Murmurations of starlings and wren duets

This post contributed by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer   On the slopes of the Antisana volcano in Ecuador, the plain-tailed wren sings a sophisticated song. It is not a solo, but a duet, a rapid-fire call-and-response so fast that you might mistake the singers for a single bird, even if you have the luck to stand betwixt them and hear it in Dolby surround. Duet of the plaintailed wren. The female motifs are magenta, the...

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Worm brain sheds light on the evolution of the cerebral cortex

The last time humans and the marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii shared a common ancestor was roughly 600 million years ago, according to scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany (EMBL). That is, researcher have discovered a true counterpart of the cerebral cortex, also called the pallium, in this relative of the earthworm. This finding, explained the scientists, could be the key to unraveling the evolution of this important area of the human (and all vertebrates) brain.

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