Realistic robots get under Galápagos lizards’ skin

Male lava lizards are sensitive to the timing of their opponents’ responses during contest displays, with quicker responses being perceived as more aggressive, a study in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology suggests. To avoid injury from male-to-male contests, some animal species display behaviours such as color changes or sequences of movements that showcase body size and … Read more

Improving assessments of an endangered lion population in India

An alternative method for monitoring endangered lions in India could improve estimates of their abundance and help inform conservation policy and management decisions. Keshab Gogoi and colleagues at the Wildlife Institute of India present their findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on February 19, 2020. Conservation practices have enabled Asiatic lions to recover from a population … Read more

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

The state of unified perception characteristic of a conscious state in humans appears to require widespread coordination of the forebrain and thus, the existence of a physical and anatomical substrate for this coordination. The mammalian claustrum, a thin sheet of brain tissue hidden beneath the inner layers of the neocortex, is widely interconnected with the … Read more

Primate venom sheds light on why so many people suffer cat allergies

Research into the toxin of the world’s only venomous primate, the slow loris, is shedding light on the potential origins of the allergic qualities of cats. An international team, led by University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Bryan Fry, has been studying slow lorises at the Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre in Indonesia. The bite of the … Read more

Humans not always to blame for genetic diversity loss in wildlife

Conservationists should be wary of assuming that genetic diversity loss in wildlife is always caused by humans, as new research published today by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) reveals that, in the case of a population of southern African lions (Panthera leo), it’s likely caused by ecological rather than human factors. Published … Read more

What keeps couples together

In mammals, pair bonds are very rare, one of the few exceptions being the red titi monkeys of South America. These relatively small tree dwellers live in pairs or small family groups and are characterized by the fact that the males take intensive care of their offspring. A team of researchers from the German Primate … Read more

The birds and the bats: Evolving to fly may have had big effect on gut microbiome

It’s no secret there’s a close relationship between humans and our microbiomes – the communities of microbes that live in and on us. In fact, researchers can usually guess what an animal’s gut microbiome might look like by studying closely related species. Or at least, that’s what they thought. It turns out that while there’s … Read more

Meerkat mobs do ‘war dance’ to protect territory

Meerkat clans perform a ‘war dance’ to frighten opponents and protect their territory, according to a new UCL and University of Cambridge study. Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, this is the first empirical study to reveal intergroup aggression. The researchers, who monitored hundreds of these intergroup encounters over 11 years, show that meetings … Read more