Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Eureka!

Quirky experiments and conclusions

The Top 40 of Whale Songs

By Magdeline Lum

A playlist of whale songs takes 2 years to reach French Polynesia.

Scientists have known for decades that whale songs evolve over time. Researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) have found that the songs of male humpback whales change every year as they migrate across the Pacific Ocean. Previous research has revealed that only male humpback whales sing, and that song is a behaviour used in courtship and mating.

Cologne Critical in Cricket Courtship

By Magdeline Lum

Dominant crickets sing to attract mates, but if they lose a battle and become subordinate they fall silent and rely on body odour.

A male cricket heralds nightfall with his love song to any female cricket nearby who will listen. His skin, or cuticle, glistens in the moonlight with a layer of fatty acids preventing water loss.

As he is about to reach his crescendo, another face appears in front of his, but unfortunately it is not the girl of his dreams. It belongs to the face of another male challenging him to a fight.

Put Away Your Smelly Socks

By Magdeline Lum

Magdeline Lum reports on quirky experiments and research findings.

There may now be a good reason to place smelly socks into the laundry basket rather than leaving them on the floor – the odour may be luring spiders. Fortunately, the spider that is attracted to pungent socks is after a fine dining experience on mosquitoes engorged on human blood. A sweaty sock may be an unfavourable dining place, but for mosquitoes it is the perfect place to set up base camp to gorge on human blood.