Biology


- Ketton Quarry, Rutland: Pliny the Elder believed that hawks sprinkled sap from hawkweeds into their eyes. But the plant’s true hawkish behaviour was only recently discovered O ld limestone quarries are fantastic places for nature, and here at Ketton the Wildlife Trust reserve fills the space left by stone extracted in the 1930s. Next door there is light industry, on what would have been the quarry floor, and then beyond that the vast modern excavations and tall cement works that dominate the landscape. The weather is balmy as we clamber on the eroding slopes, picking out little clasped ... [Read More]


- Sydney  — Rescuers raced to save nearly 200 whales stuck in a remote Australian harbor on Tuesday, hoping to minimize the death toll of a mass stranding which had already killed 90. Officials said at least 25 of the mammals had been freed so far. A large pod of long-finned pilot whales is currently stuck on a sandbar in Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania's rugged and sparsely populated west coast, scientists said. About 60 people — including volunteers and local fish-farm workers — are involved in the rescue attempt. Government marine biologist Kris Carlyon said "about a third" of the 270 ... [Read More]

Source: cbsnews.com

- Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Botswana's government determined that toxic algae was responsible for the deaths of more than 350 elephants in the African country earlier this year. Cyril Taolo, acting director of Botswana Wildlife and National Parks, said Monday that the elephants in the Seronga area in southern Africa died from a neurological disorder after drinking water tainted by a toxic algae bloom. Taolo added, however, that no other species seemed to be affected by the contaminated water and that scavengers such as hyenas and vultures who were seen feeding on the carcasses of the affected elephants ... [Read More]

Source: upi.com

- A wildlife photographer has captured spectacular images of one of the last Sumatran rhinos left on Earth. Joel Sartore, who has photographed more than 10,000 species around the globe as part of his Photo Ark project for National Geographic, snapped several photos of a Sumatran rhino named Pahu in Indonesia that have been released on September 22 in honor of World Rhino Day. Pahu was born in the wild but Sartore photographed the animal at the Sumatran Rhino Rescue (SRC) program, where she has been brought to take part in an essential breeding program aimed at saving her species. Official ... [Read More]

Source: newsweek.com

- Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Scientists have added another species to the list of birds that use sounds made with their feathers to communicate. The male fork-tailed flycatcher, a passerine bird species native to the American tropics, creates unique sounds by fluttering its feathers at high frequencies, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology . "Back in the 1960's, scientists noticed that they produce a distinctive sound only during a particular flight display," researcher Christopher Clark , told UPI in an email. "And those species of flycatcher in ... [Read More]

Source: upi.com

- One in five maple species is threatened in the wild, according to the first full assessment of extinction risks. Known for the vivid colour of their autumn leaves, the trees are popular in parks and gardens. But in their natural habitats, they face a myriad of threats, including unsustainable logging, climate change, deforestation and forest fires. Botanists are calling for urgent action to protect rare maple trees. And they say seeds should be stored as an insurance policy against extinction. The assessment of all 158 species of maple is part of an effort to map the conservation status of ... [Read More]

Source: bbc.com

- Opposite-sex friendships can have non-romantic benefits. And not just for people, but for our primate cousins, too. A 35-year study of 542 baboons finds that males that have close female friends have higher rates of survival. Previous studies have assumed that males befriend females to protect their offspring, or to boost their chances of mating later on. But the new study points to an additional benefit: female friends may help them live a longer life. Close bonds with the opposite sex can have non-romantic benefits. And not just for people, but for our primate cousins, too. Drawing on 35 ... [Read More]


- Repairing Humanity’s Relationship With the Planet Will Be Cheaper Than Continuing to Let It Slide The choice is simple: accept devastating wildfires, extreme weather, species loss, and disease outbreaks or secure a sustainable future at a fraction of the cost. EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re making some of our coronavirus pandemic coverage free for nonsubscribers. You can read those articles here and subscribe to our newsletters here EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re making some of our coronavirus pandemic coverage free for nonsubscribers. You can read those articles here and subscribe to our newsletters ... [Read More]


- GABORONE, Botswana — Months after hundreds of elephants were found dead in a concentrated area near Botswana's famed Okavango swamps, raising fears that they had been intentionally poisoned, the southern African country 's government said test results on samples collected from the carcasses pointed instead to a naturally occurring toxin called cyanobacteria. The official death toll stands at 330, with the fatalities occurring between late April and June. Botswana has the world’s largest population of elephants, around 130,000. Their growing numbers have been lauded by conservationists, ... [Read More]


- One of the world's most deadly spiders may have developed its extremely toxic venom as a way of protecting itself while on its annual sex march. The venom of Australian funnel-web spiders contains delta-hexatoxins, which are the peptides that makes the venom dangerous for humans and primates. There have been 13 recorded deaths, though none since antivenoms became available in the 1980s. It is estimated 30 to 40 people are bitten every year. The venom attacks the nervous system, blocking nerve impulses to the muscles and causing paralysis of the entire nervous system. This leads to a range of ... [Read More]

Source: newsweek.com

- A new model suggests the warming climate will boost transmission of the West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses in parts of the United States where temperatures are currently below the insects’ optimum range. West Nile virus, which mosquitoes — as principal vectors — transmit to humans, first arrived in North America in 1999. Since then, it has become the most common mosquito-borne infection in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Scientific models at Stanford University, CA, now predict the virus will spread more easily in cooler parts of the country as average summer temperatures ... [Read More]


- NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In the early 2000s, a harvest of pine trees on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau led to a remarkable discovery. Once sunlight hit the ground, the seeds and rootstock of native grasses and wildflowers that had lain dormant for decades began to spring to life. The area was originally part of vast patchwork of Southern grasslands that today hang on only in tiny remnants, many times in rights-of-way next to roads or under power lines. They have often been an afterthought in conservation, if they were even thought of at all. But that is starting to change. In Tennessee, ... [Read More]

Source: apnews.com

- Who are we? Where did we come from? How did we get here? Throughout the ages, humans have sought answers to these questions, pursuing wisdom through religion, philosophy, and eventually science. Evolutionary analyses published by Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE) allow us to peer into the mirror and better understand ourselves as a species, bringing us closer than ever to uncovering the answers to these long-held questions. GBE's latest virtual issue on human genetics highlights some of the most exciting research published in the journal within the last year and a half, demonstrating the ... [Read More]


- Thousands of migrating birds have died, perhaps starved by drier conditions related to climate change or by having to fly inland to avoid wildfire smoke. This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is part of the collaboration. Thousands of migrating birds have inexplicably died in the southwestern US, in what ornithologists have described as a national tragedy that is likely related to the climate crisis. Flycatchers, swallows, and warblers are among the species “falling out of the sky” as part of a mass die-off across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and farther north into ... [Read More]

Source: wired.com

- Female whale sharks rule the oceans, reaching average lengths of 14 metres. When it comes to whale sharks, the female of the species is more lengthy than the male, scientists have discovered. This makes female whale sharks the world’s largest living fish , typically five metres longer than their male counterparts. Whale sharks – slow-moving filter feeders that can be found throughout the world’s tropical oceans – have previously been found to grow up to 18m long – about the length of a bendy bus. They’re classed as an endangered species , threatened by fishing and collisions with ... [Read More]


- Archaeologists in Saudi Arabia have discovered seven well-preserved footprints belonging to humans. Dated to around 120,000 years ago, these appear to be the oldest evidence of our species in the region. Prior to the last ice age, somewhere between 112,000 and 122,000 years ago, two humans, possibly three, walked south along the shore of an ancient lake in what is now the western Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia. The humans, as they crouched down to collect valuable freshwater, were not alone, as the lake had attracted elephants, horses, camels, and other animals desperate for a drink. Their ... [Read More]

Source: gizmodo.com