Bats, bears and some birds do it, but humans can’t: hibernation. Animals hibernate to save energy through long cold winters. Sounds appealing, doesn't it? NASA wants to know if human hibernation is possible. Why? Because it because it would make the trip to Mars a hell of a lot less boring.
Confession time: I adore chocolate. I’ll never forget a chocolate experience I had almost 20 years ago when I was given the opportunity to try some <em>Gymnema sylvestre</em>. It’s a herb that suppresses your ability to taste sweetness. And eating chocolate straight after the herb was rather distressing. The chocolate had virtually no taste and had the texture of wax, or maybe soap. I could feel it coating my tongue and teeth and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to eat it again. That’s the power of our taste buds. But not all animals can taste the same flavours we can.
When I was a kid I aspired to live to 100 so I could get my letter from the Queen. These days I have a rather different view of the monarchy and more insight into the pivotal role of good health in old age. If you want to talk old age, there are a plenty of other animals and plants with lifespans far more impressive than ours. The question is: why do some living things live so much longer than others?
Late last week, my husband and I briefly ‘became’ billionaires in our quest to conserve some of Australia’s threatened mammals. Well ok, we never really had the cash, but let’s dream for a moment. What could Australians do if we actually had that kind of money to spend on wildlife conservation?
Most animals do it. You’ve been doing it since before you were even born. And it’s quite likely looking at these photos has made you do it now. Yawning. But why do we yawn and why is yawning so contagious?
You’re probably aware that going to the supermarket when you’re hungry is a bad idea. Research published back in 1969 showed that people tend to buy more food if they hadn’t eaten recently and were hungry. But that’s not the only way hunger affects the choices we make.
Chimpanzees use blades of grass to ‘fish’ for termites, and capuchin monkeys use a hammer and anvil to crack open nuts. A mandrill has even been seen using a stick to get dirt out from under his toenails. We’ve known for a long time that other primates use tools but how about animals that aren’t our close relatives?
Bees have long been famous for their “waggle dance”, a series of moves telling other bees where good food can be found. But do you know just how intricate this dance is? It turns out bees have a complex language and we know how to eavesdrop onto their conversations.