Biology, News

Birds can detect approaching storm from 900km away

A tornado in Brisco County, Texas. The birds didn’t appear to have used changes in pressure, wind speed or precipitation to warn them of the approaching storm. Photograph: Reed Timmer/Jim Reed Photography/Corbis

Some animals have extraordinary sensorial abilities; there have been scientific works documenting dogs which react to an earthquake 5 minutes before the waves reached the surface, but this is perhaps even more spectacular – some birds can sense an earthquake from 900 km away (560 miles). It seems that have avoided a devastating storm by fleeing their US breeding grounds after…

Biology, News

Deceptive Female Mantises Eat Males Even Without Having Sex

praying_mantis

It has been known for quite some time that male praying mantises can get their heads ripped off while copulating with females. But a new study has shown that deceptive females can trick the males and eat them even without copulation; basically, they lure them in pretending to be full of eggs and eat them when they’re hungry. “This is the…

Biology, Genetics, News

Sparks Literally Fly When the Egg Meets Sperm, Spectacular Images Show

A combined imaging approach was used to identify and characterise zinc-enriched packages in a mouse egg. Image courtesy from Northwestern University.

They say that when two people fall in love, you can see sparks flying. Well, that may or may not be true, but researchers from the US have shown that when sperm meets and egg – sparks definitely fly. Fertilization Fireworks These are the first images captured at the exact moment when a mammal’s egg is fertilized, showing that in response,…

Biology, News

Magnets could help make less foamy beer

Foam gushing off a pint - you either love it or hate it. Credit:

There isn’t a less dreaded sight in any respectable bar than a beer bottle gushing foam. It’s not the bartender’s fault though (not necessarily), since different assortments of beer have their signature foam – some make more, some make less. Breweries nowadays use all sorts of anti-foaming agents, and now food scientists in Belgium – the country with the most breweries…

Biology, Genetics, News

All birds lost their teeth 116 million years ago

Edentulism and the presence of a horny beak are hallmark features of modern birds. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A mind blowing international project performed a mass genome sequence to build the entire avian tree and reveal how birds evolved, particularly after the fall of the dinosaurs some 65 million years. A fallen dinosaur kingdom was replaced by a bird republic, as the direct descendants of the dinosaurs began to fill all the now vacant ecological niches and expanded…

Biology, News, Psychology

The cost of culture and learning is disease, but it’s been worth it

chimp-knowledge

Transferring knowledge from one individual to the other forms the basis of all human cultures, whether we’re talking about learning how to chop wood, how the Earth actually revolves in a counter-intuitive manner around the sun and no the other way around, or how the Earth is a planet in the first place and everything it entails. Each human consciousness…

Biology, News

Dragonflies hunt prey like dancing a ballet, similar to the internal model used by humans

Composite image of dragonfly carrying retroreflective markers. The markers are used to measure the orientation of the dragonfly’s head and body during flight. The data from the measurements allows the underlying steering strategy to be inferred. Credit: Igor Siwanowicz, Leonardo Lab, HHMI/Janelia Research Campus

Arguably the most efficient predator in the world today is the dragonfly, which boats a 95% success rate. Obviously, there’s more to the dragonfly than meets the eye or more than you would expect from some random insect, at least. One of the reasons it’s so successful may be due to how the dragonfly moves in response to its prey,…

Biology, News

Two Troglodytic Eyeless Pseudoscorpions found in Grand Canyon cave

A new species of cave-adapted pseudoscorpion, Hesperochernes bradybaughi, that was discovered in a cave on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. The eyeless creatures have probably adapted over millennia to the unique conditions in the cave.
Credit: Courtesy of J. Judson Wynne, Northern Arizona University

Two specially adapted pseudoscorpions have been reported in a cave on the northern side of the Grand Canyon. The creatures, which are not really scorpions, have adapted to their lightless environment by losing their eyes. Unlike true scorpions, pseudoscorpions don’t have a tail with a venomous stinger and are harmless to humans; as a matter of fact, they are often…

Animals, Biology, News

The filefish smells like its camouflage to avert predators

Image: Rock'n'Critters

The world isn’t just fight or flight, there’s also a third option: hide. The reef-dwelling fish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris), also known as the harlequin filefish,  is a true master of disguise that not only blends with its environment to avert itself from the gaze of a hungry predator, it also dissimulates its odor. In other words, the fish not only looks like coral, it…

Biology, Geology, News

Rare, ‘squashed bird nest’ fossil sheds light on Earth’s ancient seas

This image shows the whole of Nidelric pugio, a little over 9 cm long.
Credit: Copyright Prof Derek J Siveter of Oxford University

A rare 520-million-year-old fossil shaped like a ‘squashed bird’s nest’ has been discovered by a Chinese team of paleontologists. The team believes that the fossil, which is in excellent shape, will help us better understand how the Earth’s seas were like during the Cambrian.The fossil probably belongs to the ‘chancelloriid’, a group of bizarre, balloon-shaped creatures over which scientists are still…