Yawn Contagion in Wolves
August 27, 2014 04:15 PM - Editor, ENN
A yawn is defined as a reflex act of opening one's mouth and inhaling deeply. We yawn most often when we are tired or when we're bored. But we also always yawn when we see someone else doing it. Why? People say we can't help it - it's contagious! But what really triggers this involuntary tendency? According to studies, yawning when others do is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. And believe it or not, we're not the only species to exhibit these contagious behaviors. A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that wolves may also be susceptible to yawn contagion.
Dams vs. Rivers
August 27, 2014 08:40 AM - Editor, The Ecologist
A new 'State of the World's Rivers' database shows how the world's rivers have been impoverished by dams and their ecosystems devastated - and provides a valuable resource to help save river basins that remain in good health. International Rivers has launched 'The State of the World's Rivers', an interactive online database that illustrates the role that dams have played in impoverishing the health of the world's river basins.
How Geckos can walk on the ceiling
August 25, 2014 11:26 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Ever wonder how lizards like Geckos can walk up walls and even across the ceiling? Is it sticky feet, anti-gravity, or what? Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a model that explains how geckos, as well as spiders and some insects, can run up and down walls, cling to ceilings, and seemingly defy gravity with such effortless grace. This ability, outlined today in the Journal of Applied Physics, is a remarkable mechanism in the toes of geckos that uses tiny, branched hairs called "seta" that can instantly turn their stickiness on and off, and even "unstick" their feet without using any energy.
Electricity from silk cocoons?
August 25, 2014 08:59 AM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet
Researchers in India say they have developed a prototype of an energy-harvesting device from the cocoons of a domesticated species of silk moth. They hope to put the technology to practical use while also tackling waste materials from the silk processing industry.
Do we really need to kill wild animals that attack or threaten humans?
August 24, 2014 07:15 AM - Lizabeth Paulat, Care2
In Italy, a man foraging for mushrooms was attacked when he happened upon a mother bear and her cubs. Part of a reintroduction and conservation program in Italy's northern Dolomites, the bear, named Daniza, was ordered to be captured and possibly killed. This has sparked social media outrage, prompting those on twitter to hashtag #iostocondanzia (I'm with Danzia). The outrage stems from a revelation that when mauling victim Daniele Maturi happened upon the bear, he did not immediately leave, but rather hid behind a tree to watch him. It is said the bear only charged when it spotted him watching from behind a tree (like a predator would do, thus provoking the bear).
Grizzly Bears in the North Cascades
August 22, 2014 09:10 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
The National Park Service this week took an important step toward recovering grizzly bears in the North Cascades in Washington state. The agency says it is beginning a three-year process to analyze options for boosting grizzly bear populations in the area, including the possibility of translocating bears and developing a viable population. "We're happy to see the Park Service begin the long-overdue conversation about bringing grizzly bears back to the North Cascades," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Grizzlies have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat in the lower 48 states so we welcome any step that brings them closer to returning to some of their ancestral homes."
Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products
August 20, 2014 01:20 PM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels
In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped?
Arctic insects and spiders can survive colder temperatures than thought
August 20, 2014 08:10 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth online
Arctic bugs can survive in frozen ground as cold as -27°C, scientists have revealed. It is the first time higher-order invertebrates such as spiders, flies and beetles have been found coping in direct exposure to such cold temperatures. Previous lows were between just -5°C and a little below -10°C. The research, published in the Journal of Thermal Biology, suggests they may be more resilient to climate change than first feared.
Africa Faces Unsustainable Levels of Ivory Poaching
August 20, 2014 06:27 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
When it comes to illegal wildlife trade, one thing has always puzzled me ... Why is the demand for ivory so high? While I may not come across the black-market demands or understand the cultural or historical needs for these rare animal teeth, one thing is easy to see - populations of the African elephant are declining.
Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms
August 18, 2014 09:25 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2
What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.