Chimps can learn other chimp languages

Can monkeys learn language? Chimpanzees use vocalizations to describe a variety of things in their environment. Two groups of chimps in different zoos used unique vocalizations to describe apples, a particularly delectable treat for both groups.  Researchers investigated how the vocalization for this word changed once these two groups of chimps were integrated together at the Edinburgh Zoo in the UK. Only after social integration was complete, three years later, were the chimps all using the same grunt for apple. The immigrated group of chimps took on the local vocalization for apple; loud, high-pitched grunts became softer and lower.  You can hear newcomer Frek's apple grunt in 2010, and how it changed in 2013, to sound much more like Lucy, a local chimp. So chimps are not just grunting in excitement when an apple comes their way, but using a distinct socially-learned vocalization to describe this fruit. These findings have implications for the evolution of language in humans, and had scientists grunting with excitement. 



Bolder crabs have smaller balls

Often in the animal kingdom, reproductive success is associated with aggressive, bold, and risk-prone behaviours. Researchers wanted to see if this was true of hermit crabs as well. Individual crab boldness was measured by recording how long it took for a crab to emerge from its shell after being flipped upside down for 5 seconds. When the size of crab spermatophores was measured, the authors were surprised to find that shyer, more risk-averse crabs had the largest spermatophores. Goes to show: don't judge a crab by it's risk-aversity. 


Pollen contains anti-parasite compounds

Got parasites? For bumblebees, the solution may be in the pollen. Plant leaves contain compounds to dissuade predation. Some of these compounds can be found in the pollen as well, and it turns out they can do more than stave off hungry herbivores.  Bumblebees were infected with a potentially deadly intestinal parasite, and offered several different pollen plant compounds. One compound led to an 81% reduction in the number of parasites, and also helped more bees completely clear the infection. Sweet news, for those of us that love the bumbling bumblebee!