- News Home
6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
- About Us
ScienceShot: Camouflaged Quail Eggs Hide in Plain Sight
17 January 2013 12:00 pm
A run-of-the-mill Japanese quail egg looks like it's been splattered with ink. Some quail hens lay beige eggs with just a few tiny speckles. Others have dark hefty blots. But the birds always lay them on the ground where, theoretically, they're vulnerable to predators. To see if quail used the natural landscape to camouflage their eggs, researchers set up a small pen with patches of ground covered in sand of different colors—white, beige, red-brown, and black. After photographing 179 eggs laid by quail (above and in high-resolution), the team used a computer program to detect the outlines of the eggs, then moved the eggs to alternative backgrounds to compare detection. The quail knew which backgrounds camouflaged their eggs best against the eyes of predators, the team reports today in Current Biology, laying the lightly spotted eggs on light backgrounds and the heavily spotted eggs on dark backgrounds. The quail even chose the absolute best of the four options about half the time, showing that these bird brains are capable of some serious strategy.
See more ScienceShots.