Ecology & Zoology

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.


Mysterious spectacular mounds found in the earth in tropical wetlands in South America are created by earthworms, researchers have found.

The densely packed, regularly spaced mounds cover large areas of the Orinoco Llanos in Columbia and Venezuela. Until now it was not known how they were formed.

A new study shows these mounds, called surales, are largely made up of earthworm casts, heaps of muddy soil ejected by their guts. This is the first research to describe their formation.


The Bee Informed Partnership conducts an annual survey of commercial and backyard beekeepers so that they can try and track health and survival rates of honey bee colonies.  Though honey bees are just one bee species out of about 27,000, estimates of their implied economic value are around $10 billion annually. A  The latest results show that honey bee colonies declined 44 percent during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016.

That sounds alarming, and it is in contrast to studies showing that bee numbers are not in decline, but were instead at a 20-year high last year. (1)

How can the claims be so different? Should we be alarmed or not?

Vultures are often cartoon-ish characters in parched deserts. No one wants them around because in western films it means they are just waiting for you to die.

Cultural jokes aside, vultures in some parts of the world are in danger of disappearing. And according to a new report from University of Utah biologists, such a loss would have serious consequences for ecosystems and human populations alike.