Tag: your-feed-animals

The Trigger That Makes an Octopus Mom Self-Destruct

Most octopus species live for one year. But the deaths of octopus mothers after they reproduce have long been a scientific spectacle. Why exactly octopus mothers engage in a form of self-harm that leads to death just after they reproduce remains something of a mystery. But a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology […]

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‘Mouth Almighty’ Doesn’t Mind When His Cheeks Are Full of Another Fish’s Babies

Lurking among the underwater plants in Australia’s ponds and streams is a fish called the mouth almighty. The species is named for its impressive jaws, which snap up passing prey. But the males also use their almighty mouths to gently carry as many as hundreds of babies. The dads do this oral caretaking, called mouthbrooding, […]

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An Anaconda’s Play Date With Dolphins Took a Strange Turn

But Sonja Wild, a behavioral ecologist at Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, who was not part of the study, was skeptical that the interaction was purposely instructive. It’s more plausible the juveniles were observing because they were curious, she says. And because anacondas are strong, Dr. Wild wonders if the snake was […]

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Started Out as a Fish. How Did It End Up Like This?

Tiktaalik first became known to humans in 2004, after skulls and other bones of at least 10 specimens turned up in ancient stream beds in the Nunavut Territory of the Arctic. The discoverers, a team of paleontologists including Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago, Ted Daeschler at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, […]

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The ‘Ultimate Bird’ Once Prowled the Seas of a Young Japan

It’s not unusual today to find swans on rivers and lakes, splitting their time between pulling up water plants and punishing the unwise with powerful blows of their bony-elbowed wings. Eleven million years ago, however, swans in what is today called Japan did something unexpected: They took to the oceans. In a paper published this […]

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‘Snarge’ Happens and Studying It Makes Your Plane Trip Safer

When I wrote about European starlings and their complex North American origin story, I didn’t expect readers to be so fascinated by one particular word in the article: snarge. But as the emails, tweets and other feedback poured in, it became clear that this gnarly-sounding six-letter word and the field of scientific inquiry that produced […]

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Birds That Build Nests With Domes May Be Doomed

Many of the bird nests you’ll spot this spring will have the familiar open and cupped shape, perfect for securing eggs and eventually hatchlings. About 30 percent of bird species are the starchitects of the avian kingdom, constructing elaborate domed nests with roofs. While ecologists have long thought that domed nests provided greater safety from […]

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Shriek! Slap! Pow! The Small Bat Wins.

One morning in the Panamanian rainforest, a small fruit bat sized up his competition. The odds did not appear to be in his favor. The winged mammal, a Seba’s short-tailed bat, weighed about half an ounce. But his six opponents, fringe-lipped bats, were twice as heavy and occupying the shrouded corner where the small bat […]

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Climate Change Is Hurting Penguins Unevenly in Antarctica

Adélie penguins have had a rough time of it on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where warming linked to climate change has occurred faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. That and other factors have led to sharp declines in Adélie populations in recent decades. But on the eastern side, it’s a […]

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These Birds Form a Trio, but Probably Not a Throuple

Cranes have a reputation as romantics. The birds live in faithful pairs, dancing and defending their territory together. When intruders approach, the birds lift their beaks and emit a loud song with one voice. In India, the sarus crane — crimson-headed and as tall as an adult human — is celebrated for its monogamy. “When […]

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‘Big John,’ a High-Profile Triceratops, Locked Horns With Its Own Kind, Study Suggests

Thanks to dramatic museum displays, many of us can imagine a Triceratops wielding its horns and sprawling neck frill to ward off a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex. But some scientists believe that Triceratopses used their deadly headgear against each other, too. Like dueling elk brandishing their antlers, Triceratopses may have interlocked their horns to woo mates […]

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These Birds Aren’t Lost. They’re Adapting.

Vagrancy, the scientists argue, might help species chart an escape route from human-driven climate change and widespread habitat destruction. Instead of staying put and facing potential extinction, a few solitary pioneers can scout new habitats as their former homes become unlivable. The critically endangered Chinese crested tern, for example, was presumed to be extinct after […]

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Japan’s Monkey Queen Made It Through Mating Season With Her Reign Intact

Although a mature Yakei fought with her own mother to rise in status, “she is generous and kind to her baby,” Mr. Shimomura said. It seems that Yakei held onto power during this breeding season without much fuss. The only changes in rank occurred when the monkey that held the No. 3 spot went missing […]

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The Search for a Model Octopus That Won’t Die After Laying Its Eggs

🐙 Roy Caldwell, a behavioral ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, first met Octopus chierchiae, also called the lesser Pacific striped octopus, in the mid-1970s in Panama. He was pulling rocks from the ocean to find mantis shrimp hiding in cracks. “Every once in a while, these cute little striped octopus would come out,” […]

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In the Ocean, It’s Snowing Microplastics

As long as there has been marine life, there has been marine snow — a ceaseless drizzle of death and waste sinking from the surface into the depths of the sea. The snow begins as motes, which aggregate into dense, flocculent flakes that gradually sink and drift past the mouths (and mouth-like apparatuses) of scavengers […]

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Fossil Holds Clues to How Some Owls Evolved Into Daytime Hunters

In the silty red soil of Gansu Province in China, a small owl has lain nestled for about 6 million years, since an era known as the Late Miocene. The fossilized bird’s talons are outstretched, one of its wings is spread wide and its sharp beak is turned back over its shoulder. You might imagine […]

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Bobcats With a Taste for Python Eggs Might Be the Guardians of Florida’s Swamp

The voracious appetite of the invasive Burmese python is causing Florida’s mammal and bird populations to plummet. With little natural competition to control the big snake’s numbers, the situation looks desperate. But new observations suggest that the bobcat, a wildcat native to Florida, might be able to help. A team of ecologists collected evidence recently […]

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Trilobite Fossils Suggest Cannibalism Is Older Than Once Thought

Cannibalism is common among the millions of modern arthropod species. A praying mantis consumes her mate after copulation, termites suck blood out of wounded peers, and mosquitoes snack on larvae. But how far back does this gruesome mode of dining go in the history of life feeding on life? Previous studies place the earliest cannibalism […]

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Life’s Preference for Symmetry Is Like ‘A New Law of Nature’

Symmetry runs rampant in nature. It’s present wherever mirror images are repeated, like in the right and left halves of elephants or butterflies, or in the repeating patterns of flower petals and starfish arms around a central point. It’s even hiding in the structures of tiny things like proteins and RNA. While asymmetry certainly exists […]

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Australia’s Clever Birds Did Not Consent to This Science Experiment

The Australian magpie is one of the cleverest birds on earth. It has a beautiful song of extraordinary complexity. It can recognize and remember up to 30 different human faces. But Australians know magpies best for their penchant for mischief. An enduring rite of passage of an Australian childhood is dodging the birds every spring […]

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Wolves, and Misinformation About Them, Make a California Comeback

In contrast, California, a state that has both extremely rural and extremely urban areas, has one of the strongest state endangered species acts in the nation. It is a crime to kill a wolf in California. Where the wolves roam, the state’s fish and wildlife agency tracks their whereabouts and collect blood samples, DNA samples, […]

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Finding a Retirement Home for 466 Frozen Flatworm Fragments

Marian Litvaitis, a professor emerita at the University of New Hampshire, decided to retire in December 2019. And she wondered what would happen to her worms. Not just any worms: marine polyclad flatworms. They are visually striking, from the skunk-colored ruffles of Pseudobiceros gratus to the gold-rimmed fuchsia body of Pseudoceros ferrugineus. Dr. Litvaitis had […]

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Fossil Reveals Secrets of One of Nature’s Most Mysterious Reptiles

New Zealand’s tuataras look like somber iguanas. But these spiny reptiles are not actually lizards. Instead, they are the last remnant of a mysterious and ancient order of reptiles known as the Rhynchocephalians that mostly vanished after their heyday in the Jurassic period. And they truly are the oddballs of the reptile family. Tuataras can […]

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Why Don’t All Lions Climb Trees?

Visit Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda or Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania and you’ll see something unusual: lions that climb trees and spend a good part of their lives resting on branches high above the ground. Elsewhere, lions rarely climb and look rather silly when they try to do so. “They can get […]

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New Coronavirus Lineage Discovered in Ontario Deer

Scientists have identified a new, highly mutated version of the coronavirus in white-tailed deer in southwestern Ontario, one that may have been evolving in animals since late 2020. They also found a very similar viral sequence in one person in the area who had close contact with deer, the first evidence of possible deer-to-human transmission […]

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They Want to Break T. Rex Into 3 Species. Paleontologists Aren’t Pleased.

They found some of the specimens difficult to classify. But 26 seemed to group into three types, Mr. Paul said: one robust form from early in the Hell Creek with two sets of incisors in its lower jaws, and a robust and gracile form from later with only one incisor set. These three forms, Mr. […]

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Researchers See ‘Future of an Entire Species’ in Ultrasound Technique

Kristin Aquilino, a scientist at the University of California, Davis, knows that expectations are just disappointments in disguise. Over the last decade, she has led the school’s white abalone captive breeding program, which aims to bring the marine mollusk back from the brink of extinction. Last June, she and her colleagues drove snails kept in […]

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The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker Is Armed to the Teeth

The nightmare of the Pacific spiny lumpsucker starts with the teeth: needle-sharp, lining the rim of bulbous lips. A single fin crowns the fish’s head like a mohawk, and spiked studs cover nearly every inch of its body, recalling an armored car from a “Mad Max” movie. But the nightmare passes quickly: The Pacific spiny […]

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Act of ‘Heresy’ Adds Horseshoe Crabs to Arachnid Family Tree

Horseshoe crabs are little armored vehicles with bright blue blood. For hundreds of millions of years, they’ve been trundling along the ocean floor. In all that time, other mighty creatures have come and gone: dinosaurs, mammoths, terror birds, Neanderthals. The humble horseshoe crab has lived on, looking not that different these days from their forebears […]

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A Parasitic Wasp Unmasked: One Species Is Actually 16 Species

The tiny, iridescent Ormyrus labotus always seemed suspicious for a parasitoid wasp. It wasn’t the wasp’s striking beauty — wasps can be conventionally attractive, too — but its life strategy. Parasitoid wasps lay their eggs on or inside other insects and arthropods, and the larvae eat their way out when they hatch. Each parasitoid wasp […]

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