Animals

Black Bears Adapting to City Living, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 26, 2003   View Article

Black bears (Ursus americanus) have efficiently adapted to the urban couch potato lifestyle, according to a recent study that compared urban and wild land bears in the Lake Tahoe region of Nevada.

Given a readily available and replenishing food resource—garbage dumpsters—the urban bears are nearly a third less active and weigh up to thirty percent more than bears living in more wild areas, biologists with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society report.

Elusive Jaguars Remain a Mystery, Even to Experts

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 25, 2003   View Article

“Yaguara,” the South American Indian word for jaguar, literally means the animal that kills in a single bound.

The elusive, spotted-coat cats secretly stalk their prey until just the right moment. Then they pounce with a graceful thud: In one leap the cats must snap their prey’s spine or else go hungry.

Baboon Study: Sociable Moms Have Healthier Young

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 13, 2003   View Article

Female baboons that enjoy the close company of others raise more successful offspring than do baboons who lead a more solitary life, according to results from an ongoing, long-term research project in Kenya.

“Social animals actually seem to spend a lot of time forming social bonds. They invest so much [effort] it’s hard to imagine that [social bonds] don’t matter. But no one had ever shown that they did,” said Susan Alberts, a biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and researcher behind the study.

Cockerels Dole Sperm With Precision, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 5, 2003   View Article

When it comes to the primal urge to pass genes on to the next generation, red jungle fowls (Gallus gallus) are a sophisticated lot: They dole out their sperm with economic and strategic precision, according to a new study.

Like most species in the animal kingdom, the birds (a type of wild chicken) are sexually promiscuous. Females may mate with several different males in any given reproductive cycle. Males seem to mate whenever they get a chance.

Bats Follow Ultraviolet Light to Nectar, Study Suggests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 27, 2003   View Article

Halloween decorators take note: Reflected ultraviolet light lures bats to succulent treats. Fortunately, these bats live in the rain forests of Central and South America.

According to a team of German and Guatemalan researchers, rain forest flowers that reflect ultraviolet light may help guide the color-blind bat Glossophaga soricina to their nectar like a harbor beacon guides a ship to shore at night.

Frog Discovery is “Once in a Century”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 15, 2003   View Article

A frog species whose ancestors evolved in the shadow of dinosaurs has been discovered burrowing into the remote mountains of southern India, a pair of biologists report in the October 16 issue of Nature.

The blackish-purple living fossil looks like a bloated doughnut with stubby legs and a pointy snout. Its closest relatives hang out in the Seychelles, a group of islands 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) away.

Military Sonar May Give Whales the Bends, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 8, 2003   View Article

Undersea noise from naval exercises appears to give beaked whales the bends, an ailment most commonly associated with scuba divers who rise to the ocean surface too quickly, according to a new study.

The finding comes from autopsies performed on beaked whales that stranded themselves on beaches in the Canary Islands four hours after military sonar activities commenced there September 24, 2002. The research is reported in the October 9 issue of Nature.

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