Category Archives: Mammal Studies

Earwax holds the secrets of the blue whale

Two researchers at Baylor University in Texas dissected the earwax plugs of a blue whale and found that plugs can give information about pollutants the whale was exposed to, stress levels and sexual maturity.  It is amazing this much information can be extracted from earwax!


New vespertilionid genus from Sudan, with stunning coloration!

A new genus for a rare African vespertilionid bat: insights from South Sudan

White nose syndrome confirmed in South Carolina and Georgia

Though expected, these are devastating news for North American bats and bat biologists everywhere. White-nose syndrome (WNS), the fungal disease that has already killed 5.7-6.7 million bats in Eastern North America, has been officially confirmed in the states of South Carolina and Georgia. This elevates the count of infected states to 22. With no solutions in sight, WNS continues to threaten the future of many bat species and their important ecological roles.

Bat disease white-nose syndrome confirmed in South Carolina
Bat epidemic hits Georgia, its 22nd state
How to help

A new organ hiding in a whale’s mouth

Thomas J. Ford and collaborators just described the Corpus Cavernosum Maxillaris, a  thermoregulatory/sensory organ in the mouth of bowhead whales. Really amazing discovery!

via The Brain-Chilling, Shrimp-Caressing, Lamppost-Sized, NSFW Organ Hiding In A Whale’s Mouth – Phenomena: The Loom.

Primate faces on Discover

uakariWhy do primates have such colorful and distinct faces? We have been trying to answer this question in a broad comparative context by integrating data on the two most likely drivers of primate facial diversity: sociality and ecology. A major challenge during this research has been to quantify the facial patterns in a way that is comparable across hundreds of primates species. So, we devised  a metric, “facial complexity”, which represents how many colors there are in a primate’s face. Much to my own surprise, the evolution of facial complexity seems to be tightly linked to social group size and species sympatry. This is usually a positive relationship (Neotropical primates are the oddball), indicating that differences in the number of colors in primate faces provide cues that might be used for species and/or individual recognition.

This research has been getting a lot of media coverage (I guess everyone likes monkeys!), and a new article in Discover magazine does an excellent job at decribing our complexity scale. Check it out:



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