Zoology in the News

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

Wild parrots learn vocal signatures similar to human names from their parents. These vocal signatures are used to recognize individuals in a population and also get their attention. The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides the first experimental evidence of how parrots in the wild pass on a socially acquired trait. Read the news article on the Nature News Blog.

Polar bear. Credit: Lars K. Jensen
Polar bear. Credit: Lars K. Jensen

Polar bears’ maternal ancestors came from Ireland.  An analysis of their mitochondrial DNA has found that extinct Irish brown bears are the ancestors of the modern polar bears. These results, published in Current Biology suggest that the two species mated opportunistically during the past hundred thousand years or so. Read the news articles on the Independent and BBC.

Aphids avoid being eaten by dropping to the ground when they sense the heat and humidity of a mammalian herbivore’s breath. The results, published in Naturwissenschaften (The Science of Nature), show just how successful this survival strategy is as in the experiment, 76% of the aphid colony survived being eaten. Read the news articles on LabMate or Science Daily.

Lizards are good at solving problems. Scientists at Duke University tested the behavioural flexibility of a tropical lizard, Anolis evermanni, and found that they could successfully complete a food-finding challenge, solving the problem using three fewer attempts than birds. The research, published online in Biology Letters, challenges current belief that reptiles have limited problem solving skills. Read the news articles on Science Daily or BBC Nature News websites.

by Anne Braae

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