Animal fabulations

By ast | Stories about animals and multi-species relations

Are Cities Making Animals Smarter?

A mysterious wild cat in Sri Lanka may hold a clue.<p>The goldfish were the first to vanish. Every so often, a few would go missing overnight from the office’s tiny outdoor pond. But goldfish were cheap, so no one in the building—an environmental nonprofit in the bustling, sweaty center of Colombo, …

Sri Lanka

Orca mother keeps her dead calf afloat in extraordinary display of grief

Her calf is dead but an orca mother has been spotted in a heartbreaking exhibition of maternal care - or grief - gently trying to keep her offspring afloat.<p>As the carcass sinks in the water she has been gently using her forehead to prop it out of the water and nudge it onwards in choppy seas for …

Animals

Humans Have Unleashed a ‘Landscape of Fear’

By killing the biggest animals, we’ve allowed smaller and more vulnerable species to remodel the terrain.<p>The more humans have flourished, the more the biggest animals have not. We have always hunted large mammals, downsizing the fauna of whatever continent we happen to visit. Mammoths, woolly …

South Africa

Dingoes Have Changed the Actual Shape of the Australian Desert

The canine’s presence seems to set off an ecological ripple effect.<p>Stretching across some of the most remote, arid places on Earth is one of humanity’s largest built objects: the “dog fence,” a nearly 3,500-mile-long barrier erected to keep wild dingoes away from the sheep that graze on some of …

National Parks

Salamander’s Genome Guards Secrets of Limb Regrowth

With a fully sequenced genome in hand, scientists hope they are finally poised to learn how axolotls regenerate lost body parts.

Biology

Some monkeys in Panama may have just stumbled into the Stone Age

Another non-human primate has entered the Stone Age – the fourth type known to have done so. One population of white-faced capuchins living in Panama …

Crow vending machine skills 'redefine intelligence'

<b>A small South Pacific island is home to a crow with remarkable abilities that have scientists hooked.</b><p>New Caledonian crows make and use tools - including a kind of fishing hook.<p>They can solve complex problems and have even been recorded capturing grubs by repeatedly poking them with a stick until …

The Mysterious Microbes in the Sky

Scientists are just beginning to understand how microscopic organisms that rise out of the ocean can help manage global temperatures.<p>It’s well known that the human gut is a thriving bacterial ecosystem—not to mention the skin, lungs, and various other parts of the body. But the breadth and depth of …

Biology

How crows can use a vending machine

New Caledonian crows can recreate tools from memory, according to a study, potentially allowing them to improve their own tools over time.<p>Watch how Emma the crow creates the currency required to operate a vending machine.<p>Read more.

Crafty Crows Can Build Tools From Memory

Scientists have discovered yet another reason to never get on a crow's bad side. According to new research reported by Gizmodo, members of at least …

The Mysterious ‘Jumping Gene’ That Appears 500,000 Times in Human DNA

Its segments make up 17 percent of our genome, but scientists are only just starting to understand what it does.<p>For years, Miguel Ramalho-Santos tried to convince researchers in his lab to study a segment of DNA he personally thought was quite extraordinary: LINE1. It’s repeated half a million …

Genetics

Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication

"The Gorilla Foundation is sad to announce the passing of our beloved Koko," the research center says, informing the world about the death of a gorilla who fascinated and elated millions of people with her facility for language.<p>Koko, who was 46, died in her sleep Tuesday morning, the Gorilla …

Robin Williams

Get ready for the 'internet of cows': Farmers use technology to shake up agriculture

MONTREAL — Get ready for the “internet of cows.”<p>Generations of farmers have relied on knowledge and family expertise to grow food, but the sector is …

Where have all our insects gone? | Environment | The Guardian

We appear to be making tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life. If we lose insects, it all collapses<p>When Simon Leather was a student in the 1970s, he took a summer job as a postman and delivered mail to the villages of Kirk Hammerton and Green Hammerton in North Yorkshire. He recalls his …

Insects

Humans Are Inadvertently Forcing Animals Under Cover of Darkness

This study represents the first effort to quantify the global effects of human activity on the daily activity patterns of wildlife (via Jamie …

If you wrong a raven, it will remember

These bitter ravens are animals after our own heart<p>Don’t try to wrong a raven, not even once. It’s not going to forget and it’s probably going to shun you for a long time.<p>When it comes to animal personalities, there are dogs, which are loyal and usually love you no matter what. And on the other …

Ravens

AI that counts and identifies wildlife could be a game-changer for ecologists

Despite how much they know about the natural world, ecologists and wildlife experts sit atop a treasure trove of unexamined information. They’re …

Funniest Wild Animal Photos Of The 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Some seem to be having a whale of a time. Others, grinning for the camera, or caught in “gotcha” embarrassing moment. Yet, although they all seem so “human,” they are wild animals immortalized in photos for the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.<p>A demure lemur covering its mouth in surprise, a …

Wildlife

‘Coyote colonization’: Why this canine is spreading fast across North America

Since the 1900s, coyotes have “dramatically expanded” across North America. The canine species is found in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces, …

Meet the latest recruit to the UK flood defence team: the beaver

Villagers in the Forest of Dean back plans to release a beaver family to protect their homes by damming waterways<p>Beavers could be put to work building dams to stop a village from flooding in the Forest of Dean, in what would be the first such scheme on government land.<p>The Forestry Commission has …

Predators Bouncing Back from Extinction Are Showing Up in Unexpected Places

This is more than just a comeback.<p>It’s the height of the Anthropocene epoch, a geological time period defined by world-altering human activity. …

The Shellfish Gene

One strange piece of mobile DNA has spread itself throughout the oceans, claiming real estate in the genomes of clams, fish, and more.<p>In the late 1970s, scientists noticed that soft-shell clams from Maine were dying from a strange kind of leukemia. Large, cannonball-shaped cancer cells would fill …

Biology

Researchers teach AI to think like dogs and find out what they know about the world

They say AI trained on dog behavior could be useful for teaching robots<p>What can artificial intelligence learn from dogs? Quite a lot, say researchers from the University of Washington and Allen Institute for AI. They recently trained neural networks to interpret and predict the behavior of canines. …

This Hummingbird's Tail Whistles, and No One's Sure Why

When the male birds perform their death-defying mating rituals, their feathers sing. But the obvious explanation doesn't make sense.<p>In early spring, people walking through the deserts of California might be able to hear a high-pitched whistle. That noise comes from a male Costa’s hummingbird, but …

Birds

Red squirrel bridge to be built at Anglesey's Plas Newydd

<b>A 25ft-high red squirrel bridge will be built over a busy road in a bid to stop the animals being run over.</b><p>National Trust plans for the rope bridge over the A4080 at Llanfairpwll have been approved by Anglesey council.<p>The charity said tens of red squirrels were run over each year and this was part …

National Trust

The Fish That Makes Other Fish Smarter

By removing bloodsucking parasites, the cleaner wrasse improves the intellectual abilities of its clients.<p>It’s not easy for fish to clean themselves, without limbs or digits to scrub those hard-to-reach places. Fortunately for them, coral reefs come with cleaning stations.<p>At particular sites, an …

Fish

The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens

San Francisco<p>Johan Land has a life that stands out even among Silicon Valley’s tech elite: He’s the lead product manager at Waymo (formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project), a job that keeps him glued to computer screens and fixated on the future.<p>Excelling at his work, Land said, …

Silicon Valley

Mirrors have revealed something new about manta rays – and it reflects badly on us

As a shark biologist, I enjoy nothing more than going scuba diving with sharks in the wild. However, I realise it’s an immense privilege to do this as part of my work – and that for the vast majority of people experiencing the underwater world in such a way is simply not possible.<p>Nevertheless, even …

Manta Rays

Elephants have different personalities, just like us

In the Disney movie, Dumbo the flying elephant is a particularly shy, mischievous animal. In real life, elephants can’t flap their ears to fly—but, like Dumbo, they they do have distinct and complex personalities.<p>A paper published in Royal Society Open Science earlier this month shows that elephant …

Elephants