News

What a hoot! Cheeky kea ‘laughter’ sets off playful antics

John Kerr Mar 21, 2017

A warbling kea squawk has been shown to trigger playful behaviour in the cheeky native parrot, which researchers have compared to laughter in humans. Kea are playful birds. They perform aerial acrobatics, chase each other through the air and have jostling play-fights on the ground.  Researchers noticed that in the midst of such behaviour kea screech a particular ‘play call.’ After documenting these … Read More

Dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used ‘aspirin’

Jean Balchin Mar 09, 2017

Ancient DNA found on Neandertal teeth has revealed fascinating new insights into the behaviour, diet, use of plant-based medicine and the evolutionary history of our nearest extinct relatives. “Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth—preserving the DNA for … Read More

Bacteria hitch a ride on raindrop spray

John Kerr Mar 09, 2017

New research reveals how raindrops on soil create bioaerosols – tiny droplets of bacteria-laden water – which can help spread harmful microbes, including kiwifruit pathogen Psa. Although soil bacteria are usually pretty slow at getting around, wet weather has been suggested to give them a hand travelling large distances. But exactly how rain gets bacteria from the soil into the air has been … Read More

Rhinos can correct gender imbalance in the wild

Jean Balchin Mar 08, 2017

Rhinos are able to alter the sex of their offspring to avoid a gender imbalance and reduce competition for breeding, according to a new study led by a New Zealand researcher. Twenty-four years of rhinoceros data, gathered over the course of 45 reintroductions of the animals across southern Africa, provided this first experimental evidence in the wild. Professor Wayne … Read More

De-extinction dilemma: Bring back the moa or save the kiwi?

John Kerr Feb 28, 2017

Adding previously-extinct species to our conservation checklist will strain already tight conservation budgets, say a team of New Zealand and Australian scientists. Little Bush Moa, Anomalopteryx didiformis. © Te Papa. De-extinction – resurrecting extinct species with the help of modern technology – has been largely confined to the realms of sci-fi. But now technology is catching up with the fantasy. Read More

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New Zealand science looks to the future – Sciblogs Horizon Scan

John Kerr Feb 20, 2017

Pandemics, predators and predicting sea-level rise are just a few of the issues covered in our Sciblogs Horizon Scan special series. We asked experts across the spectrum of New Zealand science to give us their take on the big issues in their field and what might be around the corner. What does the future hold in store for New Zealand … Read More

What’s around the corner? Sciblogs Horizon Scan

John Kerr Jan 30, 2017

What does the future hold in store for New Zealand science? What are the big issues our small, isolated country will face in a world of accelerating change? Over last two weeks we’ve seen some excellent commentary from New Zealand researchers contributing to our Sciblogs Horizon Scan special series. We asked experts across the spectrum of New Zealand science to … Read More

The Science of Christmas

John Kerr Dec 18, 2016

As the big day approaches, there is no shortage of scientists turning their inquisitive minds to the mysteries of Christmas. In the spirit of the festive season, Sciblogs brings you a tinsel entwined ‘wrap-up’ of Noel-related research. Naughty or nice? Not so important for Santa Santa pays a visit to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. Source: BelfastLive. Read More

Local extinctions: Climate change’s vanishing trick

John Kerr Dec 09, 2016

Now you see them, now you don’t. Hundreds of species have already undergone ‘local extinctions’ because of climate change, according to new a study. As overall temperatures increase around the world thanks to climate change, plants and animals are starting to shift their geographic range closer to the cooler poles of the planet, or higher up the slopes of mountains. Read More

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Science in NZ: How are we doing?

John Kerr Nov 30, 2016

A ‘big picture’ report on the New Zealand science system shows Kiwis are pretty good at publishing top-notch research and collaborating with scientists overseas, but there is room for improvement on our business R&D spending.  The 2016 Science and Innovation System Performance Report was released yesterday by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The report aims to give policy-makers, academics and … Read More

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