Neuroscientists uncover secret to intelligence in parrots

University of Alberta neuroscientists have identified the neural circuit that may underlay intelligence in birds, according to a new study. The discovery is an example of convergent evolution between the brains of birds and primates, with the potential to provide insight into the neural basis of human intelligence, according to Science Daily.

"An area of the brain that plays a major role in primate intelligence is called the pontine nuclei," explained Cristian Gutierrez-Ibanez, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology. "This structure transfers information between the two largest areas of the brain, the cortex and cerebellum, which allows for higher-order processing and more sophisticated behaviour. In humans and primates, the pontine nuclei are large compared to other mammals. This makes sense given our cognitive abilities."

Lemurs can smell weakness in each other

Some people watch the competition carefully for the slightest signs of weakness. Lemurs, on the other hand, just give them a sniff ,according to Science Daily.

These primates from Madagascar can tell that a fellow lemur is weaker just by the natural scents they leave behind, finds a study on ring-tailed lemurs led by Duke University researchers. Males act more aggressively toward scents that smell "off."

"Our study shows that physical injury from peers dampens an animal's scent signature, and in a way that its counterparts can detect," said Duke professor of evolutionary anthropology Christine Drea.

Mars valleys traced back to precipitation

The surface of Mars bears imprints of structures that resemble fluvial steam networks on Earth. Scientists therefore assume that there must have been once enough water on the red planet to feed water streams that incised their path into the soil. For years, however, scientists have been debating the source from which this water must have originated: was it rainwater that caused streams and rivers to swell? Or did water ice in the soil melt due to volcanic activity, and seep out to form rivers? Each of these scenarios leads to a completely different conclusion about the climatic history of the red planet, according to Science Daily.

Biologists show that female seals have consistent personalities

Female seals don't change their spots, according to a new study by University of Alberta biologists. In fact, individual differences in boldness remain consistent over time, according to Science Daily.

The study is among the first to examine boldness in wild marine mammals in the burgeoning field of animal personality. Animal personality influences many ecological processes, like how individuals interact with other species or respond to changing environmental conditions.

Researchers studied female seals on Sable Island, home to the world's largest grey seal colony. Over a nine-year period from 2008 to 2016, biologist Christi Bubac measured boldness responses in the female seals when defending their offspring.

Pet rabbits are less afraid of people because their brains have SHRUNK and reshaped thanks to domestication

Domesticating rabbits has changed the structure of their brains so that they process fear completely differently to wild ones, scientists have shown, according to Daily Mail.

Pet bunnies are less afraid of contact with humans, thanks to 'profound' differences in their brains, revealed by advanced imaging scans.

Alterations were found in regions involved in their response to fear, the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex.

Scientists at Uppsalla University in Sweden raised domestic and wild rabbits in similar conditions and used high-resolution MRI scanners to study how domestication affected their brains.