Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Dinosaur gangs, psychedelic fish and long-distance elephant calls

African elephant

How Elephants Call Long-Distance

Some elephant calls are so deep in pitch they shake the ground
(Cheryl Carlin)
Some elephant calls are so deep in pitch they shake the ground. An elephant miles away can detect those seismic signals with sensory cells in all four feet. But a Stanford ecologist working in Namibia now says the elephant may prefer to "hear" the message in a different way: the ground vibrations travel directly from its front feet through its leg and shoulder bones and on to its skull and middle ear. An elephant brain can gauge where a seismic call is coming from by comparing the timing of the signals that the front feet receive.

Young Dinosaurs Joined Gangs

More than 20 young dinosaurs died together 92 million years ago
(Cheryl Carlin)
More than 20 young dinosaurs died together 92 million years ago after being trapped in mud in what is now Inner Mongolia. The fossilized remains of the ostrich-like ornithomimids are rare evidence of social behavior, say scientists from Montana State University and elsewhere. No adult bones were found at the site, suggesting that the young plant-eaters traveled on their own in herds.

Psychedelic Fish On Groovy Trip

hopping fish
(Cheryl Carlin)
Found: A new species of "hopping" fish off the coast of Indonesia. Named Histiophryne psychedelica for its trippy appearance, the three-inch-long fish has baggy skin and zebra-like stripes radiating from its forward-facing eyes. But what makes it unique is the way it moves, say University of Washington researchers. The fish hops along the bottom of the sea on leg-like fins, jet-propelling itself forward by flushing water through little gill openings on its sides.

Where The Camels Roamed

North American camel on stone tools
(Cheryl Carlin)
University of Colorado scientists have found protein residue from the North American camel on stone tools (inset) from the Clovis era about 13,000 years ago. The sharp instruments were apparently used for butchering; the camels became extinct on the continent some 11,000 years ago (possibly because of overhunting). Traces of bear, horse and sheep proteins were also detected on stone tools at the northern Colorado cache, unearthed during a home-landscaping project.


The Peruvian warbling antbird
(Cheryl Carlin)
Name: The Peruvian warbling antbird, Hypocnemis peruviana.
Two's Company: Antbirds live in pairs. They defend their territories from other antbirds by singing complex duets to signal their combined strength.
Three's Trouble: But when an unattached female enters a pair's territory, you can forget about such harmony, a study from the University of Oxford says. Once the male starts warbling, his partner launches into a song that interferes with his—a clear attempt, the researchers say, to ruin any overture to the unattached female.

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