A wild-born, pure Australian desert dingo called Sandy Maliki has taken out first place in the World's Most Interesting Genome competition. The UNSW-led proposal to have Sandy's DNA decoded beat four other finalists for the Pacific Biosciences SMRT Grant, which provides cutting-edge sequencing of the complete genome of a particularly fascinating plant or animal.
Humans are able to interpret the behavior of others by attributing mental states to them (and to themselves). By adopting the perspectives of other persons, they can assume their emotions, needs and intentions and react accordingly. In the animal kingdom, the ability to attribute mental states (Theory of Mind) is a highly contentious issue. Cognitive biologists could demonstrate with a new test procedure that dogs are not only able to identify whether a human has an eye on a food source and, therefore, knows where the food has been hidden. They can also apply this knowledge in order to correctly interpret cues by humans and find food they cannot see themselves.
If you need a reason to become a dog lover, how about their ability to help protect kids from allergies and obesity? A new study showed that babies from families with pets -- 70 per cent of which were dogs -- showed higher levels of two types of microbes associated with lower risks of allergic disease and obesity.
Gray wolves provide an important case study for understanding ecosystem effects when apex predators reoccupy their former ranges. These species often rely on anthropogenic food sources, which has broad implications for ecosystem restoration efforts and the possibility of human-wildlife conflict.