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Mathevon et al. 2017

A new study found male northern elephant seals produce signature rhythmic calls to communicate with their rivals — and navigate their social network.

Why it matters: These are the only non-human mammals known to use rhythm, and the evolution of this type of communication in other species helps to better understand the origins of music among humans.

How they use it: Nicolas Mathevon, one of the study's authors from Université de Lyon/Saint-Etienne in France, said elephant seals "fight [for females] very violently, even to the point of killing one another." Recognizing competitors by the rhythm in their voice allows them to "choose the right strategy" when confronting a rival during mating.

Yes, but... seals most likely use "a multitude of factors to identify each other in a group," not just their calls, according to Caroline Casey, a PhD candidate at the University of California Stanford who participated in the study.

What comes next: Casey said the team is "in the process of tracking young elephant seals throughout their vocal development to see how these individual signatures emerge over time."

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.