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Animal Communication Roundup

July 23, 2010

Science Update’s 5000th episode! Wild margay cats imitate the calls of baby monkeys to ambush prey.


Scientists have oberved a wild cat imitating the call of its prey to lure it closer. A small, spotted margay cat approached a troupe of tiny monkeys called pied tamarins and began emitting a call like that of a baby tamarin. First one monkey, then four others went down to investigate. The cat pounced, but the monkeys got away. Still, the finding lends new credence to previous stories of cunning cat ventriloquism.
In other news, some species of male fireflies practice synchronized flashing, and now researchers know why.Each species of male signals females with its own flash pattern, but when there are males of various types flashing, females can become confused. When males of one species work together to synchronize their flashing, the females can more easily find a suitable mate. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.