Post List

  • July 18, 2011
  • 09:19 AM
  • 1,630 views

Chimps Don’t Ape Humans – Develop Tools Independently

by Paul Norris in AnimalWise

The more we learn about the capabilities of animals, the less it seems we can claim as uniquely our own. Now it appears that we may even have to share our treasured Flintstones cartoons, as we have learned that we … Continue reading →... Read more »

Mercader, J., Barton, H., Gillespie, J., Harris, J., Kuhn, S., Tyler, R., & Boesch, C. (2007) 4,300-Year-old chimpanzee sites and the origins of percussive stone technology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(9), 3043-3048. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0607909104  

  • July 18, 2011
  • 08:24 AM
  • 2,104 views

We sit near people who look like us

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

The next time you're in an audience, turn to the person sat next to you and take a good look. That's what you look like, that is. Scary eh? Sean Mackinnon and his research team have shown that people sit next to people who resemble themselves. The effect is more than just people of the same sex or ethnicity tending to aggregate - a phenomenon well documented by earlier research. The new finding could help explain why it is that people so often resemble physically their friends and romantic partners (known as "homophily") - if physically similar people choose to sit near each other, they will have more opportunities to forge friendships and romances.

Mackinnon's team first noted the seating positions of hundreds of different students in a 31-seat computer lab 21 times over 3 months, and whether or not they were wearing glasses - a simple proxy for physical similarity. The students, it was found, sat next to someone who matched them on glass-wearing status far more often than would be expected if they were randomly distributed (the effect size was .63).

A second study of 18 university classes involving over two thousand students expanded this finding to show people were more likely to sit next to someone who matched them on glass-wearing, hair colour and hair length, than would be expected by chance. This held true even focusing just on females or just on Caucasians, thus showing the physical similarity effect is more than mere aggregation by sex or race.

But what if people sit next to physically similar others simply as a side-effect of tending to sit near to friends or partners who, as prior research has shown, tend to be physically similar? A third study addressed this concern by seeing how close participants sat to a stranger. Seventy-two participants took part in what they thought was a study into non-verbal behaviours, part of which involved pulling a chair up to an unfamiliar co-participant (a role played by an actor) so as to interview each other. As expected, participants who more closely resembled the young lady (a 20-year-old brown-haired Caucasian) tended to choose to sit closer to her.

Why do we choose to sit near people who look like ourselves? Clues come from Mackinnon's final study. One hundred and seventy-four participants looked at photos of eight individuals and rated how much they liked them, how much they perceived them to have similar attitudes, and thought they would be accepted by them. They also said how close they would choose to sit near each person. Consistent with the earlier studies, participants said they'd sit nearer those individuals who resembled them (based on similarity ratings provided by independent judges). They also thought these physically similar individuals would share their attitudes, they liked them more, and they expected to be accepted by them, as compared with their judgments about physically dissimilar others. The shared attitudes factor was the strongest. A further possibility is that seeking proximity to physically similar others is an evolutionary hang-over - an instinct for staying close to genetically similar kin.

"Though perhaps appearing innocuous on the surface, the simple process of choosing to sit beside people who are similar to us can have broad implications at the macro level," the researchers said. " ... [S]egregation may occur, which can result in myriad prejudices and misunderstandings. Of course, this tendency is merely one portion of the overall processes that contribute to segregation and homophily more generally, but given the implications for racial and ethnic segregation, it is certainly a phenomenon with profound implications worthy of further pursuit."
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Mackinnon, S., Jordan, C., and Wilson, A. (2011). Birds of a Feather Sit Together: Physical Similarity Predicts Seating Choice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (7), 879-892 DOI: 10.1177/0146167211402094

This post was written by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.

... Read more »

Mackinnon, S., Jordan, C., & Wilson, A. (2011) Birds of a Feather Sit Together: Physical Similarity Predicts Seating Choice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(7), 879-892. DOI: 10.1177/0146167211402094  

  • July 18, 2011
  • 08:00 AM
  • 611 views

Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture

by Christie Wilcox in Science Sushi

People believe a lot of things that we have little to no evidence for, like that vikings wore horned helmets or that you can see the Great Wall of China from space. One of the things I like to do on my blogs is bust commonly held myths that I think matter. For example, I [...]









... Read more »

Gold, L., Slone, T., Stern, B., Manley, N., & Ames, B. (1992) Rodent carcinogens: setting priorities. Science, 258(5080), 261-265. DOI: 10.1126/science.1411524  

Caboni, P., Sherer, T., Zhang, N., Taylor, G., Na, H., Greenamyre, J., & Casida, J. (2004) Rotenone, Deguelin, Their Metabolites, and the Rat Model of Parkinson's Disease. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 17(11), 1540-1548. DOI: 10.1021/tx049867r  

Dangour, A., Lock, K., Hayter, A., Aikenhead, A., Allen, E., & Uauy, R. (2010) Nutrition-related health effects of organic foods: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92(1), 203-210. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29269  

Fedoroff, N. (1999) Plants and population: Is there time?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96(11), 5903-5907. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.96.11.5903  

  • July 18, 2011
  • 07:57 AM
  • 1,409 views

Is attention part of consciousness

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts


Although they usually occur together, top-down attention and consciousness are separate processes according to a review of experimental evidence.
 
There is too much information arriving through the senses for all of it to receive priority perception. Top-down attention selects, in light of current behavioral goals, a portion of the input defined by a circumscribed region [...]... Read more »

  • July 18, 2011
  • 07:02 AM
  • 1,515 views

The Danger of Stereotyping: Does Gay Black = Likable?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s an interesting question. We know from recent research that black criminal defendants who wear glasses may be viewed as less threatening (and therefore more likable). And we’re guessing that gay black men may also seem less threatening than heterosexual black men. By now you likely know we wouldn’t muse on this sort of question [...]


Related posts:The ‘artful dodge’: The danger of a smooth talker
You’re on trial: Is it better to be an atheist or a black radical Muslim lesbian?
Mad enough to kill? It’s better if you’re a woman
... Read more »

Remedios, JD,, Chasteen, AL,, Rule, NO,, & Plaks, JE. (2011) Impressions at the intersection of ambiguous and obvious social categories: Does gay Black . Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. info:/

  • July 18, 2011
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,580 views

July 18, 2011

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

BAR domains are not just regions in a cell where proteins gather for a pint after a long day of cell division, migration, and sorting. No, BAR domains are regions on certain proteins that are able to bend membranes. This comes in handy for vesicle formation during endocytosis, and according to a recent paper, for plasma membrane organization.Eisosomes are regions on the plasma membrane in budding yeast that are important for plasma membrane organization. They are positioned at the plasma membrane, where they sort membrane proteins and signaling molecules into small membrane invaginations. There is a long list of proteins found at eisosomes, many of which are uncharacterized. A recent paper looks at the functions of two core eisosome proteins – Pil1 and Lsp1. Olivera-Couto and colleagues found that these two proteins contain BAR domains, which are able to sense and change the curvature of membranes. Images above are electron micrographs of liposomes, which are artificially made vesicles. Untreated liposomes (top) are round, while vesicles treated with purified Pil1 or Lsp1 (middle and bottom) had tubules (arrows) deformed from the vesicles, showing that these proteins are capable of bending membranes.Olivera-Couto, A., Grana, M., Harispe, L., & Aguilar, P. (2011). The eisosome core is composed of BAR domain proteins Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (13), 2360-2372 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-12-1021... Read more »

Olivera-Couto, A., Grana, M., Harispe, L., & Aguilar, P. (2011) The eisosome core is composed of BAR domain proteins. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22(13), 2360-2372. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-12-1021  

  • July 18, 2011
  • 04:56 AM
  • 1,035 views

To split or not to split

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

Usually when I notice a paper that might be of interest to a particular constituency what I might do is write a post and then send the link to those people and try to get them to comment on it on this blog. With variable results. So with “Managing self-pollinated germplasm collections to maximize utilization” [...]... Read more »

  • July 18, 2011
  • 04:00 AM
  • 1,601 views

An unusual case of orf

by zoonotica in zoonotica

Diseases don’t always behave exactly as we expect them too.  Sometimes, even when we think we’ve worked out most things about them, they can surprise us. A case study published in Dermatology Online Journal – Orf parapoxvirus infection from a cat scratch by J Frandsen et al (see below for full ref) – is a nice [...]... Read more »

Frandsen J, Enslow M, & Bowen AR. (2011) Orf parapoxvirus infection from a cat scratch. Dermatology online journal, 17(4), 9. PMID: 21549084  

  • July 18, 2011
  • 03:42 AM
  • 1,119 views

Assessing ancient traumatic brain injury

by Björn Brembs in bjoern.brembs.blog

Last month, a group of researchers led by Marcel Kamp in Düsseldorf. Germany, rose to fame by studying traumatic brain injury brought about by acts of violence like this:The group analyzed over 700 injuries recorded in the 34 Asterix comic books and published their results in the official journal of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies, known as Acta Neurochirurgica. For some odd reason, I only was made aware of this groundbreaking study now. Well worth reading!Kamp, M., Slotty, P., Sarikaya-Seiwert, S., Steiger, H., & Hänggi, D. (2011). Traumatic brain injuries in illustrated literature: experience from a series of over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comic books. Acta Neurochirurgica, 153 (6), 1351-1355 DOI: 10.1007/s00701-011-0993-6... Read more »

  • July 18, 2011
  • 03:35 AM
  • 1,287 views

Microalgae: The Next Big Thing In Green Power?

by Whitney Campbell in Green Screen

When German botanist Friderico T. Kützing first described the microalga Botryococcus braunii in the 1849 book Species Algarum, I doubt he expected that 150 years later scientists would still be exploring its potential. It's equally probable he didn't anticipate the alga's significance for renewable energy either, which I was rather surprised to learn about myself.... Read more »

  • July 18, 2011
  • 02:25 AM
  • 1,284 views

Beyond Bullet Points in Medical Education

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Buffer
Readers from this blog recognize my interest in presentation skills. Not only the presenting but also the design of slides. Often I’ve written about the boring powerpoint slides often used in lectures with endless bullet points and great deal of text. Several authors have explained why these bullet points won’t teach the audience anything. They [...]


No related posts.... Read more »

  • July 17, 2011
  • 10:10 PM
  • 2,124 views

Autism-Related Gene Spotlight: MECP2

by Lindsay in Autist's Corner

Description of the MECP2 gene, the protein it encodes, its role in the cell, and how various mutations affect the protein's ability to do what it needs to do in the cell, which is chiefly to bind to nucleic acids.... Read more »

Free, Andrew, Robert I. D. Wakefield, Brian O. Smith, David T. F. Dryden, Paul N. Barlow, & Adrian P. Bird. (2000) DNA Recognition by the Methyl-CpG Binding Domain of MeCP2. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 276(5), 3353-3360. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M007224200  

Hite, K., Adams, V., & Hansen, J. (2009) Recent advances in MeCP2 structure and function. Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 87(1), 219-227. DOI: 10.1139/o08-115  

Hoffbuhr K, Devaney JM, LaFleur B, Sirianni N, Scacheri C, Giron J, Schuette J, Innis J, Marino M, Philippart M.... (2001) MeCP2 mutations in children with and without the phenotype of Rett syndrome. Neurology, 56(11), 1486-1495. PMID: 11402105  

Raizis AM, Saleem M, MacKay R, & George PM. (2009) Spectrum of MECP2 mutations in New Zealand Rett syndrome patients. The New Zealand medical journal, 122(1296), 21-28. PMID: 19652677  

Singh, J., Saxena, A., Christodoulou, J., & Ravine, D. (2008) MECP2 genomic structure and function: insights from ENCODE. Nucleic Acids Research, 36(19), 6035-6047. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkn591  

Yusufzai, Timur M., & Wolffe, Alan P. (2000) Functional consequences of Rett syndrome mutations on human MeCP2. Nucleic Acids Research, 28(21), 4172-4179. DOI: 10.1093/nar/28.21.4172  

  • July 17, 2011
  • 05:40 PM
  • 1,167 views

Laugh away cancer (and many other ailments)

by NerdyOne in Try Nerdy

I’ll aJulia Roberts laughingdmit, the concept of laughter therapy is not new. However, I’ve been realizing lately that too few people take the potential benefits of laughter seriously. Yes, ironically, you should take laughter seriously — it’s the one contagious thing that’s nice to catch, and it’s completely free of cost. Intuitively, laughter is a good thing. But what does the research say?... Read more »

Noji S, & Takayanagi K. (2010) A case of laughter therapy that helped improve advanced gastric cancer. Japan-hospitals : the journal of the Japan Hospital Association, 59-64. PMID: 21706962  

Friedler S, Glasser S, Azani L, Freedman LS, Raziel A, Strassburger D, Ron-El R, & Lerner-Geva L. (2011) The effect of medical clowning on pregnancy rates after in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. Fertility and sterility, 95(6), 2127-30. PMID: 21211796  

Berk LS, Felten DL, Tan SA, Bittman BB, & Westengard J. (2001) Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 7(2), 62. PMID: 11253418  

  • July 17, 2011
  • 04:30 PM
  • 1,315 views

Risk averse Taiwanese are also more religious

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

The infamous 'Pascal's Wager' is still often trotted out as a supposedly rational basis for believing in god. While the flaws in that one are well known, it is still commonly believed that risk-averse people are more likely to be religious. Better to go to Church than run the risk of being fried in the hereafter, the supposition goes.

Actually, evidence that risk-averse people are more religious is  weaker than you might suppose. What's more, there's no reason to think that it applies in the world outside of the big three monotheisms. The gods of most Eastern religions are pretty disinterested in other worldly punishment.

In fact, Eric Liu at Baylor University has shown that risk averse Taiwanese are no more likely to be affiliated with a religion.

Intriguingly, he did find that the risk averse were more likely to participate in religious activities - and that went for Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese popular cults and Yiguan Dao (which is a modern, syncretic religion), as well as Christianity.

Liu speculates that this is because there is some risk inherent in not believing in Eastern religions. In Buddhism, failure to follow the 8-fold way means getting stuck in an endless cycle of rebirth. And Confucian and Taoist teachings promise some pretty nasty after-death punishments for those who do not follow a moral code - including those who do not pray or perform the right rituals:

Upon arrival, according to specific sentences, the sinners might be burned in flames, hunted and butchered, or boiled in oil or water. Their backs might be plowed, their tongues torn out with hot iron pincers, or their skin stripped off. They might find themselves in burning hot iron beds, have molten metal poured down their throats, or face other kinds of cruel punishment (Goodrich 1981).
So it's wrong to say that non-belief in these Eastern religions is risk-free. Yet I am not convinced that what we're seeing hear is fear of afterlife punishments.

To me it seems more likely that the risk these people are trying to avert is the very real risk present in this world, rather than potential risks in the next.

That would match with some other research showing that Europeans who believe in the afterlife actually have a lower work ethic. It seems that the religious work ethic in Europe is more to do with securing rewards in this life rather than the next.

We know that people in risky environments tend to be more religious, and I suspect that by participating in religious ceremonies these individuals are hoping that the gods will improve their fortune. What's more, we know that they can expect to get support in their hour of need from their co-religionists - and so there is a double benefit from going to religious services!



Liu, E. (2010). Are Risk-Taking Persons Less Religious? Risk Preference, Religious Affiliation, and Religious Participation in Taiwan Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49 (1), 172-178 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01499.x

This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.



... Read more »

  • July 17, 2011
  • 03:30 PM
  • 1,398 views

What matters: patient-determined outcomes and clinician/researcher outcomes

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that when we choose an outcome measure, we need to seriously consider who will use the measures in the end.  Of course, I am assuming that we’re all using outcome measures – we are, aren’t we?  If anyone isn’t, shame on you – how on earth will you establish whether … Read more... Read more »

  • July 17, 2011
  • 02:09 PM
  • 1,485 views

The SZR model of the zombie apocalypse

by Aaron Sterling in Nanoexplanations

You’ve watched all the movies.  You’ve read all the books.  You’ve even practiced tactial skirmishes with lifesize zombie targets.  But now, all of a sudden, you are thinking, “I didn’t know there would be math!” Actually, if you’re a regular … Continue reading →... Read more »

Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad, & Robert J. Smith?. (2009) When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection. Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress, 133-150. info:/

  • July 17, 2011
  • 11:27 AM
  • 1,303 views

The Google Stroop Effect?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The Google logo.Notice the logo is multi-colored (as pointed out by Neurobonkers). Seeing "Google" printed in a solid color (or in any other font, for that matter) would likely result in a Stroop effect, or a slower response time in identifying the color of the font, relative to that of a neutral word.Is Google making us stupid?That question, and its original exposition in The Atlantic, has been furthering the career of Nicholas G. Carr. His subsequent book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, expanded upon his broader thesis that the internet is damaging to our cognitive capacity and the way we think. Numerous writers, both pro and con, have debated whether the internet and social networking sites (and computers in general) are harmful, so I won't belabor that point here. Instead, I'll cover a new article in Science that purportedly found Google Effects on Memory (Sparrow et al., 2011).Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our FingertipsThe paper by Sparrow et al. (2011) conducted four experiments to determine whether the ability to access previously learned information reduces the effort put forth in remembering and retrieving the information. Specifically, the authors view the internet as a form of transactive memory, a means to offload some of the daily cognitive burden from our brains to an external source. Or, as succinctly expressed in ars technica, why bother to remember when you can just use Google?This is nothing new, nor is it something dependent on the internet. In 1985 Wegner et al. (PDF) examined the way that married couples can have a division of labor along the lines of which facts to remember (Bohannon, 2011):For example, a husband might rely on his wife to remember significant dates, while she relies on him to remember the names of distant friends and family—and this frees both from duplicating the memories in their own brains. Sparrow wondered if the Internet is filling this role for everyone, representing an enormous collective act of transactive memory. Another example is illustrated by the phenomenon of the open book test. If students know they can use their textbooks to answer questions on an exam, they may put forth less effort into rote memorization of facts, and may instead learn the organization of each chapter, familiarizing themselves with where particular facts are located within the text. That indeed is what was demonstrated in Experiments 3 and 4, but in terms of accessing the information online or from a computer's hard drive.The Google Stroop EffectExperiment 1 asked whether the participants were primed to access computer-related words when faced with difficult trivia questions, relative to when they answered easy trivia questions (examples below).Appendix A: Easy Questions1. Are dinosaurs extinct?2. Was Moby Dick written by Herman Melville?3. Is the formula for water H20?4. Is a stop sign red in color?5. Are there 24 hours in a day?. . .16. Does a triangle have 3 sides?Appendix B: Hard Questions1. Does Denmark contain more square miles than Costa Rica?2. Did Benjamin Franklin give piano lessons?3. Does an Italian deck of card contain jacks?4. Did Alfred Hitchcock eat meat?5. Are more babies conceived in February than in any other month?. . .16. Is a quince a fruit?The way the authors assessed automatic priming of internet- and computer-related words is by using a modified version of the ever-popular Stroop test. Name the font color of these words but don't read the words themselves:REDBLUEGREENNow do the same for this set of words:RED BLUE GREENBet you were faster for the first set. That's because reading is a much more automatic process than naming the ink color in which the words are printed. This conflict between response options produces interference and slows reaction times (RTs) in the task.The modified Stroop task used by Sparrow et al. relied on attentional salience rather than response conflict. Instead of color words, the participants viewed words related to computers and search engines, or words not related to these things:This color naming contained 8 target words related to computers and search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, screen, browser, modem, keys, internet, computer), and 16 unrelated words (e.g., Target, Nike, Coca Cola, Yoplait, table, telephone, book, hammer, nails, chair, piano, pencil, paper, eraser, laser, television).First off, you'll note that there are twice as many control words as there are computer words1. More importantly, you'll also notice that the unrelated words included prominent brand names (some of which are strongly associated with a particular color) and a grab bag of nouns from different semantic categories (furniture, tools, writing implements, musical instrument, etc.). The Google logo is multi-colored (as we've said before), and the current Yahoo logo is purple (it used to be red).Hmm. So already we're looking at quite a confound. Nonetheless, the authors expected a larger Stroop effect for the search engines for different reasons:In this case, we expect participants to have computer terms in mind, because they desire access to the information which would allow them to answer difficult questions. Participants are presented with words in either blue or red, and were asked to press a key corresponding with the correct color. At the same time, they were to hold a 6 digit number in memory, creating cognitive load.Why? Why oh why did the authors want to create a cognitive load during the Stroop? This turns the whole study into a dual task experiment, requiring the participants to multi-task: a key press for red or blue (which requires retrieval of ... Read more »

  • July 17, 2011
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,420 views

Consumer Perception of Health – The Cost of Happiness

by Shaheen Lakhan in Brain Blogger

Consumer perception drives most of the success or failure of an industry. When consumers perceive a need for a product or service, an industry has a limitless ability to expand, innovate and thrive. In the health care industry, the product consumers crave (and need) is health and wellness. Health and wellness is an essential quality [...]... Read more »

  • July 16, 2011
  • 05:46 PM
  • 1,015 views

Narcolepsy…zzzZZZzzz…

by James Byrne in Disease Prone

Everyone knows what narcolepsy looks like from movies like the ridiculous display in Deuce Bigalow (one of the ‘adorable misfit bunch of suitors’) to other more subdued examples like Mike in My Own Private Idaho. Oh, and when I say that, I mean people know the stereotype of the instantaneous drop during dinner into a bowl of soup. What I really mean is that the stereotype isn’t the norm at all.... Read more »

Klein J, & Sato A. (2000) The HLA system. Second of two parts. The New England journal of medicine, 343(11), 782-6. PMID: 10984567  

Mignot E. (2001) A commentary on the neurobiology of the hypocretin/orexin system. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(5 Suppl). PMID: 11682267  

Maret S, & Tafti M. (2005) Genetics of narcolepsy and other major sleep disorders. Swiss medical weekly, 135(45-46), 662-5. PMID: 16453205  

Zorick FJ, Salis PJ, Roth T, & Kramer M. (1979) Narcolepsy and automatic behavior: a case report. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 40(4), 194-7. PMID: 422531  

  • July 16, 2011
  • 05:10 PM
  • 1,111 views

Birds and ant swarms

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

In July and August, typically in sunny days after rains, swarms of reproductive Black Garden Ants (Lasius niger) - winged queens and males - emerge from their nest to mate and start new colonies. Workers also come out en masse and run around the entrance of the nest, looking agitated. I had often noticed this and wondered why do workers did this, until yesterday, watching a Blackbird feeding on the winged ants coming out of their nests, realised why. The Blackbird run close to the entrance, fetched a winged ant and run away. The bird repeated this several times and was obviously being stung or sprayed by the ants around the nest, but still wanted to feed and its back-and-fro behaviour was evidence of the - at least partial - success of the frantic workers keeping predators at bay. Winged ant have many predators. Some casually feeding on the winged ones, others opportunistically making use of a plentiful, although ephemeral, bonanza. A range of birds fall in the latter category, starlings and sparrows feed on the winged ants - sometimes using fly-catcher techniques - and seagulls have been seen feeding on them up in the sky. While reading a paper on this, I remembered that last year, on the day the ants emerged, I looked up in the sky and saw many small flying things and thought they might be the flying ants. When I looked more closely I saw they were seagulls, and was surprised at how many there were, well over a hundred, soaring very high up. I took a shot (below) and forgot about it. They were most likely feeding on the winged ants that had been carried high by thermals in their swarming mating flight.Seagull flock feeding on swarming ants (26/07/10)This is the nest in the bottom right hand corner of the top photoWorkers around a nest with winged ants emerging (26/07/10)ReferenceJames Baird and Andrew J. Meyerriecks (1965). Birds Feeding on an Ant Mating Swarm. The Wilson Bulletin, 77 (1), 89-91.Gilbert S. Grant (1992) Opportunistic Foraging on Swarming Ants by Gulls, Shorebirds, and Grackles. The Chat, 56, 80-82.... Read more »

James Baird, Andrew J. Meyerriecks. (1965) Birds Feeding on an Ant Mating Swarm. The Wilson Bulletin, 77(1), 89-91. info:/

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