Love and Jealousy in the Wild Kingdom

How some creatures help, while others cause hurt

Bottlenose Dolphin

NASA

Also in today's links: the dangers of plastic toys, and the unexpected benefits of reading research magazines.

  • It sounds like the makings of a Pixar movie: the hungry bottlenose dolphin and his pal, the cone-shaped sea sponge that rides around on his buddy's snout, cracking wise and helping the dolphin get the meal. The cartoon would have to work in the fact that this is the first example of wild dolphins or whales using tools.
  • Researchers found that dogs won't perform a trick unless they get a treat if they see another dog doing it and getting a reward. I'm not too surprised to hear evidence that dogs can act just like bratty kids: my dog has a very specific noise that means "I'm doing it because I want to and not because you told me to."
  • Beware the rubber ducky: potentially harmful chemicals -- an additive that will be banned in the U.S. as of February -- were found in three-quarters of a sampling of soft plastic toys for sale in Canada.
  • At a Tokyo train station, the vibrations from thousands from passengers' footsteps are being harnessed to power ticket gates and electronic billboards.
  • A respected research journal published a whopper of a typo, or perhaps they've just accidentally discovered a way to expand their business: For all your research and escort needs, call the Max Planck Institute at 1-900-SEXY-LAB!