Biology, News

Plants signal stress like animals do: with neurotransmitters

When faced by drought, a plant will send a chemical signal across its cells to change the way the plant grows and uses resources. Image: Flickr

Plants signal stress when they’re affected by drought, high temperatures or a disease using the same chemical and electrical signals that animal use. In animals, these chemicals and signals are delivered, carried and interpreted by the nervous system, which is why it’s surprising to find plants use this mechanism. The “machinery”, however, is different suggesting plants and animals separately evolved the same communication mechanism.

Animals, Biology, News

How crazy ants carry dinner 100 times their size: coordination and individual leadership

longhorn crazy ants

Different ant species employ various tactics to forage food and keep the colony in tip top shape. Most often scouts will scour for food, and when a source is deemed fit a trail of pheromones guide worker ants to pick up the crumbs, leftover pizza or cheerios. Ants aren’t very picky, you know. What they are is very strong. It’s common knowledge that ants carry loads multiple times heavier than their own weight. Some species, like longhorn crazy ants are able to carry some of the biggest loads among ants by working together, joining in a band to perform the lifting. It’s a curios matter, one you might have often noticed in your very own backyard.

Biology, News

Remarkable cooperation: how groups of ants carry big things and stay on track

Image credits: Asaf Gal and Ofer Feinerman.

You may have observed how ants can carry things many times their size, both individually and in groups. Researchers have now figured out how ants manage to carry large objects in groups – it takes individual ideas, a lot of teamwork, and the ant equivalent of an air traffic controller.

Biology, Feature Post, Shorties

Skeleton flower turns translucent when it comes in contact with water

Image via interflora.com.au

This rare flower’s petals are usually white, but turn translucent (their “skeleton” form) when exposed to water. Being completely clear and of striking, glass-like beauty while wet, they turn white again when they dry off.

Biology, News

Folding tiny origami bunnies out of DNA and why it’s important

DNA origami

The revelation that DNA chemically self-assembles to build life was a game changer. Now, DNA’s self-assembly capability is moving past genetics and into structural mechanics. One of the most astonishing demonstrations involves an automated process which basically 3D prints structures made out of DNA, of all shapes and sizes. For instance, the team at Dresden University of Technology built tiny 3d objects like a bunny, a bottle or even a waving humanoid.

Biology, Environmental Issues, News

Mutation in daisies near Fukushima might not be caused by radiation

via Twitter user

After a twitter user and photographer from a city 110 km from Fukushima posted photos of mutated flowers, people started to freak out all over the internet that these plants suffered mutations due to the devastating nuclear incident from 2011 in Fukushima, Japan. According to the photographer @san_kaido, the radiation level near the daisies was measured at 0.5 μSv/h at 1m

Biology, Geology, News

Researchers find rare marine reptile fossil in Alaska

Artistic reconstruction of the Elasmosaurus. Image via Wikipedia.

Fossils of an elasmosaur, a rare type of plesiosaur were discovered in Alaska by Anchorage-based fossil collector Curvin Metzler. Researchers have confirmed this discovery and identified the species.

Biology, Geology, News

Four-legged snake is missing link between lizards and serpents

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An “absolutely exquisite” fossil of a juvenile snake with limbs has been discovered by English paleontologists in Brazil. The fossil dates back from the early Cretaceous, 110 million years ago, and is the oldest evidence of a definitive snake.

Biology, News

Scientists learn more about hair ice, after 100 years

Hair ice discovered on the forest floor near Brachbach, Germany. Credit: Gisela Preuß.

You may have seen it in forests, and may have dismissed it as an eerie curiosity – a type of ice that looks like white silky hairs, a bit like candy floss. It only grows on rotten branches of trees under very specific conditions, during humid winter nights when the temperature drops just below 0 degrees Celsius. Scientists have believed

Animals, Biology, News

Boa constrictors don’t suffocate their prey. Instead, they cut the blood from the heart

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In a first of its kind experiment, biologists found out to everyone’s surprise that boa constrictors kill prey by cutting the blood supply from the heart. It was long thought that suffocation is the snakes’ modus operandi. This makes sense though, according to evolutionary biologists involved in the study. Cutting the blood supply kills prey much faster than limiting oxygen intake. This comes at an evolutionary advantage since this minimizes risks faced from predators.