Richard Collins

For female baboons, maintaining close ties with mum and having supportive sisters can boost social ranking, according to a new study.

Sisters doing it for themselves

ACCORDING to the cynics, it’s not what you know but who you know, which matters in life. This could hardly be true of the animal world, or could it? Surely, health and strength are the crucial factors in staying alive and reproducing successfully.

The famous belfry in Béthune, northern France, where Cork woman and Franciscan nun Kate McCarthy spent two world wars as a nurse.

A Cork nun’s extraordinary life at war

LAST month, during a walking tour of Béthune in northern France, our guide recalled the work of a Cork woman, Kate McCarthy, who nursed wounded soldiers during both world wars. Her niece, Sr Breda McCarthy of the Loreto Convent in Bray, told me this extraordinary woman’s story.


Experts decode chimp gestures

JARED Diamond, in his 1991 book The Third Chimpanzee, compared chimp biology with our own. Sharing 98.4% of their DNA with humans, chimps are more closely related to us than they are to the other great apes.

The war memorial at Vimy, France

Tunnel vision in French underground

ARRAS, in the Pas-de-Calais, has the rat as its symbol. Grain stored there in medieval times attracted the rodents and, perhaps, ‘un rat’ was a pun on the city’s name.


Armadillo on World Cup stage

SOME creatures have massive public profiles; elephants, big cats and pandas come to mind.


Whitethroats feeling the heat

The whitethroats numbers have been affected by climate change in its winter home in the Sahel.

A woman and her son admire a partly fossilised elephant bird egg which made nearly £70,000 at a Christies auction last year. DNA analysis has shown its closest kin were New Zealand kiwis. Picture: Getty

Flightless bird theory in a tailspin

THE kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird, is the weirdest feathered creature on earth.


Who’s the fastest land animal?

FOTA Wildlife Park is famous for its cheetahs; hundreds of cubs have been born there.


Spectacular Old Man of Hoy

THE Old Man of Hoy, in Orkney, is a spectacular sight. This vertical pillar, rising from the sea, 60m out from a sheer cliff-face, is 137 metres high and about 30m thick.

 Mole rats can live for up to 31 years, many times longer than other animals their size.

Is this rat the key to a long life?

WHO, on mature reflection, would opt to live forever? All might be well, at first, in eternal life but ultimately, tedium boredom and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune would render existence unbearable.

 The starling has settled all too successfully in the US where it is regarded as a pest, and (pictured) the house sparrow is New York's most common bird.

Shakespeare gets the bird in US

WILLIAM Shakespeare was born four and a half centuries ago this year; he was baptised on April 26, 1564.

 Scientists believe the mysterious bio-quacking sound heard in the southern oceans and off the coast of Australia could be minke whales.

Scientists quack minke mystery

A MYSTERIOUS noise is heard occasionally in the southern oceans and off the coast of Australia.


Howling wolf banishes Danish blues

THE howling of wolves has been heard in Denmark. The species became extinct there in 1813 but, two centuries later, footprints have been found in Jutland. According to the Timber Wolf Information Network, at least four individuals visited the country recently.

Although a mother spends most of the day at sea, she returns every few hours to feed her baby. Youngsters are weaned when four months old and reach maturity after four years.

The return of the monk seal

ONE of world’s rarest mammals, the Mediterranean monk seal, has returned to the Adriatic coast.

The as yet un-named geep (a cross breed of a goat and a sheep) with its mother on Paddy Murphy's farm in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Breeding between the lines

“When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, he shall separate one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats”— Matthew

Dead German horses on the battlefield during the First World War and, inset, a horse being lowered on to a ship (of the million British horses shipped across the Channel, only 65,000 returned). Pict: Getty Images

Gatling gun a godsend for horses?

Jo Kerrigan’s recent article on War Horse prompted me to go and see the play. The plot concerns a foal named Joey and Albert, the youth who owns and loves him. This story is enriched with multi-media content


Powerlines- like electric fences in the sky

Canals motorways, even minor roads, can divide animal populations and keep them separate from each other.