Life as We Know It
Butterfly GPS, glowing mushrooms, bat-hunting songbirds and more
- By Amanda Bensen, Abby Callard, T.A. Frail, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, December 2009
The great tit, a sparrow-size songbird / Pipistrelle bat. (iStockphoto / Arterra Picture Library / Alamy)
Name: The great tit (Parus major), a sparrow-size songbird widely distributed in Europe and parts of Asia.
In The Field: Is a lively backyard visitor, with bright colors and a multiplicity
In The Cave: Becomes a pillaging bat predator.
Under Study: The bird goes bat hunting when seeds and insects become scarce, usually in late winter, notes a study led by the Max Planck Institute in Seewiesen, Germany. Then it's ambush time. Researchers watched great tits enter a Hungarian cave where common pipistrelle bats were hibernating and haul the inch-and-a-half-long animals out. The researchers call it a "surprising innovation" during a food shortage.
Learn more about the great tit at the Encyclopedia of Life.
Learn more about pipistrelle bats at the Encyclopedia of Life.
"Luminescent Mycena: new and noteworthy species," Dennis E. Desjardin et al., Mycologia, October 6, 2009.
"Great tits search for, capture, kill and eat hibernating bats," Péter Estók et al., Biology Letters, September 9, 2009.
"Reciprocal Face-to-Face Communication between Rhesus Macaque Mothers and Their Newborn Infants," Pier Francesco Ferrari et al., Current Biology, October 8, 2009.
"Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies," Christine Merlin et al., Science, September 25, 2009.
"Multiyear multiple paternity and mate fidelity in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis," S. L. Lance et al., Molecular Ecology, October 5, 2009.