In spring, we often hear woodpeckers hard at work, carving out nest holes in tree trunks. And now that fall has arrived, we may hear that excavating sound again. Some woodpecker species stay year round in the region where they nest, while others migrate south in winter. Those that remain, like this Pileated Woodpecker, are chiseling out roosting cavities, snug hollows where they’ll shelter during the cold nights of fall and winter.
A James Cook University and National Geographic expedition to Cape York Peninsula in north-east Australia has found three vertebrate species new to science and isolated for millions of years—a bizarre looking leaf-tail gecko, a golden-coloured skink and a boulder-dwelling frog.Earlier this year Dr Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and National Geographic photographer and Harvard University researcher Dr Tim Laman teamed up for an expedition to explore a remote mountain range on Cape York Peninsula in north-east Australia.
Greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels have resulted in well-publicised changes to the Earth’s climate. But the impacts of fossil fuels start long before their carbon dioxide reaches the atmosphere. Our new research, published today in Science, looks at the effects of coal, oil and gas extraction on biodiversity.
Spiders are among the craftiest and most beautiful of arthropods, entirely undeserving of their maligned reputation. Some signal their presence with massive horns or brilliant colors, others attempt to blend into the scenery. Many spin intricate traps of sticky silk, but some chase their prey — or ambush it, bursting out of burrows hidden beneath Earths surface. Some spiders are solitary, watching over trembling webs and waiting for the day when they can mate and cannibalize their partner. Others live in colonies, dividing chores among hundreds of individuals. Some spiders are as big as your face — others can be mistaken for dewdrops.
If a 6-month-old can distinguish between 20 dots and 10 dots, she’s more likely to be a good at math in preschool. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that part of our proficiency at addition and subtraction may simply be something we’re born with.Researchers have long wondered where our math skills come from. Are they innate, or should we credit studying and good teachers—or some combination of the two? “Math ability is a very complex concept, and there are a lot of actors that play into it,” says Ariel Starr, a graduate student in psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
The pair is best known for their high profile work on projects like the Xbox 360, but the inspiration for this project came from a low-tech source — a cardboard box. “We were inspired by playing inside large boxes as kids,” say Simonian “This boxiness seemed forced as a furniture piece, however, so we cut away most of the box retaining just enough to maintain the magical feeling we were after.”
The sounds of marmoset monkeys chattering may hint at the mysterious origins of human language.A new study shows that marmosets exchange calls in a precisely timed, back-and-forth fashion typical of human conversation, but not found in other primates. The monkeys don’t appear to have a language, but the timing suggests the foundations of our own.“That could be the foundation of more sophisticated things, like syntax,” said psychologist Asif Ghazanfar of Princeton University, co-author of the study, which was published today in Current Biology. “You can’t have any of those other really cool aspects of language without first having this.”
When it comes to animal models of human speech, songbirds are the gold standard. Scientists look to birds, and not other mammals, for clues about human speech because most mammals produce simple, monosyllabic, innate vocalizations that are much less flexible than those of birds. Birds sing complex, multisyllabic songs composed of multiple elements with flexible syntax i.e., the way in which elements are ordered and combined. And both humans and songbirds possess neural circuits that support vocal plasticity that are thought to be absent in other mammals.
The leaders who run the internet’s technical global infrastructure say the time has come to end U.S. dominance over it.In response to leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Fadi Chehadé, who heads the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and others have called for “an environment, in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on equal footing.”Among other things, they were concerned “over the undermining of the trust and confidence of internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.”