Research 2004


12 16 04 Homeward-bound Ants Use Angular Signposts
Trails laid down by Pharaoh’s ants (Monomorium pharaonis) always branch so that the two forks form an angle of 53 degrees, allowing ants to determine whether they’re heading toward the nest or away from it.

12 13 04 Song-learning Strategies of Songbirds
To learn the Zebra finch song—a task essential to mating—young males can employ either of two learning strategies. Some birds repeat a single song segment until they learn it, then move on to the next song segment. Other males practice the whole song at once. Both strategies are successful.

12 08 04 Sparrows learn a complete song from song snippets
A songbird can learn an entire song after hearing only overlapping snippets of tutor song, scientists report.

12 06 04 Monkey brains respond to monkey calls
Alex Martin and colleagues investigated brain activation in rhesus macaque monkeys to determine if the animals could be drawing pictures in their minds upon hearing a call. The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to identify which regions of the brain were activated when fully awake monkeys heard various calls.

11 11 04 Facial Quality Signal in a Wasp
Among female paper wasps, Polistes dominulus, subordinate wasps with experimentally altered facial features received considerably more aggression from dominant wasps than did sham controls.

09 09 04 When Doves Cry
Ring doves, Streptopelia risoria, use special superfast muscles to control their song, much as the rattlesnake does to operate its rattle.

08 12 04 Cricket hearing and steering
Female crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) react much more quickly and “robotically” to mating calls of males than previously supposed. New research shows that both on the ground and in flight, crickets respond to each pulse of the song signal with a rapid steering response.

07 29 04 Screaming squirrels!
Researchers recorded Richardson’s ground squirrels using ultrasonic alarm calls in the first research to demonstrate ultrasonic alarm calls in any animal.

07 22 04 Zebra Finch Song
Male zebra finches pay attention to the mating status of other zebra finches and modify their own behavior, including their song, when interacting with their female partners.

04 29 04 Orcas React to Boat Noise
Members of killer whale (Orcinus orca) groups make characteristic calls to each other over distances of several kilometres. In the presence of boat noise, these calls are about 15 percent longer than in quiet conditions.

04 15 04 Bowerbird Display
Unlike young female satin bowerbirds, experienced females pay more attention to a male’s courtship display than to his decorated bower.

03 01 04 Ant Queen Communication
An ant colony’s queen sends out a message encoded on her eggs. The surface of the queen’s eggs is coated with a pheromone that prevents worker ants from laying their own eggs.

02 26 04 The Evolution of Human Language

A special section in the February 27, 2004 issue of Science explores the evolution of human language, touching on the future of English, the special language of science, software languages, the evolution of speech, clues to the first human language, efforts to classify past languages, how Indo-European languages first spread through Europe and how changes in grammar and usage arise and spread.

02 22 04 Lion Noses Reveal Age
Mane size and coloration are unreliable indicators of age, but male lions’ noses become more freckled as they get older.

01 29 04 Bees Use Odor Cues
Honeybees can be induced to return to a food source simply by being reminded of its smell.

01 23 04 Cowbird Song and Dance
A male cowbird can sing, dance and breathe all at the same time. But during the most elaborate wing movements, the song ceases.