Carrie Arnold

A swordfish’s “sword” is its most prominent feature, but scientists have only now discovered the unusual properties that keep the sword strong and ready to slash. A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the fish have an unusual way to repair their bone, keeping it strong and stiff. Billfish like marlin...

A lion might be the king of the jungle, but in the urban jungle, it’s all about the raccoon. Raccoons that live in cities or suburbs seem to be more resourceful than their rural kin, according to preliminary research by Suzanne MacDonald, a psychology professor at York University near Toronto and a National Geographic Committee for...

When a bird hits turbulence while flying, it can’t turn on the “fasten seatbelt” sign. Instead, new research shows that it tucks its wings to stabilize its flight. Scientists were studying the flight of a captive Eurasian steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) when they noticed a curious behavior. While soaring, the bird would often briefly fold its wings...

Climbing a sand dune is no easy task, even for the most nimble of humans—yet some snakes can climb them with ease. Now, a new study of sidewinders and robotic versions of the snakes has discovered the secret to this amazing ability in the reptile‘s slither. The finding may pave the way for better robots that...

Like a major league pitcher throwing a baseball, archerfish aim a powerful jet of water at their prey—and they do it by changing the shapes of their mouths, a new study says. Previously, researchers knew simply that the rain forest fish squirted water at their intended victims, knocking the bugs or small animals off their perches and...

Yawning isn’t a lone wolf phenomenon. New research shows that when one wolf yawns, a packmate often does too. Watching a pack of wolves at the Tama Zoological Park outside Tokyo last year, Japanese researchers found that the sight of a wolf yawning often triggered yawning in other wolves. And the more time the wolves spent together,...

Hummingbirds feel the sweet lure of nectar, but they taste it in the most unexpected of ways. This group of feathered friends doesn’t have a sweet taste receptor, which means they shouldn’t be able to taste sweet at all. But a new study published Thursday in Science reveals that hummingbirds have repurposed their umami receptor (which...

When climbing a tree, a snake thinks “safety first,” according to new research published Tuesday in Biology Letters.  Instead of gripping the tree with just enough force to keep from sliding back down, snakes overcompensate and grip with a force that far exceeds what’s necessary. Researchers think that in doing this, snakes are choosing between getting up the tree...

Swarms of jellyfish that have appeared recently in the Pacific Northwest and the United Kingdom are not unusual, but may signal an ocean out of balance, experts say. This summer, huge numbers of blue Velella velella have been washing onto beaches of the Pacific Northwest, where they die and decompose into cellophane-like corpses. The East Coast isn’t...

Forget talking horses like Mister Ed—when it comes to horse communication, the ears have it.  A new study revealed that a horse’s large, highly mobile ears can help tell another horse where to direct its attention, which may help the observing animals locate food and evade predators. As one of the first studies to examine communication...

When a peacock struts his stuff, our attention immediately turns to his elaborate plumage with its colorful eyespots. Why and how these dazzling “eyes” evolved has been a mystery—until now. A new detailed analysis of peacocks and other related birds has found that eyespots evolved to please the ladies—and that the spots have disappeared and...

One of the few things older than the battle of the sexes is the origin of the sexes. How sexes evolved in the first place has been a lasting mystery in biology. Thanks to some transgender algae, scientists may have cracked this evolutionary whodunit. A simple trick of genetic engineering forced female Volvox carteri algae to...

Scientists have discovered a “bizarre” parasite from the Jurassic era that really sucked. An international team of researchers recently described this 165-million-year-old fossilized fly larvae that they found in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northeastern China once studded with volcanoes and freshwater lakes. They named the species Qiyia jurassica (“Qiyia” is derived from the Chinese word for “strange”),...

In gaining their taste for blood, vampire bats may have nearly lost their ability to taste bitter. A new study in Proceedings of the Royal Academy B reveals that vampire bats, unlike nearly all other mammals, have a significantly reduced ability to taste bitter compounds. Bitter tastes can be unpleasant, but—because many toxic compounds taste bitter—they...

For the first time, scientists have documented how lionfish use their pointed, venomous fins to hunt prey together. “Cooperation requires high cognition, but fish have traditionally been perceived as being at the bottom” of the cognition scale, said the study‘s lead author, Oona Lonnstedt, a graduate student in marine biology at James Cook University in Queensland,...