It has become something of an annual tradition that I produce an advent calendar each year with facts, interesting links and videos. Consider it a little festive treat for your brain :) Here is your 2016 advent calendar – check out the doors that are already open, and come back each day for a new treat!
What big eyes you have! The net-casting spider Deinopis spinosa uses it’s enormous eyes to accurately trap prey at night, according to new research.
A new study published in Biology Letters this month shows that net-casting spiders (Deinopis spinosa) use their enlarged, secondary eyes to spot prey in the dark.
Brains rather than braun may have guided our ancestors out of Africa, but new research suggests primates’ big brains are no longer the assets they once were.
A study published in the journal Evolution reports that larger brains are directly related to an increased risk of extinction in modern primates. Researchers led by Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer at Doñana Biological Station in Spain, compared published data on 474 species of mammal, with their IUCN Redlist categorisations, to find out how different biological traits influence extinction risk. The team found that larger brains tend to be associated with a longer gestation period, longer weaning period and smaller litter sizes, all of which indirectly increase extinction risk.
Did you hear the one about the drunken monkey? Primates frequently encounter and consume alcohol in their natural environment, most commonly through fermented fruit. But a study published last year showed that some Chimpanzees are actively seeking it out, and have even developed tools to help them access their preferred tipple!
I’ve written before on the topic of animals and recreational drug use. Research has shown that many animals consume alcohol in their diet, from treeshrews drinking alcoholic nectar in Malaysia to Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) drinking fermented berries of the Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schunus terebinthifolius). But deliberate consumption of alcohol – which is, let’s not forget, a poison – is harder to find.
A new fossil discovered in France promises to shed light on the murky evolutionary history of spiders. The rare three-dimensional fossil of the new species shows that it is nearly, but not quite, a spider, lacking the key silk-spinning adaptation that defines spiders. This 300-million-year-old arachnid is our closest view yet of the ancestor to all spiders.
Fathers can breath a sigh of relief. Although biologists have found cuckolding, where one male unwittingly raises the offspring of another male, is common in animal societies, it appears humans are one of the few exceptions.
A recent review published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution on 5th April claims that across modern and ancient human societies, women tended to be faithful to their partners.
Overfishing is a serious global issue, and many people have turned to farmed fish, or ‘aquaculture’ as a solution to dwindling wild populations. But intensive farming of any kind often comes with problems, and a new study shows that these fish farms are the perfect breeding ground for virulent diseases.
Scientists have found the final missing link answering a long-standing question about how social behaviour evolves. New research shows that a social supergene in fire ants coordinates a host of biological processes and behaviours, that ultimately determine how sociable their colonies are, and who they choose to be their queen.
Animals use smell to sniff out predators, and to hide from them.
For humans, vision is the dominant sense, and we often overlook the importance of odour (although we’re reminded on those occasions we find ourselves sat next to someone who’s never discovered deodorant, or driving past a particularly pungent farm). But for most animals, it’s all about smell. Two new studies published last month highlight the importance of smell in the lives of animals as different as flies and snakes.