National Geographic : 2018 Dec
EMBARK | BREAKTHROUGHS FROM TOP: JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK, PHOTOGRAPHED AT WELLINGTON ZOO; SHARON BEALS, PHOTOGRAPHED AT CSIRO AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL WILDLIFE COLLECTION; WANG LIQIANG, SHUTTERSTOCK THE YEAR OF THE BIRD Throughout 2018, National Geo- graphic used science and storytelling to focus attention on Earth’s birds— how important they are to the planet and how a changing environment is putting them in jeopardy. BIRDS, 2018 The Year Flew By Amid mounting losses of bird species, National Geographic joined the National Audubon Society, BirdLife Interna- tional, and the Cornell Lab of Orni- thology to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. For avians, the year’s news was mixed: threats from habitat loss, predators, climate change—but also success stories such as the Asian crested ibis (below), which has rebounded from 12 in the wild in 1981 to more than 500 today. —THE EDITORS ANIMALS OPEN-CONCEPT NESTS ARE BACK IN STYLE BIRDS TODAY ARE BUILDING MORE BASIC HOMES. There’s a perception that evolution moves from simple to complex, but bird nests are an exception. Scientists have discovered that bowl-shaped nests (above right) probably evolved from roofed nests (above left) at least four separate times in the history of bird species. A study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that the common ancestor of the passerine group—which encompasses 60 percent of species, including all songbirds—con- structed domed nests. Today three-quarters of them build open nests, which are generally easier to fashion but expose the eggs to predators and the elements. This finding, says study author Jordan Price of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, illustrates how a trait’s current prevalence “does not necessarily indicate the order of events during its evolutionary history.” —NINA STROCHLIC Parrots Crack Each Other Up New Zealand’s naturally playful keas get their funny bones tick- led when other parrots make a specific call, Nature reports. The gentle, low warble sends keas into fits of “laughter,” making them the first non-mammal known to show contagious emotion, as rats, chimps, and humans do.