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Animal Behavior

July 15, 2006 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Meerkats actively teach their young how to catch and eat their prey, British researchers reported Friday in the journal Science. Animals are known to learn from one another by watching, but the team at the University of Cambridge said they had demonstrated for the first time that the meerkats actually teach. Older meerkats, for instance, will bite the stinger off a live scorpion and give the prey to a youngster to kill and eat.
June 24, 2006 | Roy Rivenburg, Times Staff Writer
Four pelicans were being detained in an animal drunk tank Friday on suspicion of public intoxication, authorities said. One of the birds was in guarded condition after allegedly flying under the influence Thursday and crashing through the windshield of a car on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. The driver was rattled but uninjured. The other California brown pelicans were nabbed in backyards or wandering local streets in a daze.
June 17, 2006 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer ice-free seasons are making it more difficult to hunt the ringed seals that are its principal food source. A study published in the online version of the journal Polar Biology reviewed three examples of predation from January to April 2004 by polar bears, including the first-ever reported killing of a female in a den shortly after giving birth. Polar bears do kill each other for dominance and breeding rights.
May 6, 2006 | From Bloomberg
A tiny black-and-white songbird that flies from West Africa to the Netherlands to lay its eggs in mid-April is arriving too late for dinner, in what may be one of the subtler consequences of global warming, a new study says. The number of European pied flycatchers has dropped 90% in some areas because the supply of caterpillars is peaking earlier, leaving the birds with no food for their chicks, according to results in this week's issue of the journal Science.
February 3, 2006 | From Reuters
Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who fans claim is never wrong, predicted six more weeks of winter Thursday, matching the forecast of professional meteorologists. "Phil is incapable of error. If he says six more weeks of winter, you can take it to the bank," said Mike Johnston of the Groundhog Club Inner Circle. According to legend, when the rodent emerges from hibernation Feb. 2 and sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. Otherwise, warmer weather is near.
December 29, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
Scientists are stumped about why thousands of rare seabirds are suddenly being spotted on land in Northern California. Red phalaropes live many miles off the Pacific Coast and usually land only in the Arctic, where they breed and raise their young. But bird enthusiasts began spotting the birds in Sonoma County on Christmas Day, and flocks have since been reported in residential neighborhoods of San Francisco, Palo Alto and Los Gatos, among other areas.
December 2, 2005 | William Mullen, Chicago Tribune
Keo, a 47-year-old male chimpanzee at Lincoln Park Zoo, paced the floor of his nonpublic living quarters one recent afternoon, clearly annoyed with his keepers. In his rolling gait, he would stride up to a glass wall, stop and glare at the humans on the other side. He was supposed to have been at work on his computer at 1:30 p.m., but now it was 1:40 p.m., and the door to a small adjoining room with the computer was locked so he couldn't enter.
November 28, 2005 | Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer
Among the tortoises -- out in their Mojave Desert kingdom of arroyos and burrows fringed with creosote -- the hormones were running high. Among them was an old male courting so many females that scientists dubbed him a "cad." An unusually cooperative female they called a "hussy." Then there was a bully who thrashed competitors, but was no stud, and a huge female who showed little interest in guys. Recent dawn-to-dusk observations have led U.S.
November 19, 2005 | Alex Raksin, Times Staff Writer
Scientists have identified a "fear" gene in mice that when removed turns them into daredevils, seemingly heedless to both inborn fears and risky situations that normal mice have learned to avoid through experience. The gene, known as stathmin, controls the production of a protein linked to the creation of long-term fear patterns, said Rutgers University geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky, who led the study, published Friday in the journal Cell.
November 8, 2005 | Scott Doggett
WILDLIFE officials are reminding Californians not to feed deer in the wake of three recent buck attacks, including a fatal assault on a San Diego man. According to Ryan Broddrick, director of the California Department of Fish and Game, this is the time of year bucks exhibit breeding behavior and become more aggressive. In San Diego County, a 73-year-old Rancho Santa Fe man died several weeks after he was gored in the mouth by a buck he surprised while working in his backyard.
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