The 10 Wildest Things We Learned About Animals In 2014
Through a combination of scientific research, observation and, sometimes, just by being at the right place at the right time, humans have uncovered quite a bit about animals in 2014. Here are some of the most astounding things we've learned about the creatures who share our planet:
1. Crows can solve physics problems. (Credit:Giphy)
Crows are intelligent birds, matching 5-year-old human kids with their ability to solve a water-displacement problem. The birds dropped stones into beakers to push a floating treat to the top.
2. Bats call dibs!(Furryscaly/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
University of Maryland biologists found that as bats hunt, they sometimes make a call that means, essentially, "Shotgun!" Bats who heard this cry would fly away from bugs, letting the caller swoop in for the meal.
3. This orca is older than the state of Arizona.
In May, a 103-year-old orca known as Granny was spied with her great-grandchildren off the coast of Canada.
4. Chimpanzees might stick twigs in their ears just for the heck of it. (Credit: Ediwn van Leeuwen)
Called "grass-in-ear behavior," scientists can't quite fathom how it serves a purpose - it's something akin to a fad in humans, according to Edwin van Leeuwen, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute in the Netherlands.
5. This marine mammal became the first new dolphin species discovered since 1918. (Credit: Nicole Dutra)
Researchers determined that this Araguaian river dolphin, also called a boto, is a new species of dolphin who lives west of the Amazon basin. Separated by rapids and about 2 million years of isolation from other Amazonian river dolphins, these animals are extremely rare. They're also the first new dolphins to be found since the Chinese river dolphin was discovered in 1918.
6. Octopus arms stay untangled thanks to a chemical coat. (Feans/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
From glands on their tentacles, octopuses secrete a chemical deterrent to keep wandering arms from getting wrapped together.
7. Bison can once again call the Romanian wilds home.
(Frank Vassen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Hunted to extinction in Romania in the 1900s, captive-raised European bison were reintroduced to the Carpathian Mountains this year. The new herd of 17 bison, a few outfitted with radio collars, were blessed by a priest as they began acclimating to a re-wilding space, where they'll learn how to forage for food on their own.
8. Dogs love to run, even on 3-D printed legs.
Thanks to 3-D printing technology, dogs like Derby - who was born with shortened legs - can run again on customized limbs.
9. Ancient armored fish were the first to copulate.
These prehistoric fish, known as antiarch placoderms, were found with fossilized claspers, making them among the first animals to do the deed as we know it.
10. Walruses, fish, and other aquatic animals are increasingly being affected by climate change.
(Corey Accardo, AP/NOAA)
From 35,000 Pacific walruses seeking refuge on a beach due to lack of ice, to the United Nations' prediction that tropical fisheries will shrink by 40 to 60 percent, the scale of climate change is staggering. The impact of climate change on wildlife is a story that will continue into 2015 - and will develop for many years to come.