How to be winner in the game of evolution

A new study helps explain why different groups of animals differ dramatically in their number of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life according to Science daily.

For millennia, humans have marveled at the seemingly boundless variety and diversity of animals inhabiting the Earth. So far, biologists have described and catalogued about 1.5 million animal species, a number that many think might be eclipsed by the number of species still awaiting discovery.

Climate change could trigger strong sea level rise

About 15,000 years ago, the ocean around Antarctica has seen an abrupt sea level rise of several meters. It could happen again according to Science daily.

University climate researcher Michael E. Weber is a member of the study group. He says, "The changes that are currently taking place in a disturbing manner resemble those 14,700 years ago." At that time, changes in atmospheric-oceanic circulation led to a stratification in the ocean with a cold layer at the surface and a warm layer below. Under such conditions, ice sheets melt more strongly than when the surrounding ocean is thoroughly mixed. This is exactly what is presently happening around the Antarctic.

Traffic noise reduces birds' response to alarm calls

Pollution can take many forms -- including noise. Excess noise in the environment from sources such as traffic can have negative effects on animals that rely on sound to communicate and get information about their surroundings. A new study shows that traffic noise makes birds less responsive to alarm calls that would otherwise alert them to dangers such as predators according to Science daily.

 Megan Gall and Jacob Damsky tested how traffic noise affected the reactions of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice to titmouse alarm calls, which warn birds that a predator is nearby. Using speakers set up near feeding platforms baited with bird seed, they recorded the birds' responses to three different recordings -- alarm calls alone, traffic noise alone, and a combination of the two.

Insectivorous long-fingered bats may also be capable of catching fish, should the opportunity arise

While most long-fingered bats eat only insects, they may all be instinctively able to also catch fish, according to Science daily. Ostaizka Aizpurua and colleagues.

Many animals adapt their diets when their environment changes and new food sources become available. Long-fingered bats (Myotis capaccinii) are generally thought to consume only insects, but previous studies found some individuals that ate fish.

Rudolph's antlers inspire next generation of unbreakable materials

Scientists have discovered the secret behind the toughness of deer antlers and how they can resist breaking during fights according to Science daily.

The team looked at the antler structure at the 'nano-level', which is incredibly small, almost one thousandth of the thickness of a hair strand, and were able to identify the mechanisms at work, using state-of-the-art computer modelling and x-ray techniques.

First author Paolino De Falco said: "The fibrils that make up the antler are staggered rather than in line with each other. This allows them to absorb the energy from the impact of a clash during a fight."