While whales are known to grieve the loss of their loved ones, the recent story of an orca mom clinging to her dead calf for over two weeks demonstrates unprecedented evidence of the strength of the species’ familial bonds. The heart-wrenching saga began on July 24, 2018, after a female calf born to J35, aka Tahlequah — a member of the endangered Southern Residents Killer Whales (SRKW) pod — died 30 minutes after birth. Instead of letting the carcass sink into the ocean, the grieving mother began carrying the lifeless body by balancing it on her forehead or nudging it along the water surface with her nose.
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Large predators are increasingly appearing in unexpected places — alligators in saltwater marshes, killer whales in rivers, and mountain lions far away from the closest mountain. Experts hypothesize that as successful conservation efforts increase the local populations of these predators, they are moving beyond their usual habitats in search of food. However, Brian Silliman, professor of marine conservation biology at Duke University has a different theory. He believes the animals are recolonizing habitats they lived and hunted in for centuries — before human activity pushed them to the brink of extinction, and long before researchers began studying them.
Every now and again, Mother Nature reveals a delightful surprise in the form of something unusual and remarkable. One such extraordinary occurrence is the recent discovery of an extremely rare hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin. The mammal was first sighted in August 2017 by a group of researchers on a two-week expedition to document marine life off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.
When it comes to brain power, bottlenose dolphins are second only to humans. The highly social animals are known to teach one another to tail walk, to help fellow dolphins in distress, and to even carefully prepare their food instead of instantly devouring it like most animals. Now, a new study indicates that male bottlenose dolphins maintain unique whistles, or ‘names,’ to enable them to recognize friends and rivals within their social group.
Pesky as they may be, ants are truly incredible creatures. In addition to talents like predicting earthquakes and morphing into rafts to save themselves from drowning during floods, the industrious insects go all out to protect their own, often carrying wounded comrades back to the nest to heal. Now, researchers have discovered ants who explode and sacrifice themselves to save their colonies from predators.
A parasite that can transform ants into zombies and make them do its bidding may sound like something straight out of a science fiction movie. However, that is precisely what the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, or, zombie ant fungus does to unsuspecting carpenter ants. Now, a new study has discovered that the fungus accomplishes this ghoulish feat without infecting the ant’s brain.
While birds may appear to flutter about in the world, magically finding their way to food and other members of the flock, the reality is, species migrate to the same destination, time and again. Over the years, researchers have established that the animals use Earth’s magnetic fields as guides. However, how they sense these fields has been a mystery.
Pet owners usually have no choice but to implant their cats or dogs with microchips to help identify the animals if they get lost or decide to escape. However, one Siberian Husky in Israel did not need the modern technology — he could sing his way home!