For Dung Beetles, Monkey Business Is Serious Stuff

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 26, 2004   View Article

Monkey see, monkey eat, monkey doo.

So the seeds of the Amazon’s much-lauded biodiversity are spread around the rain forest, in many cases. And where there’s monkey business, so too are dung beetles, according to Kevina Vulinec, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at Delaware State University in Dover.

Blue Whales Sing at Same Pitch, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 17, 2004   View Article

Luciano Pavarotti they’re not, but if blue whales ever build up a repertoire they could give the Italian opera singer a run for his money. The cetaceans have perfect pitch. So perfect, in fact, that it’s impossible to tell individuals apart from their calls.

“You might think that a big whale makes a lower sound than a small whale—they come in all different sizes—but they all make the same pitch,” said Roger Bland, a physicist at San Francisco State University in California.

Great Backyard Bird Count Embraces Novices

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 30, 2004   View Article

For four days this past February, approximately a hundred thousand people all over North America braved the winter chill, stepped outside, tallied the birds in their backyards, and reported their findings over the Internet as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The tally, reported last week, shows that the participants turned in 42,509 checklists accounting for 554 species of birds, totaling 4,304,598 individuals.

Fins to Limbs: New Fossil Gives Evolution Insight

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 1, 2004   View Article

Today researchers announced their discovery of a 365-million-year-old fossil limb bone of an ancient tetrapod. Tetrapods, including humans, are four-limbed animals with backbones. The fossil was found during road construction that revealed an ancient streambed.

Scientists say the find will help shed light on how early animals evolved limbs from fins. This crucial adaptation enabled Earth’s animal life to crawl from water to land.

Finding a Valentine Can Be Hard for Animals Too, Cameras Show

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 12, 2004   View Article

For National Geographic researchers, it’s all in the name of science, but a camera-equipped system they developed to deploy on wild animals has a certain voyeuristic quality to it.

The research tool, known as Crittercam, has been carried by all kinds of male marine mammals trying to woo their female counterparts. In a seeming testament to the plight of males throughout the animal kingdom, the Crittercam footage shows that getting a female to mate is a tough task.

Camera Worn by Lion May Aid African Conservation

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 16, 2004   View Article

At more than 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of muscle and bone, a full-grown female lion can kill her prey with a single, stealthy pounce and clamp of her powerful jaws. The trick in central Kenya’s Laikipia District is to make sure the lioness’ prey is wildlife, not livestock.

“There are no formally government protected areas in Laikipia,” said Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist at the University of California at Berkeley. “All of it is privately owned in one form or another.”

Unique Bolivia Park Begun by Indigenous People

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2004   View Article

The parched, southeastern corner of Bolivia is the unlikely home to a park that houses Latin America’s highest diversity of large mammals, and is the stage for an unusual story of protected-area creation and operation.

“The park remains the only national protected area in the Americas created as the result of an initiative by an indigenous organization,” said Michael Painter, Bolivia program director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has helped manage the park since its creation in 1995.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach