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Parakeets can catch yawns from their neighbors


A yawn can spread from parakeet to parakeet, even when the two aren't nuzzling noses.

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Humans and dogs aren't the only ones that can pass along yawns. They appear to be contagious among parakeets, too.

Videos taken in 2012 of budgie flocks suggested that yawns and stretches spread among the birds. A new study now shows that when one Melopsittacus undulatus budgerigar, or budgie, yawns another in the next cage follows suit relatively soon after. Watching a video of a budgie yawning also trigged the behavior, offering evidence that it is contagious in the birds, researchers report May 27 in Animal Cognition.

Budgies are the first nonmammal species to exhibit contagious yawning in experiments and the fifth identified to date, joining chimpanzees, domesticated dogs, a type of Sprague–Dawley rat and humans.

"Yawning in response to sensing or thinking about the action in others may represent a primitive form of empathy," the researchers note. As a result, they say, budgies could be a good test animal to get at the roots of our ability to share much more than yawns.

Health,, Physiology

Mice grow a thinner skin during long stays in space

By Meghan Rosen 9:56am, May 28, 2015
Mice that spent three months in space had thinner skin and extra hair growth compared with rodents that were grounded on Earth.
Climate,, Earth

Everest could lose most of its ice by 2100

By Thomas Sumner 6:00am, May 27, 2015
The Everest region of the Himalayas could lose 73 to 96 percent of its ice by 2100, new research predicts.
Planetary Science

NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa

By Christopher Crockett 4:54pm, May 26, 2015
NASA has selected nine instruments to fly on a future spacecraft to Jupiter’s ice-covered moon Europa.
Genetics,, Science & Society

White House hits pause on editing human germline cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 4:05pm, May 26, 2015
The White House has hit pause, for now, on clinical experiments that could alter the human germ line.
Climate,, Earth

Once-stable Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, May 21, 2015
A group of glaciers in Antarctica that were once stable started rapidly melting in 2009, new research shows.

Crows safeguard sticks to speed future food-finding forays

By Ashley Yeager 8:00am, May 20, 2015
New Caledonian crows safeguard the sticks they use to find food. As the risk of losing the tool increases, the more protective the birds become.

Broken bones heal with young blood, how remains a mystery

By Meghan Rosen 11:00am, May 19, 2015
Blood from young mice rejuvenates bones of elderly mice, but how it works remains a mystery.
Planetary Science

Boulders balance on tiny tips as comet 67P zooms through space

By Christopher Crockett 4:38pm, May 18, 2015
Three boulders on comet 67P resemble balancing rocks that are seen on Earth.
Toxicology,, Health

E-cigarette flavorings may harm lungs

By Beth Mole 3:00pm, May 18, 2015
Certain e-cigarette flavors, such as banana pudding, may damage lung tissue

A firm grip may predict risk of death better than blood pressure

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 9:00am, May 18, 2015
The strength of people’s grip could predict how likely they are to die if they develop cardiovascular or other diseases.
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