Check out my two most recent blog posts for the AAAS Member Central website: ‘Acoustic Ecology: Wild Sounds in Wild Places’ ( pdf or link ) and ‘The Omaha Tiger Project’ ( pdf or link ). These two posts were both inspired by a conference I attended last month: the 3rd International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals in Ithaca, NY.
The concept of counting is beyond most animals – but not hyenas, new research shows . Sarah Benson-Amram and colleagues from Michigan State University played recorded calls of unknown hyenas to members of hyena clans in Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Unknown hyenas are seen as potential intruders, so the ability to count their numbers and understand the size of the potential threat would be useful in determining whether to fight or back down. Wild hyenas responded differently to the playback of one, two, or three unknown hyenas. The authors suggest that this counting ability, unusual in the animal kingdom, evolved as a way to keep tabs on their social groups. Hyenas are fascinating and complex animals that live in sophisticated, hierarchical societies. Hyenas are able to keep track of the. . . Read More
Go check out Mouse Party now! It’s an animated, interactive learning tool that, according to the site, is designed to “provide a small glimpse into the chemical interactions at the synaptic level that cause drug users to feel high.” But also, adorable druggie mice! Try to guess what drugs the mice are on before pointing at them. My favorite is the slow pelvic-thrusting mouse.
Quick, name a famous female scientist. And not one named “Marie Curie.” Finding it difficult? Read Sarah Zielinski’s story on Smithsonian.com and have more fun things to talk about at cocktail parties. (Yes, I talk about famous scientists at cocktail parties. It’s either that or weird animal mating habits).