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!
Once a year or so, there's a canine science conference, and it's happening again this weekend. You can live stream the whole thing FOR FREE!!! DO IT!! Or at least drop in for a few talks. This year's speakers include Katheryn Lord, Hal Herzog, James Ha, and my friend @DogSpies will be there too!
We often hear the results of the studies, but not about all the challenges of actually conducting them! One lab that studies birds that lay eggs in other species' nests (known as brood parasitism) in the past had to make their "fake eggs" by hand, using plaster of paris - making it difficult to make every egg exactly the same. 3D printing has now made it possible to save time, make better experimental stimuli, and still fool those birds.
If you're a bird, you might want to know if that peanut is a good one. Mexican Jays use head movements (very similar to those made by squirrels) to weigh peanuts, and use this information to choose heavier ones to eat.
Were dinosaurs actually warm-blooded? A reanalysis of dinosaur growth data that treats birds and dinosaurs as part of the same "family" (since birds are considered dinosaurs) suggests growth patterns of an "intermediate" category - somewhere in between warm-blooded and cold-blooded.
If you yawn when someone else near you yawns, you're not alone. Contagious yawning is considered a primitive form of empathy. That's why we thought only primates did it, you know, all that "humans are special" stuff? A new study demonstrates contagious yawning in budgies, a highly social, intelligent parrot.