Friday Faves August 29, 2014

Social Learning in Lizards

Perhaps you've assumed that reptiles and amphibians aren't so smart. You're wrong! The cold-blooded cognition lab at the University of Lincoln is just one of the labs starting to focus on these very interesting creatures. A new study from Macquarie University in Sydney showed that young skinks could learn how to solve a task (which colored container contained a mealworm) faster by watching a demonstrator skink, one of the first studies to show social learning in these not-so-social creatures.

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Science shows why mozzarella is a good cheese for pizza

Spoiler alert! It's the water-content and its stretchability!

Perhaps you're wondering if you made a huge mistake when you chose your research topic for grad school. "The aim of this study is to quantify the pizza baking properties and performance of different cheeses." I'm in, how do you get to work in this lab? Can you get a coal-fired pizza oven paid for by your uni? 

In case that's not enough pizza-science for you, here's an article on the physics of pizza tossing.

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Can a video game help us understand egg camouflage?

If you're a bird, you want to make sure your eggs won't be detected by predators. If you're a predator and hungry, you want to find those eggs. The "battle" between egg and egg-eater is a sort of evolutionary arms race, where the eggs get harder to detect, and the eaters get better at detection.

There's still a lot that scientists don't understand about this process, and they've started using video games and citizen participants to get at this question. In the game, you have to look at images of "camouflaged" eggs and click on them. Response time can give clues as to what makes an egg easy or hard to find. You can visit the egglab here, or read about it here! Very cool!

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