Why Do Animals Outrun Robots?

Over decades of research and development, engineers have been working on designing and building robots that can walk and run as well as animals and have built many devices capable of independent movement. Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University, Canada and colleagues from various USA universities carried out an extensive study of running robots comparing […]

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How Do Whales Talk Under Water? 

Baleen whales, such as humpback whales, are well known for communicating with “whale songs” but vocalising under water is not easy for an air-breathing mammal as air must be kept out of the respiratory passages when the animal is diving.  Try talking under water when you are holding your breath.  A group of scientists have […]

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Wild Dog

Dog Fox Hybrid Found in Brazil

Scientists in Brazil have identified an unusual canine brought to a veterinary clinic as being the hybrid offspring of a dog and a pampas fox.  The animal, a female, was the size and build of a medium size dog but had fox-like facial features and ears and thick black-brown fur.  A study of its chromosomes […]

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Bat Flying

Oldest Bat Skeleton

Palaeontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands have studied two bat skeletons found in the Green River Formation in Wyoming, USA, and claim to have found a new species of fossil bat.  Nearly 30 bat fossils have been found in the Green River formation, representing two species. […]

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Hairy Cactus

Hairy Cacti Help Bats Find Flowers

A South American cactus named Espostoa frutescens is pollinated by bats.  As bats are active at night, how do bats find flowers in dark?  Some bat-pollinated flowers are able to reflect bats’ echolocating sounds, so scientists at Nuremberg Zoo, Germany and Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands, studied these cacti to see if they had any special […]

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Wombat

Giant Wombat Skull

The fossil of a giant wombat skull has been found in a Central Queensland cave. The fossil has been classified as Ramsayia magna, a species previously known from isolated teeth and jaw fragments. Researchers estimate the wombat was the size of a “really large sheep” and weighed around 130kg. Modern day wombats can grow to […]

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Bear with Cubs

Climate Change Brings Brolar Bears

As Arctic regions in North America and Russia are warming brown bears are moving north so they are crossing paths with polar bears more often.  Brown bears and polar bears can mate and produce fertile offspring, referred to as “brolar” bears, and these hybrids bears are becoming more common, and the hybrids are also breeding […]

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Pitcher Plants

Pitcher Plants Thrive on Shrew Poo

Like all plants, pitcher plants need a source of nitrogen to grow well. Most plants get this from the soil, from nitrogen rich animal droppings which have been incorporated into the soil. Carnivorous plants can also obtain nitrogen from ‘prey’. Some species pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes can also capture animal droppings as their […]

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Bat Flying

Botoxed Bats Billow in the Wind. 

Bat wings consists of a skin-covered fibrous membrane attached to the sides of their bodies and extending over their arms and elongated fingers.  The wings also contain long thin thread-like muscles embedded in the wing membrane.  Researchers at Brown University, USA, set out to see how these contribute to bat flight by getting bats to […]

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Panda Eating Bamboo

Oldest Panda Thumb Fossil

The giant panda is well known for eating bamboo and having an extra “thumb” to help it hold onto and manipulate the bamboo stems as it eats them.  The “thumb” is not an extra digit, but a protrusion resulting from an enlarged wrist bone called a radial sesamoid.  A group of scientists from various USA […]

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