amazing news from the natural world

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i used to have another thread for this kind of thing but i don't like the title any more so this is it

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/science/ladybugs-wings-folding.html

Previous research could not explain the intricate folding patterns Dr. Saito observed on the beetle’s hind wings. And studying them was difficult because the elytra stay down and block the view during folding.

“I wanted to know what they actually do under the elytra,” he said.

Through teeny, tiny surgery, Dr. Saito and his colleagues swapped out a colorful top wing with a transparent, artificial one and filmed what happened with high-speed cameras. His team also captured super-detailed 3-D X-ray images. Together these unmasked the puzzling folding patterns.

Imagine trying to fold two 20-foot tents, with poles that do not detach, that are stuck to your back beneath a plastic case and you have no hands to help you. A ladybug does it throughout its day.

Researchers developed a transparent, artificial wing to study how ladybugs store their wings when they're done flying.

To fold, the elytra first close and align backward. The abdomen moves up and down, retracting the wings. And during the process, tiny structures on the abdomen and elytra create friction to hold the hind wings in place. The wings fold in and over and then tuck into a Z shape. The veins on the wings, springy like a tape measure, bend into a cylindrical shape, elastic under pressure. They bounce out like springs when the wings deploy.

“The beetles can fold their wing without any mistakes from the first folding,” Dr. Saito said.

https://static01.nyt.com/science/gifs/ladybug_600.gif

Mordy, Thursday, 18 May 2017 22:14 (two years ago) link

here's the other amazing recent story i loved and wanted to share

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/20/524511231/researchers-find-yet-another-reason-why-naked-mole-rats-are-just-weird

But leave it to the African naked mole-rat to buck that trend. The rodents are bizarre in just about every way. They're hairless, ground-dwelling and cold-blooded despite being mammals. Now, scientists report in the journal Science that the animals are capable of surviving oxygen deprivation.

"They have evolved under such a different environment that it's like studying an animal from another planet," says Thomas Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

He and his colleagues knew that naked mole-rat bodies work differently than those of other mammals.

For example, instead of generating their own heat, they regulate body temperature by moving to warmer or cooler tunnels, which lowers the amount of energy they need to survive. They're also known to have what Park calls "sticky hemoglobin," which allows them to draw oxygen out of very thin air. And because they live underground in large social groups, they're used to breathing air that's low in oxygen and high in carbon dioxide.

Park and his colleagues wondered if they animals had another trick up their (nonexistent) sleeves for handling such extreme conditions.

"We were thinking, 'Gee, if you put all these things to bear on the problem of surviving in low oxygen, just how far can you go?' " Park says. "And the naked mole-rats surprised everybody, I think."

To start out, he and his colleagues tested how well the mole-rats fared in a chamber with only 5 percent oxygen, which is about a quarter of the oxygen in the air we breathe, and can kill a mouse in less than 15 minutes.

They watched closely, ready to pull the mole-rats out at the first sign of trouble.

"So we put them in the chamber and after five minutes, nothing. No problems," Park says. An hour later, there were still no problems.

Five hours later, the researchers were tired and hungry and ready to go home, but the mole-rats could've kept chugging along.

"Oh, I think so," says Park. "They had more stamina than the researchers."

The animals had slowed down a bit, he says, but were awake, walking around and even socializing.

"They looked completely fine," he says.

Next, the researchers decided to see how the mole-rats dealt with zero percent oxygen.

"And that was a surprise, too," he says.

Such conditions can kill a mouse in 45 seconds.

The four mole-rats involved in this leg of the study passed out after about 30 seconds, but their hearts kept beating and — a full 18 minutes later — the mole-rats woke up and resumed life as usual when they were re-exposed to normal air. (The three mole-rats that were exposed for 30 minutes, however, died.)

naked mole rats are the best animals this is incontrovertible afaic

Mordy, Thursday, 18 May 2017 22:15 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/ravens-theory-of-mind

Mordy, Thursday, 13 July 2017 15:55 (two years ago) link

woah. that is a huge discovery if it stands up.

ramen play on 10 (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 13 July 2017 15:59 (two years ago) link

great thread, great bump

imago, Thursday, 13 July 2017 16:00 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

https://www.wired.com/2012/07/flies-learn-math/

Mordy, Saturday, 29 July 2017 16:04 (one year ago) link

The research team, made up of geneticists from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and the University of California, repeatedly subjected test flies to a 20-minute mathematics training session. The flies were exposed to two, three or four flashes of light, with two or four flashes coinciding with a shake of the container the flies were kept in.

Following a pause, the flies were again subjected to the flashing light. None prepared themselves for a repeat of the shake since they could not discern a difference between two, three or four flashes – until, that is, the 40th generation of descendants were put to the test.

The findings back-up the theory that numerical skills such as mental arithmetic are ancient constructs. Some of the more unusual natural fans of numeracy include salamanders, newborn chicks and mongoose lemurs, all of which have demonstrated basic skills in the lab.

The humble fruit fly – which has been a popular experimental tool for geneticists since the early 1900s, its brief life span making it evolve faster – is the first example of a test subject gaining the skills through directed evolution, however.

Mordy, Saturday, 29 July 2017 16:04 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/rats-of-new-york/546959/

When Combs looked closer, distinct rat subpopulations emerged. Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of rats: the uptown rats and the downtown rats, separated by the geographic barrier that is midtown. It’s not that midtown is rat-free—such a notion is inconceivable—but the commercial district lacks the household trash (aka food) and backyards (aka shelter) that rats like. Since rats tend to move only a few blocks in their lifetimes, the uptown rats and downtown rats don’t mix much.

When the researchers drilled down even deeper, they found that different neighborhoods have their own distinct rats. “If you gave us a rat, we could tell whether it came from the West Village or the East Village,” says Combs. “They’re actually unique little rat neighborhoods.” And the boundaries of rat neighborhoods can fit surprisingly well with human ones.

Mordy, Thursday, 30 November 2017 15:06 (one year ago) link

That photo caption is very good

El Tomboto, Thursday, 30 November 2017 15:09 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

this photo

Borneo, Indonesia.
Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan / National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2017 pic.twitter.com/bsy0GWRl64

— Federico Kukso (@fedkukso) December 13, 2017

Mordy, Thursday, 14 December 2017 16:27 (one year ago) link

Lonely guy just thinking baout things

infinity (∞), Thursday, 14 December 2017 17:09 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Duck landing on ice 🦆 pic.twitter.com/bYjKEYzhSp

— Nature is Amazing 🌿 (@AMAZlNGNATURE) January 6, 2018

Mordy, Sunday, 7 January 2018 16:27 (one year ago) link

pls to add DEAL WITH IT sunglasses

pee-wee and the power men (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 7 January 2018 17:29 (one year ago) link

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/science/dolphins-self-recognition.html

Mirror self-recognition, at least after noon, is often taken as a measure of a kind of intelligence and self-awareness, although not all scientists agree. And researchers have wondered not only about which species display this ability, but about when it emerges during early development.

Children start showing signs of self-recognition at about 12 months at the earliest and chimpanzees at two years old. But dolphins, researchers reported Wednesday, start mugging for the mirror as early as seven months, earlier than humans.

Mordy, Wednesday, 10 January 2018 21:12 (one year ago) link

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/12/animals-grieving-peccaries-death-mourning/

Accounts of death rituals have been written for a variety of animals, including elephants, primates, dolphins, and birds such as ravens. Elephants, for instance, have been seen standing over a deceased herd member for days, rocking back and forth, and pulling the lifeless body in what some experts believe is an expression of grief. (Related: "Whales Mourn Their Dead, Just Like Us.")

But no one had ever observed a death response in any of the three peccary species, which live throughout the Americas and tend to travel in herds of varying size.

In the videos, the peccaries pay close attention to the body, nuzzling, biting, sniffing, and staring at it. They slept next to the carcass, and even tried to lift it by wedging their snouts under the body and pushing upward.

And when a pack of coyotes approached their fallen peer, the herd chased them away. “It really surprised me that they would stand up to the coyotes,” says de Kort, noting the peccaries were outnumbered. (Learn if crows hold "funerals" for their dead.)

On the tenth day, the coyotes finally demolished the rotting remains, and that’s when the herd stopped visiting. De Kort and Altrichter described the series of intriguing events in a paper published December 5 in the journal Ethology.

Mordy, Friday, 12 January 2018 15:17 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JItIsHwxpY

Mordy, Thursday, 1 February 2018 13:36 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

ooh

imago, Monday, 5 March 2018 16:29 (one year ago) link

if birds didn't exist, God would have had to invent them

imago, Monday, 5 March 2018 16:31 (one year ago) link

Less than 5 centimeters!

Google Atheist (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 5 March 2018 16:31 (one year ago) link

chicks be little

imago, Monday, 5 March 2018 16:32 (one year ago) link

Ah yes

Google Atheist (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 5 March 2018 17:17 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

sorry not news [but yes new to me]

'Orchis simia' known as the Monkey Orchid pic.twitter.com/Ntcv2Ulyd5

— 41 Strange (@41Strange) April 13, 2018

Mordy, Friday, 13 April 2018 20:01 (one year ago) link

whoa!

marcos, Friday, 13 April 2018 20:05 (one year ago) link

that is cool. i'm gonna grouse a little and just say i'm generally not into the 41 strange aesthetic.

map, Saturday, 14 April 2018 05:57 (one year ago) link

i posted this in an octopus thread but i thought this piece was amazing:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n17/amia-srinivasan/the-sucker-the-sucker

map, Saturday, 14 April 2018 05:58 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Ugh I never get nauseated from reading but I just did. Birds are fucking disgusting animals

El Tomboto, Thursday, 19 July 2018 03:49 (one year ago) link

So fucking gross my god

El Tomboto, Thursday, 19 July 2018 03:50 (one year ago) link

I thought that was fascinating!

sleeve, Thursday, 19 July 2018 04:25 (one year ago) link

ed yong is great & has basically made a career out of providing content worthy of this thread

ogmor, Thursday, 19 July 2018 07:54 (one year ago) link

^^^^

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 19 July 2018 11:32 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

A new kingdom?!?

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 17 November 2018 21:10 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

This map shows GPS-tracked wolves in six different packs around Voyageurs National Park. The wolf packs clearly avoid each other's territory. Source: https://t.co/uGP3GJILVU pic.twitter.com/CLpYyrDCri

— Simon Kuestenmacher (@simongerman600) December 8, 2018

Mordy, Sunday, 9 December 2018 04:18 (seven months ago) link

Big aphids have little aphids upon their backs to ride 'em

Dan I., Wednesday, 12 December 2018 22:59 (seven months ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akE2Sgg8hI8

Cat passing mirror test

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 16 December 2018 22:34 (seven months ago) link

ALERT ALERT

https://dcist.com/story/18/12/17/after-bloodbath-the-national-zoos-naked-mole-rats-finally-choose-their-queen/

2-3 new babies that you can possibly catch right now on the webcam!

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/naked-mole-rat-cam

Mordy, Tuesday, 18 December 2018 15:29 (seven months ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKNohFicnnQ

Mordy, Monday, 31 December 2018 16:34 (six months ago) link

Visible birdsong in the cold. Photo by Mikhail Kalinin. pic.twitter.com/KvXOkK6ghl

— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) January 12, 2019

Mordy, Saturday, 12 January 2019 21:57 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/science/mice-singing-language-brain.html

High in the mountains of Central America lives a little known creature called Alston’s singing mouse. This rodent, which spends its life scuttling around the floor of the cloud forest, may not seem like it has much to tell us about ourselves.

But the mouse produces remarkable songs, and researchers have discovered some profound similarities to our own conversations. This ability may be linked evolutionarily to the ancient roots of human language.

there's a video!

Mordy, Thursday, 28 February 2019 23:59 (four months ago) link

So the researchers began probing the brains of the mice, searching for the neurons that led them to be “polite” raconteurs.

In one experiment, the researchers cooled down patches of mouse brain by a few degrees, slowing the neurons. One patch in the mouse cortex is essential for controlling their singing, the scientists found. If this section is cooled, the mouse sings extended songs, adding on extra notes.

Mordy, Friday, 1 March 2019 00:03 (four months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Great gray shrikes impale their victims on spikes & even imitate the calls of other birds to lure them into striking distance! pic.twitter.com/7uSTCxDgdp

— A Book of Rather Strange Animals OUT NOW!!! (@StrangeAnimaIs) March 25, 2019

Mordy, Tuesday, 26 March 2019 01:37 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

just saw that!! so wild.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Thursday, 9 May 2019 22:38 (two months ago) link

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/insect-metamorphosis-evolution/

Biologists have not definitively determined how or why some insects began to hatch in a larval form, but Lynn Riddiford and James Truman, formerly of the University of Washington in Seattle, have constructed one of the most comprehensive theories. They point out that insects that mature through incomplete metamorphosis pass through a brief stage of life before becoming nymphs—the pro-nymphal stage, in which insects look and behave differently from their true nymphal forms. Some insects transition from pro-nymphs to nymphs while still in the egg; others remain pro-nymphs for anywhere from mere minutes to a few days after hatching.

Perhaps this pro-nymphal stage, Riddiford and Truman suggest, evolved into the larval stage of complete metamorphosis. Perhaps 280 million years ago, through a chance mutation, some pro-nymphs failed to absorb all the yolk in their eggs, leaving a precious resource unused. In response to this unfavorable situation, some pro-nymphs gained a new talent: the ability to actively feed, to slurp up the extra yolk, while still inside the egg. If such pro-nymphs emerged from their eggs before they reached the nymphal stage, they would have been able to continue feeding themselves in the outside world. Over the generations, these infant insects may have remained in a protracted pro-nymphal stage for longer and longer periods of time, growing wormier all the while and specializing in diets that differed from those of their adult selves—consuming fruits and leaves, rather than nectar or other smaller insects. Eventually these prepubescent pro-nymphs became full-fledged larvae that resembled modern caterpillars. In this way, the larval stage of complete metamorphosis corresponds to the pro-nymphal stage of incomplete metamorphosis. The pupal stage arose later as a kind of condensed nymphal phase that catapulted the wriggly larvae into their sexually active winged adult forms.

Mordy, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 23:45 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...
three weeks pass...

riiiight

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 21:28 (two weeks ago) link


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