Birds startled by moving sticks

Do animals -- like humans -- divide the world into things that move and things that don't? Are they surprised if an apparently inanimate object jumps to life?

Yes -- according to scientists at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge.

The researchers tested how jackdaws responded to moving birds, moving snakes and moving sticks -- and found they were most cautious of the moving sticks according to Science Daily.

How spider eyes work together to track stimuli

Using a specially designed eye-tracker for use with spiders, biologists Elizabeth Jakob, Skye Long and Adam Porter at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, along with colleagues in New York and New Zealand, report that their tests in jumping spiders show a secondary set of eyes is crucial to the principal eyes' ability to track moving stimuli, according to Science Daily.

As Jakob explains, jumping spiders have excellent vision and eight eyes. The forward-facing principal eyes are shaped like long tubes inside the spider's head, with small, boomerang-shaped retinas that can detect color and fine details. Small retinas mean that the principal eyes also have a small field of view, she adds. To compensate, the eye tubes are surrounded by muscles that can direct the eyes to look within the visual field. She says, "I like the analogy of a flashlight beam, shining around the room and picking out only a little bit of the scene at a time."

Do lizards dream like us?

Researchers from the Sleep Team at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center CNRS  have confirmed that lizards exhibit two sleep states, just like humans, other mammals, and birds. They corroborated the conclusions of a 2016 study on the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) and conducted the same sleep investigation on another lizard, the Argentine tegu (Salvator merianae). Their findings, nevertheless point out differences between species, which raises new questions about the origin of sleep states, according to Science Daily.

Role of 'natural factors' on recent climate change underestimated, research shows

Pioneering new research has given a new perspective on the crucial role that 'natural factors' play in global warming, according to Science Daily.

The study, by Dr Indrani Roy at the University of Exeter, suggests that the natural phenomena such as solar eleven-year cycles and strong volcanic explosions play important roles in recent climate change which has been 'underestimated'.

All existing studies focus on the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere as being the main driver of global temperature rises.

However, Dr Roy suggests that the role natural factors plays in climate change should be given more prominence. This study explores various possible areas where models miss important contributions due to these natural drivers.

Why huskies have blue eyes

DNA testing of more than 6,000 dogs has revealed that a duplication on canine chromosome 18 is strongly associated with blue eyes in Siberian Huskies, according to a study by Adam Boyko and Aaron Sams of Embark Veterinary, Inc., and colleagues. Embark is a dog DNA startup company. According to the authors, this represents the first consumer genomics study ever conducted in a non-human model and the largest canine genome-wide association study to date, according to Science Daily.

Consumer genomics enables genetic discovery on an unprecedented scale by linking very large databases of genomic data with phenotype information voluntarily submitted via web-based surveys.