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Proceedings of the Royal Society B

  1. Ingenious Bats Use Curled Leaves as Their Own Batphones

    How else are they supposed to know when Batman needs to create a diversion?

    Much like Jim Gordon's Batphone, the curled leaves of some South American plants are carrying the calls of bats. OK, they're more like a megaphone than the Batphone, but the image of tiny bats calling Commissioner Gordon is too entertaining to ignore.

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  2. Giant Fossil Lizard Named After Jim Morrison

    The Doors frontman and "Lizard King" now has a king-sized lizard named in his...honor, I guess?

    Vegetarian lizards today --like iguanas, for example -- tend to be significantly smaller than their large mammalian counterparts, which include enormous herbivores like moose and elephants. According to new fossil evidence, though, that wasn't always the case. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have shown that 40 million years ago, herbivorous lizards up to 6-feet-long roamed the forests of Southeast Asia, and they've named the long-lost animal in honor of Doors frontman Jim Morrison. 

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  3. Barnacles Throw Sperm At One Another To Reproduce

    Since they spend their entire lives glued to one spot -- be it a rocky shore or the hull of your uncle's fishing boat -- barnacles have had to develop breeding techniques that let them get a little action without leaving the comfort of home. Those techniques, from the hermaphroditism that is common in most barnacle species to the enormous penises -- as long as four times the length of their own body -- boasted by the creatures have long fascinated researchers studying sex in the animal kingdom. One species of barnacle, though, has just been found to demonstrate a never-before-seen sexual behavior that will have biology students giggling into their textbooks for years to come. The practice, in which barnacles produce sperm and simply fling it into the water hoping for the best, is known as spermcasting, and if it's found to be widespread in other species, it could rewrite the book on barnacle sex.

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  4. Super Fun Happy Slide? Carnivorous Plant Leaves Act as Water Slides for Insect Prey

    Wondering what the most fun way to be gruesomely devoured alive is? Wonder no more. Microscopic hairs coat the surface of carnivorous pitcher plants, and when those hairs get wet, watch out --  just a little rain can turn the plant walls into water slides for the insects the plant preys upon, sending them careening helplessly down into the stomach of the plant. You can see the slippery slide in action in the video below, as ants crawl adeptly over the dry plant, but drop helplessly into the wet one like characters in a Benny Hill sketch.

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  5. Primitive Eel Species Described As "Living Fossil" Discovered

    Proving once again that there are still places on our own planet that have yet to yield all their secrets, scientists have discovered a unique eel off the coast of the Republic of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. This eel has been dubbed a "living fossil" due to its unusually primitive features. These features led researchers to create a new taxonomic family to classify the eel in relation to other eel species. The eel, described in the researchers' paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is an 18cm-long female, collected during a dive in an 35-m deep underwater cave. The species was named Protoanguilla palau, according to the new family, genus, and species names bestowed by the researchers. According to the researchers from Chiba's Natural History Museum in Japan, the Southern Marine Laboratory in Palau, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the eel likely embarked on an independent evolutionary history millions of years ago.

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  6. Survey Method Shows That A Throw of the Dice Makes People More Honest

    In general, the smart criminals among us know that the basic elements of getting away with an illegal act is to deny personal involvement. The old, "it wasn't me" defense. But there are many circumstances where researchers and policy makers need accurate data about criminal acts in order to better understand how to prevent them from happening, in addition to understanding their magnitude. One such instance is the illegal killing of leopards in South Africa. So, how can you get people to own up to the crimes they have committed? Researchers from Bangor University in the UK have a solution: Get the suspected criminal to throw dice. Led by Freya St John and Julia Jones, researchers have tested a randomized response technique based on throwing dice to get more accurate information from the public about the number of illegal leopard killings that take place in South Africa.

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  7. Study: Parrot Parents Name Their Babies

    Parrots, with their amazing abilities to mimic speech and talk to humans in addition to each other, are by far impressive communicators. But research shows that parrot conversations are even more complex. Each parrot has its own signature call that others use to address it, which is the parrot equivalent of having a name. But where do these "names" come from? New research has shown that just like with human babies, parrot parents name their offspring, even before the babies can communicate themselves. The research, led by Karl Berg of Cornell University, used video cameras to record the communication process of green-rumped parrots (Forpus passerinus) in Venezuela. The wild parrot study showed that even before chicks begin to chirp back at their parents, adults give them a signature sound by which they are addressed. The babies will take this sound and in some cases tweak it before using it throughout their life.

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  8. Shape-Shifting Cuttlefish Use Visual Clues

    There are many examples of species that change their visual appearance to protect themselves from predators, most notably the chameleon. Among these color changing animals is the cuttlefish, and related species of squid and octopus, which have long been known to change their coloring to help them blend in with nearby objects. But now researchers have shown that cuttlefish take blending-in one step further. New research from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA has demonstrated for the first time that Cuttlefish also change their physical position to make them appear inconspicuous to predators.

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