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Immigrants, they get the job done — eventually. Among dwarf mongooses, it takes newcomers a bit to settle into a pack. But once these immigrants become established residents, everyone in the pack profits, researchers from the University of Bristol in England report online December 4 in Current Biology.
Dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula) live in groups of around 10...
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Blue whales, it turns out, are a tad ambidextrous.
When hunting in deep water, the whales tend to be “right-handed,” lunging at krill while twisting 180 degrees or less onto their right side. But when gobbling up the tiny crustaceans near the surface, the whales tend to be lefties, launching themselves upward while performing a 360-degree barrel roll to the left,...
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The Aliens Among UsLeslie AnthonyYale Univ. Press, $30
Remote Bouvet Island, a tiny, glacier-smothered landmass in the South Atlantic rimmed by 500-meter-tall cliffs, has a notable distinction: It’s the only known spot on Earth, scientists say, that has zero invasive species. Every other place, and every person, on the planet is at least indirectly affected by one or more species...
Male mammoths really had to watch their steps. More than two-thirds of woolly mammoth specimens recovered from several types of natural traps in Siberia came from males, researchers report November 2 in Current Biology.
Paleogenomicist Patrícia Pečnerová of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm and her colleagues examined genomic data recovered from 98 mammoth bone, tooth,...
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SpinelessJuli BerwaldRiverhead Books, $27
Jellyfish have gotten a bad rap. In recent years, concerns about rising jellyfish populations in some parts of the world have mushroomed into headlines like “Meet your new jellyfish overlords.” These floating menaces are taking over the world’s oceans thanks to climate change and ocean acidification, the thinking goes, and soon waters will...
A new species of hermit crab discovered in the shallow waters of southern Japan has been enjoying the perks of living like a peanut worm. Like the worms, the 7- to 8-millimeter-long hermit crab uses corals as a covering, researchers report September 20 in PLOS ONE.
Other kinds of hermit crabs live in coral reefs, but typically move in and out of a series of mollusk shells as the crabs...
When nocturnal aardvarks start sunbathing, something’s wrong.
If the animals are desperate enough to bask like some cold, sluggish turtle, it’s because they’ve got the chills. Robyn Hetem, an ecophysiologist, has the body temperature data to prove it — collected from late 2012 into 2013, the hottest summer the arid Kalahari region in South Africa had seen in more than 30 years.
Earthworms are great for soil, right? Well, not always. In places where there have been no earthworms for thousands of years, foreign worms can wreak havoc on soils. And that can cause a cascade of problems throughout an area’s food web. Now comes evidence that invader worms in the Upper Great Lakes may be stressing the region’s sugar maples.
There are native earthworms in North America...
Speed has its limits — on the open road and the Serengeti. Midsize animals tend to be the speedsters, even though, in theory, the biggest animals should be the fastest. A new analysis that relates speed and body size in 474 species shows that the pattern holds for animals whether they run, fly or swim (see graphs below) and suggests how size becomes a liability.
This relationship between...
Anyone who’s had a sandwich stolen out of their hands by a gull at the beach knows firsthand how bold and aggressive these birds can be in their quest for food. But there are gulls that do far worse than steal your sandwich.
The absolute worst might be the kelp gulls that pick at the skin and blubber on the backs of Southern right whales off the coast of Argentina. The wounds caused by...