animals

Male scent stimulates female goats’ fertility

Current Biology, Murata et al.

Current Biology, Murata et al.

Single pheromone found to induce ovulation.

The distinctive aroma of goats does more than just make barnyards extra fragrant. Male goats can use their heady scent to make female goats ovulate simply by being near them.

Researchers had ascribed this ‘male effect’ to chemicals known as primer pheromones — a chemical signal that can cause long-lasting physiological responses in the recipient. Examples of primer pheromones are rare in mammals; the male effect in goats and sheep, and a similar effect in mice and rats, where the presence of males can speed up puberty in females, are the only known cases. But exactly what substances are at work and how has remained a mystery. Read more in Nature.

Discovery of organ explains koalas’ super-bass notes

Photo by Benjamin Charlton.

Photo by Benjamin Charlton.

Throat structure explains why male mating calls are bizarrely deeper than expected for the animal’s size.

For such diminutive animals, male koalas have an uncannily deep voice. The pitch of their bellowing mating call is 20 times lower than would be anticipated for their size, and more like something you would hear from an elephant, for instance.

Benjamin Charlton, a biologist at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, wanted to know what gave these marsupial Barry Whites their rumbling bass voice. “The first time I heard a koala bellow, I was genuinely amazed that an animal this small could produce such a sound,” he says. Read more in Nature.