A hostile environment and inconsistent weather may explain why some birds become better singers than others, and are also likely to have superior learning and mating skills, according to a new study.
The research is based on a large-scale study of mockingbirds in different habitats carried out by researchers at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina, the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, and McGill University.
"As environments become more variable or unpredictable, song displays become more elaborate," said Carlos Botero, a postdoctoral researcher at NESCent.
A mudslide has killed five children in northern Afghanistan, where weeks of heavy rain has killed about 150 people and destroyed hundreds of houses, officials said on Saturday.
The children, aged between seven and 10, died in the northern province of Balkh late on Friday when they were buried by earth and stones as they were playing and watching animals graze, deputy provincial governor Abdul Satar Barez said.
The earth had been loosened by construction and days of downpour, he said.
There have been reports of huge dust storms in the south-west of New South Wales as winds whip up dirt from dry paddocks.
The Bureau of Meteorology says there are strong easterly winds in excess of 35 kilometres per hour going right through the ranges, northern tablelands and central tablelands, with the strongest winds in Wagga.
In oceans around the world, heat-resistant algae are offering the prospect of a colourful future for corals. The reef-forming animals are upgrading their symbiotic algae so that they can survive the bleaching that occurs in waters warming under climate change.
"The most exciting thing was discovering live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the ocean is likely to get 100 years from now," says Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University.
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with tiny algae called zooxanthellae. The corals give the algae a home and, in exchange, the algae provide the corals with food. When water temperatures get too hot, the corals expel the algae. This is what is known as coral bleaching and it is expected to kill coral reefs around the world as global temperatures rise.
The most extensive study of pollutants in marine mammals' brains reveals that these animals are exposed to a hazardous cocktail of pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs, as well as emerging contaminants such as brominated flame retardants.
Eric Montie, the lead author on the study currently in press and published online in Environmental Pollution, performed the research as a student in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-MIT Joint Graduate Program in Oceanography and Ocean Engineering and as a postdoctoral fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
The final data analysis and writing were conducted at College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, where Montie now works in David Mann's marine sensory biology lab.
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
Scientists living under an oppressive regime
decide to clinically study the founders and supporters of evil regimes to determine what common factor is at play in the rise and propagation of man's inhumanity to man.