M is for Midge

26 Aug 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, M is for Midge as we talk to eminent ecologist Dr Henry Disney about his lifelong interest in Diptera.

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Young minds think alike – and older people are more distractible

14 Aug 2015

‘Bang! You’re Dead’, a 1961 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, continues to surprise – but not just with the twist in its tale. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have used the programme to show that young people respond in a similar way to events, but as we age our thought patterns diverge.

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Predators might not be dazzled by stripes

12 Aug 2015

New research using computer games suggests that stripes might not offer the ‘motion dazzle’ protection thought to have evolved in animals such as Zebra and consequently inspired ship camouflage during both World Wars.    

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Detail of Kingfisher, woodblock printed in colour, Kitagawa Utamaro

K is for Kingfisher

12 Aug 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, K is for Kingfisher. Look out for them among the swamp cypresses at the Botanic Garden, where the secrets behind their cyan and blue feathers are being studied by an extraordinary collaboration of scientists.

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Here’s looking at you: research shows jackdaws can recognise individual human faces

11 Aug 2015

When you’re prey, being able to spot and assess the threat posed by potential predators is of life-or-death importance. In a paper published today in Animal Behaviour, researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology show that wild jackdaws recognise individual human faces, and may be able to tell whether or not predators are looking directly at them.

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J is for Jay

05 Aug 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, J is for Jay – a surprisingly clever corvid with the ability to mimic human voices and much more.

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Stressed young birds stop learning from their parents and turn to wider flock

23 Jul 2015

Juvenile zebra finches that experience high stress levels will ignore how their own parents forage and instead learn such skills from other, unrelated adults. This may help young birds avoid inheriting a poor skillset from parents – the likely natural cause of their stress – and becoming trapped by a “bad start in life”.

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