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Parrot genome analysis reveals insights into longevity, cognition

Parrots are famously talkative, and a blue-fronted Amazon parrot named Moises -- or at least its genome -- is telling scientists volumes about the longevity and highly developed cognitive abilities that give parrots so much in common with humans. Perhaps someday, it will also provide clues about how parrots learn to vocalize so well, according to Science Daily.

Morgan Wirthlin, a BrainHub post-doctoral fellow in Carnegie Mellon University's Computational Biology Department, said she and her colleagues sequenced the genome of the blue-fronted Amazon and used it to perform the first comparative study of parrot genomes.

By comparing the blue-fronted Amazon with 30 other long- and short-lived birds -- including four additional parrot species

In death, Lonesome George reveals why giant tortoises live so long

Lonesome George's species may have died with him in 2012, but he and other giant tortoises of the Galapagos are still providing genetic clues to individual longevity through a new study by researchers at Yale University, the University of Oviedo in Spain, according to Science Daily .

Genetic analysis of DNA from Lonesome George and samples from other giant tortoises of the Galapagos -- which can live more than 100 years in captivity -- found they possessed a number of gene variants linked to DNA repair, immune response, and cancer suppression not possessed by shorter-lived vertebrates.

"Lonesome George is still teaching us lessons," said Adalgisa "Gisella" Caccone, senior researcher in Yale's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and co-senior author of the paper.

The ancient 'missing link' toothless whale that sucked squid into its mouth

A prehistoric 15-foot-long (4.5 meters) whale that sucked prey into its mouth represents a key missing puzzle piece concerning the evolution of today's huge filter-feeding whales, scientists have revealed.

The researchers described fossils unearthed of a whale named Maiabalaena nesbittae that lived 33 million years ago, according to Daily Mail.

They possessed neither teeth nor baleen, the material that modern filter-feeding whales use to strain large amounts of tiny prey out of the water for food. 

Dogs are 'no more intelligent' than cats say experts

It may seem from a dog's friendly demeanour and ability to perform tricks that they are smarter than most animals but a new study suggests this is not the case. 

Psychologists from Exeter and Canterbury University examined the cognitive abilities of 'man's best friend' when compared with other animals - including cats.

Experts concluded that canines do not possess particularly higher intelligence than their feline rivals, as well as a number of other creatures, according to Daily Mail.  

Researchers used data on observations of the behaviour of dogs, cats, wolves and chimpanzees to see if pooches possessed any specific special skills.

Predators drive Nemo's relationship with an unlikely friend

Predators have been identified as the shaping force behind mutually beneficial relationships between species such as clownfish and anemones, according to Science Daily.

The finding results from a University of Queensland and Deakin University-led study.

Dr William Feeney said the research aimed to understand the origin of such relationships, known as interspecies mutualisms, which are extremely common in nature.

"Clownfish -- like Nemo from Finding Nemo -- and anemones are a great example of this type of relationship," he said.

"Clownfish live in and around anemones, helping drive off the anemone's predators and providing it with food, while in exchange the anemone provides protection with its stinging tentacles.