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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
Until recently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) kept its plans for its $70 million portion of the...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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ScienceShot: Bird Masters of Illusion
19 January 2012 2:00 pm
It takes some trickery for a male great bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis) to hold a female's attention. He spends a majority of his time building and performing upkeep on an intricate structure called a bower to attract members of the opposite sex. Two stick walls arch over the east and west sides of the bower, and a courtyard filled with trinkets—such as rocks, sticks, shells, and bones—stretches from south to north. Last year, researchers discovered that the male organizes these trinkets, or "gesso," so that the largest ones lie farthest from where the female stands. From the female bowerbird's perspective, the objects all appear to be the same size, an illusion called forced perspective by filmmakers and photographers. Now, researchers who recorded the scene at the bowers of 20 males in northern Australia have shown that the better the gesso objects are arranged in this way, the better a male's chances of mating with a female. The illusion may hold the female's attention for longer than a poorly arranged gesso, the researchers suggest online today in Science, giving the male time to mate with her. Or the pattern may hint that the male has other qualities the female is looking for in a mate.
See more ScienceShots.