Animals in the News

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News

African elephants

African elephants’ decision-making abilities are left impaired by culling operations that ended decades ago, University of Sussex research suggests.

A study found that elephant herds that lost adults to culls during the 1970s and 1980s were less able to respond appropriately to other elephant calls.

Lead researcher Prof Karen McComb said the animals’ “social understanding” had been impaired by the loss of adults.

The results are published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

Christian Science Monitor

Scientists say that natural selection could trim out female lizards with too much of a ‘beard,’ a strip of bright-blue scales on their necks and along their sides.


Male fence lizards prefer to dole out their attention to females without a throat dabbled in blue scales.

Langkilde lab/Penn State University

Ecologists at Penn State University reported this week that male fence lizards discriminate against female fence lizards sporting blue “beards” – dabbles of bright azure scales on their necks and along their sides –  preferring instead to lavish their attention on beardless females. That’s a find that scientists say may suggest that natural selection will in time trim out female lizards with too much of a beard.

“This was really striking since female ornamentation in this species is thought to serve no function and has been ignored by scientists,” says Tracy Langkilde, a biologist at Penn State University and the principal investigator on the paper, published in the journalBiology Letters, in an email interview. “It’s clear that it in fact plays a role in male mate choice, and has some potentially important consequences for reproductive success.”

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