Researchers have tried deploying underwater sensors to eavesdrop on the clicks dolphins use for echolocation, which can give clues about the aquatic mammals’ numbers, distributions and behaviors. Sifting through all these data, however, becomes a new headache. A machine learning program — similar to the one that recommends new Facebook friends to you — may be able to help. Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California introduced an algorithm that was able to analyze millions of dolphin clicks. While it previously took three weeks to analyze a year’s worth of recordings from a single site, the algorithm took about four days to sort through two years of data from five sites. The program came up with seven discrete click clusters. One of these was consistent with the unusual click profile of a species called Risso’s dolphin, which suggested their method might work.
Ticks likely sucked dinosaurs’ blood
Paleontologists have found entombed in amber a 99 million-year-old tick grasping the feather of a dinosaur, providing the first direct evidence that the tiny pests drank dinosaur blood. Immortalized in the golden gemstone, the bloodsucker’s last supper is remarkable because it is rare to find parasites with their hosts in the fossil record. The finding gives researchers tantalizing insight into the prehistoric diet of one of today’s most prevalent pests. Researchers concluded that the tick was a nymph, similar in size to a deer tick nymph, and that its host was most likely some sort of fledgling dinosaur no bigger than a hummingbird.
Taste of salami depends on bacteria
When you slice into a salami, you are enjoying the fruits of some very small organisms’ labor. Like other dried sausages, salami is a fermented food. Its production involves a period where manufacturers allow microbes to work on the ground meat filling to create a bouquet of pungent, savory molecules. Traditionally, the bugs find their way to the sausage from the surrounding environment. But these days, industrial manufacturers add a starter culture of bacteria to the meat instead. It’s safer and leads to more consistent results. These industrial starters may not always yield the most inspired flavor, though. A recent study from researchers at the University of Turin found that salami made with wild bugs scored higher with tasters than salami made with a starter culture.