Science briefs

  • Updated: May 17, 2014 - 4:14 PM
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This undated photograph shows one of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India. The study listing the new species brings the number of known Indian dancing frogs to 24 and attempts the first near-complete taxonomic sampling of the single-genus family found exclusively in southern India's lush mountain range called the Western Ghats, which stretches 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) from the west state of Maharashtra down to the country's southern tip. (AP Photo/Satyabhama Das Biju)

14 New frog species found, in danger

Scientists have discovered 14 new species of dancing frogs in the jungle mountains of southern India — just in time, they fear, to watch them fade away.

Biologists say they found the acrobatic amphibians declining in number during the 12 years in which they chronicled the species through morphological descriptions and molecular DNA markers. Their habitat — they are found exclusively in the Western Ghats — appears to be becoming increasingly dry.

The discoveries bring the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24. Only the males dance — it’s actually a breeding behavior called foot-flagging. They stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side to draw the attention of females who might have trouble hearing them over the sound of flowing water. They bigger the frog, the more they dance.

radio signals can disorient birds

For decades, scientists have known that migratory birds rely on the Earth’s magnetic field as one way to help orient themselves and fly the right direction.

But researchers in Germany have documented for the first time that the electromagnetic “noise” produced by modern societies could cause those avian navigation systems to go haywire, according to findings published in the journal Nature.

“Basically, anything you plug into a plug will send out electromagnetic noise at some frequency,” said co-author Henrik Mouritsen, a professor of neurosensory sciences at University of Oldenburg. He likened the overall effect in urban environments to an orchestra of potential disruptions at various wavelengths.

The good news is that birds possess other navigation systems, such as relying on the sun and the stars, he said. But an overcast day in an urban area teeming with electromagnetic noise could, theoretically, cause problems.

no such thing as a (good) free lunch?

If you could get a $5 lunch for $1, would it taste better?

If you chose the bargain, guess again. Price affects consumer satisfaction, and getting a deal doesn’t necessarily make diners like their food better, said Cornell University researchers.

“We were fascinated to find that pricing has little impact on how much one eats, but a huge impact on how you interpret the experience,” said Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The people who paid less more often said they felt like they had overeaten. They liked their food less and less over the course of the meal.

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