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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Video: If You've Never Ridden an Alligator, Here's What You're Missing
15 January 2014 5:00 pm
Until now, if you wanted to figure out how a crocodile or alligator hunted, you had to get up close and personal with the dangerous reptiles. But thanks to a bit of technology, researchers can now keep a safe distance. A team of scientists captured 15 alligators on an island off the coast of Florida and strapped a large-shoebox-sized package containing a waterproof camera and other data sensors to each animal's back. The cameras were programmed to take video documenting the reptiles’ attempts to catch prey (as seen in video), and then the strap would detach after 1 to 2 days. Researchers had known that alligators are active at night, but they assumed that hunting occurred most often in the morning. This study showed that while morning hunting attempts were more likely to be successful, alligators actually do most of their hunting at night, the researchers report today in PLOS ONE. The reptiles also made many of their successful kills while completely underwater, a fact that had been missed by observational studies. Although alligators are the top predator in their environments, how much they eat and when they hunt has been poorly understood until now. The results change the picture of known alligator behavior in ways that could affect conservation: For example, the researchers' data show that alligator counts, done at night by shining a light and looking for the telltale red reflections from their eyes, occur during a time when half the alligators may be below the surface, unseen.