Elizabeth Preston

287 posts · 228,617 views

Inkfish
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  • August 26, 2014
  • 12:09 PM
  • 17 views

For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

A bat’s voice is its livelihood. Chirping and squeaking at just the right frequencies lets it echolocate food and stay alive. Sounding pretty isn’t the point—except when it is. For the first time, scientists think they’ve found a bat species in which females choose mates based on their voices. Even if a lower-frequency squeak might […]The post For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • August 22, 2014
  • 09:42 AM
  • 62 views

These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling, the saying goes, and stalagmites might grow high enough to reach it. But the simple mnemonic doesn’t come close to covering the variety of weird, rocky shapes growing all over a cave. There are even, it turns out, rocks made from bacteria. They’re not putting the “tight” in “stalactite” so […]The post These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Sallstedt, T., Ivarsson, M., Lundberg, J., Sjöberg, R., & Vidal Romaní, J. (2014) Speleothem and biofilm formation in a granite/dolerite cave, Northern Sweden. International Journal of Speleology, 43(3), 305-313. DOI: 10.5038/1827-806X.43.3.7  

  • August 20, 2014
  • 10:07 AM
  • 79 views

How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

You’ve already picked a side in the bird wars, whether or not you know it. As humans carve up formerly empty expanses of the western United States with our roads, electrical towers, and power lines, we’re inadvertently giving a boost to ravens. Meanwhile, the birds of prey that once ruled the land are being left […]The post How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • August 12, 2014
  • 10:47 AM
  • 68 views

Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Do you remember on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—apparently this show is still on, but I’ll assume no one else has seen it this decade—how after contestants picked an answer, Regis Philbin sometimes asked, “How sure are you?” They’d pull a number seemingly out of the air: “Oh, eighty-five percent.” This trick of estimating our […]The post Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • August 8, 2014
  • 10:27 AM
  • 93 views

It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Evolution can seem like a slow way to get things done. It took more than a billion years for Earth’s life forms to try having more than one cell. In the famous March of Progress illustration showing an ape becoming an upright human, you can almost hear the stoop-shouldered cave guy in the middle groaning, “Hurry […]The post It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Wasik, B., Liew, S., Lilien, D., Dinwiddie, A., Noh, H., Cao, H., & Monteiro, A. (2014) Artificial selection for structural color on butterfly wings and comparison with natural evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402770111  

  • August 5, 2014
  • 10:51 AM
  • 93 views

Kids Name the Darnedest Animals

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Here’s an experiment that’s easy to do on your own. Grab the nearest elementary- or middle-school-age kid, sit her down in a quiet place, and ask her to name everything she can think of that’s alive. The results might tell you a lot about your young subject’s life. The wilder the animals, the more domestic […]The post Kids Name the Darnedest Animals appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 29, 2014
  • 12:02 PM
  • 112 views

When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 25, 2014
  • 09:45 AM
  • 164 views

Some Bees Are Busier Than Others

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It may be time to leave “busy as a bee” with other dubious animal similes like “happy as a clam” and “drunk as a skunk.” That’s because some bees, it turns out, aren’t all that busy. A small group of hive members do the bulk of the foraging, while their sisters relax at home. But […]The post Some Bees Are Busier Than Others appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 18, 2014
  • 11:01 AM
  • 132 views

Baboons Trade Morning Favors for All-Day Payoffs

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Primates basically invented “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Baboons, for example, trade grooming for favors from other troop members. Social relationships are important to the monkeys. But it seems they put more effort into certain relationships depending on the time of day: in the morning, lower-ranking baboons invest more energy in grooming […]The post Baboons Trade Morning Favors for All-Day Payoffs appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Sick, C., Carter, A., Marshall, H., Knapp, L., Dabelsteen, T., & Cowlishaw, G. (2014) Evidence for varying social strategies across the day in chacma baboons. Biology Letters, 10(7), 20140249-20140249. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0249  

  • July 15, 2014
  • 12:18 PM
  • 134 views

Here’s What Happens When You Put Camera Traps in Trees

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The world holds very few unexplored places between zero and six feet off the ground. If humans can walk right up to it and take a picture, we probably already have. But the tops of the trees, like the bottom of the ocean, are a different story. “We know so much less about arboreal mammal […]The post Here’s What Happens When You Put Camera Traps in Trees appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Gregory, T., Carrasco Rueda, F., Deichmann, J., Kolowski, J., & Alonso, A. (2014) Arboreal camera trapping: taking a proven method to new heights. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5(5), 443-451. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12177  

  • July 9, 2014
  • 11:19 AM
  • 134 views

Say No to Nocebo: How Doctors Can Keep Patients’ Minds from Making Them Sicker

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

“First, do no harm,” the saying goes, but that might be close to impossible. Just as our expectations can make us feel better, they can also make us feel much worse. This means that how doctors phrase their instructions or introduce new drugs may have a real impact on our health. But some doctors are […]The post Say No to Nocebo: How Doctors Can Keep Patients’ Minds from Making Them Sicker appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 1, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 156 views

To Feed the World, Try Legos

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

“It was an idea that just popped into my head,” says Ludovico Cademartiri, a materials scientist who’s upped his research game by using Legos. He hopes other researchers will steal his idea, and not just because Legos are fun. Cademartiri thinks the humble bricks could help solve the world’s impending food crisis. Members of Cademartiri’s […]The post To Feed the World, Try Legos appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 27, 2014
  • 08:46 AM
  • 161 views

Objects Bring Fear the Closer They Appear

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Quick: which of these things should you worry about if it’s coming toward you? a.) grizzly bear b.) pedestrian c.) frowny face emoticon You many not have time to assess all the risks (is the bear running? does the frowny face have greater-than-symbol eyebrows?). But without thinking about it, you’ll have a bad feeling about […]The post Objects Bring Fear the Closer They Appear appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Hsee, C., Tu, Y., Lu, Z., & Ruan, B. (2014) Approach aversion: Negative hedonic reactions toward approaching stimuli. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(5), 699-712. DOI: 10.1037/a0036332  

  • June 24, 2014
  • 10:45 AM
  • 129 views

City Birds Are Adapted for Every Kind of Stress

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Whether you make your home in a high-rise apartment building or a drainpipe, city life has a different pace than country life. Urban environments mean an endless series of challenges for your mind and body: noise, crowds, pollution, quick decisions while facing oncoming vehicles. City-dwelling humans like to think of themselves as  tough and not […]The post City Birds Are Adapted for Every Kind of Stress appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Costantini, D., Greives, T., Hau, M., & Partecke, J. (2014) Does urban life change blood oxidative status in birds?. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/​jeb.106450  

  • June 20, 2014
  • 10:34 AM
  • 172 views

Yaks Use Highest, Steepest Parts of the World for No-Boys-Allowed Meetings

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s hard for humans to tell what wild yaks are doing up there. Living high in the Tibetan Plateau, the rare ungulates are not easy to find. When scientists managed to track some down, they saw that females are hanging out in huge groups with no males allowed. And, though no one knows why, the […]The post Yaks Use Highest, Steepest Parts of the World for No-Boys-Allowed Meetings appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

JOEL BERGER, ELLEN CHENG, AILI KANG, MICHAEL KREBS, LISHU LI, ZHAO XIN LU, BUQIONG, BUZHOU, & GEORGE B. SCHALLER. (2014) Sex differences in ecology of wild yaks at high elevation in the Kekexili Reserve, Tibetan Qinghai Plateau, China. Journal of Mammalogy. info:/10.1644/13-MAMM-A-154

  • June 17, 2014
  • 11:08 AM
  • 159 views

Picky Eaters Are Less Likely to Be Eaten

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Subsisting on only one food is a poor survival strategy for humans, but a great one for caterpillars. Caterpillar species with very specialized diets are less likely to be plucked from their leaves by hungry birds, scientists have discovered. The less picky eaters are more apt to die (even if their moms praise them in […]The post Picky Eaters Are Less Likely to Be Eaten appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Singer, M., Lichter-Marck, I., Farkas, T., Aaron, E., Whitney, K., & Mooney, K. (2014) Herbivore diet breadth mediates the cascading effects of carnivores in food webs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401949111  

  • June 13, 2014
  • 11:54 AM
  • 182 views

Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

A word of advice to female fruit flies looking for a mate: it’s not hard to catch the eye of a male Drosophila. He’ll chase after almost anything that moves. Really—including a metal cube dabbed with pheromones. That may be embarrassing for the male, but it also shows scientists how a tiny-brained animal weighs information when […]The post Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 10, 2014
  • 11:19 AM
  • 155 views

10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

1. Literally. Like pill bugs, Madagascar’s giant pill-millipedes protect themselves by rolling into a ball. The larger species may end up in a package the size of a tennis ball. But millipedes in the genus Sphaeromimus are a more manageable size, only up to an inch or two long. 2. It sings. Sphaeromimus millipedes have ridged […]The post 10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’ appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 6, 2014
  • 10:34 AM
  • 216 views

Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Whoever named the macaroni penguin was not thinking of dinner, but the name is unfortunately apt. A shocking number of these birds get gobbled up by other large seabirds while they’re young, a new study found. Researchers are trying to fit this puzzle piece in with high predator numbers, rising ocean temperatures, and vanishing populations […]The post Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 3, 2014
  • 09:15 AM
  • 176 views

Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

In what might be considered a mixed message outside of the ichthyology world, scientists have named a new species of cavefish after the Indiana University Hoosiers. It’s blind, has its anus behind its head, and distinguishes itself from its nearest relative by being a little fatter. But its discovery might help keep the world’s other […]The post Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

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