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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
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...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
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...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Old Sparrows Are Mocking Birds
19 August 2011 1:13 pm
If you get too close to an old song sparrow (Melospiza melodia), prepare to be mocked. The birds mimic elements of the songs of those who encroach on their territory—a taunt known as song sharing that says, "I've got my eye on you." Young birds don't take part in this parody, however, according to a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Instead, audio recordings reveal that they sing a random tune. Song sharing often leads to a fight, and the researchers suspect that the youngsters don't do it because they're insecure about their battle prowess. The old timers, on the other hand, know that they can hold their own.
Sounds of Old Song Sparrows
An older song sparrow sings a song with highly shared elements.
A neighboring sparrow mimics the older sparrow's song.
A young sparrow sings its own song.
See more ScienceShots.