Posts

August 20, 2014

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2:07 PM | How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks
You’ve already picked a side in the bird wars, whether or not you know it. As humans carve up formerly empty expanses of the western United States with our roads, electrical towers, and power lines, we’re inadvertently giving a boost to ravens. Meanwhile, the birds of prey that once ruled the land are being left […]The post How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks appeared first on Inkfish.

Coates, P., Howe, K., Casazza, M. & Delehanty, D. (2014). Landscape alterations influence differential habitat use of nesting buteos and ravens within sagebrush ecosystem: Implications for transmission line development, The Condor, 116 (3) 341-356. DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-13-126.1

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August 15, 2014

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1:16 PM | Your Childhood Was Lame: Tops Don’t Have to Be Round Anymore
Sure, the baby doll that closed her eyes when you held her horizontally was kind of cool. But she’s not much competition for a break-dancing armadillo. Researchers at Disney Research Zurich—who normally work on computer graphics, video manipulation, and animation—recently took a spin in the physical world instead. Along with researchers at the Swiss Federal […]The post Your Childhood Was Lame: Tops Don’t Have to Be Round Anymore appeared first on Inkfish.

August 12, 2014

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2:47 PM | Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence
Do you remember on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—apparently this show is still on, but I’ll assume no one else has seen it this decade—how after contestants picked an answer, Regis Philbin sometimes asked, “How sure are you?” They’d pull a number seemingly out of the air: “Oh, eighty-five percent.” This trick of estimating our […]The post Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence appeared first on Inkfish.

August 08, 2014

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2:27 PM | It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple
Evolution can seem like a slow way to get things done. It took more than a billion years for Earth’s life forms to try having more than one cell. In the famous March of Progress illustration showing an ape becoming an upright human, you can almost hear the stoop-shouldered cave guy in the middle groaning, “Hurry […]The post It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple appeared first on Inkfish.

Wasik, B., Liew, S., Lilien, D., Dinwiddie, A., Noh, H., Cao, H. & Monteiro, A. (2014). Artificial selection for structural color on butterfly wings and comparison with natural evolution, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402770111

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August 05, 2014

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2:51 PM | Kids Name the Darnedest Animals
Here’s an experiment that’s easy to do on your own. Grab the nearest elementary- or middle-school-age kid, sit her down in a quiet place, and ask her to name everything she can think of that’s alive. The results might tell you a lot about your young subject’s life. The wilder the animals, the more domestic […]The post Kids Name the Darnedest Animals appeared first on Inkfish.

Taverna, A., Moscoloni, N., Peralta, O., Medin, D. & Waxman, S. (2014). Naming the Living Things: Linguistic, Experiential and Cultural Factors in Wichí and Spanish Speaking Children, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 14 (3-4) 213-233. DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12342122

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July 29, 2014

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4:02 PM | When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle
It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.

Delmore, K. & Irwin, D. (2014). Hybrid songbirds employ intermediate routes in a migratory divide, Ecology Letters, DOI: 10.1111/ele.12326

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July 25, 2014

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1:45 PM | Some Bees Are Busier Than Others
It may be time to leave “busy as a bee” with other dubious animal similes like “happy as a clam” and “drunk as a skunk.” That’s because some bees, it turns out, aren’t all that busy. A small group of hive members do the bulk of the foraging, while their sisters relax at home. But […]The post Some Bees Are Busier Than Others appeared first on Inkfish.

Tenczar, P., Lutz, C., Rao, V., Goldenfeld, N. & Robinson, G. (2014). Automated monitoring reveals extreme interindividual variation and plasticity in honeybee foraging activity levels, Animal Behaviour, 95 41-48. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.06.006

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July 23, 2014

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1:59 PM | How to Lose a Finger, and Other Things I Learned from Darwin’s Library
It’s always a good idea to bring reading material on your trips, whether you plan to have some airport downtime or you’re spending five years floating on the ocean. When Charles Darwin departed in 1831 for his trip around the world on the HMS Beagle, he had a well-stocked library. But the collection wasn’t saved, and […]The post How to Lose a Finger, and Other Things I Learned from Darwin’s Library appeared first on Inkfish.
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