Bats fly with breathtaking precision because their wings are equipped with highly sensitive touch sensors, cells that respond to even slight changes in airflow, researchers have demonstrated for the first time.
As I wrote about in my last post, bees are capable of learning which flowers offer good nectar rewards based on floral features such as colour, smell, shape, texture, pattern, temperature and electric charge. They do this through associative learning: learning that a ‘conditioned stimulus’ (for example, the colour yellow) is associated with an ‘unconditioned stimulus’ (nectar). Learning simple associations like these is the basis of all learning – pretty much all animals do it, from humans to the sea slug which doesn’t even have a brain.
This essay summarizes the recent series of New York State cases that were filed by the Non Human Rights Project (NhRP) petitioning to have four chimpanzees released from their owners. NhRP’s primary intent was to have the chimpanzees recognized as human-like beings with a common law right to liberty — to be recognized as autonomous and self-determining beings that cannot be legally considered as property.  The summary includes a discussion on the Hohfieldian system of legal rights that was relied upon by the petitioners.
At the end of 2013 NhRP filed three separate writ of habeas corpus petitions on behalf of four chimpanzees — Tommy, Kiko, and Hercules and Leo. The chimpanzees were chosen from different areas of New York state so that they could be filed in different circuits, increasing the chances of a positive outcome. At the time of the filings Tommy was held inside a trailer at a place that rented trailers as well as animals, Kiko was owned by a primate specialist, and Hercules and Leo were held at a university laboratory for studies on human locomotion. 
Chimpanzees are capable of some degree of planning for the future, in a manner similar to human children, while some species of monkeys struggle with this task, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Wofford College and Agnes Scott...
My dog's the best, but my cat's like the rest—those are the findings of Penn State Abington sophomore Sasha Thomas' research into the social phenomenon known as the "Better Than Average Effect" (BTAE).
Dr. David Steen is a wildlife ecologist at Auburn University whose specialty lies in studying reptiles and amphibians, a group collectively known as herptiles. One of Dr. Steen’s recent claims to fame is successfully giving CPR to a drowned turtle!
Scientists were thrilled when they learned about the eating habits of the Egyptian vulture. Its favorite food is the egg, which it cracks open using stones. This meant one thing — it was time to mess with the bird's head in the name of science.
Many human communities want answers about the current status and future of Arctic marine mammals, including scientists who dedicate their lives to study them and indigenous people whose traditional ways of subsistence are intertwined with the fate...
Dolphins that raise their voices to be heard in noisy environments expend extra energy in doing so, according to new research that for the first time measures the biological costs to marine mammals of trying to communicate over the sounds of ship traffic or other sources. While dolphins expend only slightly more energy on louder whistles or other vocalizations, the metabolic cost may add up over time when the animals must compensate for chronic background noise, according to the research by scientists at NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of California Santa Cruz.
How aware are you of the birds that live in your neighborhood? Do you know how many different species there are? Do enjoy your local birds, or find them annoying? J. Amy Belaire of St. Edward's University, Lynne Westphal of the U.S.
It started when Jolanta Watson put a frozen box-patterned gecko on a glass slide. The lizard’s skin is adorned with beautiful auburn and tan blotches, and Watson wanted to study it under a microscope. But as she reached for a scalpel, she noticed that tiny water droplets had formed on the slide. The longer she looked, the more droplets there were. Where were they coming from? The microscope revealed the answer. Through its lens, Watson saw that droplets would condense on the gecko’s skin, roll into each other, and jump off under their own power. That’s why the slide was wet. The box-patterned gecko’s skin can actively repel water even if it’s dead and immobile. And when it’s alive, it can use this phenomenon, which Watson calls “geckovescence”, to clean itself with no effort.
There are some 1,500 species of geckos, which are best known for their stickyfeet. Their toes are covered in thousands of microscopic hairs that allow them to cling to seemingly flat surfaces—including the walls of Watson’s Australian home. As she and her husband Gregory watched these lizards, they realised that scientists had largely ignored the rest of the gecko’s body. Their toes were cool, but what about the rest of their skin? In particular, how does it deal with water?
The box-patterned gecko lives in the Australian desert, where rainfall is rare and water is scarce. Still, chilly nights and humid mornings can produce a lot of dew, some of which condenses on the gecko’s skin. That’s a problem: water-logged skin is a breeding ground for microbes and fungi, which could potentially cause diseases. Fortunately, as the Watsons found, the gecko can automatically dry itself. When they looked at the lizard’s skin under the microscope, they saw that its scales are like rounded domes. Each of these is covered in miniscule hairs, just a few millionths of a metre long, about the size of a small bacterium. They’re densely packed too: thousands of them would fit in the cross-section of a single human hair.
Many natural structures, including springtails, leafhoppers, lotus leaves, andguillemot eggs, use similar microscopic textures to waterproof themselves. The principles are always the same: there are raised sections, like the gecko’s hairs, that trap pockets of air and stop water from seeping into the spaces between them. When droplets form, they sit on top of the raised bits as nigh-perfect spheres, rather than flattening out as they would do on a tabletop or on your skin.
The Watsons saw exactly this when they cooled gecko skin to the point when dew started to condense. Spherical droplets appeared, and grew. When they touched each other, they merged. And when they merged, they would occasionally fly off. Why? Because when two droplets unite, their volume stays the same but their combined surface area—and thus, their surface energy—goes down. They convert some of that surface energy into kinetic energy, and if the trade-off is substantial enough, they can launch themselves into the air.
All of this happens without help from any external forces, but external forcescan help. In fog, water droplets in the air collide with those on the gecko’s skin, increasing the odds that they will jump off. Here’s a series of images showing one such jump. Wind helps too; it blows droplets into each other, and carries the airborne drops away from the lizard.
Human beings are the most intelligent, and therefore important, of all the world´s species, right?
We deserve our superior status over other animals because of the following scientific truths: that only humans are self-aware and feel empathy, that we are unique in our abilities to use language and tools, that only we can recognize ourselves in a mirror and understand the passing of time.
But advances in cognitive ethology (the scientific study of animal intelligence, emotions, behaviors, and social life) have now disproved these ´truths´, showing that many other creatures also display a complex range of emotions, highly evolved communication skills, compassion for others, and even intelligence that rivals- or surpasses- our own. These ground-breaking studies force us to ask some uncomfortable questions about our place in the world, and have caused leading experts to call for a radical rethink of the way we treat other animals...
Some of the most heart-warming tales of expressive love and empathy come from the great apes, our closest relatives. Moral philosopher Mark Rowlands recounts the following:
Could a staring contest make your dog adore you much more? Not precisely, but new analysis suggests a direct correlation between eye get in touch with and dog-human bonding. In a study published Thursday in Science, Japanese dog cognition specialists show how prolonged “mutual gaze” fosters emotional bonds that seem to be correlated with a release of hormones in both dogs and and humans. Humans have kept domesticated dogs for millennia, but the phrase “man’s best friend” only entered our vernacular in current centuries. It’s a properly-earned title, but an inexplicable a single: for reasons unclear, no other interspecies companionship comes close. To superior comprehend the neurobiology behind human-dog companionship, a team of researchers from Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, placed a number of canine participants in a area with their owners. They instructed owners to touch, talk to, or gaze at their pets for a period of 30 minutes. When the time was up, researchers took urine samples from both pet and owner, which they tested for oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is in some cases named the “love hormone” – for the duration of mammalian reproduction and childbirth, it acts as a neurotransmitter, sending optimistic feedback to the brain. It is also linked with pair bonding. “We assume that in terms of nurturing or care taking, the human-dog bonding and parent-infant bonding is comparable,” co-author Takefumi Kikusui said. “Both of them have a same oxytocin-mediated optimistic loop.”
DARLENE KETTEN hoped the morbid express delivery would finally answer some questions. The two beaked whale heads, packed in ice, were flown in from the Bahamas for autopsy in a lab in Boston. The pair had died in an unusual mass stranding of 17 whales on the Abacos Islands. Beached animals tend to be dead when they are discovered, but this time the whales were caught in the act. Local marine biologists returned more than half to the water and preserved the heads of some of those they couldn't save. It was the first time a post-mortem had followed so swiftly after a beaching.
Maybe you’ve heard that animals can sense natural disasters before they happen. Here’s amazing footage caught on a security camera of a dog detecting an earthquake moments before the room starts shaking.
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