Life as We Know It
Honeyeater birds, sea slugs, tree frogs, and more
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Laura Helmuth, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, February 2009
(Image courtesy of Flickr user Groovnick)
Name: Equus caballus, the horse.
Runs With: The herd.
Recognizes: Individuals within the herd.
Unexpected Talent: Listening. In a new study, University of Sussex researchers presented a test horse with a herd mate, led the herd mate out of sight and then played a recording of a horse neighing. If it wasn't the herd mate's call, the test animal could tell—it looked fixedly in the direction of the sound, presumably surprised. It's the first demonstration of "cross-modal" recognition in animals; they identify each other by both sight and sound.
"Gourds afloat: a dated phylogeny reveals an Asian origin of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) and numerous oversea dispersal events," Hanno Schaefer et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 25, 2008
"Spectacular New Gliding Species of Ecnomiohyla (Anura: Hylidae) from Central Panama," Joseph R. Mendelson III et al., Journal of Herpetology, December 2008
"Cross-modal individual recognition in domestic horses (Equus caballus)," Leanne Proops et al., PNAS, December 15, 2008
"Convergent Evolution of Hawaiian and Australo-Pacific Honeyeaters from Distant Songbird Ancestors," Robert C. Fleischer et al., Current Biology, December 11, 2008
"Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica," Mary E. Rumpho et al., PNAS, November 18, 2008