Dinosaurs Walked in Warm Wet Alaska

An international team of scientists have found a large number of dinosaur footprints and fossil plants in the Nanushuk Formation, a large outcrop of sedimentary rock in North West Alaska.  They identified 75 trackways of dinosaurs, including two-legged plant eaters, four-legged plant eaters, two-legged carnivores, along with bird footprints. They also found fossil tree stumps, […]

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Sound of Silent Flight

Owls are well known for their almost silent flight. Previous studies of their flight feathers have revealed they have fringes on their trailing edge that suppress noise, but the way the fringes actually suppressed sound was not known, so a research team at scientists and engineers at Center for Aerial Intelligent Vehicles at Chiba University, […]

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oystercatcher on beach

Earliest Birds in Southern Hemisphere

Palaeontologists in Australia have found fossil footprints of birds on the south-eastern coast of Australia which they date as 120 – 128 million years old.  This makes them the earliest evidence for birds in Australia.  The tracks varied in size from 7cm to14cm wide and were similar to modern day shorebirds such as oystercatchers and […]

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Cockatoo eating apple

Clever Bird Feet Evolved 20 Times

Some birds are very adept at using their feet to grasp, lift and manipulate objects.  This ability to use the feet in a hand-like way is called ‘pedal dexterity.’  To find out how this ability came about researchers at University of Alberta have sifted through thousands of photos of birds using their feet to handle […]

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Chicken Scales Turned to Feathers

Chicken scales turned to feathers (again).  Two scientists at University of Geneva have used a gene stimulating technique to get chicken embryos to develop feathers on their feet and legs instead of scales.  The method involved stimulating genes named Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), which have an important role in organising and developing body organs and structures […]

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Regent Whistler

A Pair of Poisonous Birds

Researchers in New Guinea have identified two new bird species that have toxic feathers. The regent whistler and the rufous-naped bellbird were found to contain a toxic substance named Batrachotoxin (BTX) in their feathers and bodies. This substance is better known from the skin of poison dart frogs.  Poison dart frogs do not produce this […]

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Penguin Swimming

How Penguins Turn Underwater

Penguins are very agile swimmers and able to turn within one body length.  Scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology filmed Gentoo penguins swimming in an enclosure at Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium to see how they manoeuvre underwater.  The researchers analysed the movement of the penguin wings and body and worked out the hydrodynamic forces involved.  They […]

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Hummingbirds Have Most Colours

A team of scientists at Yale University have carried out an extensive study of the wavelengths of light reflected by feathers of from 114 species of hummingbirds.  They then compared these with feathers of 111 other bird species, including penguins and parrots.  They found the range of colours in hummingbirds exceeded to range of colours […]

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Rosy-Faced Lovebird

Parrots Defy “Forbidden Phenotype”

Because no vertebrate has an odd number of limbs, having three limbs is considered a “forbidden phenotype”, i.e. a body structure that cannot happen.  However, some animals can use other body parts as well as their limbs to help them move around.  Researchers at noted that some parrots use their beaks to help them climb […]

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Woodpeckers Don’t Get Stuck

If you have ever banged a nail into wood and then tried to extract it you will know how hard it is to overcome the friction that holds the nail into the wood.  Woodpeckers are well known for banging their beaks into tree trunks and branches and extracting them at an incredibly rapid rate.  Scientists […]

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