Biology, News

Females are not rational when it comes to choosing their mates – at least in frogs

The Tungara Frog females sometimes make irrational decisions when it comes to mating. Image via Wikipedia.

Picking a mate is one of the most important decisions anyone (human or animal) makes in a lifetime, so it’s important to weigh all the pros and cons and make a rational decision. But that doesn’t go for frogs. Female túngara frogs often exhibit irrational behavior when choosing a mate. This challenges many previously held beliefs as well as several biological behavior models.

Animals, Biology, Feature Post, Science

The Iron Snail lives on volcanic vents, two miles under the sea, all thanks to its spectacular armor

Natural Sciences; Biodiversity

It’s hard to believe anything can be alive thousands of feet below the Indian Ocean where thermal vents effectively boil the water. Yet even in the most inhospitable conditions, life has a way of creeping in. Such is the case of chrysomallon squamiferum, a snail-like creature which may very well sport the best armor in the animal kingdom.

Animals, Biology, News

One of the rarest animals in the world spotted after three decade long absence

Allonautilus2

Peter Ward might be the luckiest biologist ever. In 1984, he and colleague Bruce Saunders were among the first to identify a new nautilus species called Allonautilus scrobiculatus. Since then, the spiral shelled creature was only spotted once then disappeared for nearly three decades. This year, Ward returned to Papua New Guinea to survey nautilus populations and found the rare nautilus species once again!

Biology, News

Malformed plankton is a telltale sign of mass extinction

A malformed (’teratological’) chitinozoan specimen of the genus Ancyrochitina (a) and a morphologically normal specimen (b) of the same genus. Image: Dr Thijs Vandenbroucke

Mass extinctions present both a mortal threat and opportunity. During these events, a great deal of all terrestrial and marine life perishes, but this also makes room for the next lineage to flourish in its stead. Like a bush fire, mass extinctions may be nature’s way of “cleansing” – a reboot for new experimentation to start fresh. Despite being extremely important (it doesn’t get more dramatic than “mass extinction”), the kill triggers that spur these events in motion are still poorly understood. But we’re learning. For instance, a team reports that ancient malform plankton are a proxy for mass extinction events.

Biology, News, Science, Studies

Bacterial infections turns amoebae into the world’s tiniest farmers

Dictyostelium Aggregation
Image via wikimedia

In 2011 the Queller-Strassmann lab, then at Rice University, made a surprising announcement in Nature Letters.
They had been collecting single-celled amoebae of the species Dictyostelium discoideum from the soil in Virginia and Minnesota. While laboratory grown strain of Dicty happily fed on the bacteria provided for it by its keepers, roughly one third of the wild strains showed a green (or maybe bacterial) thumb. When food was short, they gathered up bacteria, carried them to new sites and seeded the soil with them.

Biology, Environmental Issues, News, Studies

How humans turned “safari” to “safe” – what large mammals diversity worldwide would look without us

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The fact that the greatest biodiversity of large mammals we know of today is recorded in Africa is a legacy of past human activity, not climate or environmental phenomena, new study reveals. The paper theorizes at how the world today would look if Homo sapiens had never existed.
In a previous analysis, the researchers from Aarhus Univeristy, Denmark, they showed how the mass extinction of large mammals during the last Ice Age and the subsequent millennia, most notably the late-Quaternary megafauna extinction, is largely explainable by the expansion of modern humans across the world.

Biology, Videos

Blue Whale Interrupts TV Host Talking About How Hard it Is to Find Blue Whales

An adult blue whale. Image via Wikipedia.

Spotting wildlife, especially species as elusive as the blue whale, can be extremely time consuming and at times frustrating. But every once in a while, you get a streak of luck, as Zoologist Mark Carwardine just did. He was explaining why spotting blue whales is so difficult, when suddenly… a blue whale appeared! Blue whales are marine mammals, and they’re the larger

Animals, Biology, News

Hummingbirds use their tongues as micropumps to sip nectar

Hummingbird

Possibly the most hyper animal, the hummingbird, feeds by darting its thin tongue 20 times per second inside the flower to extract the precious nectar. Previously, biologists thought the nectar was being collected through capillary motion. However, after analyzing 18 different hummingbird species while they fed using high frame rate cameras, a group at University of Connecticut found that the fast flapping birds use a totally different way to suck food: the tongue employed as a tiny pump.

Biology, News, Offbeat

Extremely rare and stinky flower will blossom in Denver for the first time in 15 years

A Corpse Flower in bloom in Boston, 2014. Image via Inhabita.

It’s big, it’s beautiful… and it reeks. Amorphophallus titanum, more commonly known as the corpse flower, is the flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, and it often requires over 7 years to bloom. For this particular flower in Denver, it took 15. The flower will not only delight visitors with its unique look, but will also threaten all

Animals, Biology, News

This oddball octopus mates with its mouth and is actually social

Male and Female Larger Pacific Striped Octopus wrapped in a beak-to-beak dance. Image: PLOS ONE

Octopuses are like aliens and there are few creatures weirder than these eight legged critters. They survive freezing waters, perceive light through their skin, are masters of camouflage and can do many other things, some still oblivious to science. One uncanny feature of octopuses is their mating behavior or social order. Most octopus species mate at a distance, with the male using its reproductive arm to reach the female’s mantle. They have to do this to avoid being cannibalized by the female. Either way, once the job is done, the male dies while females only lives a little longer, just enough to lay the eggs. That’s the peak of both the octopus’ sex and social life. Besides a few instances, octopuses live their lives in isolation, alone in some shell or barren rock. However, there’s one octopus that seems to be totally different, even human-like: the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus.