Friday Faves June 27, 2014

Better than a disco ball

discoclamFor your next party, consider a "disco clam"? These clams have flashy lips that they move frequently to create a "disco ball" effect. Scientists at UC Berkeley (hey! I know Lindsay!) recently determined that this is not bioluminescence (as found in some animals such as jellyfish) but because the lip has highly reflective cells on one side. They still don't know why the disco clam has flashy lips, but mate attraction is always a good guess. Read more and see a video here (in an article by another UCB scientist, and my friend Jane Hu)!

Can an absentee mother lead male zebra finches to seek out a same-sex mate?

It appears yes. Seventy-five percent of male zebra finches who were raised without a mother sought out another male to form a pair-bond with. These are birds that typically form long term relationships with a mate. Those raised with a mom and dad formed opposite-sex pair bonds. Another interesting note - this effect was only found in males, not female birds. Read more here.

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Urban birds cope with stress

Scientists caught and lab-reared blackbirds that were either trapped in the city or in a rural area. Some birds were subjected to a placid, peaceful lifestyle and others were stressed out. Turns out the city birds were better equipped to cope with stressors, showing less immune response than their country counterparts.

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