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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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ScienceShot: Pollutant Changes Sexual Preference
30 November 2010 7:02 pm
Scientists have long known that mercury in the environment can harm wildlife. A new study shows it can also change their sexual preference. Researchers collected 120 white ibis chicks from the wild and raised them in captivity for 3 years. They fed some of the birds a diet laced with mercury, a common pollutant from coal-burning power plants. As the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 55% of male birds in the group exposed to the highest level of mercury, 0.3 parts per million, formed mating pairs with other males. Male-male pairs are not unheard of in the wild, but they typically occur when females are unavailable. In this study, the birds had an ample supply of mates. Though the mechanism is unknown, the study suggests that mercury may threaten the survival of ibises and other species, as no laws exist to protect them from exposure.
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