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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Baffling Boing Identified
9 December 2002 (All day)
In the 1950s, nervous U.S. Navy sonar operators wondered if the mysterious “boing” they heard in their headphones was an enemy submarine. Later, researchers guessed the weird groan was produced by a large fish or marine mammal--noting that it was only heard in winter in a narrow swath of the North Pacific. Now, scientists say they've tracked the baffling boing to its source: a minke whale.
The aural breakthrough came early last month aboard the David Starr Jordan, a U.S. research vessel cruising Hawaiian waters in search of whales and dolphins. Government biologist Shannon Rankin says that hydrophone operators first heard the puzzling sound on 7 November, launching the ship on a several hour chase. Guided by software that allows researchers to home in on noise sources, the crew eventually observed a 7-meter-long North Pacific minke whale surfacing in the vicinity of the boings.
The discovery also revealed a minke breeding ground, says Rankin and biologist Jay Barlow, a colleague at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. "They were hiding, all this time, in the rough winter waters of the central North Pacific," says Barlow. Based on the behavior of related whales, the researchers believe the noise is the love call of a male minke.