En route to answering this question, a new study shows that some components of snake venom can be used for defensive purposes also.
This is the latest study in the growing field of research on animal vocalisations. Deciphering animal communication is an important aspect of tracing the evolution of language in humans.
At the end of every month, Janaki Lenin will quickly review interesting recent research on living things.
Humming males are like beacons to egg-heavy females. But for some reason, some males don’t hum.
While the lobster young seem to successfully ward off jellyfish defences, how do they digest their toxic prey?
The tricks moray eels use to hunt may mean that they can have a bigger impact on their ecosystems than any other predator of similar size.
What do monkey gestures say about human language? Some argue the origin of human language lies in vocal calls while others nod towards gestures.
On two occasions, mother humpbacks with calves joined other humpbacks to chase away killer whales from sea lions. They even put their calves at risk.
Are primates capable of grieving? Do they know what death is?
Indigenous people in Africa communicate with a species of bird called the great honeyguide by making specific calls in their quest for beehives.
But what exactly are mantis shrimps using their ridiculously elaborate eyes for?
The long history of capuchins’ usage of stone hammers poses more questions about how tool use originated and spread in the New World.
Migrating birds burn up reserves even though they feed at regular pitstops during their flight over oceans. So what energy-saving trick do great frigatebirds use?
How does a plant digest its prey? What molecular processes aid digestion? A group of German scientists worked to solve the mysteries of the Venus flytrap.
None of self-mutilation, cannibalism, bondage and genital plugging among the spiders surprised the researchers as much as the males performing oral sex as well.
They survived the cataclysmic event that killed the dinosaurs. What nifty adaptations did these ancient mammals have? Australian scientists say it may be their ability to curl up and go into torpor.
Could a 56-ton Moby Dick ram and sink Ahab’s Pequod that would have weighed nearly 240 tons? Using computer simulations, a study says sperm whales have the ability to ram ships without suffering serious harm.
If the behaviour of our closest relatives can change so dramatically, what are the implications of the parasite’s hold over humans?
Until researchers come up with an experiment that rules out some variables, the jury on whether animals can have abstract thoughts is still out, and definitely not settled against their favour.
For a long time, scientists thought consolation was a uniquely human trait. This barrier separating humans from animals is being battered down by species after species.
Ants may not have dodged death, but remaining spry as spring in the evening of one’s life is enviable.
Could Spider Man climb up skyscrapers like he does in the comics? Scientists say that normal-sized sticky hands and feet alone won’t help him.
If you thought trust was a unique trait of humanhood, you’d be mistaken. Our close relatives – the chimpanzees – trust too. This recent finding pushes the origin of trust way back to a common ancestor.
Marine animals’ ability to navigate across open seas has long been a mystery. Scientists now have an inkling of how sharks find their way.
When going up trees, snakes use a type of crawling called the concertina that isn’t only fast but also likely saves energy.
Puff adders can give even trained dogs the slip.
During a famine, vole populations can crash. Those with better navigation and memory skills dote on their partners, defend their mates from philandering males, and make successful parents.
What’s remarkable about this study isn’t that birds gave up food to stay with their mates. They recognised their mates were hungry and helped them access food. That’s true pair bonding.
Snakes lost their limbs to become expert burrowers. But they emerged to colonise trees, land, and the seas with that same unique tubular body shape.
Chicks raised by parents of another species could face an identity crisis. If their foster parents and siblings belong to a different species, how do the free-loading chicks know who they are?
The predator’s electric discharge forces them to give themselves up, paralyses its victims’ muscles, and locates them even when they are hidden. The electric eel is every fish’s worst nightmare.
Only a few of these long-lived giants appear to develop cancer. However, animals at the other end of the body-size and age spectrum such as mice and rats are highly prone to cancer.
Since the slender pitcher plant’s lid movement is externally driven, the plant isn’t limited by energy or time. It can move rapidly as long as it rains.
Herbivores have evolved to be less sensitive to bitter leaves and fruits than carnivores, and their larger livers detoxify these natural compounds. However, some animals are losing this ability.
Sexually mature male sticklebacks stop urinating as soon as the breeding season starts in late spring and early summer. Until then, they urinate like other creatures.
The ones left holding the babies among seahorses, pipefishes, and seadragons are the males. The masculine gender of this group of fish is the only one in animal kingdom to get pregnant.
Although it’s still unclear how young crows learn to fashion implements, their cleverness and ability to make tools with their beaks continue to astonish.
Octopuses are solitary creatures. Even when mating, they don’t canoodle. That’s because octopuses are cannibals.
Antarctic fur seals are so good at finding their own pups, they rarely nurse another’s young.
The ill-fated arachnids serve their masters well, feeding them and constructing safe houses.