Archives for category: Mammals

It looks like the SARS virus originated in Chinese horseshoe bats and was passed on through bat-to-human contact – that’s one for you, Count Dracula!


…or is it? DNA samples from purported Yetis actually match those from an ancient type of polar bear, which dates back around 40,000 years. Some scientists are skeptical, but watch this space…

The smaller the animal, the slower it seems to see time pass – this could be why flies find it so easy to avoid our rolled up newspapers.

See the original research in Animal Behaviour.

Male mice sing to woo females, and they learn ‘songs’ from each other.

Researchers have found the nerves in mice that send feel-good messages to the brain during stroking – and similar nerves in humans may explain why we like massages.

Read the original research in Nature.

Domestic cats in the US kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds a year, and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion mammals a year, though most of these are feral cats.

Read the original paper in Nature Communications.

It’s easy to see how genes can control simple behaviour, but can they really control something as complicated as mice digging sets of burrows to specific lengths and constructing escape routes – well, according to a new piece of research, four regions on the genome could do just that.

Sounds from a white whale called NOC have been recorded at the National Marine Mammal Foundation – it seems like the whale was trying to imitate human voices.

Listen to the audio file.

A newly discovered Indonesian rat, Paucidentomys vermidax, is the only rodent found with no back teeth. Its front teeth are double-pointed bicuspids – this may be to help it tear up its diet of earthworms.

Read the original paper in Biology Letters.

Dr Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse has discovered the best way to collect samples from whales and monitor their health without distressing them. She uses a remote-controlled helicopter to pass a Petri dish through the plume coming from their blowholes to collect – well – whale snot. She received the 2010 (Ig) Nobel Prize for Engineering for this. Thanks to QI!

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