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Tuesday, April 28, 2020


A bunch of researchers from a bunch of US universities finds out that the timing of American robins' (Turdus migratorius) "spring migration to [their] Arctic-boreal breeding grounds" (P) got 12 days earlier in the last 20 years (about 5 days per decade in the 1998-2018 time period).

Moreover, the brains analyze data collected between 2016-2018 from GPS tracking devices stuck on the backs of 55 American robins. And these data indicate that "the [American robins'] arrival timing and likelihood of stopovers, and timing of arrival to breeding grounds" (P) are highly impacted by the environmental conditions the birds find along their migratory paths. Among the factors, the "dynamics in snow conditions" (P) appear to be a key one

The researchers' study (P) is published on the journal Environmental Research Letters and can contribute in creating predicting models of birds' responses to climate change.

The findings are coherent with what scientists already know, which is that one of the strongest effects of "global climate change has been the advancement of spring at high northern latitudes [...] where temperatures are rising nearly two to three times faster than the global average" (P), and that migratory birds adjust their trips' schedule to their breeding territories in response to the changes in local climate. 

But, dear reader, this dumb blog has an alternative explanation for the earlier migration's timing of American robins. And a cartoon to explain it.

American robins discuss about smart early departures (by @sciencemug)
American robins discuss about smart early departures (by @sciencemug)

[American robin pic by Mark Nenadov is under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Now, the following ones hare just for fun...

Batman and Robin meme 1 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)
Batman and Robin meme 1 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)

[Batman and Robin meme pic by ap. is under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license (source: flickr); adapted by @sciencemug]

Batman and Robin meme 2 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)
Batman and Robin meme 2 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)

[Batman and Robin meme pic by ap. is under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license (source: flickr); adapted by @sciencemug]

Paper (P)

Oliver, R.Y., Mahoney, P.J., Gurarie, E., Krikun, N., Weeks, B.C., Hebblewhite, M., Liston, G., and Boelman, N. (2020). Behavioral responses to spring snow conditions contribute to long-term shift in migration phenology in American robins. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 045003.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Oooh bentrovato e bentrovata oh tu che ascolti/parli/pensi in italiano, qui su @sciencemug, il podcast/blog che racconta la scienza mentre contempla il dorso della tartaruga che regge l’elefante che regge il mondo che si gratta sguaiatamente l'Himalaya, eeee sente anche le voci del multiverso cantare il caos armonico del tutto e occasionalmente raccontare barzellette sconce con in sottofondo l’inconfondibile brusio del bar più malfamato della costellazione del Tucano.

Volevo informarti, caro auscultatore e cara auscultatrice, che ora potrai goderti ooogni contenuto di questo matto podcast anche in italiano.

“Perché?”, mi chiedi con un vago accenno di scettico sospetto? 

Beh, caro auscultatore e cara auscultatrice, perché adesso esiste anche @sciencemug ITALIA, dove potrai ascoltare tuuuti i nuovi episodi, e un po’ alla volta anche quelli vecchi, in italiano, appunto.

@sciencemug ITALIA è su iTunes, Spotify, Anchor, Castbox e presto sarà disponibile anche su altre piattaforme.

Benone, oh voi del quelli che il podcast sì ma solo in italiano, la notizia ve l’ho data, adesso vi saluto, che devo tornare a inseguire il bianconiglio.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Soo, dear reader, from 2013 to 2016 a bunch of scientists studies (P) flocks of captive flamingos at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, a center for science and conservation in the UK.

And the brains find out that the pink birds have pretty intense social lives, that the larger their flocks the more frequent their social behaviors, that "arrangements of dyads, trios and quartets with higher ties strengths were visible [with both] male-male and female-female [stable over time] bonds", and, ultimately, that "flamingo societies are complex (i.e. formed of long-standing preferential partnerships and not loose, random connections)" (P).

So, dear reader, for you and you only, this dumb blog, in the two following cartoons, respectively reports a truth that the good researchers failed to uncover (A), and a common example of what the intense social life those cool flamingos have looks like (B).

A flamingo complaining about the smartphones' design by @sciencemug)
A flamingo complaining about the smartphones' design by @sciencemug)

 [Free flamingo pic by Lieselot. Dalle (source: Unsplash); smartphone free pic by Neil Soni (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]
Two flamingos runnnig on water (by @sciencemug)
Two flamingos runnnig on water (by @sciencemug)

Free flamingos pic by Dattatreya Patra (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug] 

Paper (P)

Thursday, April 2, 2020


So, dear listener, a bunch of researchers do a study (P) on the effects of cat-specific music on the felines' stress level when the furry pets go to the veterinary.

And the scientists find that: "cat-specific music can significantly lower stress-related behaviors in cats visiting the veterinary clinic for wellness examinations. Adding cat-specific music to veterinary offices as environmental enrichment could provide great value to the cat’s welfare in the clinic" (P).

The cat-specific music the scientists refers to is "purring and suckling sounds [...] layered into tempos and frequencies used in feline vocalization music" (P)

But, dear reader, this dumb blog in the following cartoon is showing you the real nature of the "cat-specific music" the cats find so relaxing.

A cat listening to relaxing cat-specific music (by @sciencmeug)
A cat listening to relaxing cat-specific music (by @sciencemug)

[Cat free pic by Michael Sum (source: Unsplash); iPod free pic by Zhang Kenny (source: Unsplash); headphones free pic by Brett Jordan (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

'Cause, let's admit it pal, cats are fundamentally beautiful jerks...

Paper (P)
Amanda Hampton, Alexandra Ford, Roy E Cox, Chin-chi Liu, Ronald Koh (2020) Effects of music on behavior and physiological stress response of domestic cats in a veterinary clinic - Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 22, 122–128.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Science knows since a while that, in Eastern Europe, there're man (hunters-gatherers) made circlular structures "built" with mammoth' bones associated with "artefact assemblages" (P). These features date back to across the Upper Palaeolithic (i.e. 22 - and more - thousands years ago) (P).

They consist of a ring of mammoth bones with a diameter of various meters usually surrounded by "a series of large pits" thought to have been used for "the storage of food or bone fuel, rubbish disposal or simply as quarries for loess used to construct the [very same] features" (P).

The structures are commonly reckoned as "to be the remains of dwellings that offered shelter during long, full glacial winter seasons or possibly year round" (P).

A recent research on a freshly dug out structure, though, challenges that view in a way supporting alternative hypothesis, like that that sees the mammoth-bones circles being "monumental architecture or possible ceremonial features" (P). 
The studied mammoth-bones circle with a diameter of 12.5 meters (41 feet), indeed, has no obvious entrance and shows a "relative scarcity of minute debitage [that] seems incongruous for a putative dwelling" (P)

The feature is located at the already famous (for this kind of structures) Kostenki 11 site (aka Anosovka 2) which is close to the Don River, near the city of Voronezh, in the European south-western Russia (51°23′08′′ north, 39°03′05′′ east) (P).

Said that, dear reader, this dumb blog has its own hypotesis about how and why the mammoth-bones circles have been made by humans. See the following cartoon.

Two gatherers-hunters and a mammoth-bones circle (by @sciencemug)
Two hunters-gatherers and a circle of mommoth-bones (by @sciencemug)

[Meat pic by Clker-Free-Vector-Images is under Pixabay Licence (source Pixabay); adapted by @sciencemug]

Paper (P) 
Pryor,A.J.E., Beresford-Jones, D.G., Dudin, A.E., Ikonnikova, E.M., J.F., Hoffecker, and Gamble ,C. (2020). The chronology and function of a new circular mammoth-bone structure at Kostenki 11 | Antiquity | Cambridge Core 94,323-341