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  • News

    This parasitic cuckoo bird shows cheaters don’t always get ahead

    Cheating pays, sort of. But for a glossy blue-black bird with a bright yellow eye, cheating doesn’t outdo regular honest parenting.

    The greater ani, a type of cuckoo found from Panama to the Amazon Basin, usually starts out as a dutiful parent. Two or three male-female pairs typically build and fill a communal nest “like a big basket of eggs,” says behavioral ecologist Christina Riehl of...

    02/27/2019 - 15:22 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    A deer-sized T. rex ancestor shows how fast tyrannosaurs became giants

    A new dinosaur shows that even Tyrannosaurus rex had humble beginnings.

    Dubbed Moros intrepidus, or “the harbinger of doom,” the new species is one of the smallest tyrannosaurs yet discovered from the Cretaceous Period. Analyses of the animal’s fossilized leg show that the creature would have stood only 1.2 meters at the hip, and weighed an estimated 78 kilograms — about the size of a...

    02/21/2019 - 09:00 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Evolutionarily, grandmas are good for grandkids — up to a point

    Grandmothers are great — generally speaking. But evolutionarily speaking, it’s puzzling why women past their reproductive years live so long.

    Grandma’s age and how close she lives to her grandchildren can affect those children’s survival, suggest two new studies published February 7 in Current Biology.  One found that, among Finnish families in the 1700s–1800s, the survival rate of young...

    02/07/2019 - 11:00 Evolution, Science & Society, Anthropology
  • News

    Giant pandas may have only recently switched to eating mostly bamboo

    When it comes to deciding what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, pandas have it easy: Bamboo, bamboo and more bamboo. But that wasn’t always the case.

    Although modern giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chow almost exclusively on bamboo in the mountain forests of central China, these bears’ diet was much broader not so long ago, researchers report online January 31 in Current Biology....

    01/31/2019 - 11:00 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • News

    Male birds’ sexy songs may not advertise their brains after all

    After some 20 years of theorizing, a scientist is publicly renouncing the “beautiful hypothesis” that male birds’ sexy songs could indicate the quality of their brains.

    Behavioral ecologist Steve Nowicki of Duke University called birdsong “unreliable” as a clue for choosy females seeking a smart mate, in a paper published in the March 2018 Animal Behaviour. He will also soon publish...

    01/25/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    A four-legged robot hints at how ancient tetrapods walked

    Orobates pabsti lived between 280 million and 290 million years ago, but it was pretty advanced at doing the locomotion.

    Using computer simulations, re-created skeletons, fossil trackways and a walking robot dubbed the OroBOT, scientists found that this ancient four-footed creature had a surprisingly efficient gait. The result suggests that developing a more advanced way of walking may...

    01/16/2019 - 13:27 Paleontology, Evolution