This is a bumblebee landing on an iridescent target. Image credit: Karin Kjernsmo.

Study: Intense Iridescence Confuses Bumblebees

Although using flashy colors as camouflage may seem counterintuitive, iridescence obstructs the bumblebee’s ability to identify shape, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports. This is a bumblebee landing on an iridescent target. Image credit: Karin Kjernsmo. Iridescence is a taxonomically widespread and striking form of animal coloration which uses regular […]

Panoz-Brown et al show that rats remember a stream of multiple episodes and the order in which they occur by engaging hippocampal-dependent episodic memory replay; rats remember the order of events using episodic memory replay and that replay is part of long-term memory, resistant to interference, and hippocampal dependent. The discovery could help advance the development of new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Image credit: Panoz-Brown et al, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.006.

Non-Human Animals Can Mentally Replay Past Events: Study

A team of Indiana University researchers has reported the first evidence that non-human animals (rats) can replay a stream of multiple episodic memories. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. Panoz-Brown et al show that rats remember a stream of multiple episodes and the order in which they occur by engaging hippocampal-dependent episodic […]

The swamp sparrow (Melospiza georgiana). Image credit: Simon Pierre Barrette / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Swamp Sparrows Have Time-Honored Song Traditions, Study Shows

By faithfully copying the most popular songs, swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana) create time-honored song traditions that can be just as long-lasting as human traditions, according to a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications. In fact, song traditions in swamp sparrows often last hundreds of years, with some songs going back further than that. […]

Justine et al report new findings obtained mainly by citizen science in metropolitan France and overseas French territories in the Caribbean (Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint Barthélemy), South America (French Guiana), and Indian Ocean (La Réunion, Mayotte). Image credit: Jean-Lou Justine.

Giant Hammerhead Flatworms Invade France and Its Overseas Territories

An international team of researchers led by Dr. Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, has identified at least five species of invasive hammerhead flatworms living in metropolitan France, a few European countries, and overseas French territories in three continents. Justine et al report new findings obtained mainly by citizen science in metropolitan […]

The five newfound species of snail-eating snakes, from top left to bottom right: the Bev Ridgely’s snail-eater (Sibon bevridgelyi), male; the Bob Ridgely’s snail-eater (Dipsas bobridgelyi), male; the Klebba’s snail-eater (Dipsas klebbai), male; the Oswaldo Báez’ snail-eater (Dipsas oswaldobaezi), female; and the George Jett’s snail-eater (Dipsas georgejetti), male. Image credit: Arteaga et al, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.766.24523.

Scientists Discover Five New Species of South American Snail-Eating Snakes

An international team of researchers has discovered five new species of snail-eaters (tribe Dipsadini) living in the forests of Ecuador and Peru. The five newfound species of snail-eating snakes, from top left to bottom right: the Bev Ridgely’s snail-eater (Sibon bevridgelyi), male; the Bob Ridgely’s snail-eater (Dipsas bobridgelyi), male; the Klebba’s snail-eater (Dipsas klebbai), male; […]

Thioflavin S positive amyloid plaques in the hippocampus (left) and cortex of lab mice inoculated with the artificial human prion, rhuPrion. Image credit: Kim et al, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04584-z.

Scientists Synthesize First Artificial Human Prion

A team of scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has created the first artificial human prion. Thioflavin S positive amyloid plaques in the hippocampus (left) and cortex of lab mice inoculated with the artificial human prion, rhuPrion. Image credit: Kim et al, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04584-z. Human prions — proteins that have folded incorrectly […]

A spectral tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) feeding on a grasshopper in Tangkoko National Park, Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tarsiers have five chitinase genes to digest the high amount of chitin in their insectivorous diet, which likely represents the ancestral condition of all placental animals, including humans. Image credit: Quentin Martinez / University of California, Berkeley.

Common Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Was Insect-Eater: Study

Humans are known to have one functioning and three non-functioning chitinase genes — those that make an enzyme that digests the insect exoskeletal chitin. According to a new analysis of mammalian genomes, nearly all placental mammals have one of five different chitinase genes, though not all are functioning and some fragmentary; this suggests that the […]

A honeybee (Apis mellifera). Image credit: Vijaya Narasimha.

Study: Honeybees Understand Concept of Zero

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) has joined the ranks of dolphins, parrots, and primates, in demonstrating the ability to understand the concept of zero numerosity. The study appears in the journal Science. A honeybee (Apis mellifera). Image credit: Vijaya Narasimha. While intuitive to modern humans, the full understanding of zero is an advanced numerical concept that’s […]