A western lowlands gorilla named Koko, famous for having learned a simplified form of American Sign Language (ASL), died in her sleep at her Californian reserve earlier this week at the ripe old age of 46. The gorilla’s talent for communicating has intrigued primate researchers, but it was her human-like affection, intelligence, and love
If you ever find yourself staring directly into the jagged, gaping jaws of a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex, take a moment to observe its placid, composed tongue. Remarkably still, no? Despite what pop culture would have us believe about the wildly elongated, lashing tongues of these marvellous, extinct creatures, new research suggests the towering T.
This is what it looks like when a bear breaks into your home to steal M&M’s while you’re out. And we totally empathise with those candy cravings. Footage of the break-in was captured last week by security cameras set up in the home of Lane Sykes and Carole Scofield in South Lake Tahoe, California. The
Scientists have come up with a new way to figure out how much winter rainfall is going to occur in California – simply check out what was happening near New Zealand over the previous seasons. They’re calling it the New Zealand Index, and it’s more accurate than the previous method of predicting rainfall, which
The mystery of where manta rays keep their babies has started to unravel, with the lucky discovery of a rarely seen manta ray nursery. It’s off the coast of Texas, in the NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, where marine scientists have observed unprecedented numbers of juvenile manta rays.
Last week, the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern China experienced a massive rainstorm, complete with sea creatures allegedly falling from the sky amidst the buffeting winds and heavy rainfall. Residents took to social media with photos of this ‘seafood rain’ bounty, which included prawns and starfish splatted against car windscreens, and even a
At the height of North American summer, many plants are at their most dangerous. We don’t normally think of plants as particularly scary organisms. But this rather entertaining Reddit thread from 2016 will make you reconsider that assumption. “Botanists of Reddit, what are the scariest plants in the world?” user Zipzapadam asked. And Reddit
The DNA results are in for a mysterious wolf-like animal shot and killed in Montana in May. To nobody’s great surprise, it didn’t turn out to be some sort of mythical monster. But, contrary to the expectations of experts at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), it’s not a wolf-dog hybrid, either. The animal
The more we know about a volcano, the better we can predict when its next eruption will be. Now, scientists have come up with a new method of analysis, and the secret lies with an eerie phenomenon we can best describe as ‘volcano music’. The Cotopaxi volcano in central Ecuador has been pushing out sounds
If Hollywood wanted to make a movie about a horrifying plant invasion, giant hogweeds would make a great candidate for the lead role – they are absolutely massive, incredibly toxic, and readily spread wherever their seeds take root. Listed as a noxious weed in at least eight states, last week the giant hogweed (Heracleum
A lobster caught off the coast of Grand Manan Island, Canada has had a lucky escape from the seafood markets, thanks to a genetic quirk that has given it a unique colouration. Rather than the typical dark blue, orange, or green, the crustacean – appropriately named Lucky – is delicately tinted pastel blue and pink.
Ever since humanity split into dog and cat people, we’ve been arguing over which one of our beloved companions is a smarter species. This latest study mightn’t be the last word on the matter, but for those who think more neurons means more intelligence, it looks as if dogs stand out among carnivores for having
For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python. Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post. The field was about a half mile from her house, surrounded by cliffs, caves
A sloth’s life seems pretty sweet, right? You get to hang out in trees all day, munching on food, sleeping all the time, and moving real slow to blend in with your surroundings. For a sloth, Sunday is every day. Laziness is just the sloth way. While this might sound luxurious, scientists have revealed that
A growing number of mammals are switching to a nocturnal cycle and sleeping during the day, primarily to avoid contact with human beings, according to a new study. The research looked at 62 different species across the world, and noted that when humans were around, animals spent more time being active at night and less
Once upon a time, 99 million years ago, some tiny frogs in what is now Myanmar ended up having a pretty bad day – trapped in a golden sticky mess of tree sap. Over the years, that sap hardened, and today those frogs are the oldest we’ve ever found preserved in amber. The four
A type of chlorophyll discovered just a few years ago is pushing the limits of photosynthesis and the role this new pigment plays. Fresh research led by Imperial College London has identified a unique mix of biochemistry that not only has interesting applications for life here on Earth, but life on other planets as well.
A towering thundershower shot up off the coast of Gulf Shores, Alabama, on 17 July 2016. Rick Geiss was sitting on the beach in front of his condominium at Crystal Shores West when he snapped a photo with his iPhone. This week, he shared it with meteorologist Jacob Dunne of the Mobile NBC affiliate,
Scientists have collected the most detailed recordings of narwhals to date, displaying a charming range of click, squeak, and buzz vocalisations that will help researchers understand these ‘sea unicorns’ like never before. This information could help scientists predict how the East Greenland narwhals might be affected by an increase in human-made sounds in their
If Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano were to offer an apology for its chaos and destruction, it just might come in the form of a beautiful green mineral called olivine. Over the past months we’ve reported on devastating lava flows and bone-shattering boulders. Now it’s raining gems – a rare event that has geologists enthralled and the
They were first discovered on a beach in Santiago, Chile in 2013. And these gargantuan viruses are a far cry from your garden variety, sub-microscopic virus. Not only are the members of the Pandoravirus family stupidly huge, these microbes also have more genes than any virus has business carrying. Now, the discovery of three new
In life it often pays to keep a close eye on competitors and rivals. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, tells how US president Abraham Lincoln persuaded each of his political rivals to join his cabinet, thereby turning them into his allies. But the formation of alliances with potential competitors is not
At the end of last year, scientists discovered a small octopus city – dubbed Octlantis – a find that suggests members of the gloomy octopus species (Octopus tetricus) are perhaps not the isolated and solitary creatures we thought they were. Octlantis features dens made out of piles of sand and shells, and is home to
One of the best-known regions of the brain, the cerebellum accounts for just 10 percent of the organ’s total volume, but contains more than 50 percent of its neurons. Despite all that processing power, it’s been assumed that the cerebellum functions largely outside the realm of conscious awareness, instead coordinating physical activities like standing and
Welcome to the age of the urban rat. There are about 2 million New York City rats, a 2014 estimate suggested, which would mean the rodents in New York outnumber the humans in Philadelphia. Do not discount the power of gnawing teeth in aggregate — Cornell University scientists once calculated rats cause $19 billion in damage annually. Rats and
When it comes to bees, it seems that nothing really does matter. As shown in a paper published today, our research demonstrates that the honeybee can understand the quantitative value of nothing, and place zero in the correct position along a line of sequential numbers. This is the first evidence showing that an insect
Last week the corpse of a mysterious, 6-metre (20-foot) long sea creature washed up in Namibia, confusing experts over whether the remains belonged to a whale or a dolphin. Scientists have now identified the animal – and it’s a unique deep-diving species of whale that hasn’t been seen in Namibia since 2000. After measuring
If the elk of Yellowstone National Park had a spokeswoman, she would be working overtime trying to set the record straight about elk-human interactions: Despite the headlines, the average elk has a lot more to fear from the average human. There are, after all, myriad websites with details on how to kill the mostly docile woodland
This summer, the fifth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise will be on the big screen, reinforcing a love of dinosaurs that has been with many of us since childhood. There is something awe inspiring about the biggest, fiercest, and “deadest” creatures that have ever walked the planet. But the films have had an additional
A Texas man narrowly survived a venomous rattlesnake sinking its fangs into him – after he had already decapitated it with a shovel. According to local news station KIII-TV, Jennifer Sutcliffe and her husband Jeremy were working in their yard in Corpus Christi, South Texas on the weekend of May 27. While weeding, she spotted
When animals chat to each other, their interactions are far more human-like than you might expect. According to a comprehensive new study, many species take turns in their conversations, just like we do. This turn-taking has long been suggested as something that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but now researchers
Scientists have found what they think is the oldest animal footprint in the fossil record, uncovering incredibly ancient track marks imprinted in the dirt as far back as 550 million years ago. These trackways, preserved near burrows, were discovered in Dengying Formation – a rich fossil preserve in China’s south – and constitute the
A few clipped neuropeptides make all the difference between a chill honey bee and one that has an irritable need to shiv anything that moves. To discover what makes Africanised “killer bees” so hostile, scientists from University of São Paulo State in Brazil compared their neurochemistry with those of their domesticated relatives and found it
Lora Goff drove down Main Street in downtown Warrenton, Virginia, on her lunch break from a nearby law firm when she heard a rattling sound. The office manager looked down next to the steering wheel of her Cadillac SRX and saw a snake slithering out of the air vent. Trying to stay calm, she pulled
By the time the scientists had catalogued the last bone, they realized they might be staring at the discovery of a lifetime – the 70 percent intact fossil of a carnivorous creature as long as a telephone pole that may represent a new kind of dinosaur. But that is not all that they unearthed.
We’re all told we need to eat healthier and exercise more to combat obesity, but did you know that there’s also an obesity epidemic among pets, at least in the West? Between 39 and 59 percent of pet dogs in Europe, Australia and the US are estimated to be overweight or obese. In fact, obesity
Human eyes are not usually thought of as the best of the best in the animal kingdom. Cats can see really well in the dark, and some spiders have 12 eyes to stare back at you. But a new study suggests we should be pretty happy with our peepers, as the sharpness of our vision
Normally, its eyes are silver. But when the tiny Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) gets all worked up, the eyes turn pitch black as a warning for other guppies to rack off, scientists have discovered. And they had a fun time finding this out. Freshwater guppies – small, defenseless and popular as aquarium pets –
You probably take bananas for granted. In the United Kingdom, one in four pieces of fruit consumed is a banana and, on average, each Briton eats 10 kg of bananas per year; in the United States, that’s 12 kg, or up to 100 bananas. When I ask people, most seem to think bananas grow
In certain circles, including some of the ones I travel in, there’s great excitement about yesterday’s date. We won’t see its like again for another century. What makes it so special? The date – 1/6/181 – lines up with the first four digits of the golden ratio, a mathematical constant that’s roughly equal to 1.618 and is commonly
In top form, Trevor is a dashing black-and-brown dachshund with a long, slender body, stout little legs and droopy ears. So when his owners found him blown up like a balloon to three times his normal size, they were understandably alarmed. “When we picked him up, he felt full of air — because he
A rare and endangered blue whale has been spotted in the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, the Egyptian Ministry of Environment has reported, the first time that the largest of all the animals has been seen in these waters. Blue whales are spread throughout most of the world’s oceans, but typically steer
It is difficult to refer to what dogs, as a collective, like and dislike and how they behave. Just as humans do, dogs all have their own personalities and learned preferences and so can differ dramatically in how they approach life and what they take from it. In our book, Making Dogs Happy, we
For several weeks Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano has been shooting rocks, ash, and plumes of heated gas into the sky. Sooner or later all this activity was bound to have some sort of effect on the local weather. Scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have noticed a peculiar type of cloud associated with volcanic eruptions
Here’s a fact you should know about the world in which you live: It’s home to more kinds of scaly reptiles than all the mammal families combined. The reptile order Squamata, which includes snakes, lizards and legless worm-looking creatures known as amphisbaenians, is the largest order of living land vertebrates on the planet. And
Twice each summer, the Sun, Earth, and monuments of human industry create a spectacle of light called “Manhattanhenge”: when the sunset aligns perfectly with the city’s gridded streets. The name is a portmanteau of Stonehenge – which prehistoric people likely built to line up with the Sun – and the island of Manhattan. Unlike
Spreading your genes through procreation is a biological imperative, and for most animals, this requires, well, staying alive to actually produce babies. Not so for the wily stick insect! Scientists have now discovered that even if a stick insect is eaten by a bird, it still has a second chance at producing offspring post mortem.
When you think of animals with dandruff, dinosaurs probably aren’t the first creature that would come to mind. But palaeontologists have recently discovered the oldest dandruff ever found – on a dinosaur fossil. It’s from a small feathered dino from a staggering 125 million years ago. Although this might seem like a weird thing