Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 11:02 am
By Barbara J. King
Credit Jessica Merz / Flickr
Here's a journal-paper title that grabbed my eye: Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics.
OK, there's some jargon included — "cacophonous aggregations" refers to birds called in by other birds' vocalizations, and "conspecifics" just means other individuals of the same species. But it's the "f" word — funeral — that caught my attention.
Scientists have found that the aquatic birds are good indicators of toxins in the environment. That's why researchers have taken to the waters of western Maine for what's believed to be the longest-running loon monitoring study in North America.
A man is not a mollusk, and many men probably think that's a good thing. And it's not just because a mollusk is a squishy invertebrate with a shell. It's also because for at least one species of mollusk, the males do all the heavy lifting when it comes to childcare.
The species of mollusk we're talking about is Solenosteira macrospira, a marine snail about 2 inches long. These snails live off the coast of Baja California, and during the mating season, the beach is awash with male and female snails in connubial bliss.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft's 35th anniversary is proving to be unexpectedly exciting, as scientists gathered this week to examine new hints that the spacecraft is on the verge of leaving our solar system.
Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth. It blasted off in September 1977, on a mission to Jupiter and Saturn. But it also carried a Golden Record filled with music and the sounds of our planet, in case it encountered intelligent life as it moved out toward the stars.