Animals in the News ...

How the horse became the only living animal with a single toe   The Guardian - August 23, 2017
They can reach speeds of more than 40km an hour, clear hurdles more than eight feet high and even pirouette – and they manage it all with just one toe on each foot. Now researchers say they have unpicked how and why horses ended up with their unusual extremities. The only living animals with a single toe, equines (such as horses and zebras) had ancestors with multiple digits on their feet, with early relatives having four on their front feet and three on their back. While it has long been thought that the shift was linked to horses moving from forest to grassland environments, it was unclear how this anatomical change happened. Now researchers say they have cracked the conundrum.

  Why Are Some African Lions 'White?'   National Geographic - July 29, 2017
The news about African lions is usually dire these days, as the species dwindles across its range. But Thiessen K. Musaah from Nakuru, Kenya, gave us a welcome break with his question about coat color. Why, he asked, are lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park 'fawn to golden white' while their kin in the Kenya and Tanzania are fawn to golden brown? A known genetic mutation can create what's known as a white lion, which is technically lighter brown, not truly white, says Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at the University of Missouri.

Meet Granddad: Weird, Ancient Reptile Gave Rise to Mammals   Live Science - October 5, 2016

Two weird, mammal-like reptiles that sort of looked like scaly rats, each smaller than a loaf of bread, roamed ancient Brazil about 235 million years ago, likely dining on insects the predators snagged with their pointy teeth, a new study finds. The analysis of two newfound species of cynodont, a group that gave rise to all living mammals, sheds light on how mammals developed from these late Triassic creatures, the researchers said.

Horses can communicate with us - scientists   BBC - September 24, 2016
Horses have joined a select group of animals that can communicate by pointing at symbols. Scientists trained horses, by offering slices of carrot as an incentive, to touch a board with their muzzle to indicate if they wanted to wear a rug. The horses' requests matched the weather, suggesting it wasn't a random choice. A few other animals, including apes and dolphins, appear, like us, to express preferences by pointing at things.

Lizards share sleep patterns with humans   BBC - April 29, 2016
Until now, it was thought features of human sleep such as rapid eye movements were seen only in mammals and birds. Now, a study of the bearded dragon - a popular pet - suggests these distinctive sleep rhythms emerged hundreds of million of years ago in a distant ancestor.

Horses can read human emotions, study shows   PhysOrg - February 10, 2016

For the first time horses have been shown to be able to distinguish between angry and happy human facial expressions. Psychologists studied how 28 horses reacted to seeing photographs of positive versus negative human facial expressions. When viewing angry faces, horses looked more with their left eye, a behavior associated with perceiving negative stimuli. Their heart rate also increased more quickly and they showed more stress-related behaviors.

  Zebra cousin went extinct 100 years ago. Now, it's back   CNN - January 27, 2016

Never heard of the quagga? You're not alone. The animal, a relative of the zebra, went extinct over 100 years ago. Now, a group of scientists outside of Cape Town are bringing it back. Like zebras, the quagga has stripes, though these only appear on the front half of their bodies. Unlike the zebra, they are brown along the rear half of their body. These animals used to roam South Africa in vast herds, but European settlers fixed the beasts in their sights, killing them at an alarming rate. By the 1880s, the last known example had died. Now, however, scientists have bred an animal that looks strikingly similar with the help of DNA and selective breeding.

Extremely Rare White Giraffe Spotted - What Would You Name Her?   National Geographic - January 26, 2016

Omo the white giraffe, as seen recently with her herd in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park. Scientists at the New Hampshire-based wildlife-research group Wild Nature Institute originally reported the newborn Masai giraffe calf in 2015, around the time a local tour guide named her Omo, after a popular local brand of detergent.

Researchers discover first sensor of Earth's magnetic field in an animal   PhysOrg - June 17, 2015
A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first sensor of the Earth's magnetic field in an animal, finding in the brain of a tiny worm a big clue to a long-held mystery about how animals' internal compasses work. Animals as diverse as migrating geese, sea turtles and wolves are known to navigate using the Earth's magnetic field. But until now, no one has pinpointed quite how they do it. The sensor, found in worms called C. elegans, is a microscopic structure at the end of a neuron that other animals probably share, given similarities in brain structure across species. The sensor looks like a nano-scale TV antenna, and the worms use it to navigate underground.

Intact Ottoman 'war camel' found in Austrian cellar   CNN - April 1, 2015

A complete camel skeleton dug up from a 17th-century Austrian cellar shows tell-tale signs that it was a valuable riding animal in the Ottoman army. It was probably left behind or traded in the town of Tulln following the Ottoman siege of nearby Vienna in 1683. DNA analysis shows that the beast - the first intact camel skeleton found in central Europe - was a Bactrian-dromedary hybrid, popular in the army. It also has bone defects that suggest it wore a harness and was ridden.

  The lion hugger   BBC - March 26, 2015

In 2012 Valentin Gruener rescued a young lion cub and raised it himself at a wildlife park in Botswana. It was the start of an extraordinary relationship. Now an astonishing scene is repeated each time they meet - the young lion leaps on Gruener and holds him in an affectionate embrace. "Since the lion arrived, which is three years now, I haven't really left the camp," says Gruener. "Sometimes for one night I go into the town here to organize something for the business, but other than that I've been here with the lion." The lion he has devoted himself to is Sirga - a female cub he rescued from a holding pen established by a farmer who was fed up with shooting animals that preyed on his cattle. "The lions had killed the other two or three cubs inside the cage, and the mother abandoned the remaining cub. She was very tiny, maybe 10 days old," Gruener says. "I don't believe we have to teach the lion to hunt. They have this instinct like a domestic cat or even a dog that will try to hunt. Any cat will catch a bird or a mouse. The lion will catch an antelope when it gets big enough," Gruener says.

Chameleon colors 'switched by crystals'   BBC - March 11, 2015
Swiss researchers have discovered how chameleons accomplish their vivid color changes: they rearrange the crystals inside specialized skin cells. It was previously suggested that the reptiles' famous ability came from gathering or dispersing colored pigments inside different cells. But the new results put it down to a "selective mirror" made of crystals. They also reveal a second layer of the cells that reflect near-infrared light and might help the animals keep cool.

Explanation for Why Zebras Have Stripes Just Got More Complicated   NBC - January 14, 2015

Researchers found that striping patterns were most highly correlated with temperature: Generally, the warmer the climate, the more stripes found on the zebra.

  Why Don't Birds Have Teeth? Scientists Solve Mystery   Epoch Times - December 15, 2014
Birds are the modern day ancestors of dinosaurs, but unlike their predecessors, birds no longer have teeth. Until recently, scientists didn't know when or how. Now, after sequencing the genomes of 48 different bird species representing most avian orders, they were able to find when the switch happened from teeth to beaks.

Reshaping the horse through millennia: Sequencing reveals genes selected by humans in domestication   Science Daily - December 15, 2014

Whole genome sequencing of modern and ancient horses unveils the genes that have been selected by humans in the process of domestication through the last 5,500 years, but also reveals the cost of this domestication. An international research group reports that a significant part of the genetic variation in modern domesticated horses could be attributed to interbreeding with the descendants of a now extinct population of wild horses. This population was distinct from the only surviving wild horse population.

Biologists map crocodilian genomes   Science Daily - December 11, 2014
Understanding the crocodilian genome can help scientists better understand birds. The DNA in alligators, crocodiles and gharials is about 93 percent identical across the genome. By comparison, a human shares about 93 percent of his or her DNA with a macaque.

Horses' mobile ears are 'communication tool'   BBC - August 5, 2014
Very mobile ears help many animals direct their attention to the rustle of a possible predator. But a study in horses suggests they also pay close attention to the direction another's ears are pointing in order to work out what they are thinking. Researchers from the University of Sussex say these swiveling ears have become a useful communication tool.

Dog People vs. Cat People: Who's More Outgoing? More Intelligent?   Live Science - May 27, 2014

"Dog people" and "cat people" really do have different personalities, according to a new study. People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively - meaning they were more energetic and outgoing - and also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules. And in a finding that's sure to spark rivalries among pet owners, cat lovers scored higher on intelligence than dog lovers.

Dogs at War: Three-Legged Dog Delivers Crucial Message in WWI   National Geographic - May 16, 2014
As long as men have been fighting wars, dogs have likely been somewhere on or near the battlefield. And more often than not, dogs have contributed bravely on the front lines, whether officially trained to do so or motivated by loyalty to soldiers. The history of war dogs is deep: The Corinthians used them with success against the Greeks. The Romans used dogs to guard their legions and raise alarms, as did Attila the Hun, who placed them around his camps for added protection.

Modern lions' origin revealed by genetic analysis   BBC - April 2, 2014
The origin and history of modern lions have been revealed by scientists. A genetic analysis of living lions and museum specimens confirms modern lions' most recent common ancestor lived around 124,000 years ago. Modern lions evolved into two groups; one lives in Eastern and Southern Africa, the other includes lions in Central and West Africa, and in India. This second group is now endangered, meaning half the genetic diversity of modern lions is at risk of extinction.

Scientists solve the riddle of zebras' stripes: Those pesky bugs   Science Daily - April 1, 2014
Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. The scientists found that biting flies, including horseflies and tsetse flies, are the evolutionary driver for zebra's stripes. Experimental work had previously shown that such flies tend to avoid black-and-white striped surfaces, but many other hypotheses for zebra stripes have been proposed since Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin debated the problem 120 years ago.

Zebra stripes mystery 'explained'   BBC - December 17, 2013
Zebras' bold stripes protect the animals by masking their movements, according to a study. The conspicuous colors do not blend in to the background and scientists have theorized they developed to dazzle predators. Using computer models, researchers confirmed the markings create optical illusions when the animals move. They suggest this confusion helps to protect the animals from both big cats and tiny insects.

Why Animals "Adopt" Others, Including Different Species   National Geographic - May 10, 2013
A feel-good tale of sperm whales adopting a deformed bottlenose dolphin made an Internet splash this week. The marine mammals aren't the only ones that form odd alliances, experts say.

Neuroscientists create intercontinental mind meld between two rats   Wired - March 1, 2013

It's not exactly a Vulcan mind meld, but it's not far off. Scientists have wired the brains of two rats together and shown that signals from one rat's brain can help the second rat solve a problem it would otherwise have no clue how to solve. The rats were in different cages with no way to communicate other than through the electrodes implanted in their brains. The transfer of information from brain to brain even worked with two rats separated by thousands of kilometres, one in a lab in North Carolina and another in a lab in Brazil.

One rat brain 'talks' to another using electronic link   BBC - February 28, 2013
Scientists have connected the brains of lab rats, allowing one to communicate directly to another via cables. The wired brain implants allowed sensory and motor signals to be sent from one rat to another, creating the first ever brain-to-brain interface.

Brain-To-Brain Interface Allows Transmission of Tactile and Motor Information Between Rats   Science Daily - March 1, 2013
Researchers have electronically linked the brains of pairs of rats for the first time, enabling them to communicate directly to solve simple behavioral puzzles. A further test of this work successfully linked the brains of two animals thousands of miles apart -- one in Durham, N.C., and one in Natal, Brazil. The results of these projects suggest the future potential for linking multiple brains to form what the research team is calling an "organic computer," which could allow sharing of motor and sensory information among groups of animals.

'Land not sea' origin for snakes   BBC - July 26, 2012
One of the most primitive snake fossils ever found hints that the slithery reptiles might have originated on land, not in the sea as has been proposed. The animal, which lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, probably emerged from a line of burrowing reptiles that lost their legs. Where and how snakes diverged from their legged cousins the lizards has been a mystery.

Aging Male Giraffes Go Black, Not Gray   Live Science - April 14, 2012

Male giraffes become more illustrious with age, but rather than the silvery locks that distinguish the likes of Sean Connery and George Clooney, the hairy blotches on these long-necked mammals darken with age. Nw research suggests the appearance change takes about 1.8 years to complete, with male giraffes being completely covered in coal-black blotches by an average age of 9.4 years.

Primitive and Eyeless, World's Deepest Land Animal Discovered   Live Science - February 22, 2012
In the dark abyss of the world's deepest known cave lurks a newfound species of primitive eyeless insect, one that researchers are calling the deepest land animal ever found. The creature, now known as Plutomurus ortobalaganensis, is one of four newly discovered species of wingless insects called springtails, which commonly live in total darkness in caves, where they feed on fungi and decomposing organic matter. The insects were collected during the Ibero-Russian CaveX team expedition to the world's deepest known cave during the summer of 2010. The cave, Krubera-Voronja, is located in Abkhazia, a remote area near the Black Sea in the mountains of Western Caucasus, and reaches a depth of 7,188 feet (2,191 meters) below the surface.

Elephants Took 24 Million Generations to Evolve From Mouse-Size   National Geographic - February 3, 2012
Evolving bigger bodies takes longer than getting small, mammal study says. Some mammals need roughly 24 million generations to go from mouse-size to elephant-size, a new study says. Using both fossil and living specimens, scientists calculated growth rates for 28 different mammalian groups during the past 65 million years—and found that, for mammals, getting big takes longer than shrinking. It takes a minimum of 1.6 million generations for mammals to achieve a hundredfold increase in body size, about 5 million generations for a thousandfold increase, and about 10 million generations for a 5,000-fold increase, the team discovered.

Chimp study shows evidence of synaesthesia   PhysOrg - December 6, 2011
In the never-ending struggle to understand how the human brain works, all manner of experiments are dreamed up and carried out. In one new one, for example, researchers in Japan have been testing chimps to see if they possess brain connections that cross the senses. In human terms, it's known as synaesthesia, the phenomenon where a person associates one sensation with another; feeling colors for example or associating higher musical tones with lighter colored objects.

A living species of aquatic beetle found in 20-million-year-old sediments   PhysOrg - October 6, 2011
The fossil beetle discovered in the 16-23 million years old sediments of the Irtysh River in southern Siberia belongs to the modern species Helophorus sibiricus, a member of the water scavenger beetles (Hydrophiloidea), which is at present widely distributed in Eurasia and reaches even North America. The species was originally described in 1860 by the Russian entomologist Victor Motschulsky based on specimens collected at Lake Baikal. It is aquatic and inhabits various kinds of standing waters, predominantly the grassy temporary pools. Larvae are unknown so far, but are supposed to be terrestrial and predaceous, preying on various invertebrates, as in most other species of the genus.

Humans Hard Wired to Respond to Animals   Live Science - September 9, 2011
A part of your brain is hard wired to respond to animals, whether cute and fluffy or ugly and threatening, a new study has found.

Biggest Crocodile Ever Caught?   National Geographic - September 7, 2011

Caught alive after a three-week hunt, an allegedly 21-foot-long (6.4-meter-long) saltwater crocodile the biggest crocodile ever caught in the Philippines.

Tests show Arctic reindeer 'see in UV'   BBC - May 26, 2011
Arctic reindeer can see beyond the "visible" light spectrum into the ultra-violet region, according to new research by an international team. They say tests on reindeer showed that the animal does respond to UV stimuli, unlike humans.

Orangutan Genome Decoded   Live Science - January 26, 2011
The sequenced genomes of this great ape and her kin -- our most distant living relatives in the hominid family – evolved much more slowly than that of chimps and humans, the team found.

African elephant is two species, researchers say   BBC - December 21, 2010
Genetic researchers may have resolved a long-standing dispute by proving there are two species of African elephant. Savannah and forest elephants have been separated for at least three million years, they say, and are as distinct from each other as Asian elephants are from the extinct woolly mammoth. The researchers also made what they say are the first sequences of nuclear DNA from the extinct American mastodon.

Obesity On the Rise in Animals   Live Science - November 24, 2010
The problem of obesity isn't confined to just humans. A new study finds increased rates of obesity in mammals ranging from feral rats and mice to domestic pets and laboratory primates. Americans have grown increasingly heavier, with the average body mass index (or BMI, a measure of height and weight that estimates fatness) increasing from about 25 in the early 1960s to around 28 in 2002, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC considers adults with BMIs between 25 and 29.9 to be overweight.

New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant   National Geographic - November 8, 2010
All-female species reproduces via virgin birth, new study says.

Extremophiles: World's Weirdest Life   Live Science - October 3, 2010
From bacteria that can survive inside rocks to microbes that can withstand tremendous heat, cold and radiation, life can take some extreme forms. These enterprising creatures reveal not just the resilience of life on Earth, but the possibilities for life elsewhere in the universe. Here are some especially amazing examples of so-called extremophiles.

Rare Asian 'Unicorn' Sighted, Dies in Captivity   Live Science - September 16, 2010

One of the rarest animals in the world has been sighted for the first time in more than 10 years, according to the government of Laos. Sightings of the animal, called a saola, are so rare that the creature has been likened to a unicorn, despite the fact that it has two horns, not one.

New hypothesis for human evolution and human nature   PhysOrg - July 21, 2010
... the interdependency of ancestral humans with other animal species - "the animal connection" - played a crucial and beneficial role in human evolution over the last 2.6 million years.

Fossil links humans and monkeys   BBC - July 14, 2010

Researchers have discovered the skull of a 29 million-year-old animal that could be a common ancestor of Old World monkeys and apes, including humans. It indicates that apes and Old World monkeys diverged millions of years later than previously thought, say the scientists.

  Ape ancestors brought to life by fossil skull of 'Saadanius' primate   Guardian - July 14, 2010
The skull of a creature dubbed Saadanius helps to explain how ancient primates split into two groups – the Old World monkeys and the great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas and humans

  Fireflies blink in synch to send a uniform message   PhysOrg - July 8, 2010

Saudi, China scientists decode camel DNA   PhysOrg - June 9, 2010
Scientists from Saudi Arabia and China said on Wednesday that they had completed mapping the genome of the Arabian camel.

Physics: Particle Chameleon Caught in the Act of Changing   Science Daily - June 1, 2010
The neutrino puzzle began with a pioneering and ultimately Nobel Prize winning experiment conducted by US scientist Ray Davis beginning in the 1960s. He observed far fewer neutrinos arriving at the Earth from the Sun than solar models predicted: either solar models were wrong, or something was happening to the neutrinos on their way. A possible solution to the puzzle was provided in 1969 by the theorists Bruno Pontecorvo and Vladimir Gribov, who first suggested that chameleon-like oscillatory changes between different types of neutrinos could be responsible for the apparent neutrino deficit.

'Lost world' of Papua yields stunning secrets   BBC - May 17, 2010

'Pinocchio' Frog and 'Gargoyle' Gecko Discovered   Live Science - May 17, 2010
Pinocchio-nosed frogs, gargoyle-faced geckos and the world's smallest wallaby are among the newly identified species discovered during an expedition to Indonesia's remote Foja Mountains. Scientists endured torrential rainstorms and life-threatening unpredictable flash floods as they tracked species from the low foothills at Kwerba village to the top of the mountains at 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) in Indonesian New Guinea in 2008.

Pictures: Rare Bees Make Floral Nests   National Geographic - May 12, 2010

Philippines: New Giant Lizard Discovery "an Unprecedented Surprise"   National Geographic - April 10, 2010

It has a double penis, and is as long as a tall human

Antarctic Ice Creature Opens Window to Extreme Life   Live Science - March 19, 2010

A shrimp-like creature and jellyfish tentacles discovered in the darkness under 600 feet of Antarctic ice, are further evidence of how life can thrive in surprising places. The pinkish-orange crustacean in question - a 3-inch long creature known as a Lyssianasid amphipod - was discovered last November swimming beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in western Antarctica. NASA scientists used hot water to bore an 8-inch-wide hole in the ice 12 miles from open water, and lowered a camera down as part of research to better understand how the ice is thinning there.

  Mutant All-Black Penguin Found   National Geographic - March 16, 2010
This all black-feathered king penguin could be ‘one in a zillion.' The video was recorded on the Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia by National Geographic Traveler Magazine contributor editor Andrew Evans on his bus2Antarctica expedition. While many king penguins and other penguins can have feather-coloring mutations, usually, the variations are partial.

Body Clock of Arctic Reindeer Ticks Differently   Live Science - March 15, 2010
A new genetic study claims to have settled a long-standing debate about which living group of mammals is most closely related to primates, which include monkeys, apes, and lemurs. Our nearest non-primate relatives are not tree shrews as once thought, researchers say but another group of tree-dwelling mammals known as colugos, also known as flying lemurs.

Scientists reveal how snakes 'see' at night   PhysOrg - March 15, 2010
Scientists revealed Sunday for the first time how some snakes can detect the faint body heat exuded by a mouse a metre (three feet) away with enough precision and speed to hunt in the dark.

  Do speedy elephants walk or run?   BBC - February 12, 2010
With their awkward, lumbering gait, elephants moving at high speed are not the most graceful of animals - but are they walking or running? Now scientists believe they have an answer: new research confirms that they do both - at the same time. By observing elephants moving across a hi-tech track, the team found the hefty creatures run with their front legs but walk with their back legs.

  Clouded leopard: First film of new Asia big cat species   BBC - February 10, 2010
The Sundaland clouded leopard, a recently described new species of big cat, has been caught on camera. The film, the first footage of the cat in the wild to be made public, has been released by scientists working in the Dermakot Forest Reserve in Malaysia. The Sundaland clouded leopard, only discovered to be a distinct species three years ago, is one of the least known and elusive of all cat species. Two more rare cats, the flat-headed cat and bay cat, were also photographed.

  Tigers evolved with snow leopards, gene study reveals   BBC - February 12, 2010
The tiger may be more ancient and distinct than we thought. Tigers are less closely related to lions, leopards and jaguars than these other big cats are to each other, according to a new comprehensive study. The genetic analysis also reveals the tiger began evolving 3.2 million years ago, and its closest living relative is the equally endangered snow leopard. The discovery comes as the BBC launches a collection of intimate videos of wild tigers and the threats they face. Despite the popularity and endangered status of tigers, much remains to be discovered about them, including how they evolved. It has long been known that the five species of big cat - the tiger, lion, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard, which belong to the Panthera genus - and the two species of clouded leopard are more closely related to each other than to other smaller cats.

Genes that give butterflies identical wings found - February 9, 2010
For some 150 years zoologists have puzzled over how two species of passion-vine butterfly - Heliconius erato and Heliconius melpomene - have evolved to look like each other. In the Amazonian lowlands both species have spines of orange colour on their hindwings and patches of yellow in the middle of their forewings. But in the Andes they have a broad splash of yellow across their hindwings and solid patches of orange on their forewings. Dr Chris Jiggins, a zoologist at Cambridge University, said: "The similarity is incredible - even down to the spots on the body and the minute details of the wing pattern." He explained: "That the two species have evolved to look exactly the same is due to predation by birds.

Scientists warn of rise in diseases spread from animals to humans - January 4, 2010
At least 45 such diseases have been reported to UN agencies over the past two decades and more are expected to be identified in coming years. Experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington claim that the world is braced for an increase in outbreaks due to global warming and changes in land use and farming practices.

How Do Salamanders Grow a New Leg? Protein Mechanisms Behind Limb Regeneration   Science Daily - December 16, 2009
The most comprehensive study to date of the proteins in a species of salamander that can regrow appendages may provide important clues to how similar regeneration could be induced in humans.

10 Animals That Use Tools   Live Science - December 14, 2009
Scientists once thought of tool use as a defining feature of humans, but increasingly research is showing adept tool users on land, air and seain the animal kingdom. Investigating how such behavior developed in this diverse mix promises to shed light on how tool use might have originated in humanity.

DNA study sheds new light on horse evolution   PhysOrg - December 11, 2009
Ancient DNA retrieved from extinct horse species from around the world has challenged one of the textbook examples of evolution - the fossil record of the horse family Equidae over the past 55 million years. Only the modern horse, zebras, wild asses and donkey survive today, but many other lineages have become extinct over the last 50,000 years.

Horse genome unlocked by science   BBC - November 6, 2009
The genome of a domestic horse has been successfully sequenced by an international team of researchers. The work, published in the journal Science, may shed light on how horses were domesticated. It also reveals similarities between the horse and other placental mammals, such as bovids - the hoofed group including goats, bison and cattle. The authors also found horses share much of their DNA with humans, which could have implications for medicine. Horses suffer from more than 90 hereditary diseases that show similarities to those in humans.

Robins can see Earth's magnetic field - October 29, 2009
The information, relayed to a specialized light-processing region of the brain called ''cluster N'', helps the robin find its way on migration flights. Experts know birds possess an internal magnetic compass, but there is disagreement about what form it takes. One idea is that tiny magnets in the beak wired to the nervous system detect lines of magnetic force. Another is that magnetic fields are ''seen'' via the eyes using a complex light-sensitive mechanism. The new research suggests that, for robins at least, the second theory is probably correct. German scientists studied 36 European robins and found birds with damage to ''cluster N'' were unable to orientate themselves using the Earth's magnetic field.

Animals now picking up bugs from people, study shows   PhysOrg - October 26, 2009
Globalization and industrialization are causing diseases to spread from humans to animals, a study has shown. Researchers from The Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh have shown that a strain of bacteria has jumped from humans to chickens. It is believed to be the first clear evidence of bacterial pathogens crossing over from humans to animals and then spreading since animals were first domesticated some 10,000 years ago. The study identified a form of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus - of which MRSA is a subtype - in chickens, and found that the bacteria originally came from humans. Genetic testing showed that the bacteria crossed over from one species to another around 40 years ago, coinciding with a move towards intensive poultry farming practices.

Tiny ears found on butterfly's wings   MSNBC - October 27, 2009

A butterfly species equipped with tiny ears on its wings can distinguish between high and low pitch sounds, possibly as a way to listen in on nearby birds, new research suggests. Scientists thought butterflieswere deaf until 1912 when the first butterfly ears were identified. Only in the past decade or so have researchers examined the anatomy and physiology of butterfly ears, which they are finding to be quite diverse and present in several butterfly species. The latest discovery was made with the blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides), which dazzles with its bright-blue wing colorationwhen it flits about in its native Central and South America. Scientists knew from relatively recent research that the morpho sports simple wing ears. In the new study, Kathleen Lucas of the University of Bristol in England and her colleagues were interested in the odd-looking hearing membrane that sits at the base of the blue morpho's wing. The tympanal membrane, as it is called, is oval-shaped with a dome at its center that kind of resembles the yolk at the center of a fried egg, Lucas said.

Oldest Known Spider Webs Discovered   Live Science - October 30, 2009
Silken spider webs dating back some 140 million years have been discovered preserved in amber, scientists announce today. The viscous tree sap flowed over the spider webs before hardening and preserving the contents, which were discovered in Sussex, England. Other bits sealed up in the amber included plant matter, insect droppings and ancient microbes.

'Giant' orb web spider discovered   BBC - October 21, 2009

A new and rare species of "giant" orb web spider has been discovered in Africa and Madagascar. In the journal Plos One, researchers describe Nephila komaci as the largest web spinning spider known to science. Only the females of this groups of species are giants, with a leg span of up to 12cm (4.7in); the male spiders are tiny by comparison. Scientists say the female spiders are capable of spinning webs that reach up to 1m (3ft 3in) in diameter. Orb-weaving spiders are a widespread group which take their name from the round webs they typically spin.

Largest Web-Spinning Spider Found   National Geographic - October 21, 2009
Meet the newest odd couple of the animal kingdom: the giant female and tiny male of the largest web-spinning spider known to science: Nephila komaci. The female of the species has a leg span of up to 5 inches (12 centimeters), while the male - which spends much of its time clambering on its partner's back - barely reaches an inch (2.5 centimeters), a new study says.

World's Biggest Snake Lived in 1st "Modern" Rain Forest   National Geographic - October 13, 2009
If it were still alive today, the largest snake ever known to have lived would feel right at home in South America's tropical rain forests. That's because the modern ecosystem contains many of the same plants that grew in the massive serpent's home turf some 60 million years ago, according to a new study detailing the earliest known "modern" rain forest.

Lizards filmed 'walking on water'   BBC - October 13, 2009

Remarkable slow-motion footage has been taken of two lizards that seem to do the impossible - walk on water. A high-definition film, shot at 2,000 frames per second, shows a brown basilisk lizard running across the surface of a pond in Belize. More footage shows how a species of gecko is so tiny that it can walk across a puddle without breaking the water's surface tension.

"Surreal" Vegetarian Spider Found -- A First   National Geographic - October 12, 2009

Secrets of insect flight revealed   PhysOrg - September 17, 2009

For Wings, Nature Loves a Twist   Live Science - September 17, 2009

Evidence Points To Conscious 'Metacognition' In Some Nonhuman Animals   Science Daily - September 15, 2009

Animals Think About Thinking, Research Suggests   Live Science - September 15, 2009

  Monkeys get a groove on, but only to monkey music   PhysOrg - September 2, 2009

Extinct Walking Bat Found; Upends Evolutionary Theory   National Geographic - August 10, 2009

Veterinarians using stem cells to treat animals   PhysOrg - August 10, 2009

Eastern Himalaya: 353 New Species - Flying Frogs   National Geographic - August 11, 2009

Hundreds Of New Species Discovered In Eastern Himalayas   Science Daily - August 11, 2009

Flying frog among 353 new Himalayan species   PhysOrg - August 10, 2009

Sea snake's two-headed illusion   BBC - August 6, 2009

"Two Headed" Sea Serpents Fool Attackers   National Geographic - August 6, 2009

Could Extinct Animals Be Resurrected from Frozen Samples?   Live Science - July 23, 2009
Futurists have proposed that extinct animals could be resurrected some day via cloning of their DNA extracted from bone or frozen tissue. There is little agreement on this, but a new project to store tiny samples of tissue from endangered animals at New York's natural history museum again prompts questions on whether this approach might be insurance against extinction, not just a valuable data repository for biologists.

Toxic Substance Allows Birds to "See" Magnetic Field   National Geographic - July 9, 2009

  Chimpanzees learn from video demo   BBC - July 2, 2009

Scientists 'rebuild' giant moa using ancient DNA   PhysOrg - July 1, 2009

Frog Dozes in Mud for Years   Live Science - June 29, 2009

Obesity Clues From Research On How Burrowing Frogs Survive Years Without Food   PhysOrg - June 29, 2009

Albino Baby Turtle   National Geographic - June 26, 2009

Monkeys fall for visual illusion   BBC - June 25, 2009
In a study, rhesus monkeys responded to the "Thatcher effect", a strange
phenomenon that makes it difficult to detect changes in an upside down face.

Pink Moth Discovered in Arizona   Live Science - June 10, 2009

Large mammal migrations are disappearing   MSNBC - June 8, 2009

The Evolution of House Cats   Scientific American - June 11, 2009

Monkeys glowing green under UV light to aid research   BBC - May 27, 2009

New Giant Lemur Species Discovered   Live Science - May 28, 2009

Mice Given 'Human' Version of Speech Gene   Live Science - May 28, 2009
They may not be the talking mice of cartoons, but real mice carry a "humanized version" of a gene thought to be involved in speech, a new study suggests. The finding could help shed light on how humans evolved language and speech. Mice are often used to study the causes and effects of human diseases because they share many genetic similarities with us.

Mouse genome laid bare to science   BBC - May 27, 2009

  Meet the brains of the animal world   BBC - May 7, 2009

Over 200 New Amphibians Found in Madagascar   National Geographic - May 5, 2009

New Species: Meet the Tiny Toadlet (and Froglet)   National Geographic - May 5, 2009

Spider "Resurrections" Take Scientists by Surprise   National Geographic - April 24, 2009
The spiders, it seems, enter comas to survive for hours underwater, according to a new study.

Cow genome 'to transform farming'   BBC - April 24, 2009

Cow Genome Decoded   National Geographic - April 24, 2009

  Tree Kangaroo Twins Filmed in the Pouch - A First   National Geographic - April 22, 2009

Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?   Science Daily - April 15, 2009

Colony collapse disorder  Wikipedia

All-Female Ant Species Found   National Geographic - April 17, 2009

Ants inhabit 'world without sex'   BBC - April 15, 2009

  Javan Rhino - Indonesia: "Most Endangered Mammal" Filmed   National Geographic - March 10, 2009

Horse Taming, Milking Started in Kazakhstan at least 5,500 years ago   National Geographic - March 5, 2009

Domestic Horse Ridden Further Back in Time   Live Science - March 5, 2009

See-Through Frogs Discovered   Live Science - February 3, 2009

  Fossil hunters discover largest snakes ever to have slithered on earth   Guardian - February 5, 2009

  Largest prehistoric snake on record discovered in Colombia   PhysOrg - February 5, 2009

Biggest Snake Discovered; Was Longer Than a Bus   National Geographic - February 5, 2009

Largest snake 'as long as a bus'   BBC - February 5, 2009

"Grumpy" Reptile Becomes Dad at 111   National Geographic - January 27, 2009

Their union resulted in 11 babies.

Pink Galapagos iguana rewrites family tree   BBC - January 5, 2009

Pink Iguana Species Discovered   National Geographic - January 6, 2009

Tangled web of spider evolution    BBC - December 23, 2008

Photos of the News Species 2008    National Geographic - December 15, 2008

How the Turtle's Shell Evolved    BBC - November 27, 2008

Oldest Turtle Found; May Crack Shell-Evolution Mystery    National Geographic - November 27, 2008

Tiny Tropical Island Yields a Wealth of Species    National Geographic - November 24, 2008

Rare White Lions Get Wild Live Science - October 18, 2008

Oldest Full-Body Insect Fossil Found Live Science - October 15, 2008

Bug from Borneo is the world's longest - 22 inches MSNBC - October 17, 2008

Cattle, Deer Graze Along Earth's Magnetic Field National Geographic - August 25, 2008

   125,000 Gorillas "Found" National Geographic - August 5, 2008

Gorilla "Paradise" Found; May Double World Numbers National Geographic - August 5, 2008

Newfound Monkey Species "Rarest in Africa," Experts Say National Geographic - August 5, 2008

World's Smallest Snake Discovered in Barbados, Study Says National Geographic - August 4, 2008

   Platypus genetic code unravelled BBC - May 8, 2008

World's Strangest Creature? Part Mammal, Part Reptile Live Science - May 8, 2008

Platypus Wikipedia
   Platypus Google Videos

   Elephant Painting a Self Portrait YouTube - March 30, 2008

New Zealand's 'Living Dinosaur' -- The Tuatara -- Is Surprisingly The Fastest Evolving Animal Science Daily - March 24, 2008

Colorful Harlequin Frog Discovered National Geographic - March 13, 2008

Video: Hen Lays Green Eggs National Geographic - January 30, 2008

Tanzania: 'Bizarre' new mammal discovered BBC - February 1, 2008

Largest Elephant Shrew Discovered in Africa National Geographic - February 1, 2008

Gemina the 'crooked-necked giraffe' dies AP - January 11, 2008
Gemina, a giraffe with a distinctive crooked neck and one of the most beloved animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo, has died. She was 21. Her illness was not believed related to her neck condition. Her demise is consistent with the challenges of old age. "Though a few giraffes in captivity have been known to live into their late-twenties, reaching age 21 is considered an achievement," said zoo CEO and Director Rich Block said. "She was a great animal ambassador, showing that differences can be accepted and even celebrated. She will be missed." The giraffe was born July 16, 1986, at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and was brought to Santa Barbara when she was about a year old. She was around 3 when she began to develop a crooked neck that eventually bent sharply and made it appear that she had swallowed a hockey stick. Although her neck was X-rayed, the cause of the condition was never conclusively found. It did not affect her eating and she was treated normally by other giraffes, the zoo said. Gemina (pronounced Jeh-MEE-nah) had one offspring that died some years ago.

Crooked Neck Giraffe, Gemina YouTube

Not one but 'six giraffe species' BBC - December 21, 2007

Largest Spitting Cobra Found -- New Species National Geographic - December 8, 2007

The nine-foot cobra can kill up to 20 humans, experts in Africa say.

Flying Lemurs Are Primates' Closest Kin National Geographic - November 2, 2007
A new genetic study claims to have settled a long-standing debate about which living group of mammals is most closely related to primates, which include monkeys, apes, and lemurs. Our nearest nonprimate relatives are not tree shrews as once thought, researchers say - but another group of tree-dwelling mammals known as colugos, also known as flying lemurs.

Gliding mammal linked to humans BBC - November 2, 2007

A gliding mammal that lives in the forests of south-east Asia is our closest relative after apes, monkeys and lemurs, a DNA study shows.

See-Through Frog Bred in Japan National Geographic - September 28, 2007

Elephants, Human Ancestors Evolved in Synch, DNA Reveals National Geographic - July 24, 2007
The tooth of a mastodon buried beneath Alaska's permafrost for many thousands of years is yielding surprising clues about the history of elephants - and humans. A team of researchers recently extracted DNA from the tooth to put together the first complete mastodon mitochondrial genome.

House Cat Origin Traced to Middle Eastern Wildcat Ancestor National Geographic - June 28, 2007
Cat fanciers have long known that their feline friends have wild origins. Now scientists have identified the house cat's maternal ancestors and traced them back to the Fertile Crescent.
Fertile Crescent Wikipedia

DNA traces origin of domestic cat to Middle East BBC - June 28, 2007
The ancestry of the world's household cats can be traced to just five lineages which lived alongside ancient settlers in the Fertile Crescent, an area stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to the Gulf.

Confused penguin strays 5,000km BBC - May 11, 2007
A Magellanic penguin whose natural habitat is the cool climes of southern Chile has strayed thousands of miles from his home, arriving in Peru

  Chimps Make and Use "Spears" to Hunt National Geographic - February 23, 2007

White beetle dazzles scientists BBC - January 19, 2007
The finger-tip sized Cyphochilus beetle, found in south-east Asia, had a shell whiter than most other materials found in nature ...

Alex the parrot makes up words News in Science - January 19, 2007
There may be more to parrot talk than simple mimicry, suggests the behaviour of one precocious bird. For the first time, a grey parrot shows he can imitate what he sees and hears.

Chimp born despite 'sterile' dad BBC - January 18, 2007
A chimpanzee at a Louisiana animal sanctuary has given birth to a baby, despite all of the males living with her having had vasectomies. Workers at Chimp Haven in Keithville were amazed to find the mother, Teresa, cradling a baby as she walked through the wooded compound on 8 January. Both Teresa and her daughter, named Tracy, are said to be doing well. Staff say vasectomies are not always successful and paternity tests are now under way to see who is the father.

Bats Use Magnetic "Compass" to Navigate, Study Says National Geographic - December 7, 2006
Some bats find their way home using an internal "compass" that senses Earth's magnetic field—similar to those believed to be used by migrating birds - researchers say. Princeton University biologist Richard Holland in New Jersey and colleagues found that exposure to artificial magnetic fields confused such bats, causing them to fly in the wrong direction.

Bat Has Longest Tongue of Any Mammal National Geographic - December 7, 2006
Found in an Andean cloud forest in Ecuador, A. fistulata (aka the tube-lipped nectar bat) evolved mutually with an extremely long, bell-shaped flower, the team says. In fact, armed with a tongue that retracts into the bat's rib cage, A. fistulata is now the only animal that can pollinate the flower.

Hybrid Butterfly Found on Cold Mountaintops National Geographic - December 1, 2006

Monogamy is rare in the animal kingdom at large Live Science - November 20, 2006
Of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals, only 3 to 5 percent are known to form lifelong pair bonds. This select group includes beavers, otters, wolves, some bats and foxes and a few hoofed animals.

Elephants Recognize Themselves in Mirror National Geographic - October 30, 2006

White hybrid bear shot dead in Canada BBC - May 13, 2006

A white bear with brown patches shot dead in northern Canada is the first grizzly-polar hybrid found in the wild, DNA tests have confirmed.

Story From National Geographic National Geographic - February 7, 2006

New species found in Papua 'Eden' BBC - February 7, 2006
An international team of scientists says it has found a "lost world" in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species.

New cat family tree revealed BBC - January 7, 2006
Modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago, according to a DNA study of wild and domestic cats. The ancient ancestors of the 37 species alive today migrated across the globe, eventually settling in all continents except Antarctica, say scientists. Eight major lineages emerged, including lions, ocelots and domestic cats. The moggy is most closely related to the African and European wild cat and the Chinese desert cat, an international team reports in Science.

First evidence that chimpanzees speak to each other ... National Geographic - October 20, 2005
Scientists say they have discovered the first evidence that chimpanzees speak to each other about objects in their environment. Chimps at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland use a crude language of grunts to talk to each other about their food, say primate experts at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Wild gorillas seen to use tools BBC - September 30, 2005
Gorillas have been seen for the first time using simple tools to perform tasks in the wild, researchers say. Scientists observed gorillas in a remote Congolese forest using sticks to test the depth of muddy water and to cross swampy areas. Wild chimps and orangutans also use tools, suggesting that the origins of tool use may predate the evolutionary split between apes and humans. Gorillas are endangered, with some populations numbered in the hundreds.

Baby tortoise with two heads People's Daily - September 29, 2005

How a Zebra Lost its Stripes: Rapid Evolution of the Quagga PhysOrg - September 26, 2005
DNA from museum samples of extinct animals is providing unexpected information on the extent and effect of the Ice Age as well as the path of species evolution, according to a report by scientists from Yale University, the Smithsonian Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Rare White Giraffe Photographed in Tanzia, Africa National Geographic - September 9, 2005

Cat in the pink over new colour BBC - September 6, 2005

A west Devon couple are baffled by how their nine-year-old white cat turned pink after a weekend stroll. Brumas, who was named after the first polar bear to be born at London Zoo, went out for a walk on Friday near his home in Bratton Clovelly. But when he returned later, his white fur had turned pink, astonishing owners Philip and Joan Worth. The couple took the cat to their vet in Launceston, Cornwall, who said he was in good health despite his new colour.

Scientists unravel the secret world of elephant communication Science Daily - May 27, 2005
Elephants communicate over long distances using low-pitched sounds that are barely audible to humans.

Flying Whales, Other Aliens Theorized by Scientists National Geographic - May 20, 2005
One side of the planet is draped in eternal freezing darkness, the other side is bathed in permanent starlight. Fields of "stinger fans"—animals that look like tall plants - cover the floodplains. Other strange species abound, from giraffe-like predators called gulphogs to tiny flesh-dissolving tadpoles known as hysteria.

'First platypus' still intact after 200 years BBC - May 16, 2005
It may be more than 200 years old, but the story of the "first platypus" is still told in Australian schools. When European settlers sent back a specimen of this bizarre creature, scientists were baffled and concluded it was probably a fake. It was only when more examples arrived from "Down Under" that the issue was resolved. But what happened to that original specimen that so famously bamboozled the experts? Well it's still intact in a London museum, and in surprisingly good condition.

Prehistoric Jawbone Reveals Evolution Repeating Itself Science Daily - Feb. 2005
A 115-million-year-old fossil of a tiny egg-laying mammal thought to be related to the platypus provides compelling evidence of multiple origins of acute hearing in humans and other mammals.

Tsunami December 26, 2004 ... into January 2005

There were no dead animals - Did they have quake warning?   BBC - December 31, 2004
Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka have reported that, despite the loss of human life in the Asian disaster, there have been no recorded animal deaths. Waves from the worst tsunami in memory sent floodwater surging up to 3.5km (two miles) inland to the island's biggest wildlife reserve. Many tourists drowned but, to the surprise of officials, few dead animals have been found. It has highlighted claims that animals may possess a "sixth sense" about danger.

Tsunami Adds to Belief in Animals' "Sixth Sense"   Planet Ark - December 31, 2004
Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said the giant waves that killed over 24,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast seemingly missed wild beasts, with no dead animals found. The waves washed floodwaters up to 3 km (2 miles) inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. "There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence about dogs barking or birds migrating before volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. But it has not been proven," said Matthew van Lierop, an animal behaviour specialist at Johannesburg Zoo.

Two dolphins were among the animals trapped in the tsunami   Crystalinks

Frozen Ark to save animal DNA BBC - August 2004
The Frozen Ark, as it is called, will preserve animal "life codes" even after their species have become extinct.

Homosexual Activity Among Many Types of Animals Stirs Debate National Geographic - July 2004
Animals display homosexual tendencies ...

"New" Spider Species Weaves Uncommonly Regular Webs National Geographic - June 2004
Until now there were just four known instances of spiders evolving the ability to measure and create symmetrical webs: The fifth was discovered in Peru last month, prompting questions as to how and why some spiders develop the skill.

Dig discovery is oldest 'pet cat' BBC - April 4, 2004

While ancient Egypt provides the first written record of cats, a burial discovered on Cyprus indicates that humans and felines may have become associated much earlier extending 9,500 years or more into the past.

Hordes flocking to 'miracle' lamb BBC - April 26, 2004

Palestinians have been flocking to see a lamb which seems to have a birthmark spelling out the Arabic word for God, "Allah", in its coat. Owner Yahya Atrash, from the West Bank town of Hebron, told Reuters the animal was born on Monday, when militant leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed. He told Reuters the timing was "clear evidence of God's existence". Sheikh Yassin, spiritual leader of the Hamas militant group, was killed in an Israeli missile strike. Israel says he was involved in planning suicide attacks.

Some mammals can 'choose' the sex of their offspring BBC - February 2004
Leopards may never change their spots, but some mammals can adjust the sex of their offspring, according to a study by biologists. Experts from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities have found that some species are capable of influencing whether to produce sons or daughters.

African Parrot's oratory stuns scientists BBC - January 2004

The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humor.

Walruses are 'right-flippered' - right handed   Science Daily - October 23, 2003

Walruses are 'right-flippered', according to research published this week in BMC Ecology. The first study of walrus feeding behavior in the wild showed that the animals preferentially use their right flipper to remove sediment from buried food. This is the first time that any aquatic animal has been shown to prefer using one flipper to the other when foraging.

Froghopper Bug - Spittlebug - Crowned "World's Greatest Leaper" National Geographic - July 30, 2003

A sap-sucking bug that coats plants with wads of foamy spit has been crowned the insect world's greatest leaper. It has more jumping prowess than fleas, out hops the springiest grasshoppers, and clears the high bar more quickly than bush crickets.

Talking to animals BBC - July 16, 2003
Homeopathy, hypnotherapy and the Japanese healing art of Reiki have all made in-roads into traditional medicine in recent years. However, a Moray man believes that animals can also benefit from complementary medicine. Robert McGowan, from Keith, said that more than 50 species, from horses to dogs and cats are receptive to hypnosis. As a trained hypnotherapist, he branched into animals because of his love of horses. He told BBC News Online: "I have worked with them for most of my life. I know the problems they have and about their illnesses." He begins the process by "de-stressing" them and then uses the reputed power of Reiki to cure their ailments.

Morocco's miracle mule BBC - October 2, 2002
A mule has given birth to a male foal in a hamlet deep in rural Morocco. No big deal, you may think, but in fact the birth was a minor scientific miracle. A mule is the hybrid of a horse and a donkey and should be sterile - except in this instance. There have only been two substantiated cases of a mule giving birth in the past quarter century: one in China in 1988 and the other also in Morocco in 1984.

Zebra hybrid is cute surprise BBC - June 26, 2001
A Shetland pony on a UK farm has surprised its owners by giving birth to a half-zebra foal. The hybrid animal, now a week old, appears healthy and is bouncing around its paddock at the Eden Ostrich World, at Langwathby Hall Farm, near Penrith, Cumbria.

Shark Gives 'Virgin Birth' to twins in Detroit Zoo National Geographic - September 26, 2002
A female white spotted bamboo shark at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit surprised zookeepers in July by giving birth to two babies. Why the surprise? It was a virgin birth: She hadn't been near a male for six years. The mother, who has been housed in a tank with a female brown banded bamboo shark for the last six years, laid a clutch of eggs in April.

Do elephants talk with their feet? BBC - July 17, 2002

Elephants may be listening to and communicating with each other through their feet. Recent research by US scientists supports previous claims that elephants can interpret slight vibrations they pick up in the ground. Behavioural observations of African elephants in Namibia over a 10-year period have led O'Connell-Rodwell to consider the idea that elephants rely on more than just their ears to keep track of what is happening around them

Origins of domestic horse revealed BBC - July 16, 2002

The story of how wild horses were tamed by ancient people has been pieced together by gene hunters. DNA evidence shows modern horses are descended from not one but several wild populations. It suggests horses were domesticated - for meat, milk or to carry loads - in more than one place. At least 77 wild mares passed on their genes to today's modern horse breeds, from the American mustang to the Shetland pony.