Life as We Know It
Bats' barotrauma, fallow deer, Tahitian vanilla, lucky dinosaurs
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Jesse Rhodes, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, November 2008
A fallow deer with its impressive but unevenly formed antler looks straight into the light of the setting sun. (Horst Ossinger / dpa / Corbis)
Name: The fallow deer (Dama dama), a European species, which mates in early fall
Bucks: Fight among themselves and issue repeated calls, known technically as groans, during the rut.
Does: Pick a mate by listening to the males' groans.
Scientists: Have determined what females listen for. Researchers at the University of Zurich found that the acoustical properties of a buck's groan are related less to his size than his social rank—and that does mate with a dominant buck more often. It's the first time auditory discernment of social dominance has been found in animals other than primates.
"Neotropical roots of a Polynesian spice: the hybrid origin of Tahitian vanilla, Vanilla tahitensis (Orchidaceae)," Pesach Lubinsky et al., American Journal of Botany, August 2008
"Superiority, Competition, and Opportunism in the Evolutionary Radiation of Dinosaurs," Stephen L. Brusatte et al., Science, September 12, 2008
"Barotrauma is a significant cause of bat fatalities at wind turbines," Erin F. Baerwald et al., Current Biology, August 26, 2008
"Low Frequency Groans Indicate Larger and More Dominant Fallow Deer (Dama dama) Males," Elisabetta Vannoni and Alan G. McElligott, PLoS One, September 2008
"Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition," Helmut Prior et al., PLoS Biology, August 2008