Weird World 

Scientists can predict which storks will migrate to Africa in autumn and which will remain in Europe

For little Louis, it is the most exciting day of his life: just six or seven weeks ago, the young stork came into the world on a birch tree in Radolfzell on Lake Constance. Up to this day in June 2014, he has only known his parents and three siblings. But suddenly strange beings have appeared at the nest and are holding the four small white storks captive. They are Andrea Flack and Wolfgang Fiedler of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Konstanz. In the coming years, the scientists will learn from Louis and other young storks that, on their migrations south, storks follow other storks who are particularly good at exploiting thermals, allowing them to flap their wings as little as possible as they fly. The efficient fliers migrate to West Africa, while the others spend the winter in southern Europe. From their data, the researchers can tell which storks will fly where just ten minutes after the birds take off.

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Why we won’t get to Mars without teamwork

If humanity hopes to make it to Mars anytime soon, we need to understand not just technology, but the psychological dynamic of a small group of astronauts trapped in a confined space for months with no escape, according to a paper published in American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association.

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Weird World 

Chimpanzee calls differ according to context

Studies examining animal alarm calls suggest species which require different escape responses for different predators are more likely to have correspondingly different alarm calls, facilitating appropriate escape responses from receivers. However, what causes calls to diversify in less urgent contexts is little examined. “To address this, we examine a quiet contact vocalisation of chimpanzees, the ‘hoo’,” says Catherine Crockford of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “We found that chimpanzees have at least three acoustically different ‘hoo’ variants, each given in a different behavioural context: alert, travel and rest.”

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