4 March, 2014
The squid uses the light emitted by the bacteria to obscure its silhouette during its nocturnal wanderings of the moonlit ocean, which helps it avoid being spotted by predators. In return, the squid provides the bacteria with sugars and other nutrients (via A twist in the tail | eLife)

The squid uses the light emitted by the bacteria to obscure its silhouette during its nocturnal wanderings of the moonlit ocean, which helps it avoid being spotted by predators. In return, the squid provides the bacteria with sugars and other nutrients (via A twist in the tail | eLife)

17 February, 2014

The present study compared the ability of romantic couples and strangers to communicate emotions solely via touch. Results showed that both strangers and romantic couples were able to communicate universal and prosocial emotions, whereas only romantic couples were able to communicate the self-focused emotions envy and pride.

The effect of relationship status on communicating… [Cogn Emot. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI

13 February, 2014

Although the primary function of mating is gamete transfer, male ejaculates contain numerous other substances that are produced by accessory glands and transferred to females during mating. Studies with several model organisms have shown that these substances can exert diverse behavioural and physiological effects on females, including altered longevity and reproductive output, yet a comprehensive synthesis across taxa is lacking.

The influence of male ejaculate qua… [Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI

3 February, 2014

The larval microbiota clearly simplifies and reorganizes during metamorphosis; thus, structural changes in a butterfly’s bacterial community parallel those in its own morphology.

PLOS ONE: Metamorphosis of a Butterfly-Associated Bacterial Community

3 February, 2014

We conclude that individual signatures seem to be advantageous in terms of managing group movements. Giant otters might additionally benefit from discriminating individuals within their social group, where kin recognition is insufficient to identify equally related individuals that cooperate in hunting and rearing of the young.

Vocal individuality in cohesion calls of giant otters, Pteronura brasiliensis

26 January, 2014

The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved new names for ten craters on Mercury: Barney, Berlioz, Calder, Capote, Caruso, Ensor, Giambologna, Lennon, Remarque, and Vieira da Silva.

Ten New Crater Names Approved on Mercury - USGS Astrogeology Hot Topics

26 January, 2014

Such a massive reorganization of atmospheric convection, which we define as an extreme El Niño, severely disrupted global weather patterns, affecting ecosystems4, 5, agriculture6, tropical cyclones, drought, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather events worldwide. Potential future changes in such extreme El Niño occurrences could have profound socio-economic consequences. Here we present climate modelling evidence for a doubling in the occurrences in the future in response to greenhouse warming

Increasing frequency of extreme El Nino events due to greenhouse warming : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group

11 January, 2014

Many species are capable of using observational learning to copy another’s goal-directed action. Rats can learn to run a maze by observing another rat (Zentall and Levine, 1972). Some birds socially learn each other’s songs (Zentall, 2004). Guppy fish can socially learn foraging innovations (Laland and Reader, 1999). Wild macaques learn to wash sand off sweet potatoes by watching other macaques (Kawamura, 1959). Both capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees learn to use tools by watching conspecifics (Fragaszy and Visalberghi, 1989; Inoue-Nakamura and Matsuzawa, 1997)

What can other animals tell us about human social cognition? An evolutionary perspective on reflective and reflexive processing

11 January, 2014

It is important to remember that all life on earth has been evolving for the same amount of time and the phylogenic tree has no “top.” Differences in function represent adaptation to different niches, not higher or lower position in a scala naturae.

What can other animals tell us about human social cognition? An evolutionary perspective on reflective and reflexive processing

8 January, 2014

"Dot, thank you very much for agreeing to see me."
My pleasure. Actually, I can’t see you that well, but it is a pleasure to smell you (ultrasonic laugh).

"An Audience with Dot"

8 January, 2014

A full account of behavioral development in rats must include the ontogeny of both individual and group behavior. Most of our accumulated knowledge, however, pertains to individual ontogenesis. Group behavior and its development are readily seen in the huddling behavior of rat pups. A rat huddle is an entity with characteristics and capabilities distinct from those of the individuals that comprise it. The huddle is a natural context for acquiring olfactory preferences for species odors.

Huddling by rat pups: Ontogeny of individual and group behavior - Alberts - 2006 - Developmental Psychobiology - Wiley Online Library

23 December, 2013

Directly across the road, a mammoth boar rises when he sees us coming. He lumbers over, either to say hello or to shoo us away from his harem; in a hutch, three sows are sleeping soundly. “He’s a pretty busy guy,” says Haney proudly, stepping over the wire to rub his back. The boar, its tan bristles caked in dirt, shuts its eyes and submits. He’ll likely live to a ripe old age, and the sows he mates with will be put down humanely and butchered for sausage at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The farm’s pork will cost more than the pork at Key Food, but that isn’t the worst thing in the world. Maybe we’ll eat less of it and cook it at home, instead of gorging our kids on fast food. Like the livestock we raise, we’ve grown fat and sick, dependent on a bitches’ brew of drugs. We’ve got a choice to make, and it only means our lives: We can treat our animals better and heal our bodies in the bargain, or become the last of the planet’s finite resources gone hopelessly to seed.

Animal Cruelty Is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat | Rolling Stone

9 December, 2013

Self-generated thoughts unrelated to ongoing activities, also known as “mind-wandering,” make up a substantial portion of our daily lives. Reports of such task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) predict both poor performance on demanding cognitive tasks and blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) activity in the default mode network (DMN). However, recent findings suggest that TUTs and the DMN can also facilitate metacognitive abilities and related behaviors

Frontiers | The balanced mind: the variability of task-unrelated thoughts predicts error-monitoring | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience