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Sunday, April 2nd 2017

1.        ECUADOR: New Rain-Frog Species Discovered 

In the cloud forests of Ecuador, a yellow-green frog with spectacular stripes has been deemed to be a new species of rain frog.  The Ecuadorian rainfrog (Pristimantis ecuadorensis) is already considered 'endangered' - researchers say that the frog is at risk due to habitat loss within its small range.  The latest species discovery came after an expedition that focussed on a similarly-threatened frog, the ornate rain frog.  The new species is described in a paper published online March 22 in the journal PLOS ONE - for more information, you can read the paper at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172615.

2.        ENGLAND: Music Mystifies Chimps

Researchers from the University of York have discovered that whilst chimpanzees may share 96% of the same DNA as humans, appreciation of music is not something that we have in common!  The chimps, housed at Edinburgh Zoo and the National Centre For Chimpanzee Care in Texas, were given a special jukebox, which allowed them to select works by Beethoven, Justin Bieber, Mozart, Adele, or silence.  But none of them showed any preference for any style of music - or indeed any preference for music over silence.  Researchers commented of their findings that "these results suggest that music is not something that is relevant to captive chimpanzees and ... highlight the possibility that music appreciation is something that is a uniquely human trait".

3.        ANTARCTICA: Home To Millions More Penguins Than Thought

The number of Adélie penguins in East Antarctica is more than double what had previously been thought.  It was believed that the icy continent was home to around 2.3 million Adélie penguins  - but following a comprehensive count by a team of scientists of the penguin population, using tagging data, automated cameras and aerial / ground surveys during several breeding seasons, the number of happy feet is now understood to be 5.9 million Adélies.  According to seabird ecologist Louise Emmerson, "non-breeding birds are harder to count because they are out, foraging at sea, rather than nesting in colonies on land.  However, our study in East Antarctica has shown that nonbreeding Adélie penguins may be as, or more, abundant than the breeders.  These birds are an important reservoir of future breeders, and estimating their numbers ensures we better understand the entire population's foraging needs".

4.        NORTHERN IRELAND: Most Spotted Bird Revealed

The results of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch are in, and in Northern Ireland, the most commonly-spotted bird was ... the starling!  Famed for their beautiful and mesmerising murmuration aerial dances, the starlings  are much-loved as well as much-spotted (click here to listen back to our special documentary celebrating the starling, some of which was recorded in Northern Ireland: www.rte.ie/radio1/mooney/programmes/2015/0102/669979-mooney-friday-january-2nd-2015).  More than 17,000 people counted almost 130,000 birds during the survey.  The other birds in Northern Ireland's Top Five were: house sparrow, chaffinch, blue tit and blackbird.

6.        ENGLAND: Crow Café Opens In London

On an April Sunday in London, the world's first crow café is due to open, for one afternoon only.  On April 16th, from 12pm-3pm, The Horse Hospital is set to be transformed into a corvid caff, in which a professional crow wrangler will bring along several of his birds, so that visitors can spend some time with them and learn about their quailities while eating crow-shaped snacks.  Apparently all money made will be donated to a rescue charity for corvids and other birds.  For more information, and to book tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/crow-cafe-tickets-33147743794.

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