Animal Life news stories

Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents’ Plans to Return Home
14th March 2017 | nytimes.com | Animal Life, Earth

They descend on towns and villages, plundering crops and rampaging through homes. They occasionally attack humans. But perhaps most dangerous of all, the marauders carry with them highly radioactive material.

Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets and livestock. Some animals, like cattle, were left to rot in their pens.

Mice as Conservationists?
13th March 2017 blogs.scientificamerican.com | Animal Life

A naturally occurring gene in house mice may help eliminate their invasive cousins that live on islands

One might mistake mice for monsters. They’ve wreaked havoc on delicate native ecosystems—consuming rare and endemic plants, insects, and even unsuspecting seabirds. But it’s not fair to blame the mice—they were just doing what mice do.

Leaf-cutting ants learn to identify unsuitable plants from cues within the colony
13th March 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

Leaf-cutting ants can learn which plants are not suitable for the fungus gardens that supply their food before they even leave the colony, according to a study published March 8, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrés Arenas and Flavio Roces from University of Wurzburg, Germany.

Why are pandas black and white? Science finds clues
13th March 2017 | csmonitor.com | Animal Life

The giant panda’s distinct coloring is loved by wildlife enthusiasts, but researchers have never had a satisfactory explanation as to what made their coloring pattern so unique – until now.

Portuguese moth’s mystery solved after 22 years
13th March 2017 | eurekalert.org | Animal Life

An unknown moth, collected from Portugal 22 years ago, has finally been named and placed in the tree of life thanks to the efforts of an international team of scientists.

Bird spiders detectives: The solution to a 200-year-old hairy mystery
13th March 2017 | sciencedaily.com | Animal Life

Three species and three genera of birdeater spiders are described as new to science. In a new study, Brazilian spider experts report the diversity of the oldest tarantula genus, whose name derives from a famous 18th century illustration. Despite comprising a great number of species, the genus has remained a mystery for more than 200 years.

Biochemical ‘fossil’ shows how life may have emerged without phosphate
10th March 2017 | eurekalert.org | Ancient, Animal Life

One major mystery about life’s origin is how phosphate became an essential building block of genetic and metabolic machinery in cells, given its poor accessibility on early Earth. In a study published on March 9 in the journal Cell, researchers used systems biology approaches to tackle this long-standing conundrum, providing compelling, data-driven evidence that primitive life forms may not have relied on phosphate at all.

Wild elephants clock shortest shut-eye recorded for mammals
10th March 2017 | sciencenews.org | Animal Life

Fitbit-style tracking of two wild African elephants suggests their species could break sleep records for mammals. The elephants get by just fine on about two hours of sleep a day. Much of that shut-eye comes while standing up — the animals sleep lying down only once every three or four days, new data show.

High levels of chemicals found in indoor cats
10th March 2017 | sciencedaily.com | Animal Life

A study from Stockholm University have now established what was previously suspected, that the high levels of brominated flame retardants measured in cats are from the dust in our homes. The study has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Ninety percent of predatory fish gone from Caribbean coral reefs due to overfishing
10th March 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that up to 90 percent of predatory fish are gone from Caribbean coral reefs, straining the ocean ecosystem and coastal economy. The good news? They identified reefs, known as supersites, which can support large numbers of predator fishes that if reintroduced, can help restore the environmental and economic setback inflicted by overfishing.

Bee species with little known nesting-behavior observed to use plastic instead of leaves
10th March 2017 | eurekalert.org | Animal Life

“Although perhaps incidentally collected, the novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment,” the authors quote an earlier study.


Related: Hundreds of North American bee species face extinction: study

First Clouded Leopard Cub Born Using Cryopreserved Semen
9th March 2017 | npr.org | Animal Life, Tech

In a birth announcement of sorts, the Smithsonian National Zoo and the Nashville Zoo released a joint statement Thursday saying that a male clouded leopard cub was born on March 1. The cub is the first of his species to be born from artificial insemination using frozen (and then thawed) semen.

Research shows nature can beat back scientific tinkering with genes of entire species
9th March 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

Rest easy, folks. Armies of genetically modified super-species are unlikely to conquer Earth anytime soon.

In a paper recently appearing in the journal Genetics, a University of Kansas researcher and colleagues from Cornell University have revealed daunting challenges to changing the DNA of entire populations of species via the most promising techniques available today to produce “gene drive.”

WHO releases list of world’s most dangerous superbugs
9th March 2017 | statnews.com | Animal Life

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization has drawn up a list of the highest priority needs for new antibiotics — marching orders, it hopes, for the pharmaceutical industry.

The list, which was released Monday, enumerates 12 bacterial threats, grouping them into three categories: critical, high, and medium.

Aging can be good for you (if you’re a yeast)
8th March 2017 phys.org | Animal Life

It’s a cheering thought for anyone heading towards their golden years. Research from the Babraham Institute has shown that ageing can be beneficial – albeit so far only in yeast.

Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia
7th March 2017 | theguardian.com | Animal Life, Earth

The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report.


Related: To Save The Planet, Give Cows Better Pasture

Evidence disproving tropical ‘thermostat’ theory: global warming can breach limits for life
7th March 2017 phys.org | Animal Life, Earth

New research findings show that as the world warmed millions of years ago, conditions in the tropics may have made it so hot some organisms couldn’t survive.


Related: Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.