Grunt work: unique vocal folds give koalas their low-pitched voice

The secret to koalas\’ distinctive low-pitched vocalisations has been found, according to a new study published today in the journal Current Biology.

Male koalas produce a bellow of a very low pitch, much lower than would be expected from an animal of their size, and more typical of an animal the size of an elephant.

But, unlike any other land-dwelling mammal, the Australian marsupial has been found to have an extra pair of laryngeal vocal folds.

via Grunt work: unique vocal folds give koalas their low-pitched voice.

Some Monkeys Have Conversations That Resemble Ours – Wired Science

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.”

via Some Monkeys Have Conversations That Resemble Ours – Wired Science.

The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Bat Song – Wired Science

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.

via The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Bat Song – Wired Science.

Absurd Creature of the Week: 10-Foot Bobbit Worm Is the Ocean’s Most Disturbing Predator – Wired Science

If I could go back to my childhood I would have never waited for rainstorms to flush out all of the earthworms for me to grab, place on leaves, and send down the flooded gutters into the sewers. I thought it was a funny race. But now I wish I could take it all back. Because in tropical oceans there exists a worm that could violently avenge its relatives.

This is Eunice aphroditois, also known as the bobbit worm, a mix between the Mongolian death worm, the Graboids from Tremors, the Bugs from Starship Troopers, and a rainbow — but it’s a really dangerous rainbow, like in Mario Kart. And it hunts in pretty much the most nightmarish way imaginable, digging itself into the sea floor, exposing a few inches of its body — which can grow to 10 feet long — and waiting.

via Absurd Creature of the Week: 10-Foot Bobbit Worm Is the Ocean’s Most Disturbing Predator – Wired Science.

Anne Berry: “Behind Glass” examines primates in captivity (PHOTOS).

The captive primates in Anne Berry’s photographs don’t look too happy, but she’s not advocating against zoos.

“I think zoos are doing a better and better job of keeping animals and replicating habitats that don’t exist in the wild anymore,” Berry said. “It’s not the best that you’d like, but it’s keeping species alive.”

via Anne Berry: “Behind Glass” examines primates in captivity (PHOTOS)..

New species of ‘teddy bear’ carnivore discovered in cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A long-tailed, orange-furred carnivore from South America has been identified by US researchers as the first new mammal discovered in the Americas in 35 years.

The raccoon-sized creature is called an olinguito and lives in the trees in the Andean mountain forests of Ecuador and Colombia.

While the olinguito is new to science, with an official name of Bassaricyon neblina, for more than a century it has been mistaken for its larger close cousin, the olingo.

via New species of ‘teddy bear’ carnivore discovered in cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).