Those ships would be the downfall of the not-so-dumb dodo. Paul Roget/Getty Images Humans love to ridicule the dodo bird (Raphus cucullatus). After all, when Dutch sailors first arrived on the isle of Mauritius in the late 1500s, these flightless chumps willingly marched aboard the invading ships like nature's own self-delivering KFC buffet. Between their too-docile-for-this-world temperament and the encroachment of invasive species, it's no surprise that the dodo vanished from its island home by the late 17th century. But are we too hard on the dodo for falling, like so many other species, to the reckless stupidity of human expansion? A new study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society suggests that yes we are, in fact, jerks. Researcher Eugenia Gold and her team used high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scans on a well-preserved dodo skull, as well as the skull of its extinct relative Rodrigues solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria). They also CT-scanned the … [Read more...] about Dodo Birds: Maybe Not Complete Dummies After All
Spyro reignited bird brained
Bird Box prompted layers of disbelief in me the first time I watched. Much of this came from the implausibility of its plot, which features, among other things (Spoilers ahead), Sandra Bullock rowing down a river while blindfolded for 48 hours, avoiding rocks and the bank, staying straight most of the time. She’s excellent at not seeing, it turns out. The nonsense soon piles up into towers. You realize that this movie, though it aspires to portray a universe as formalized as A Quiet Place, has no sense of its own rules. You understand with each passing minute that the talents of great actors like Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, and Jacki Weaver are being squandered, and you wonder how it is that none of these seemingly articulate, thoughtful, and/or empathic people stepped up to say, “Uh, maybe we should rethink this thing that no one spent much time thinking about in the first place,” or if they did, why no one listened. And then, it dawns on you, or in … [Read more...] about , a Movie for Your Bird Brain
With their capability for complex social reasoning, crows would be good candidates for a species of bird people. Sergiy1975/iStock/Thinkstock Humans evolving from birds isn't as crazy as it sounds. Modern humans are unique in the animal kingdom, but the list of evolutionary adaptations that were required to get us where we are is actually pretty short; an advanced brain, cooperative social structure, toolmaking and language to speed up cultural transmission can carry a species a long way. Some bird species are at least partly there. Who knows — if a roll of the evolutionary dice had wiped out early humans, would some other species have achieved our level of success instead? Perhaps most importantly: Would bird people be able to fly? Would we lay eggs? Among the many intelligent bird species, the best candidate for a humanlike creature probably would come from the genus Corvus. These are crows, ravens and rooks, and they have a lot to work with if they're shooting for … [Read more...] about What if people had evolved as birds?
A male (the bright red bird) and female cardinal go a-courtin'. Male and female cardinals each have their own separate songs. Gary Carter/Getty Images Many bird-watchers (and bird-listeners) believe that a singing bird must be a male bird. But that's not true. And that misconception can have a lot of serious consequences. Two ornithologists (scientists who study birds) recently put out a call to action for scientists and laypeople alike to pay more attention to the singing habits of female birds. The paper was published online on March 14, 2018, in the journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances. Traditionally, female songbirds have been overlooked because more males sing, says the paper's co-author Lauryn Benedict, a University of Northern Colorado biology professor. But the ratio isn't overwhelmingly in favor of males, as it turns out. "Worldwide, we think that females sing in about two-thirds of all songbird species," she emails. "That's a pretty rough estimate, though, because for … [Read more...] about We Need to Know Why the Female Bird Sings
Some species of sparrow prefer man-made nesting sites such as roof spaces and holes in walls. DEA/D. CAMBI /De Agostini/Getty Images The house sparrows and finches of Mexico City are proud to be called bird brains. And why not? They have figured out how to use one of the most disgusting things on Earth – cigarette butts – to repel two of the other most disgusting things on Earth – ticks and mites. These blood-sucking, feather-feasting ectoparasites are a constant and pervasive threat to the nests of mama birds. Country birds have easy access to nature's bountiful nest-making materials, including certain insect-repelling herbs and plants. City-dwelling birds, on the other hand, face a concrete and steel urban landscape, and must curate their nests from a more anthropogenic, or man-made, palette. Enter cigarette butts. A Dec. 5, 2012 study published in Biology Letters details the ongoing investigation of an urban population of breeding house finches and house … [Read more...] about Urban Birds Oust Bugs With Butts