Friday, November 09, 2012

Some science links, November 9th

Ed Yong on secret passwords of birds " fairy-wrens have a way of telling their chicks apart from cuckoos. Diane Colombelli-Negrelfrom Flinders University in Australia has shown that mothers sing a special tune to their eggs before they’ve hatched. This “incubation call” contains a special note that acts like a familial password. The embryonic chicks learn it, and when they hatch, they incorporate it into their begging calls. Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos lay their eggs too late in the breeding cycle for their chicks to pick up the same notes. They can’t learn the password in time, and their identities can be rumbled."

Parrot in captivity manufactures tools, something not seen in the wild

From ScienceNews Trunk in cheek, elephant mimics korean

From ScienceNews An ancient civilization's wet ascent and dry demise

Tom Stafford on Zeigarnik effect and other things: "There’s a textbook psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect, named after Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. In the 1930s, Zeigarnik was in a busy cafe and heard that the waiters had fantastic memories for orders – but only up until the orders had been delivered. They could remember the requests of a party of 12, but once the food and drink had hit the table they forgot about it instantly, and were unable to recall what had been so solid moments before. Zeigarnik gave her name to the whole class of problems where incomplete tasks stick in memory......A plausible explanation for the existence of the Effect is that the mind is designed to reorganise around the pursuit of goals. If those goals are met, then the mind turns to something else."

From ScienceDaily Antibiotics disrupt gut bacteria in infants, According to one of the authors "This research suggests that the merits of administering broad spectrum antibiotics -- those that kill many bacterial species -- in infants should be reassessed, to examine the potential to use more targeted, narrow-spectrum antibiotics, for the shortest period possible".

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