Ecology & Zoology

In history, 941 A.D. was unspectacular. Small local politics happened, a temple was built, Kievian Rus and the Byzantine Empire had another outbreak of hostilities - but in modern times, it has an interesting distinction. It was the year Europe's oldest living inhabitant was born.


Health researchers predict that the transmission of dengue could actually decrease in a warmer climate, countering previous apocalyptic cocktail projections which included that the lethal virus would spread more easily.

Hundreds of millions of people are already infected with dengue each year, with some children dying in severe cases, so increasing a significant global health problem is an alarming concern. The model instead finds that a warmer climate would mean the ecologically useless mosquitoes that carry Dengue (and also Zika) would die off in the drier sections of the wet tropics of northeast Australia.


A lot of environmental fundraising and lobbying has involved bees. There was talk of a neonicotinoid pesticide-induced die-off, until it was determined that pesticides weren't the problem, varroa mites, and the fad of amateur beekeepers who didn't know what they were doing were the big problems. Traffic accidents killed more bees than chemicals. 

When that failed, activists turned to claims about wild bees. This would seem to have easier success, since wild bees can't really be tabulated. There are over 25,000 species of wild bees worldwide, and only a few have hives to count.

The days of pork may be coming to a close. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently declared bacon as carcinogenic as plutonium, and now a group of animal activists say pigs are more like people than we know.
Beetles and some other male insects can possess a penis several times longer than their entire body length.

So how do they have sex with it? A recent study has found that male beetles keep their penis tip soft for faster sex, when they 'shoot' their hyper-elongated penises into the female beetle's duct. 
For decades we have been told that salmon is good for us, for everything from heart health to brain function. And we should eat more of it.

But if more people actually listened to those dietary recommendations, they would run squarely up against environmental activists and the media outlets (i.e. Mother Jones) and anti-science Deniers for Hire (i.e. SourceWatch) they fund. 

Whole Foods shoppers and other anti-science groups may not like it, but scientists have taken the first step of an ongoing-process designed to bring a valuable heirloom wheat back from the brink of extinction. 


Six mating positions (amplexus modes) are known among the almost 7,000 species of frogs and toads found worldwide. However, the Bombay night frog (Nyctibatrachus humayuni), which is endemic to the Western Ghats Biodiversity hotspot of India, mates differently. In a new study, scientists have described a new (seventh) mode of amplexus -- now named as dorsal straddle.


A species of tropical fish has been shown to be able to distinguish between human faces. It is the first time fish have demonstrated this ability.


In the bird world, the color red has special significance. Many species use red signals to attract mates or deter rivals, adding the color to their beaks, feathers, or bare skin. Generally speaking, as far as many birds are concerned, redder is better. Now, two teams of researchers have independently identified an enzyme-encoding gene that allows some bird species to convert yellow pigments from their diets into that remarkable red. Their findings are reported on May 19 in Current Biology.