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A new study by MIT scientists uncovers how male sandgrouse are able to soak up large amounts of water in their feathers and carry it over long distances to their chicks, reports Forbes. The researchers found that “when wetted, the coiled portions of the sandgrouse feather barbules unwind and rotate so they end up perpendicular to the vane. This creates a dense forest of fibers that can hold water through capillary action.”


Researchers at MIT have co-authored a paper in which they used honeybees to study the microbiome of cities. Since bees “tend to forage within a mile radius of their hives in urban areas, there’s valuable information about a city or even a neighborhood in the honey they produce, on their bodies and in the debris that lies at the bottom of hives,” writes Linda Poon for Bloomberg.

National Geographic

Prof. Matthew Wilson speaks with National Geographic reporter Brian Handwerk about his research exploring the science behind whether animals have dreams. “We have this idea of dreams being a confabulatory narrative with kind of crazy, vivid elements to it,” says Wilson. “But when we look into animal models, we’re simply trying to understand what goes on during sleep that might influence learning, memory, and behavior.”


 Scientists at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have found that while albatross couples typically mate for life, shy wandering albatross males are more likely to be divorced, reports Forbes. “This link between personality and divorce could help scientists predict the resilience of an albatross population over time."


The theory that a woodpecker’s brain is protected due to the tiny size and weight, originally suggested by Prof. Lorna Gibson, was confirmed by University of Antwerp researcher Sam Van Wassenbergh, reports Jon Hamilton for NPR.


Katie Spies ’14, founder and CEO of Maev (a company that produces human-grade, raw dog food brand), speaks with Fortune editor Rachel King about what inspired her to start Maev, the company’s development process, and where Spies sees the company expanding in the future. “Among other exciting expansion initiatives, we’re really looking forward to expanding our product portfolio; our goal is to be a trust brand for dog essentials, especially product categories that are currently lacking in healthy, well-made options,” says Spies.


Scientists from MIT, Yale, Newcastle University, the non-profit Galapagos Conservancy and other institutions have discovered a new species of living tortoise on the Galapagos Islands, reports Audrey Carleton for Vice. “If the findings are confirmed to represent a new species, the living tortoises on the island may need a new name, writes Carleton.


Renaldo Webb ’10 founded PetPlate, a fresh-cooked pet food company that delivers personalized meal plans directly to pet owners, reports Igor Bosilkcovski for Forbes. “Webb got the idea for the company when he worked with pet food companies as a consultant, and was able to realize that the low quality ingredients in the pet food had been the underlying reason for many health issues with pets, particularly obesity,” writes Bosilkcovski.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have discovered a way to watch and record the development of butterfly scales from the inside of a butterfly’s chrysalis, reports Elizabeth Gamillo for Smithsonian Magazine. “The team plans on further exploring the structure of butterfly wings and the reasoning behind the ridged design,” writes Gamillo.

National Geographic

MIT scientists have mapped out the web of a tropical tent-web spider and assigned each strand a tone audible to humans reports, Hicks Wogan for National Geographic. “We’re trying to give the spider a voice, and maybe someday, communicate with the arachnid via vibrations,” explains Prof. Markus Buehler.


CNET science writer Monisha Ravisetti spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the scale formation of butterfly wings during its transformation. “Understanding their schematics could ultimately benefit constructed materials like windows and thermal systems and even bring an ethereal quality to textiles,” writes Ravisetti.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Hannah Seo writes that MIT researchers have developed a way to watch and record how the microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings grow and tile themselves as the butterfly develops inside its chrysalis. The researchers hope to “use butterfly scales as inspiration for the design of new materials,” writes Seo. “Butterfly scales have other fascinating properties such as water repellency and the ability to regulate temperature.”

Ars Technica

ARS Technica senior writer Jennifer Ouellette spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the structural growth of butterfly wings inside its chrysalis for the first time. “A lot of these stages were understood and seen before, but now we can stitch them all together and watch continuously what’s happening, which gives us more information on the detail of how scales form,” says research assistant Anthony McDougal. 

Smithsonian Magazine

Researchers from MIT and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute are developing a probiotic to cure amphibian chytrid fungus in frogs, reports Jennifer Zoon for Smithsonian Magazine.


HuffPost reporter Mary Papenfuss writes that a team of archeologists and scientists, including Research Scientist Jahandar Ramezani, have uncovered evidence of social behaviors in dinosaurs. “The bones were segregated by age, with eggs in a common nesting ground,” writes Papenfuss. “Juveniles likely were left in ‘schools’ while adults foraged.”