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Zoology

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A respected snake researcher who’d been making significant discoveries about the species since childhood has died after being bitten by a timber rattler. William H. “Marty” Martin died Aug. 3 after being bitten by a captive snake on the property at his home in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Martin was 80 years old and continued to make arduous mountain hikes to document and count snake populations in remote sites. Snakebite fatalities are extremely rare; the Centers for Disease Control estimates that about five people die in the U.S. from snakebites each year.

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Scientists in Germany attached tiny trackers to giant moths looking for clues about insect migration. In a study published Thursday, researchers followed moths around in a small airplane to map out their journeys. They found that the moths flew in straight paths and used different strategies to deal with changing wind conditions. The research suggests that the moths have strong navigation skills, challenging earlier ideas that migrating insects are mostly getting blown around by the wind. Many questions remain about insect migration, which brings trillions of creatures across the globe each year.

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New research suggests that jumping spiders show signs of sleep cycles, similar to humans and some animals. Scientists trained cameras on baby jumping spiders to find out what happened during the night. The footage showed patterns: Their legs twitched and parts of their eyes flickered. In a study published Monday, the researchers described this pattern as a “REM sleep-like state.” In humans, REM, or rapid eye movement, is an active phase of sleep when parts of the brain light up with activity. Some animals have been shown to experience REM sleep. But creatures like the jumping spider haven’t been studied very much.

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"Florida Woman" by Deb Rogers; Hanover Square Press (352 pages, $27.99) ——— Ever wonder what happens to Florida Man, or Florida Woman, after the viral video? St. Augustine writer Deb Rogers offers a wild and woolly answer in her debut novel, titled — what else? — “Florida Woman.” Jamie Hawthorne hasn’t been very lucky. When she was a kid, first her parents and then her beloved older brother, ...

I’m high in the Swiss Alps in a tiny mountain hut on a perch called Ebenalp. Here, a spry grandpa in a sweater as worn as his face pulls a wide-eyed child onto his lap to teach him to drum with old wooden spoons, as the old-timer next to him pumps on his squeezebox. Tall, sloppy mugs of beer stoke the commotion. I’m immersed in the conviviality, but eventually climb upstairs to my lofty bunk.

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Recovery of some vulnerable species through restoration efforts has made comebacks more difficult for others in peril. Once-endangered animals, including the iconic bald eagle, sometimes jeopardize rarer species such as the great cormorant by eating them or outcompeting them for food and living space. Similar circumstances have turned up elsewhere, challenging wildlife experts who want all creatures to thrive in balanced, healthy environments. Conflicts have involved revived U.S. species such as gray seals, birds of prey and even turkeys. Wildlife managers around the country are working on creative solutions to the unanticipated consequences of species salvation.

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