Song Sparrow (Image by Becky Matsubara via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Sparrows’ song might help determine health of potential mates and compatibility

Complexity of a male bird’s song can help attract the most compatible mate, new research suggests. Researchers investigated whether song repertoire and complexity advertises the singer’s genetic dissimilarity to others in the population — something that could help a couple raise the most viable young. A male bird’s health influences how well it can learn […]

Image by Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via Flickr CC2.0

Threespine stickleback can learn to adapt to low-oxygen environments

As aquatic oxygen levels decrease with the changing climate, marine and lakewater species face a challenging task of adapting to hypoxic environments – or risk perishing. To examine potential for adaptation, researchers investigated two populations of threespine stickleback: one from a lake that naturally experiences seasonal long-term hypoxia and the other one that does not. […]

(Pixabay/CC0)

Survival of the fullest: Red knots’ chances of surviving winter increase with its body weight

Endangered rufa red knots – which make one of the world’s longest migrations, from southern South America to the Arctic – are more likely to leave for breeding grounds earlier, arrive sooner and breed successfully if they start out their summer migration on a full stomach. Using innovative radio tracking, researchers observed a group of […]

Two killer whales (Image by Kenneth Balcomb, Center for Whale Research)

Simulated copulation techniques reveal cetacean sex secrets

A new study helps examine how mechanical interactions during copulation influence the shape of genitalia and fertility in cetaceans. Researchers used samples of cetacean genitalia acquired after the animals’ natural cause death. The scientists inflated excised penises using a saline solution to simulate an erection, and studied its interaction with silicone endocasts of vaginas in […]

A warm little pond on present day Earth on the Bumpass Hell trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.
(Image by Ben K.D. Pearce, McMaster University)

Vital chemicals deposited into small ponds by meteorites deemed responsible for life on Earth

Scientists found new evidence to support the “warm little ponds” theory of the beginnings of life on Earth, which puts the ponds as a top candidate for the initial favorable conditions for the appearance of living organisms. The new paper places the emergence of life into the process of Earth’s formation, while the planet was still being pelted […]

Birds with big brains are more likely to explore new habitats

Scientists have long questioned whether there is any correlation between brain size and cognitive ability in various animal species. One theory often explored in this field is the cognitive buffer hypothesis, which explains bigger brain size by the adaptive benefits to respond quickly to sudden, rapid changes in the environment. A new study tests out […]

Recipe for a comeback: predictive characteristics for replenishing depleted marine fish species

What does it take for a depleted fish species to make a comeback? A group of researchers reviewed abundance trends for over 50 populations of marine fish in attempts to determine what, if any, characteristics are common among species that have successfully recovered after overfishing. Their results suggest that recovery is related to a combination […]

This is an Allosaurus fragilis skeleton mounted in the lobby of the San Diego Natural History Museum. (Image via Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Scientists solved the mystery of the mass Allosaurus grave

The Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur bone bed has been a puzzle for paleontologists for many years. It’s home to the densest collection of Jurassic era dinosaur fossils, which includes numerous Allosaurus fossils. Since the bone bed’s discovery in the 1920s, numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain its origin—including theories of a mass poisoning event, drought, or even dinosaurs […]

Waterfowl beaks vary along a duck-to-goose gradient (left to right), primarily because of differences in diet.
(Image by Aaron Olsen)

Duck, duck, goose: How evolution shaped waterfowl beaks

A new study provides the most comprehensive look at the evolution of beaks in waterfowl to date. Following Charles Darwin’s famous finch study, present research suggests that diet shaped the beaks of geese and ducks. Study author studied 3D form of the beaks of 136 specimens of waterfowl, covering 51 species and 46 genera, including […]

groundwater distribution

Hominin evolution linked to groundwater distribution

Video courtesy of Bournemouth University Dispersal patterns of early human ancestors in East Africa relied heavily on the distribution of groundwater, new research suggests. Previously, the hominin movements were thought to have relied solely on climate shifts; however, it was unknown what sustained their survival in extremely dry weather when fresh water was scarce. Researchers […]

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