Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' societies

Whales and dolphins live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, and talk to each other - much like human societies, new research has revealed.

These intelligent creatures are even more sophisticated than we thought and have regional group dialects, look after friends' children and teach each other how to use tools, the study found.

Researchers found dolphins sometimes use a call associated with an individual when they're not there - suggesting they gossip about each other too.

Brain study reveals how insects make beeline for home

Scientists have discovered how the wiring of bees' brains helps them plot the most direct route back to their hive.

Researchers have shed light on the complex navigation system that insects use to make their way home in a straight line following long, complex journeys.

They have revealed how a network of neurons integrates every detail of changes in direction and distance covered on outbound journeys, and enables bees to return directly home according to Science daily.

How Yellow and Blue Make Green in Parrots

When it comes to spectacular displays of color, birds are obvious standouts in the natural world. Many brightly colored birds get their pigments from the foods that they eat, but that's not true of parrots. Now, researchers reporting a study of familiar pet have new evidence to explain how the birds produce their characteristic yellow, blue, and green feathers according to Science daily.

The findings promise to add an important dimension to evolutionary studies of parrots, the researchers say.

Animals that play with objects learn how to use them as tools

Researchers have discovered that New Caledonian crows and kea parrots can learn about the usefulness of objects by playing with them -- similar to human baby behaviour.

The study, led by researchers, demonstrated that two types of bird were able to solve tasks more successfully if they had explored the object involved in the task beforehand.

It has long been thought that playful exploration allows animals to gather information about their physical world, in much the same way that human infants learn about their world through play according to Science daily.

In one of the first direct tests of this hypothesis, scientists studied two bird species, the New Caledonian crow and the kea parrot, to understand how they interact with objects before, during and after a task involving that object.

Dr Katie Slocombe, said: "Both species of bird are known for exploring objects in different ways. The New Caledonian crow use objects in the wild and the kea parrot is known for often being destructive in its play back in its native.

"We found that both species were better at selecting the correct tools to solve a task if they had the opportunity to explore them beforehand, suggesting that they were learning something about the properties of them as they interacted with them."

New study changes our view on flying insects

For the first time, researchers are able to prove that there is an optimal speed for certain insects when they fly. At this speed, they are the most efficient and consume the least amount of energy. Corresponding phenomena have previously been demonstrated in birds, but never among insects.

Previous studies of bumblebees have shown that they consume as much energy in forward flight as when they hover, i.e. remain still in the air. New findings show that this does not apply to all insects.