Zoology in the News

This post highlights zoology-related articles which have featured recently in the news.

Harbour seals can pick out different shapes using only their whiskers. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that seals can use their whiskers to accurately detect size and shape suggesting that the seals may use their whiskers to select the plumpest fish when fishing. Read the news articles on the Discover Magazine blog, Discoblog, or on the BBC.

Treehopper. Credit: M. Hedin
Treehopper. Credit: M. Hedin

Researchers publishing in Nature have shown that the treehopper’s helmet is actually a third pair of modified wings. They found that the same three genes that are responsible  for the formation of wings are also involved in the development of the helmet suggesting that the Membracidae group of insects could have a unique body plan among insects with three pairs of wings.  Read the news articles on ScienceNOW and Science Daily.

Mother goats can pick out the voice of their own offspring from when their kids are as young as five days old. Journal of Zoology Editorial Board members, Elodie Briefer and Alan McElligott, investigated mother-offspring vocal recognition in goats and found that both mothers and their kids had individualized calls. The research was published in Animal Cognition. See the BBC, Science Daily, Red Orbit and Science News Online websites for the news articles.

The Australian great desert skink (Liopholis kintoeri) lives in elaborate burrows with up to three cohorts of offspring who all work together to build and maintain their network of tunnels. The research, published in PLoS One, provides one of the first examples of  cooperative behaviour in lizards and provides support for the hypothesis that cooperative behavior evolved as a result of kin selection. Read the news articles on ABC News and ScienceNOW.

by Anne Braae

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