Dolphins at sunset along the Indian River Lagoon (Photo courtesy of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University) Biology Oceanography Zoology 

Dolphins and Their Social Networks

By Kate S. They don’t have Twitter accounts, but dolphins are able to form highly complex and dynamic networks of friends, according to a recent study by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) at Florida Atlantic University. Indian River Lagoon Dolphins Dolphins are known for being highly social animals, so the research team took a closer look at the interactions between bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon and discovered how they mingle and with whom they spend their time. The Indian River Lagoon is a narrow 156-mile long…

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Red Kite (Steven Spence) Biology Environment Science and Art Zoology 

Wild Red Kite: Red and Deadly

Photography and Text by Steven Spence This is a wild red kite (German: Roter Milan; Latin Milvus milvus ), which lives mainly in Germany, Poland, France and Spain, but is seen in other parts of Europe. Black kites (German: Schwarzer Milan; Milvus migrans) are more widespread and more often encountered. Red Kite Population and Range Estimates suggest there are approximately only 19,000 to 25,000 breeding pairs of red kites in all of Europe (~12,000 in Germany). Thus, today’s photo is a relatively special treat. The population of black kites is…

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Winter bee (Steven Spence) Environment Science and Art Zoology 

Winter Bees, First Visitors

This photo of a winter bee collecting pollen, called “First Visitors,” is the work of Germany-based photographer Steven Spence. Here is what he has to say about the photo: Friday, I had my first visit from a bee this year. Right now all that is in blossom around my place are crocuses, but that seems to be good enough for the first bees of the year. Bees born at different times of year have different life-cycles. This is a winter bee, which can live longer than the spring and summer…

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Green wood hoopoe, By DickDaniels, CC, Wikimedia commons Zoology 

Birds Bond After Team Fights

As any fan of Hitchcock knows, birds often work together and, when threatened by rivals, are capable of marshaling their troops to defend resources.  Now, researchers from the University of Bristol have found that clashes between rival bird groups have a long-lasting impact on the birds’ behaviour, causing them to bond after team fights. Biologists Dr. Andy Radford and Dr. Tim Fawcett have been studying the social behaviour of green woodhoopoes in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following a territorial conflict with their neighbors, victorious green woodhoopoes will unite at nightfall. Such disputes…

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The forces at work when a turkey hops over an obstacle (Oregon State University) Engineering New Technologies Zoology 

Running Robots May Be Inspired by Birds

In preparation for building better running robots, researchers have made useful discoveries about some of nature’s most energy efficient bipeds – running turkeys. Running birds have an impressive ability to run while minimizing energy cost, avoiding falls or injuries, and maintaining speed and direction. Researchers at Oregon State University have been trying to discover exactly how the birds do it. “Birds appear to be the best of bipedal terrestrial runners, with a speed and agility that may trace back 230 million years to their dinosaur ancestors,” says Jonathan Hurst, an…

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3 Different Ways to Breath Biology Zoology 

How Humans, Birds, and Grasshoppers Breathe

This informative illustration of how three different animals breathe is the work of Eleanor Lutz, a designer with a degree in molecular biology. The animated infographic shows how humans breath in and out in sequence through the nose and mouth. Birds have multi-chambered lungs that can process incoming air and outgoing air simultaneously– a very efficient system for running and flying. Grasshoppers, on the other hand, essentially breath with their whole bodies. As Lutz explains, “I decided to illustrate how different animals breathe, and I picked three species that I…

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Bluefin Killifish, L. Brian Stauffer Biology Zoology 

Bluefin Killifish Flamboyant Fin Colors

Fish use their fins for swimming, but fins can also advertise a fish’s social status and health. In a new study, researchers report that for the male bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei), each colorful fin communicates different messages to other fish. They’re called “bluefin” killifish, but these fish often have red, yellow and/or black markings on their fins. University of Illinois animal biology professor Rebecca Fuller noticed these colorful fins while snorkeling in Florida and decided to find out what causes the variation. “In some of the males, the anal fin was…

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