | Animal Life

When it comes to breast-feeding, orangutans are the champs.

Past studies of orangutans in the wild have found that mothers nurse their offspring for up to seven years, longer than any other primate.

Monkeys Have a Specialized Brain Network for Sizing Up Others’ Actions
30th May 2017 | scientificamerican.com | Animal Life

For many hours a day they pluck dirt, debris and bugs from each other’s fur. Between grooming sessions they travel in troops to search for food. When ignored by mom, they throw tantrums; when not ignored by zoo-goers, they throw feces.

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.