News on Animals By Cathy Chang Snakes Starting Questions ◊ What are the characteristics of snakes? ◊ Do you see them as essential to the environment or just dangerous reptiles? ◊ How is the image of snakes usually used in places like books, movies, etc.? “Snake-Fang Evolution Mystery Solved -- ‘Major Surprise’” The diverse and deadly array of venomous snakes living today all arose from a single fanged ancestor, a new study suggests. Vipers, cobras, and other snakes that have fangs at the fronts of their jaws surprisingly begin life like snakes that have poisonous fangs at the back of their jaws, said a team led by Freek Vonk of Leiden University in the Netherlands. The discovery suggests venomous fangs--the lethal evolutionary invention that led to snakes becoming so successful--arose only once about 60 million years ago. The origins of venom-injecting snakes have long been the source of scientific controversy, because the contrasting fang positions of diverse snake groups pointed to independent evolution. But a study of the embryos of eight front- and rear-fanged species has found that fangs always first appear at the back of the upper jaw before migrating forward in vipers and cobras. This previously unidentified transformation in the unborn young occurs due to "rapid growth of some parts of the upper jaw relative to the others," Vonk explained. (Source) Vocabulary ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Diverse 多種多樣的;多變化的 Array 一系列;大量 Venomous 分泌毒液的 Fanged 有尖牙的 Vipers 奎蛇 Cobras 眼鏡蛇 Jaws 頜;顎;下頜,下巴 Poisonous 有毒的 Lethal 致命的 Evolutionary 進化的 ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Invention 發明,創造 Origins 起源;由來 Venom-injecting 注射毒液 Contrasting 形成鮮明對比的 Independent 獨立的 Embryos 胚胎 Migrating 遷移;移居 Transformation 變化;轉變 Relative to 成比例 Lemurs Starting Questions ◊ Have you ever seen real lemurs? ◊ What are some characteristics of lemurs? ◊ What is your reaction when you see these mammals? “‘Cross Dressing’ Lemurs Appear Male to Avoid Conflict” Young female red-fronted lemurs in Madagascar adopt male coloration to dupe their aggressive female group-mates, a new study found. These "cross dressing" primates thus avoid the wrath of older females, which would attack them to reduce sexual competition. All red-fronted lemurs are born with the same grayish brown fur and rusty-red crowns that distinguish adult males. At 7 to 17 weeks later, females' coats change to a cinnamon hue, and their crowns become white. "We knew from our longer-term observations that there was a lot of female aggression in red-fronted lemurs," said study author Claudia Fichtel of the University of Göttingen's German Primate Center. "Females compete fiercely over limited breeding opportunities, and we wanted to know if hiding femininity was a way to avoid being attacked," Fitchtel said. (Source) Vocabulary ◊ Madagascar 馬達加斯 加 ◊ Adopt 採取 ◊ Coloration 天然色 ◊ Dupe 欺騙 ◊ Aggressive 好鬥的,挑釁 的 ◊ Mates 同伴 ◊ Primates 靈長類 ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Wrath 憤怒,狂怒 Crowns 頭頂;頭 Coats 皮毛 Cinnamon 淺紅褐色 Hue 色調,色澤 Breeding 生育,生殖 Femininity 女子氣質 Bees Starting Questions ◊ What are the characteristics of bees? ◊ What are the advantages of having bees in our environment? Disadvantages? ◊ Have you ever been stung by a bee? “Bees Enlisted to Attack Crows in Tokyo” After years of being attacked by crows, a colony of seabirds nesting in Tokyo is getting an unlikely ally: the tiny honeybee. Conservationists hope bees will repel the crows, based on the insects' tendency to attack anything dark-colored that approaches their hives. This year beehives from rural areas were relocated to the top of a large water-treatment facility near Tokyo's international airport, where as many as 4,000 birds known as little terns nest after a long migration from Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. Although they are not endangered internationally, little terns are listed as "vulnerable" in Japan's Red Data Book of threatened species. That's because the terns' nesting sites in the country are being destroyed by construction work and other human activities, so the birds are considered potentially at risk in the future. The terns near the airport have long been victims of Tokyo's crows. (Source) Vocabulary ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Crows 烏鴉 Colony 集群;群體 Seabirds 海鳥 Nesting 巢;窩;穴 Ally 伙伴,助手 Conservationists 天然資源 保護論者 ◊ Repel 擊退;驅除 ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Tendency 傾向 Hives 蜂房;蜂巢 Rural 鄉下 Relocated 重新安置 Terns 燕鷗 Endangered 快要絕種的 Potentially 潛在地;可能地 Chameleons Starting Questions ◊ What are some of the characteristics of chameleons? ◊ Why do some people like to raise them as pets? “Record-Breaking Chameleons Live Only a Few Months” Members of a rare chameleon species all hatch in the same month, then die only four to five months later--making them the shortest-lived four-limbed vertebrates, a new study says. Labord's chameleon had been identified in 1872 in the arid southwest of the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. But it wasn't until 2003 that a zoologist noticed there was something strange about this particular species. "It was just bizarre, because I could find only adults and no juveniles whatsoever," said study co-author Kristopher Karsten of Oklahoma State University. "So I thought, Well, either my eye isn't trained very well to find these juveniles, or they're not there. And if they're not there, maybe that means that every one is the same age and they're an annual species. "After studying the chameleons for three more seasons, Karsten and his colleagues were certain that the entire population of Labord's chameleon (Furcifer labordi) turns over every year. (Source) Vocabulary ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Rare 稀有的,罕見的 Chameleon 變色龍 Hatch 孵出 Limb 肢;臂;腳;翼 Vertebrates 脊椎動物 Arid 乾旱的;乾燥的 Zoologist 動物學家 ◊ Particular 特殊的;特定 的 ◊ Species 種類 ◊ Bizarre 異乎尋常的 ◊ Juveniles 少年的 ◊ Annual 一年一次的 ◊ Turns over 更換 Birds Starting Questions ◊ What are some characteristics of birds? ◊ What species of birds can you name? ◊ Do they make good pets? “Migrating Birds Understand ‘Foreign Languages’” Like avid travelers picking up local languages, migrating birds appear to learn and understand the common calls of unrelated bird species that they encounter during their long journeys, new research reveals. Birds that remain in one location throughout the year have no difficulty identifying predators, such as hawks, ferrets, and snakes. Migrators, however, constantly face the threat of encountering predators in their travels that they do not immediately recognize as dangerous. Some ecologists had previously suggested that long-distance travelers pick up cues from local species to obtain information on unfamiliar predators, but evidence for this theory has been thin. To explore the possibility, researchers at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, played predator warning calls made by both local and foreign species to birds passing through Belize on long migrations as well as to local birds and monitored their reactions. (Source) Vocabulary ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Avid 勁頭十足的 Common 普通的;常見的 Encounter 遇到 Predators 掠奪者 Ferrets 雪貂,白鼬 Ecologists 生態學者 Cues 暗示,信號;線索 ◊ Local 地方性的;當地的, 本地的 ◊ Obtain 得到,獲得 ◊ Unfamiliar 不熟悉的;不 常見的 ◊ Evidence 證據 ◊ Theory 理論;原理 ◊ Monitor 監視 ◊ Reactions 反應 Reference “Animal News.” National Geographic. 1 Aug 2008. <http://news.nationalgeographic. com/news/animals_05.html>.