Animal fabulations

By ast | Stories about animals and multi-species relations

Ep. #99 - Kath Weston

Posted by dominic on Nov 9, 2017<p>Cymene and Dominic review this week’s blue wave and talk about becoming a more multispecies household. Then (10:57) …

Photography

We can learn from fruit fly brains to improve our search algorithms

Nature knows what it’s doing<p>The key to better computer algorithms might be found in the brains of fruit flies, researchers say.<p>Computers are always doing searches that involve comparing similar things. Think about when you go on YouTube to listen to Coldplay and it recommends a song by Radiohead. …

Machine Learning

Crows Are Doing the Best They Can

It’s time to give these resourceful, community-minded creatures some credit.<p>The first thing to know about crows is that a group of them is called a <i>murder</i>.<p>In America, crows count as a Halloween decoration, like skeletons and mini-gravestones. Homeowners perch plastic ones in their trees to instill …

Birds

Cows are loving, intelligent and kind – so should we still eat them?

Rosamund Young, farmer and author of The Secret Life of Cows, says she is really a ‘ghostwriter’ for her herd, with a mission to explain how they play games, babysit and even judge us. But that doesn’t mean she’s a vegetarian …<p>‘I’ll see who is in the mood for talking,” says Rosamund Young, …

Agriculture

Have we underestimated the emotional intelligence of animals?

Pablo Neruda may be best known today to English speakers for his romantic and sensual verses or through a portrayal in the 1994 film <i>Il Postino</i>, but …

Books

Why Is This Deer Licking This Fox?

A cuddly island mystery<p>When Chris Lowe first saw the buck stoop to lick the small, silver-speckled fox, he thought his eyes might be playing tricks on him. He’d just gotten back from a run on Santa Catalina, a remote Southern Californian island where he studies sharks, and came upon the two animals …

Florida Keys

Finally, the truth about just how manipulative your dog really is

Our pets have specific expressions they reserve for humans, it’s been revealed. But as a dog owner, I have to say that news comes as no surprise to me<p>Sitting at my desk, I stealthily peel open a packet of biscuits, hardly daring to breathe as I carefully reach inside. Even as my fingers close …

Criminal Law

Simple Bacteria Offer Clues to the Origins of Photosynthesis

Studies of the energy-harvesting proteins in primitive cells suggest that key features of photosynthesis might have evolved a billion years earlier …

Biology

Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say<p>The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked …

Bees

The Loudest Underwater Sound Ever Recorded Has No Scientific Explanation

In 1997, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered an unusual, ultra-low-frequency sound emanating from a point off the southern coast of Chile. It was the loudest unidentified underwater sound ever recorded, detected by hydrophones 5,000 miles apart. It lasted for one minute …

NOAA

How the Benzene Tree Polluted the World

The organic compounds that enabled industrialization have unintended, long-lasting consequences for the planet’s life.<p>Deep in the Mariana Trench, at depths lower than the Rockies are high, rests a tin of reduced-sodium Spam.<p>NOAA scientists caught sight of it last year near the mouth of the …

Organic Products

'Hero' dog Dave rescues family from sea at Hayling Island

Dave the dog is being hailed a hero after helping to save a family who got into difficulty in the sea off Hayling Island beach.<p>Nicola's 14-year-old daughter and 19-year-old niece both were being swept out to sea at the entrance to Langstone harbour. Nicola jumped in to help, but got into trouble …

Dogs

Should We Kill Animals to Save Them?

Trophy hunting fees help fund conservation. Critics say the benefits are exaggerated and that killing big game animals is wrong.<p><b>Elephants kept appearing in wrinkled herds, loitering near the dusty pans, in search of water. With the September temperature pushing a hundred degrees at midday, the</b> …

Wildlife

Octlantis: the underwater city built by octopuses

The discovery of aquatic architecture has led scientists to compare the behaviour of cephalopods to humans – but octopus city life is no utopia<p>If animals are our other, there is nothing quite so other as the octopus. It is the alien with whom we share our planet, a coeval evolutionary life form …

Australia

How a photographer snapped this tragic photo of a seahorse lugging a Q-tip

“I spend a lot of time underwater all over the world, and I see trash and debris and human waste all over the place.”<p>When nature photographer Justin Hofman was out snorkeling off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa last year, he didn’t know he was going to stumble upon what could be the …

Fish

Bats crash into buildings because smooth surfaces trick their echolocation

It’s like a mirror<p>Scientists have figured out why bats crash into buildings: smooth, vertical surfaces like window panes throw off their navigation systems, basically keeping them from “seeing” those obstacles.<p>The findings, published this week in the journal <i>Science</i>, help explain why injured or dead …

Genetically Modified Moths Come to New York

A diamondback moth with altered DNA is being tested to control pests on cabbages.<p>Earlier this spring, Anthony Shelton found himself planting a cabbage patch with members of his lab in upstate New York.<p>“We’re A to Z here,” says Shelton, who is an entomologist at Cornell University. If “A” is …

Agriculture

We inhale up to 10 billion mold spores daily; here’s why you haven’t died yet | Ars Technica

Hint: It’s not because our immune systems carry out mass fungi-cide.<p>Humans inhale somewhere between 1,000 and 10 billion mold spores on an average …

Biology

The truth about the brutal dairy industry will put you off cow's milk

Vegans understand there's no such thing as humane milk - what happens to cows is disgraceful.<p>Normally on dairy farms it's the harrowing cries of baby …

Unified theory of evolution

Darwin’s theory that natural selection drives evolution is incomplete without input from evolution’s anti-hero: Lamarck<i>By Michael Skinner</i>Read at Aeon

Genetics

Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness

For several years, I’ve led tree walks in Washington, D.C. I start by asking participants who they are and why they want to spend precious hours looking at trees. My students are nearly all highly educated, successful people who work impressive jobs, speak multiple languages and effortlessly …

Gardening

The Looming Consequences of Breathing Mold

Flooding means health issues that unfold for years.<p>The flooding of Houston is a health catastrophe unfolding publicly in slow motion. Much of the country is watching as 50 inches of water rise around the chairs of residents in nursing homes and submerge semitrucks. Some 20 trillion gallons of water …

EPA

What Ligers, Grolar Bears, and Mules Show Scientists About Evolution

In 2006, a hunter shot what he thought was a polar bear in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Closer examination, however, revealed brown patches …

Evolution

Animals Need Commute Routes in Human Habitats

Nonhuman species are facing a loss of connectivity that threatens their daily and seasonal movements.<p>To get from his house on the eastern side of the St. Lawrence River to his lab at Montreal’s McGill University on the flanks of the city’s namesake Mount Royal, Andrew Gonzalez has an easy commute. …

Ecology

Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution

Hybrids, once treated as biological misfits, have been the secret saviors of many animal species in trouble. Reconciling that truth with conservation …

Why Do Humans Talk to Animals If They Can’t Understand?

The tendency to converse with dogs, cats, and hamsters ultimately says more about people than it does about their pets.<p>“Do you think it’s weird that I tell Nermal I love her multiple times a day?”<p>My sister’s question was muffled, her face stuffed in the fur of her six-month-old kitten (named for …

Pets

Fish mistaking plastic debris in ocean for food, study finds

Behavioural evidence suggests marine organisms are not just ingesting microplastics by accident but actively seeking them out as food<p>Fish may be actively seeking out plastic debris in the oceans as the tiny pieces appear to smell similar to their natural prey, new research suggests.<p>The fish confuse …

Oceans

How Humans Turned a Sea Snake to the Dark Side

An Australian snake may have evolved all-black scales to cope with pollution.<p>The wings of the peppered moth are usually white with black speckles—a pattern that renders them invisible against the bark of a typical tree. But in the early 19th century, the trunks of English trees became jacketed in …

Biological Species

Scientists de-bug pig genome in preparation for farming organ donors | Ars Technica

Researchers used flashy gene editing tools to inactivate old, lingering pig retroviruses.<p>After a thorough antivirus scan, de-bugged pigs are a step …