Friday Faves November 6, 2015

Dogs: Always dressed up

Why do animals have white patches? Does your dog or cat have "mittens" or a white tail tip? It appears that domesticating animals somehow has selected for this pattern of coat colors...and @DogSpies is going to tell us more!

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Is that a leaf blower or are you just happy to see me?

Turns out that elephants blow air around with their trunks to access hard to reach food. Should we rethink the concept of "tool use" in animals? Perhaps!

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Big cats prefer to eat other wild animals...

...but when their natural prey is scarce, they start looking for other things to eat, like livestock and domestic animals. This prey scarcity has huge conservation implications for lions, tigers, leopards and other big cats, as many are killed "in retaliation" for livestock kills.

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Cowbirds prevent an identity crisis?

Cowbirds are notorious for laying their eggs in the nest of another species (this is known as brood parasitism). But how does the baby cowbird know they aren't a thrush or sparrow? Radio-tracking of individuals revealed that they wander out of the nest at night, to spend some quality alone time. Scientists still have more work to do to figure out whether this prevents the cowbird from imprinting on the wrong species.

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