One of the most interesting facts about mole rats – that, as with ants and termites, individuals specialise in particular tasks throughout their lives – turns out to be wrong. Instead, a new study led by the University of Cambridge shows that individuals perform different roles at different ages and that age rather than caste membership accounts for contrasts in their behaviour.
By following honeyguides, a species of bird, people in Africa are able to locate bees’ nests to harvest honey. Research now reveals that humans use special calls to solicit the help of honeyguides and that honeyguides actively recruit appropriate human partners. This relationship is a rare example of cooperation between humans and free-living animals.
Over the last fifty years, long-term studies following individual animals over entire lifespans have allowed insight into the evolutionary influence of social behaviour – finally fulfilling the holistic approach to evolution first suggested by Darwin, argues the author of a new milestone work on mammal societies.
Urban birds are less afraid of litter than their country cousins, according to a new study, which suggests they may learn that litter in cities is not dangerous. The research could help birds to adapt to urban settings better, helping them to survive increasing human encroachment on their habitats.
Largest quantitative study of howling, and first to use machine learning, defines different howl types and finds that wolves use these types more or less depending on their species, resembling a howling dialect. Researchers say findings could help conservation efforts and shed light on the earliest evolution of our own use of language.
New research shows wild Aegean wall lizards found on Greek islands choose to sit on rocks that better match their individual colouring. This improves camouflage and so reduces the risk of being attacked by birds when they sit out in the open, raising the intriguing question of how the lizards know what colour they are.
David Norman (Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences) discusses how palaeontologists can interpret fossil footprints to find clues as to whether dinosaurs performed dance-like mating rituals.
New research shows beetles that received no care as larvae were less effective at raising a large brood as parents. Males paired with ‘low quality’ females - those that received no care as larvae - paid the price by dying younger, researchers found.