Move over, monarchs. The painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) now boasts the farthest known butterfly migration.
Though found across the world, the orange-and-brown beauties that live in Southern Europe migrate into Africa each fall, crossing the Sahara on their journey (SN Online: 10/12/16). But what happened after was a mystery because the butterflies disappeared. Researchers...
At some point eight to 10 years ago, some toads stowed away on a ship in Asia, possibly Ho Chi Minh City, and hitched a ride to Madagascar. Those invaders, Asian common toads, have been slowly spreading across the large island ever since.
The toad’s skin contains a toxin that kills nearly anything that tries to eat the amphibian. Scientists have been warning of the toad’s danger to...
In Central America’s rain-drenched forests, leaf-cutting ants collect pieces of leaves on which they grow fungi for food. But the rain can hit hard, especially for a small ant. When leaf-cutting ants sense an incoming shower, they hoof it back to their nests, says a study in the May Insectes Sociaux.
Researchers from Argentina, Mexico and Peru tested how one species of leaf-cutting ants...
About 99 million years ago, tiny frogs hopped through a wet, tropical forest — and an unlucky few ran afoul of some tree sap. Four newly described frog fossils, preserved in amber, offer the earliest direct evidence of ancient frogs living in a humid tropical clime — just as many modern amphibians do.
None of the frog fossils is complete, making it difficult to place the frogs within...
Narwhals are among the most elusive of whales. But for the first time, researchers have been able to eavesdrop on the creatures for days at a time as these unicorns of the sea dove, fed and socialized.
Biologist Susanna Blackwell and colleagues listened in on the clicks, buzzes and calls of the East Greenland narwhal (Monodon monoceros). The team’s findings, published June 13 in PLOS ONE...
A little brain can be surprisingly good at nothing. Honeybees are the first invertebrates to pass a test of recognizing where zero goes in numerical order, a new study finds.
Even small children struggle with recognizing “nothing” as being less than one, says cognitive behavioral scientist Scarlett Howard of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. But honeybees trained...
Conservationists are stuck in a catch-22: In trying to save some species, the would-be protectors may be giving the animals an evolutionary disadvantage. A new study describes how efforts to protect the endangered northern quoll, a spotted, kitten-sized marsupial native to Australia, by placing a population on a threat-free island may have actually undermined a key survival instinct.
Some dogs in China carry a mixed bag of influenza viruses. The discovery raises the possibility that dogs may be able to pass the flu to people, perhaps setting off a pandemic.
About 15 percent of pet dogs that went to the vet because of respiratory infections carried flu viruses often found in pigs, researchers report June 5 in mBio. Of the virus strains detected, three have recombined...
In 1918, a pandemic of Spanish flu killed as much as 5 percent of the world’s population. A hundred years later, scientists know much more about how to prevent and treat such diseases. But in some ways, the threat of a global outbreak is greater than ever. All it takes is one plane ride for a few localized cases of a disease to become an epidemic.
A new exhibit at the Smithsonian...
News in Brief
Earth’s earliest land-walking vertebrates didn’t paddle about in freshwater lakes or rivers. Instead, these four-footed creatures, which appeared about 375 million years ago, lived in the brackish waters of an estuary or delta, researchers report online May 30 in Nature.
Early tetrapods, such as Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, lived an amphibious existence between land and sea: They had...