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Being friendly puts monkeys at risk in times of revolution

Posted on 5 Feb 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

Being too friendly can be costly. When a new alpha male takes over, female capuchin monkeys are more likely to lose their offspring to infanticide if they have an extensive network of social contacts than if they don’t. Image: inottawa

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Parasite turns wasp into zombie then drills through its head

Posted on 25 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

The crypt gall wasp (Bassettia pallida) is a master manipulator. It parasitises the sand live oak tree, encouraging it to form hollow galls – or “crypts” – in its woody stems. Young wasps develop inside the crypts through the second half of the year, chewing their way out to emerge as adults the following spring. Image: hoan luong

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Despite what you might think, chickens are not stupid

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

It is also common for people to view chickens as unintelligent animals that lack the complex psychological characteristics of “higher” animals like monkeys and apes. This is a view reinforced by some depictions of chickens in popular culture. But chickens are anything but dumb. Image: Hopkinsii

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Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Baboon grunts and barks have more in common with human speech than we thought. The monkeys routinely produce five of the distinct vowel sounds found in our languages. Image: Derek Keats

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Watch cockatoo genius chew out a tool from a piece of cardboard

Posted on 15 Nov 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

It’s toolmaking with intent. Goffin’s cockatoos in the lab use their beaks to carefully cut out a tool from a sheet of cardboard before using it to retrieve an out-of-reach nut. Image: siestakeysunset

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Why cities are unleashing birds of prey into their skies

Posted on 4 Oct 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Environment, Journalism

While political hawks and doves clash inside the Palace of Westminster, real hawks patrol the skies above the famous buildings to control the population of feral pigeons – which, despite the name, are actually a kind of dove. Falconry is a hugely popular pest control measure. But is it effective? Image: left-hand

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