Category Archives: Wild Life

Amazonian bird chicks mimic poisonous caterpillar to avoid detection

A trio of researchers has found and documented the case of a newly hatched bird with plumage that mimics a poisonous caterpillar to ward off predators. In their paper published in American Naturalist, Gustavo Londoño, Duván García and Manuel Sánchez Martínez, describe finding the young birds and observing their habits while in their nests. Scientists have discovered a number of creatures that mimic other species to protect themselves from predators, but until now, no evidence for it has been found … Continue reading

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Some parasite bugs can control their hosts’ brains from inside

Ladybugs are said to bring good luck—but one infected by the wasp species Dinocampus coccinellae is decidedly unfortunate. When a female wasp stings a ladybug, it leaves behind a single egg. After the egg hatches, the larva begins to eat its host from the inside out. When ready, the parasite emerges and spins a cocoon between the ladybug’s legs. Though its body is now free of the tormentor, the bug remains enslaved, standing over the cocoon and protecting it from … Continue reading

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Penguins may lack teeth, but they have backward facing spines in their throats that grip and guide fish down. This photo of a rockhopper penguin was taken by Will Burrard-Lucas on the Falkland Islands. Via Facebook.

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Giant kangaroos ‘walked on two feet’

They roamed Australia while mammoths and Neanderthals lived in Europe – and it now seems they did so by putting one heavy foot in front of the other. According to new research, the extinct “sthenurine” family of giant kangaroos, up to three times larger than living roos, was able to walk on two feet. Today’s kangaroos can only hop or use all fours, but their extinct cousins’ bones suggest a two-legged gait. The biggest members of the family may not … Continue reading

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Researchers find LEDs attract more flying invertebrates than conventional lighting

A pair of researchers with the New Zealand research institute Scion, has found that flying invertebrates are more attracted to LED lights than to conventional outdoor lighting. In their paper published in the journal, Ecological Applications, Stephen Pawson and Martin Bader describe a simple study they carried out to see how attractive lighting was to flying bugs and what they found in doing so. LEDs are in the news of course, because the trio of researchers that invented the blue-light … Continue reading

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Researchers take cells from chrysalis and grow butterfly wings in the lab

A pair of researchers, one from Oxford University, the other with the Natural History Museum in London, has found a way to grow butterfly wings in their lab. In their paper published in Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials, Helen Townley and Andrew Parker describe the transparent nature of certain butterfly and beetle wings and their efforts to reproduce them using cell cultures to grow colored materials. Many butterfly wings, it turns out, are not actually colored by pigments or dyes—instead, their … Continue reading

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Remarkably slender green vine snake

This remarkably slender green vine snake, Oxybelis fulgidus, is a colubrid from Central America and northern South America. It is mildly venomous and is shown here opening its mouth in threat display. Image: Suhaas Premkumar

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Armadillo in defensive mode

The very neat defensive pose of a southern three banded armadillo. Via Facebook.

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We love Diatoms


Diatoms are single-celled organisms found in oceans all over the world. There are estimated to be 100,000 species of these micron-sized creatures in existence, and they play a crucial role as one of the main food sources for marine organisms, including fish, molluscs and tunicates, such as sea squirts. Once you get them under the microscope, the diatoms will reveal the incredible glass shells that contain their tiny bodies. During the Victorian era – the second half of the 19th … Continue reading

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Killer Chimps Reveal Why Violence Persists

Chimpanzees and humans share much in common, including cooperating to kill perceived rivals, and now a new study finds that this kind of lethal aggression — at least among chimps — is “normal” and sadly all too common. “Normal,” in this case, means that the behavior results from natural and evolved tendencies and does not, as some other researchers have suggested, emerge in response to human pressures, such as habitat loss. The study, published in the journal Nature, sheds light … Continue reading

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Bacteria found in bees show potential as an alternative to antibiotics


Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious problem in the western world, and in April this year, the World Health Organisation declared it a major threat to public health. For centuries, people have used raw honey to help fight infections, but scientists have struggled to figure out what gives it its antimicrobial properties. Now a team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden has identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that come from the honey stomach of … Continue reading

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Stringray migration

Stringray migrations are beautiful to watch from the air. The cownose ray is known for its long migrations across the Atlantic. These mass migrations occur seasonally in response to temperature changes: Via Facebook. Image credit Ryan Kidd

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Weird mushroom-shaped animals may rewrite animal family tree


Weird deep-sea animals discovered off the coast of Australia in the 1980s have finally been classified, and they’re like no animal alive today. The newly described species, discovered between 400 and 1,000 metres below the ocean off the coast of Tasmania back in 1986, have been named Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides. And they’re so unique that they don’t fit into any existing animal groupings – in fact, they appear to most closely resemble long-extinct organisms that lived in the Ediacaran period, … Continue reading

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One would normally assume that massive bird nests would house massive birds. These nests are so big that one wonders if they could house dinosaurs… They are built, in actuality, by some of the dinosaurs smallest descendents: Social Weaver Birds live in Namibia. They look rather like sparrows, and are about the size of sparrows. But somehow or other, they seem to have got into their bird-brains the necessity to build BIG, that is, REALLY BIG nests. Indeed, they build … Continue reading

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The incredible honey hunters of the Himalayan foothills


Growing up to 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) in length, the Himalayan cliff honey bee of Nepal is the world’s largest honeybee. Found only in the foothills of the Himalayas, building their homes at altitudes of between 2,500 and 3,000 metres (8,200 and 9,800 feet) and foraging as high up as 4,100 metres (13,500 feet) above the ground, these insects have a unique ability to thrive at incredible heights. They’re so good at it, that the rest of the Himalayan honey … Continue reading

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How does a penguin launch itself from the sea?

How does a bird, the same weight as a baby hippo, get itself out of the water?

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Great apes face extinction: conservationist Jane Goodall

The world’s great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday, in a call to arms to ensure man’s closest relatives are not wiped out. “If we don’t take action the great apes will disappear, because of both habitat destruction as well as trafficking,” Goodall told AFP in an interview in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. In the past half century, chimpanzee numbers have slumped from two million to just 300,000, spread over 21 countries, said Goodall, … Continue reading

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‘Bigfoot’ Cases Solved, But a New Mystery Surfaces

Genetic analysis of hair attributed to Bigfoot found no support for that claim, but hairs linked to the Yeti were determined to belong to a mysterious bear species that may not yet be known to science. The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, marks a rare intersection of peer-reviewed science and cryptozoology, which is the search for, and study of, animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated. The study solely focused on hair samples, … Continue reading

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The Most Beautiful Slug in the World


Glaucus atlanticus, commonly known as the sea swallow, blue angel, blue glaucus, blue dragon, blue sea slug and blue ocean slug, is a species of small-sized blue sea slug, a gastropod mollusk in the family Glaucidae and to our eye extremely beautiful. These sea slugs feed on other pelagic creatures including the venomous cnidarian, the Portuguese Man o’ War. Because the sea slug stores stinging nematocysts from the cnidarian within its own tissues, a human picking up the sea slug … Continue reading

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Ancient DNA has revealed the kiwi’s closest relative isn’t the emu


Australia can no longer claim to the origins of the iconic New Zealand kiwi. The kiwi isn’t the first New Zealand icon Australia has controversially laid claim to – think Russell Crowe and the Pavlova. But ancient DNA has now proved that the kiwi officially didn’t originate in Australia and its closest relative isn’t the emu, as previously thought. Instead, scientists from the University of Adelaide have discovered its closest relative is the extinct Madagascan elephant bird – a two … Continue reading

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