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Like the clever and many-armed cephalopod, Inkfish reaches into all areas of science and brings you interpretations of the newest stories.

Elizabeth Preston
281 posts

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  • July 29, 2014
  • 12:02 PM
  • 5 views

When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke told by zoologists: What do you get when you cross a bird that always flies to the west with one that always flies east? But the punch line is weirder than you’d guess. Birds’ migratory routes are partly coded into their DNA. A baby that inherits […]The post When Mom and Dad Have Different Migratory Routes, Kids Fly Right Down the Middle appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 25, 2014
  • 09:45 AM
  • 113 views

Some Bees Are Busier Than Others

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It may be time to leave “busy as a bee” with other dubious animal similes like “happy as a clam” and “drunk as a skunk.” That’s because some bees, it turns out, aren’t all that busy. A small group of hive members do the bulk of the foraging, while their sisters relax at home. But […]The post Some Bees Are Busier Than Others appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 18, 2014
  • 11:01 AM
  • 78 views

Baboons Trade Morning Favors for All-Day Payoffs

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Primates basically invented “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Baboons, for example, trade grooming for favors from other troop members. Social relationships are important to the monkeys. But it seems they put more effort into certain relationships depending on the time of day: in the morning, lower-ranking baboons invest more energy in grooming […]The post Baboons Trade Morning Favors for All-Day Payoffs appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Sick, C., Carter, A., Marshall, H., Knapp, L., Dabelsteen, T., & Cowlishaw, G. (2014) Evidence for varying social strategies across the day in chacma baboons. Biology Letters, 10(7), 20140249-20140249. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0249  

  • July 15, 2014
  • 12:18 PM
  • 74 views

Here’s What Happens When You Put Camera Traps in Trees

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The world holds very few unexplored places between zero and six feet off the ground. If humans can walk right up to it and take a picture, we probably already have. But the tops of the trees, like the bottom of the ocean, are a different story. “We know so much less about arboreal mammal […]The post Here’s What Happens When You Put Camera Traps in Trees appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Gregory, T., Carrasco Rueda, F., Deichmann, J., Kolowski, J., & Alonso, A. (2014) Arboreal camera trapping: taking a proven method to new heights. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5(5), 443-451. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12177  

  • July 9, 2014
  • 11:19 AM
  • 95 views

Say No to Nocebo: How Doctors Can Keep Patients’ Minds from Making Them Sicker

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

“First, do no harm,” the saying goes, but that might be close to impossible. Just as our expectations can make us feel better, they can also make us feel much worse. This means that how doctors phrase their instructions or introduce new drugs may have a real impact on our health. But some doctors are […]The post Say No to Nocebo: How Doctors Can Keep Patients’ Minds from Making Them Sicker appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • July 1, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 112 views

To Feed the World, Try Legos

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

“It was an idea that just popped into my head,” says Ludovico Cademartiri, a materials scientist who’s upped his research game by using Legos. He hopes other researchers will steal his idea, and not just because Legos are fun. Cademartiri thinks the humble bricks could help solve the world’s impending food crisis. Members of Cademartiri’s […]The post To Feed the World, Try Legos appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 27, 2014
  • 08:46 AM
  • 123 views

Objects Bring Fear the Closer They Appear

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Quick: which of these things should you worry about if it’s coming toward you? a.) grizzly bear b.) pedestrian c.) frowny face emoticon You many not have time to assess all the risks (is the bear running? does the frowny face have greater-than-symbol eyebrows?). But without thinking about it, you’ll have a bad feeling about […]The post Objects Bring Fear the Closer They Appear appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Hsee, C., Tu, Y., Lu, Z., & Ruan, B. (2014) Approach aversion: Negative hedonic reactions toward approaching stimuli. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(5), 699-712. DOI: 10.1037/a0036332  

  • June 24, 2014
  • 10:45 AM
  • 98 views

City Birds Are Adapted for Every Kind of Stress

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Whether you make your home in a high-rise apartment building or a drainpipe, city life has a different pace than country life. Urban environments mean an endless series of challenges for your mind and body: noise, crowds, pollution, quick decisions while facing oncoming vehicles. City-dwelling humans like to think of themselves as  tough and not […]The post City Birds Are Adapted for Every Kind of Stress appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Costantini, D., Greives, T., Hau, M., & Partecke, J. (2014) Does urban life change blood oxidative status in birds?. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/​jeb.106450  

  • June 20, 2014
  • 10:34 AM
  • 118 views

Yaks Use Highest, Steepest Parts of the World for No-Boys-Allowed Meetings

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s hard for humans to tell what wild yaks are doing up there. Living high in the Tibetan Plateau, the rare ungulates are not easy to find. When scientists managed to track some down, they saw that females are hanging out in huge groups with no males allowed. And, though no one knows why, the […]The post Yaks Use Highest, Steepest Parts of the World for No-Boys-Allowed Meetings appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

JOEL BERGER, ELLEN CHENG, AILI KANG, MICHAEL KREBS, LISHU LI, ZHAO XIN LU, BUQIONG, BUZHOU, & GEORGE B. SCHALLER. (2014) Sex differences in ecology of wild yaks at high elevation in the Kekexili Reserve, Tibetan Qinghai Plateau, China. Journal of Mammalogy. info:/10.1644/13-MAMM-A-154

  • June 17, 2014
  • 11:08 AM
  • 121 views

Picky Eaters Are Less Likely to Be Eaten

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Subsisting on only one food is a poor survival strategy for humans, but a great one for caterpillars. Caterpillar species with very specialized diets are less likely to be plucked from their leaves by hungry birds, scientists have discovered. The less picky eaters are more apt to die (even if their moms praise them in […]The post Picky Eaters Are Less Likely to Be Eaten appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Singer, M., Lichter-Marck, I., Farkas, T., Aaron, E., Whitney, K., & Mooney, K. (2014) Herbivore diet breadth mediates the cascading effects of carnivores in food webs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401949111  

  • June 13, 2014
  • 11:54 AM
  • 150 views

Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

A word of advice to female fruit flies looking for a mate: it’s not hard to catch the eye of a male Drosophila. He’ll chase after almost anything that moves. Really—including a metal cube dabbed with pheromones. That may be embarrassing for the male, but it also shows scientists how a tiny-brained animal weighs information when […]The post Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 10, 2014
  • 11:19 AM
  • 118 views

10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

1. Literally. Like pill bugs, Madagascar’s giant pill-millipedes protect themselves by rolling into a ball. The larger species may end up in a package the size of a tennis ball. But millipedes in the genus Sphaeromimus are a more manageable size, only up to an inch or two long. 2. It sings. Sphaeromimus millipedes have ridged […]The post 10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’ appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 6, 2014
  • 10:34 AM
  • 175 views

Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Whoever named the macaroni penguin was not thinking of dinner, but the name is unfortunately apt. A shocking number of these birds get gobbled up by other large seabirds while they’re young, a new study found. Researchers are trying to fit this puzzle piece in with high predator numbers, rising ocean temperatures, and vanishing populations […]The post Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 3, 2014
  • 09:15 AM
  • 140 views

Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

In what might be considered a mixed message outside of the ichthyology world, scientists have named a new species of cavefish after the Indiana University Hoosiers. It’s blind, has its anus behind its head, and distinguishes itself from its nearest relative by being a little fatter. But its discovery might help keep the world’s other […]The post Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 30, 2014
  • 10:00 AM
  • 152 views

Wasps Choose the Sex of Their Young—but Climate Can Foil Them

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s a good thing human sex isn’t determined the same way a parasitoid wasp’s is, because “sugar and spice and everything nice” is much easier to rhyme than “sperm and moderate temperatures.” But that’s what little wasp girls are made of. A mother wasp can choose the sex of each egg she lays by deciding […]The post Wasps Choose the Sex of Their Young—but Climate Can Foil Them appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 27, 2014
  • 11:20 AM
  • 131 views

“No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you’ve ever described your daily routine as leaving a comfortable place and going somewhere nearly incompatible with life, you were probably exaggerating how bad your job is. A Humboldt squid wouldn’t be exaggerating. It spends its days in areas of the ocean with what should be fatally low oxygen levels. To survive, it cranks […]The post “No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 22, 2014
  • 11:43 AM
  • 191 views

Evolution Made Ridiculous Flightless Birds Over and Over

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Watching an ostrich sprint across the plain like a mean two-legged dust mop, you might think a mistake has been made. Surely this isn’t one of evolution’s prouder moments? But new genetic evidence says that the group of birds including ostriches, emus, and other ungainly birds all came from flying ancestors. They lost the ability […]The post Evolution Made Ridiculous Flightless Birds Over and Over appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 19, 2014
  • 09:53 AM
  • 166 views

Drunk Fish Convince Sober Ones to Follow Them Around

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s a good thing fish can’t operate a vehicle. Not only do drunk zebrafish swim extra fast, but they somehow get all the sober fish to follow them. Essentially, a drunk fish becomes the designated driver for the whole group. Although a fish is only marginally like a human, fish can be convenient subjects for […]The post Drunk Fish Convince Sober Ones to Follow Them Around appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Ladu F, Butail S, Macrí S, & Porfiri M. (2014) Sociality Modulates the Effects of Ethanol in Zebra Fish. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. PMID: 24819037  

  • May 14, 2014
  • 11:50 AM
  • 202 views

Genetic Test Shows Who’s Who in Cheese Bacteria (and Fungus)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Before you enjoy your next slice of gouda or wedge of brie, you might take a moment to think of all the organisms that have nibbled it before you. Cheeses get the flavors you love from the bacteria and fungi that live on and inside them. And thanks to genetic testing, those microscopic workers are […]The post Genetic Test Shows Who’s Who in Cheese Bacteria (and Fungus) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Schornsteiner E, Mann E, Bereuter O, Wagner M, & Schmitz-Esser S. (2014) Cultivation-independent analysis of microbial communities on Austrian raw milk hard cheese rinds. International journal of food microbiology, 88-97. PMID: 24794620  

  • May 9, 2014
  • 10:00 AM
  • 158 views

Bumblebees in Danger Use the Buddy System

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Like teenagers walking into a cafeteria, bumblebees can make quick social calculations about the safest place to alight for a meal. If they don’t sense danger, they’ll land wherever’s convenient. But if the setting is treacherous, a bumblebee will check out all its options and look for a seat near a friend. No matter how […]The post Bumblebees in Danger Use the Buddy System appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

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