Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy!
If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”.
Feather, fur & fin – birds, beasts, fishes, and the things they do
Intelligence insights. Understanding genetic basis of chimp smarts sheds light on human minds. Great case made by Jason Goldman.
Pass it on. Chimp smarts runs in the family. Test performance heritable, as Andy Coghlan reveals.
Genius genes? There's a genetic component to chimps' performance on tests, explains Sara Reardon.
Scents & sensibility. Gorilla's communicate with body odour. April Reese shares the evidence.
Betcha they don't know. Like humans, monkeys make bad gambling decisions. Excellent take on this research, by Jason Goldman.
On a winning streak. Even monkeys think they have them. They will bias actions accordingly, as Mary Bates explains.
Whale of a difference. Cetacean recovery is good for ocean ecosystems, explains Eli Kintisch.
No mere fluke. Nasty, but fascinating, critters attach themselves to dolphins. Rebecca Helm takes a look.
Ecosystem engineers. Wonderful whales. Katie Collins explains why.
Pachyderm painting preference? Do elephants actually like to dabble in paints? Steven Ross Pomeroy takes a critical look.
"Tragically, the only certain outcome I can see these days is death." Plight of elephants. John Platt reflects on the recent slaughter of elephants in Namibia.
Lion & tigers &...jeans?? Oh my. Robert Young on converting zoo animal environmental enrichment to a commodity.
Diet diversifiers. Sandhya Sekar on how pandas get by on bamboo only.
Little red hiding wolf. Red wolves making a tenuous comeback, as Joseph Hinton reports.
Dogs' dodgy decisions. Sometimes canines choose less over more (like primates). Zazie Todd shares the coolest companion animal behaviour research, perfectly.
"Isn't this an excellent model for thinking about & acting on animal-rescue issues?" Quote by Barbara King from a superb piece on stray dogs in Puerto Rico. Read of the week.
Dog on it. Canines sniff out mosquitoes in the fight against malaria. Superb story, by Emily Sohn. Read of the week.
Squirrelly talk. Mary Bates on squirrels' complex language.
Ahead by a whisker. Literally. Rats use them to navigate.
Life is sweet. Fruit bats' remarkable existence. Good stuff featuring Ze Frank, shared nicely by GrrlScientist.
Small mercies. Dwarf hamster therapy. Warning: cuteness OD potential, provided here by GrrlScientist.
So cute you could gobble them up? That's what hamsters think about hamsters also. Jason Bittel cuts through the cute.
It's showtime! Bird of paradise spends lot of time in prep. Bec Crew takes a look.
Family ties. How weavers bind their nests. Great bit of bird behaviour, nicely explained by Rene van Dijk.
Deep notes. Crane makes music with sternum-embedded trachea. Rowan Hooper on some sound science.
A nested development. Cuckoos barge in, as Mary Beth Griggs finds.
Amazing avians. Beautiful birds. Great images, curated by Steve Boyes.
Bye bye birdie? Neonicotinoid pesticides are not just bad for bees. Cause bird declines. Brandon Keim looks at the new evidence.
The birds and the bees. Jason Bittel finds that neonicotinoid insecticides' negative impact is broad.
Flight delayed by turtles at JFK? Distemper may be to blame. Sarah Zhang on how everything is connected.
Hang on...geckos grip with electrostatic feet, as Nsikan Akpan explains.
Answer on the tip of their tongue. Why snakes flick their tongues. Andrew Durso rounds up the evidence.
Gargantuan garter snake gathering. Snake sex spectacle. Christine Dell'amore looks into it.
Fighting frog fungus. Might it be possible to "vaccinate" amphibians against chytrid? Andy Coghlan looks at the possibility.
Resistance is futile? Maybe not. Ed Yong explains that it may be possible to "vaccinate" amphibians against chytrid fungus.
Fungus foe fighters? Toads may acquire immunity to devastating chytrid fungus, explains Fiona Harvey.
Life in the slow lane? Smaller animals see time pass in slow motion, as Emilie Reas explains.
Good eats. Invasive species. Is putting them on the menu the best way forward? Erika Engelhaupt considers the possibility.
It's a shoe in. Horseshoe crab beach mating fest.
Combative crustaceans. Snapping shrimp females fiercest. Michelle Warwicker shares the evidence.
Crustaceans 'n crud. Our plastic waste is filling up crabs. Our disturbing legacy, shared by Nsikan Akpan.
The mane event. Matt Simon on the amazing lion's mane jellyfish.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight – the arthropods
Webs of intrigue. Life, spider style. Words by Catherine Scott, with pics by (newly-minted "Doctor") Sean McCann.
Makes scents. Bees create stink to deter competitors, as Douglas Main explains.
Our lips are sealed? Well, ant lions are. Yet they eat, as Susan Milius explains.
Tick talk. Folks' least favourite arthropod got even less favourable. It's venomous, as Sarah Zielinski reveals.
Terrible travellers. Mosquito movement & the spread of dengue. Excellent research blogging, by Emily Griffiths.
A real bright spot. How fireflies make babies. Super photoessay, by Alex Wild. View of the week.
The other polar bear. S. E. Gould looks at the arctic woolly bear caterpillar.
Creature comforts. Paintings of renaissance folk dressed in insect garb. Excellent bit of science and art colliding, by Gwen Pearson.
Not merely a thing of beauty. Butterfly wings also inspire. Andrew Bomford on some interesting examples of biomimicry.
Messing with the hive mind. Neonicotinoids impair bee foraging. Important research, nicely conveyed by Emily Chung.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology, history and the like
Snorkelling in the Outback. Australian fossils show sea life 560M years ago. Excellent report, by Emily Hughes.
Gentle giants? Huge sea scorpions, >400 MYA. Tanya Lewis explores these ancient critter.
Walk this way. Amazing dinosaur trackway. Becky Oskin takes a look at it.
Getting to the point. Evolution of triceratops' horns. Great take on some recent research, by Dave Hone. Read of the week.
Finding fossils? There's an app for that. Katie Collins looks at Google Maps' pterosaur specimen plug-in.
The air of their ways. Getting aloft would have been big challenge for bird with 7m wingspan, as Travis Park explains.
Flying phenomenon. Huge bird must have been challenged to take to the air. Yet it did, as Dan Vergano reports.
Glorious glider. Also known as Pelagornis sandersi. Rebecca Morelle's take on the bird fossil find of the week.
Winged wonder. Jane Hu considers the magnificent wingspan of Pelagornis sandersi.
Big bird. Was huge. But not biggest thing to ever fly Earth's skies, as Andy Coghlan reveals.
Winging it. Charles Choi on the bird that had largest wingspan.
Terrifically tiny. Ancient hedgehog, the size of your thumb. Deborah Netburn reports on an interesting fossil find.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Bad vibes. Plants sense vibrations of hungry herbivores & deploy defence. Cool bit of biology, nicely conveyed by Emma Weissmann.
Sexual surprises. Some plants have funky pollination, as Sarah Jose showcases.
Look out bellow! Jennifer Holland takes a look at a flower that puffs pollen at birds.
Turning over a new leaf. Elevated CO2 alters leaves surface design.
Pretty in pink. Fantastic flowers. Lovely photography of Lucie van Dongen.
Root of the matter. Beautiful plant development.
A light touch. Watching photosynthesis in action…to create it ourselves. John Platt on the latest insights.
Things are cropping up. Ancient grains & "orphan crops" are a growing interest, as Andrea Stone reports.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
Going viral. Did cellular life evolve on the backs of giant viruses? Excellent story, by Carrie Arnold. Read of the week.
Planetary pulse. Created by ocean microbes. Absolutely beautiful writing by Ed Yong. Read of the week.
Gutsy moves. The geographical distribution of faecal microbes. Cool research blogging, by Rob Dunn.
Cutting communication. How microbes invade plants. Great little bit of research, nicely shared by Sarah Shailes.
Recovered memories. What finding a forgotten vial of smallpox means. Great synopsis by Maryn Mckenna.
When it all goes bad. How microbes become pathogens. Good read by Jason Tetro.
A cut apart. Paper crafted into bacterial colonies. Stunning artistry of Rogan Brown, shared by Sara Barnes. View of the week.
Molecular machinery – the toils of the macromolecules of life – nucleic acids and proteins (and others) – from molecules to cells to organs to organisms (including genetics, genomics & epigenetics)
Reading, writing, arithmetic…and genes. Ian Sample on correlation with genetic variants.
Knowing a killer. Characterising cancer's unknowns. Excellent feature, by Katie Bourzac. Read of the week.
The shape of things to come? Stem cells coaxed to organise themselves, using geometry.
Lasting effect. Starvation during pregnancy leaves a multigenerational mark in mice. Ewen Callaway on the latest, sure to be controversial, epigenetics research.
Sex & the single cell. Tia Ghose on how unicellular organisms got sex.
Glow with the flow. Amazing fluorescent proteins of amphioxus.
Live & let die. Protein switch controls cell suicide. Ruth Williams takes a look.
Designing digits. Mo Costandi on how hooves come to be.
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – ecology, evolution & extinction
"The horticulturist's distinct business & profession is evolution." Quote by Liberty Hyde Bailey, from 1895. Great bit of history of science, by Kele Cable. Read of the week.
War of the womb. Of placentas & sexual conflict. Cool story of fish evolution, by Ed Yong.
Pause for thought. Why did evolution appear to stall for a billion years? Jane Qiu considers the reason.
We are stardust. Are we also Martians? Did life get its start on the red planet? Steve Nadis considers the evidence.
Cutting things down to size. Slay monsters...with science! This is how to do bedtime stories. Great read by Michelle Nijhuis. Read of the week.
"Long shots, speculations & spurious claims." Wonderful critique of Nicholas Wade's spectacularly wrong hypotheses, by David Dobbs.
"Only gradually did I realise that I had far more in common with a post-apocalypse survivor." Quote by Keith Ferrell from a beautifully crafted, deeply affecting piece about living close to the land. Read of the week.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
Here comes the flood. Gravity measurements predict where rivers will rise. Eric Hand looks at the evidence.
Done & dusted. Up to 90% of North Atlantic's iron from Saharan dust.
Catching the wave. Beauty washes over you. Superb photography of Clark Little.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Stardust memories. Ron Cowen on what supernova dust tells us.
A spot of bother. Distant star's "exoplanets" are likely to be sunspots. Charles Choi takes a look.
The exoplanets that weren't. Self-correcting science turns exoplanets into ex-planets. Great read by Matthew Francis.
Celestial celebrations? Our fireworks have nothing on those found in space. Corey Powell provides images to prove it.
Look! Up in the sky! Not bird. Nor plane. Just our gorgeous universe. Nice images, contextualised and shared by Phil Plait.
Way out there. Andrew Fazekas reports on the most distant star in the Milky Way.
On the flip side. Understanding the moon's two-faced nature. Fascinating hypotheses, nicely explained by Ethan Siegel.
Europa vision. New view of Jupiter's moon gives hints at what lies beneath its icy surface, as Nadia Drake explains.
Salty seas. Oceans under Titan's ice full of salt. Mary Beth Griggs looks into it.
New moon. Literally. Saturn's rings may be birthing one, as Ken Croswell explains.
Heavy metal heart. Yet Mercury doesn't rock like we'd expect. Why? Cool hypothesis, perfectly explained by Nadia Drake.
Lord of the rings. Cassini's glorious legacy. Gorgeous images of Saturn and environs, shared by Nadia Drake. View of the week.
Night light. Beauty of our skies. Images shared by Mary Beth Griggs.
Getting physical – physical sciences – cosmology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computing, engineering, and technology
OMG, there's potentially a hotspot origin for OMG particles. Yes, really. Adrian Cho takes a look.
Gravity of the situation. He would have hated it, but Newton's notes are online. Good take, by Sarah Dry.
Back to the future. What will the universe look like 100B years from now? Mind-blowing cosmology, by Ethan Siegel. Read of the week.
Brawn over brains? Was the BICEP2 cosmic wave announcement really too premature? Elizabeth Gibney on what physicists have to say.
Tune time. Why are radio songs so similar in duration? Interesting look at technology driving culture, by Rhett Allain.
A dose of medicine – science in practice in a medical setting, and health-, nutrition-, and exercise-related stories
"It felt very much like a punch to the gut." A scientist's response to HIV being found in baby thought "cured". Heidi Ledford reports on some sad news about the "Mississippi Baby".
"Can we get..a way to talk about obesity that reduces blame & dissatisfaction, but that doesn't encourage fatalism?" Quote by Tania Lombrozo from an excellent piece on challenges of labelling obesity a "disease".
Showing our age? Has peak longevity been reached? Great critique, by Anne Buchanan.
An ounce of prevention... Actions needed on "non-communicable diseases". Thought-provoking case made by Lawrence Gostin.
Let it be? Should last samples of smallpox virus be destroyed? Good take by Tania Browne.
If a tree falls in a forest, will anybody hear? Maybe not, but Ebola will spread, as Terrence McCoy explains.
Bad to the bone. Malaria parasite hides out in marrow. Surprising, and important, find nicely reported by Helen Briggs.
A matter of time. Daily metabolic cycles influence disease testing & treatment. Important research, well reported by Susan Scutti.
A pox on both your houses? Wait. What?! Frightening news about smallpox this week. Sara Reardon presaged this weeks ago.
Heads up. Headbanging to Motörhead can kill you. Science says, as Liat Clark reports.
Getting your fill. How to fluid load before a big run. Salt can help, as Alex Hutchinson reports.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it – neuroscience, mental health, psychology, sociology & human interest stories
Nifty new neurons. Super look at 1962 paper reporting adult neurogenesis, by Katie. Captures the excitement of the day, and how it still resonates today. Read of the week.
Game brain gain? Could Super Mario really improve cognition. Good critical look, by Paige Brown.
"Cadavers have no brain activity. They also don't move." They do reveal fMRI problems, as Neuroskeptic makes clear.
No kidding. Why you can't remember being a baby. Neurogenesis. Fiona MacDonald explains.
What's eating you? Take a look at the possible basis of nail biting. Intriguing bit of psychology, by Tom Stafford.
Strength in diversity. Variety trumps independence for crowd-sourced wisdom. Philip Ball looks at the evidence.
Mind control. Using hypnosis to explore brain function. A personal look by David Robson.
Behind the scenes – the workings of life’s museum of natural history – discovery, communication, and education
"Searching for a style is futile, it is a moving target." About being a photographer. Applies to life. Wonderful piece by Guy Tal - a great reflection on evolving as a person. About photography & much more. Read of the week.
It stems from this. Origins & discovery of bad stem cell research. Superb cautionary tale, by Jalees Rehman. Read of the week.
Open & shut case? Surprisingly, science communication journals aren't early adopters of open access, as Matt Shipman reveals.
Oh, Canada. How the nation fares for world's top scientists. Ivan Semeniuk considers how one country's scientists stack up globally.
Making the grade? What grade level do you tweet at? Try this widget, shared by Dave Johnson.