National Geographic : 2011 Aug
NOW PHOTOS: FRANS LANTING; RANDY WILDER, MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM TOP Spotting the Leopard Writer Rudyard Kipling imagined a leopard's spots came from the fingertips of a human, to help it blend in with the jungle. William Allen of the University of Bristol took a digital approach to breaking the camouflage code of it and other Felidae members. After comparing photos of the cats with a mathematical model of pattern development on their flanks, Allen and colleagues concluded that the complexity of many coat patterns was related to habitat. Spotted cats are typical of closed environ- ments like forests; plain-coated ones tend to inhabit open spaces. Behavior also plays a role. The more time a cat spends in trees and is active at night, for instance, the more elaborately marked its coat is likely to be. "In evolutionary time periods cats can change their patterning relatively easily," says Allen. "Perhaps in the future we may marvel at striped leopards and spotted tigers." ---Erin Friar McDermott e coat patterns of leopards (above) and other cat species evolved to provide camou age in their habitats. A census of WILD TIGERS in India shows their numbers have risen 20 percent---from 1,411 to 1,706--- since the last count, in 2007. • Two species of ANTARCTIC PENGUINS have declined in the past 30 years. Scientists believe krill loss is the cause. • The name ZHUCHENGTYRANNUS MAGNUS was bestowed on a T. rex-size dinosaur whose fossil was recently discovered in China. • University College London researchers suggest that POLITICAL BIASES are reflected in brain structures. ET CETERA A seahorse's shape---curvy body and arched neck---helps it snare prey.