Pigeons better at multitasking than humans

Pigeons are capable of switching between two tasks as quickly as humans -- and even more quickly in certain situations. These are the findings of biopsychologists who had performed the same behavioural experiments to test birds and humans. The authors hypothesize that the cause of the slight multitasking advantage in birds is their higher neuronal density.

Secret to why birds DON'T lose their hearing with age

Birds do not suffer hearing loss as they get older, a discovery which could lead to new treatments for deafness, scientists say.

A study of barn owls found they have 'ageless ears', a genetic advantage that allows their hearing cells to regenerate according to Daily mail.

Typically our hearing goes as the sensory cells in our ears die off with age, but the new research suggests that barn owls can regenerate these cells.

Scientists believe the special ability benefits all birds - the only other previous research of its kind, carried out on starlings, came up with the same result.

RNA discovery could help boost plant heat, drought tolerance

Scientists have discovered a ribonucleic acid, or RNA, that can increase the thale cress plant's resistance to stress from drought and salt.

The discovery could help illuminate a new pathway to engineering drought- and salt-tolerant plants, including food crops, said Dr. Liming Xiong.

"This is the first finding of a long non-coding RNA, or lncRNA, that regulates plant tolerance to adverse, non-physiological external factors," Xiong said.

The lncRNA his team discovered in thale cress plants existed in low numbers under non-stress conditions, but levels increased when the plants encountered drought or salt stress, he said. Manually increasing the level of the lncRNA showed corresponding increases in drought and salt tolerance compared with plants where the lncRNA level was unaltered according to Science daily.

Ancient amphibian had mouthful of teeth ready to grab you

The idea of being bitten by a nearly toothless modern frog or salamander sounds laughable, but their ancient ancestors had a full array of teeth, large fangs and thousands of tiny hook-like structures called denticles on the roofs of their mouths that would snare prey, according to new research.

In research, Professor Robert Reisz, Distinguished Professor of Paleontology, explains that the presence of such an extensive field of teeth provides clues to how the intriguing feeding mechanism seen in modern amphibians was also likely used by their ancient ancestors according to Science daily.

Individuality drives collective behavior of schooling fish

New research sheds light on how "animal personalities" -- inter-individual differences in animal behaviour -- can drive the collective behaviour and functioning of animal groups such as schools of fish, including their cohesion, leadership, movement dynamics, and group performance. These research findings provide important new insights that could help explain and predict the emergence of complex collective behavioural patterns across social and ecological scales, with implications for conservation and fisheries and potentially creating bio-inspired robot swarms according to Science daily.

For centuries, scientists and non-scientists alike have been fascinated by the beautiful and often complex collective behaviour of animal groups, such as flocks of birds, schools of fish, and herds of wildebeest. Animals often group together and time and coordinate their behaviour as it may provide them with protection against predators and help in finding food. Often, those spectacular collective patterns emerge from individual group members using simple rules in their interactions, as compelling experimental and theoretical work has shown.