Reptiles’ Secret to a Long Life: Avoid Meat and Sex

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Why do some animals live to a ripe old age—a Gila monster at the Tel Aviv Zoo, for instance, is well over 40—while their compatriots die young?  For snakes and lizards, at least, the answer seems to be to eat more veggies and have less sex, according to a new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.  An international group of researchers collected data on 1,014  reptile species and analyzed factors affecting their life spans. The scientists also looked at distribution maps for each species and assessed the temperature, rainfall, and general productivity of each area where the lizards lived.

http://tinyurl.com/nrf3nuy

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“Alien” Catfish Baffles Scientists

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A small, toothy fish, which researchers say resembles the terrifying creature from the movie “Alien,” is turning out to be a big mystery for the scientists who study it.  Kryptoglanis shajii is a tiny, subterranean catfish with a number of defining skeletal features, including a bulging lower jaw similar to a bulldog’s. The fish’s strange, bony face has baffled researchers, who have been unable to classify the odd species.

http://tinyurl.com/mmmcrbe

 

-Igor Purlantov

When Elephants Get Sad: A Touching Tale

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When life gets stressful, Asian elephants help each other feel better by trumpeting sympathetic noises and using their trunks to touch their friend’s – um – private parts, according to new research.  In a study published on Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, animal behaviorists observed 26 captive elephants in a sanctuary in northern Thailand. The researchers said they recorded a number of elephant behaviors that they concluded were specifically intended to comfort distressed herd members.  The behaviors included touching the distressed elephant’s genitals with their trunks, putting their trunks in the distressed elephant’s mouth, or making a high-pitched “chirping” noise.

http://tinyurl.com/lj3j8zk

Tigers on the Rebound

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WWF launched the Year of the Tiger campaign in 2010 and rallied global commitments to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. In early 2013, 120 tiger researchers fanned out across some of the wildest sections of India and Nepal to assess the status of that work. That team completed the first joint tiger and prey-base survey of the entire Terai Arc, a 600-mile-long transboundary landscape that boasts one of the highest densities of tigers in the world.  Using camera traps and lots of legwork, the surveyors identified individual tigers by their unique stripe patterns and found something amazing: Tiger numbers in Nepal have risen by an estimated 63% in four years.

http://tinyurl.com/k8ny4tn

Everyone Poops, But Dogs Do It With Magnetism

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Dog owners have all been there when walking their canine companions.  Fido sniffs the ground and maybe turns around a few times. He searches. “No, not that patch,” he seems to say. “Maybe this one. … Or over here. … Umm, maybe not.”  Then, finally, he gets into position to … well, let’s just say leave that deposit that you’ll have to pick up.  According to researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, the pooch might be aiming to poop along a north-south axis that lines up with the Earth’s magnetic field.

 

http://tinyurl.com/lalhmn2

 

 

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