Best. Headline. Ever.

Since PZ was talking about science journalism the other day, I thought I’d bring up something I saw on (which is not really a science journalism site, but a press-release aggregator, but what the hell).

The meat of the discovery is found here:

It is commonly accepted that group sizes of animals increase when there is a risk of predation, since larger group sizes reduce the risk of individuals being killed, and there are ‘many eyes’ to spot any potential predation risk.

Now, in the first study of its kind, Bristol PhD student Zoe Muller from the School of Biological Sciences has found that this is not true for giraffes, and that the size of giraffe groups is not influenced by the presence of predators.

Zoe Muller said: “This is surprising, and highlights how little we know about even the most basic aspects of giraffe behaviour.”

However, the headline may not have communicated this to the general audience. It is that general/specialized audience split that makes the headline so awesome.

So what is that headline, you ask?

Giraffes surprise biologists yet again




  1. ridana says

    It is commonly accepted that group sizes of animals increase when there is a risk of predation

    Is that why we see thundering herds of rabbits and mice sweeping across the plains and tundras?

  2. Callinectes says

    @ridana It should be “in the absence of pressures favouring small sizes” such as resource availability, to a subterranean habitat. Though my understanding is that in some cases predation keeps species small because they can escape more easily through holes and other small gaps in the environment. While being large would also protect you, there is a middle range where you don’t get the benefit of being large or small, so opportunities to grow larger won’t exist in the presence of predators (which is one of the reasons for Foster’s rule, in which small species on islands tend to evolve to be larger while larger species on islands tend to evolve to be smaller).

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