Inkfish

Visit Blog Website

451 posts · 565,224 views

Like the clever and many-armed cephalopod, Inkfish reaches into all areas of science and brings you interpretations of the newest stories.

Elizabeth Preston
451 posts

Sort by: Latest Post, Most Popular

View by: Condensed, Full

  • March 7, 2014
  • 12:10 PM
  • 1,206 views

Pandas v. Horses Fight Goes to Pandas (For Now)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It was a battle fought in the mountains of southwestern China, where patchy forests sustain the last shreds of the wild giant panda population. All at once, intruders began marching in and helping themselves to the pandas’ food. The incursion happened far from most human eyes, and the pandas that witnessed it  likely didn’t know […]The post Pandas v. Horses Fight Goes to Pandas (For Now) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Hull, V., Zhang, J., Zhou, S., Huang, J., Viña, A., Liu, W., Tuanmu, M., Li, R., Liu, D., Xu, W.... (2014) Impact of Livestock on Giant Pandas and their Habitat. Journal for Nature Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnc.2014.02.003  

  • February 25, 2014
  • 12:10 PM
  • 980 views

The 5 Creepiest Ways Plant Diseases Mutate Flowers

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Pretty blossoms aren’t immune to the body-morphing, plague-spreading powers of a good microbe. Some of the flowers you admire on a spring day might only be blooming, for example, because they’re hostages of a disease. Plant diseases can’t scatter in sneeze droplets like a human virus can. But they can change the look and behavior […]The post The 5 Creepiest Ways Plant Diseases Mutate Flowers appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • February 21, 2014
  • 11:24 AM
  • 817 views

How to Build a High-Altitude Superdog

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

No need to start from scratch. Here, someone else already took a wolf and made you a perfectly serviceable sea-level dog. With some  genetic tweaking, you can craft a powerful pet that isn’t bothered by living on an oxygen-starved mountaintop. A few of the same tweaks to your DNA will even let you live there […]The post How to Build a High-Altitude Superdog appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Li Y, Wu DD, Boyko AR, Wang GD, Wu SF, Irwin DM, & Zhang YP. (2014) Population variation revealed high altitude adaptation of Tibetan Mastiffs. Molecular biology and evolution. PMID: 24520091  

  • February 18, 2014
  • 11:23 AM
  • 877 views

Urban Bees Build Their Nests with Plastic

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Scott MacIvor has cracked open hundreds of artificial bee nests. But two he peered inside in Toronto gave him pause. Within their containers, the bees he studies had carefully built homes for their young out of plastic debris. Mixed in with the usual construction materials of leaves and mud, MacIvor could clearly see bits of […]The post Urban Bees Build Their Nests with Plastic appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • February 11, 2014
  • 11:10 AM
  • 904 views

Why Stinky Animals Live Alone

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s not the reason you’d guess. They make perfectly pleasant-smelling neighbors. Yet skunks and other animals that use projectile stink as a weapon are apparently destined by evolution to be loners—not because of who they are, but because of who preys on them. Ted Stankowich, who studies the intersection of evolution, animal behavior and ecology […]The post Why Stinky Animals Live Alone appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Stankowich T, Haverkamp PJ, & Caro T. (2014) ECOLOGICAL DRIVERS OF ANTIPREDATOR DEFENSES IN CARNIVORES. Evolution; international journal of organic evolution. PMID: 24433406  

  • February 7, 2014
  • 11:05 AM
  • 1,022 views

A Dog Can’t Teach a Dog New Tricks (But It Can Teach a Wolf)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

In a dirt-floored room in Austria, a puppy sniffed and pawed at a wooden box with a treat inside. It circled the box over and over, unable to find a way in. Finally it sat at the feet of a nearby human and looked up at her appealingly, swishing its tail. The woman stared at […]The post A Dog Can’t Teach a Dog New Tricks (But It Can Teach a Wolf) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2014
  • 11:01 AM
  • 1,018 views

Think You’re Smart, Gamblers? Even Flowers Know How to Hedge Their Bets

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Nevada bookmakers took home $19.7 million in profits after this weekend’s Super Bowl, thanks to sports bettors. Maybe the unlucky gamblers on the other ends of those bets should have done some more hedging. Making a smaller bet against yourself to minimize your potential losses is a good strategy—and even brainless plants can do it. […]The post Think You’re Smart, Gamblers? Even Flowers Know How to Hedge Their Bets appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • January 30, 2014
  • 11:18 AM
  • 1,270 views

Homing Pigeons Like to Live on the Edge

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If homing pigeons wonder why humans are always driving them to faraway spots and leaving them behind, they don’t hold it against us. They just keep coming back, providing prize money for pigeon racers and new data for scientists studying the navigational powers of an avian brain. Now those scientists have discovered a new trick […]The post Homing Pigeons Like to Live on the Edge appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Mann RP, Armstrong C, Meade J, Freeman R, Biro D, & Guilford T. (2014) Landscape complexity influences route-memory formation in navigating pigeons. Biology letters, 10(1), 20130885. PMID: 24451267  

  • January 27, 2014
  • 12:00 PM
  • 954 views

We Discovered Too Late That Tortoises Are Expert Landscapers

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Countless biology students have dutifully learned to associate the Galapagos Islands with finches. Here Darwin noticed that birds on different islands had different beak shapes, and ta-da, theory of evolution. But galápago is Spanish for “tortoise,” and young Darwin also learned from watching these huge reptiles lumber across the archipelago. Today, the galápagos are only a fraction […]The post We Discovered Too Late That Tortoises Are Expert Landscapers appeared first on I........ Read more »

Froyd CA, Coffey EE, van der Knaap WO, van Leeuwen JF, Tye A, & Willis KJ. (2014) The ecological consequences of megafaunal loss: giant tortoises and wetland biodiversity. Ecology letters, 17(2), 144-54. PMID: 24382356  

  • January 14, 2014
  • 11:31 AM
  • 892 views

Newly Discovered Ant Convinces Others to Be Its Slaves

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Studies of ants have the ring of medieval epics: there are queens, castes, warring soldiers and scouts. Certain ant species go on violent raids of neighboring colonies, picking up the young in their jaws and carrying them back to their own homes. The stolen ants become workers that live to serve these "slave-makers." A newly discovered slave-making ant species, though, sometimes accomplishes the same kind of coup without the need for violence. Slave-making ants live all over, but scientists........ Read more »

Bernhard Seifert, Isabelle Kleeberg, Barbara Feldmeyer, Tobias Pamminger, Evelien Jongepier, & Susanne Foitzik. (2014) Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. – a new slave-making species of the tribe Formicoxenini from North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) . ZooKeys. info:/10.3897/zookeys.368.6423

  • January 7, 2014
  • 11:45 AM
  • 1,103 views

The More Your Friends Change, the More Your Social Network Stays the Same

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

For the most part, people move in and out of our lives at a trickle: a new coworker becomes a friend; a neighbor moves away. But there's at least one cataclysmic monsoon in a young person's social life, and that's high school graduation. So long, hometown chumps! Hello, dorms! When scientists used cell phone records to track the social networks of people graduating from high school and starting the next phase of their lives, they saw huge a turnover in friends and acquaintances. Remarkably, thou........ Read more »

Jari Saramäki, E. A. Leicht, Eduardo López, Sam G. B. Roberts, Felix Reed-Tsochas, & Robin I. M. Dunbar. (2013) Persistence of social signatures in human communication. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1308540110

  • January 3, 2014
  • 12:00 PM
  • 948 views

Snoozing Bats Tune Out Traffic Noise

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

For an easily crushed animal that rests during the day, a highway seems like maybe the worst possible home. Yet some bats pick roosts that are under bridges, or in other spots booming with human noise. Why subject themselves to that? For bats of at least one species, the sound of traffic is easy to doze through. And the more they hear it, the more they ignore it.The greater mouse-eared bat, Myotis myotis, often turns up under bridges in Europe. Jinhong Luo, a PhD student at the Max Planck Instit........ Read more »

Luo J, Clarin BM, Borissov IM, & Siemers BM. (2013) Are torpid bats immune to anthropogenic noise?. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 24311817  

  • December 23, 2013
  • 11:32 AM
  • 1,202 views

Why It's Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Chances are you've never wondered how difficult it is to remove the testes of a hippopotamus. Other people have been thinking hard about it, though, because in fact it's almost impossible.Before sitting down to emasculate a common hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius, it would be reasonable to ask why. They're a threatened species, so usually conservationists try to make more baby hippos—not fewer. But in zoos, hippos turn out to be prolific baby-makers. Females can live for 40 years and may b........ Read more »

  • December 23, 2013
  • 09:29 AM
  • 1,295 views

Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Chances are you’ve never wondered how difficult it is to remove the testes of a hippopotamus. Other people have been thinking hard about it, though, because in fact it’s almost impossible. Before sitting down to emasculate a common hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius, it would be reasonable to ask why. They’re a threatened species, so usually conservationists […]The post Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • December 20, 2013
  • 11:50 AM
  • 962 views

Spider Acts Like Ruthless Carnivore, Is Really Flexitarian

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Even deadly predators crave a salad sometimes. Certain orb-weaver spiders—apparent full-time carnivores who eat by trapping prey, covering it with digestive juices, and then slurping it down like an insect smoothie—have been secretly taking their meals with a plant-based side dish. Namely, pollen.Orb weavers are a family of spiders common all across the world; they're the ones that weave the classic concentric-circle webs you see in picture books. Earlier studies have shown that those webs c........ Read more »

  • December 17, 2013
  • 01:09 PM
  • 825 views

Higher Altitude Protects Teens from Concussions

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The human brain is a vulnerable thing, perched in its peanut shell on top of our walking, stumbling bodies. Human who enjoy collision-heavy pastimes—say, tackle sports—put their brains in particular danger. And when it comes to concussions, young people are at even more risk than adults. Yet kids who play at at higher altitudes seem to be safer than their peers. The reason, hidden somewhere in the brain's squishy dynamics, might help protect kids and adults who are smashing into each other e........ Read more »

  • December 14, 2013
  • 01:35 PM
  • 869 views

Laughter Is OK Medicine, Unless It Kills You

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Careful with the bedside banter, doctors. Before you put on your best Patch Adams impression, you might want to consider whether your attempts at humor will ease your patient's discomfort or give him a protruding hernia.That's the conclusion of a review paper in the Christmas issue of BMJ that asks the jolly question of whether laughter can kill. The two authors, R. E. Ferner of the University of Birmingham and J. K. Aronson of Oxford University—no JK-ing, those are his real initials—ta........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2013
  • 12:31 PM
  • 983 views

Newly Discovered Flower Makes Fake Pollen to Fool Bees

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

"I was certain it was something new when I saw it," says Chris Martine of the bush tomato species he discovered in the Australian outback. It's a scrappy, spiny shrub with crinkly purple flowers that thrives on fire. It also uses treachery to survive, disguising its female flowers with fake male parts and even fake pollen.A botanist and biodiversity scientist at Bucknell University, Martine explains that the new plant "was on the radar of a few local botanists as being an oddball." Martine had b........ Read more »

  • December 5, 2013
  • 11:16 AM
  • 1,071 views

Leaping Land Fish Has Perfect Camouflage, Is Not a Hoax

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

You might never spot them if not for the jumping. On the coast of Guam, Pacific leaping blennies blend in perfectly with the rocks they live on, their limbless bodies maintaining a sleek profile. But the creatures give themselves away when they coil their tails to one side and shoot like a spring from rock to rock. These unsettling animals are fish that live on land. How they pull it off could give us hints about the evolution of our first earthbound ancestors.Terry Ord, an evolutionary ecologis........ Read more »

  • December 3, 2013
  • 11:48 AM
  • 1,099 views

Turtle Moms Choose Their Babies' Genders by Where They Build Their Nests

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If turtles had realtors, their motto would also be "Location, location, location!"—but not because they care about a scenic vista. The spot a mother turtle chooses to dig her nest determines whether her young will be males or females. This might even be the most important factor in her decision.A female painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is not an over-involved parent. She digs a hole in the dirt, lays a batch of eggs there, and buries them. Then she returns to her freshwater life without giving........ Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit http://selfregulationinstitute.org/.