On the pilot episode of Interronauts — the CSIRO podcast — Jesse, Sophie, and Adrian talk about menopausal whales, panda thumbs, Tasmanian tiger brains, and frisky wrens. They also have a chat with Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith about the launch of the new ASKAP radio telescope, and discuss research around CSIRO: mouse plagues and trips to Antarctica.
- Menopausal whales — “Only three known species go through menopause: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and humans. Two years ago, scientists suggested whales do this to focus their attention on the survival of their families rather than on birthing more offspring. But now this same team reports there’s another—and darker—reason: Older females enter menopause because their eldest daughters begin having calves, leading to fights over resources. The findings might also apply to humans, the scientists say,” from Science Mag. Full paper: Croft, D.P. et al. (2017) Reproductive Conflict and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales. Current Biology, 27 (2)
- Panda thumb evolution — “A team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has conducted a comparison of the genomes of giant and red pandas and has found differences due to adaptive convergence. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they sequenced the genome of a wild red panda and the differences they found when comparing it with the giant panda genome,” from Phys.org. Full paper: Hu et al. (2017) Comparative genomics reveals convergent evolution between the bamboo-eating giant and red pandas. PNAS, 114 (5)
- Tasmanian tiger brains — “Scientists have mapped 100-year-old brains of two extinct thylacines — better known as the Tasmanian tiger — to reveal how the carnivore was wired to be a predator,” from ABC. Full paper: Berns and Ashwell (2017) Reconstruction of the Cortical Maps of the Tasmanian Tiger and Comparison to the Tasmanian Devil. PLOS One, 12 (1)
- Fairy wren strategies — “When mates are limited, individuals should allocate resources to mating tactics that maximize fitness. In species with extra-pair paternity (EPP), males can invest in mate guarding, or, alternatively, in seeking EPP. Males should optimize fitness by adjusting investment according to their attractiveness to females, such that attractive males seek EPP, and unattractive males guard mates,” from full paper: Downling and Webster (2017) Working with what you’ve got: unattractive males show greater mate-guarding effort in a duetting songbird. Biology Letters, 13 (1)
Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith talks about the operational launch of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). To find out more about ASKAP, you can go here. And you can follow our telescope national facilities on Twitter here.
“The team on board our research vessel, Investigator, are hunting down ancient phytoplankton to study their DNA,” from our blog. Learn more about RV Investigator’s current research in Antarctica, here. And follow the RV Investigator updates on Twitter with #RVInvestigator.
“Mouse breeding started a couple weeks early in Vic and SA, so our experts are anticipating a plague in autumn. But how can two weeks make such a difference?” from our blog. Learn more about Mouse Alert, here.