Dogs change their facial expressions when they know people are looking at them--perhaps in an effort to communicate. For instance, canines in the study would make the classic "sad puppy face"--raising their inner eyebrows to make their eyes look larger and more infant-like--when looking into a human's eyes. The discovery adds to scientists' ever-growing understanding of man's best friend, one of our species's longest companions. Humans and dogs have lived side by side by some 30,000 years, and along the way, evolution seems to have sculpted dogs' behavior. Research has shown that dogs constantly monitor humans, intently watch our gestures, and in comparison to hand-reared wolf puppies, tend to look up at human faces more often.
Watch: This may be the first footage of a blue whale "heat run." Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth, but we know surprisingly little about their complex social interactions--and they've rarely been recorded on camera. But new footage filmed off the coast of Sri Lanka by pro whale photographer Patrick Dykstra, in conjunction with blue whale scientist Howard Martenstyn, may be a first. Their video shows what they believe is the first known clip of a blue whale "heat run." Heat runs have been well documented in humpback whales, but no known footage exists of the behavior in blue whales (or at least that Dykstra or National Geographic could find).
For decades, the cougar (Puma concolor) has been thought of as a loner predator, running across other members of its species only to mate or to fight. But a new study now shows that, contrary to popular belief, cougars have quietly built for themselves a rich, hierarchical society based largely on sharing food--a find that stands to upend scientists' preconceptions about one of the Americas' most iconic big cats. "For more than 60 years of intensive research... we have said that [cougars] are solitary, robotic killing machines," says Mark Elbroch, lead scientist for the Puma Program at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. "Instead, what we have unveiled is a secretive animal with a complex social system completely built on reciprocity. "That flies in the face of everything we ever thought about this animal," he adds.
A massive school of fish in the ocean forms a fascinating natural sight. A vacationer with a drone camera captured a scene fit for a horror movie: a group of sharks, also known as a shiver, feasting on a school of menhaden fish off the coast of New York's Hamptons, one of the most famous vacation spots in the United States. "Sharks' travel patterns in the area are well documented, and include regularly feeding on large schools of fish," he said. Skomal points out that through the use of drones to document shark feeding, we get a look at these creatures in a new way.
Bowery Farms grows hydroponic crops out of a warehouse in Kearny, New Jersey, using LED lights. Here, Bowery Farms co-founder and CEO Irving Fain talks about the future of urban farming and why it's important. Bowery vertically stacks its plants to maximize growing space. Of course, the idea of growing food indoors isn't really new--what's changed?
This year's large size is mainly due to heavy stream flows in May, Rabalais continued, which were about 34 percent above the long-term average and carried higher-than-average amounts of nutrients through Midwest waterways and into the Gulf. In its action plan for the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force recently extended the deadline until 2035 for achieving the goal of a 1,950-square-mile dead zone, which would be roughly the size of Delaware. Shrinking the annual Gulf of Mexico dead zone down to that size, however, will require a much higher 59 percent reduction in the amount of nitrogen runoff that flows down the Mississippi River, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The bottom line is that we will never reach the action plan's goal of 1,950 square miles until more serious actions are taken to reduce the loss of Midwest fertilizers into the Mississippi River system," says University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Don Scavia, lead author of the paper.
Seen from overhead, this large body of water with cascading waterfalls might appear to be a remote lake. By July 13, the river had reached a historic high of 16.5 feet. Lakes often form when water fills natural basins created by receding glaciers, tectonic activity, volcanic eruptions, or dammed rivers. Echo Lake Dam just north of Burlington was opened several inches to relieve pressure on the affected areas, and water will likely stop gushing into the quarry soon, allowing it to drain.
New research shows ravens are as skilled as humans as planning and bartering. "Monkeys have not been able to solve tasks like this," Osvath says, noting the birds are actually more skilled than human children. The researchers also set up an experiment to test the birds' bartering skills. "It is really surprising to see ravens were better at solving two planning tasks than great apes and children presented with similar problems," says Alex Taylor, an animal cognition expert University of Auckland in New Zealand who was not involved in the new study.
Even though these huge fish are 12 feet across, the social behavior of the reef manta ray has generally remained secretive--until now. In rare drone footage captured off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii by Mark Merkley, the unique and graceful feeding behavior of the reef manta ray is captured in great detail. Manta ray individuals "stack" behind one another while feeding. The social groupings of manta rays are intriguing in part because they aren't necessarily family groups.