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Male frog in Brazil loyal to two females during breeding season

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Aug. 12 (UPI) — Scientists have discovered a frog species in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest that practices harem polygyny.

The discovery, described Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, marks the first time biologists have observed a male frog offering his companionship and loyalty to two females during a breeding season.

“Single-male polygyny with reproductive fidelity occurs in invertebrates, bony fishes, and some tetrapods, such as lizards, mammals, and birds,” researchers wrote in the new paper.

According to the study’s authors, the practice is not well-documented among amphibians.

To confirm the practice of polygyny among Thoropa taophora frogs, researchers observed the behavior of males during the course of the breeding season.

The research team, led by Fabio de Sá, a biologist at Sao Paulo State University, watched as male frogs regularly patrolled their territory and emitted loud calls to scare off intruders. For several weeks, males remained close to their eggs and tadpoles, guarding them from predators.

Female behavior observed by the research team suggests each harem features a hierarchical structure. Scientists noted that when a higher ranking female started cannibalizing eggs, the male would mate with her, ensuring that her genes would be carried by the new eggs.

“When a secondary or a peripheral female cannibalizes eggs, the monopolist male immediately approaches and briefly embraces the female, which stops cannibalism,” researchers wrote.

When scientists analyzed the genes of tadpoles produced by different harems, they found the dominant female’s genes accounted for between 56 percent and 97 percent of the offspring.

De Sá and colleagues estimate the unique behavior of Thoropa taophora frogs evolved due to the pressures of the competition among males for ideal breeding grounds and fit females.



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Space companies use Earth-imaging satellites to combat climate change

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying four astronauts is pictured approaching the International Space Station for docking on November 16, 2020. The trip from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took 27 and a half hours. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo



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Google honors physician and microbiologist Dr. Stamen Grigorov with new Doodle

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Oct. 27 (UPI) — Google is celebrating Bulgarian physician and microbiologist Dr. Stamen Grigorov with a new Doodle Tuesday, on what would have been his 142nd birthday.

Grigorov, who was born in 1878 in the village of Studen Izvor in the Trun region of Bulgaria, is the first scientist to discover the bacterium essential to the fermentation of yogurt. He also helped with the development of the first tuberculosis vaccine.

Google’s homepage features artwork of Grigorov being surrounded by multiple bowls of yogurt.

Grigorov, who worked as a research assistant at the Medical University of Geneva, Switzerland, started to inspect yogurt under a microscope after being intrigued by its reported health benefits.

The scientist found the rod-shaped microorganism that causes yogurt’s fermentation in 1905 after thousands of experiments. The bacterium was named Lactobacillus bulgaricus, in honor of his home nation of Bulgaria.

The following year, Grigorov released a groundbreaking paper demonstrating the first use of penicillin fungi against tuberculosis while working as chief physician at a hospital in Trun.

Studen Izvor is home to the world’s only yogurt museums.



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Vampire bats socially distance when they fall ill

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Oct. 27 (UPI) — New research suggests vampire bats are better at following CDC guidelines than some humans.

When a vampire bat gets sick, they spend less time around other members of the colony, helping to slow the spread of disease, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

Scientists had previously observed vampire bats practicing social distancing in captivity, but the latest research suggests wild bats also work to flatten the curve.

For the study, researchers captured 31 adult female vampire bats from a roost located in a hollow tree in Belize. To simulate the influence of illness, scientists injected half the bats with lipopolysaccharide, an immune-challenging substance. The control bats were injected with saline.

After attaching proximity sensors to the bats, researchers released them back into the wild.

The data revealed shifting interaction patterns among the different bats during the six-hour treatment period — before the effects of the injection wore off. The sick bats interacted with fewer members of the colony and spent less time their peers.

In the hours following their release back into the wild, the data showed a control bat had a 49 percent chance of interacting with another control bat, but only a 35 percent of interacting with a sick bat. Sick bats also spent 25 fewer minutes with their partners than control bats.

“The sensors gave us an amazing new window into how the social behavior of these bats changed from hour to hour and even minute to minute during the course of the day and night, even while they are hidden in the darkness of a hollow tree,” lead study author Simon Ripperger said in a news release.

“We’ve gone from collecting data every day to every few seconds,” said Ripperger, an ecologist at Ohio State University.

For most species, illness symptoms, such as lethargy and sleep, or reduced movement and sociality, prevent infected individuals from interacting with the rest of the community — a kind of involuntary social distancing. But the latest research suggests bats are part of a minority group of animals that purposefully self-isolate in cooperation with their colony mates.



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