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…

Wildlife

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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…

Changing Planet

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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,…

Changing Planet

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…

Wildlife

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…

Changing Planet

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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…

Wildlife

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”),…

Wildlife

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,…

Changing Planet