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    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2009 edited
  1.  (6769.2)
    40 centimeters!?

    Someone is going to be making a very scary furry porn out of that... if they haven't already.
  2.  (6769.3)
    This is pretty damn captivating to watch: Dolphins blowing bubble rings. (Think smoke rings, but underwater and made of air, and much easier to play with after you make them.)

    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2009
    The relationship between the tropical acacia plant and 'guard' ants that defend it from predators has long been a fascinating example of symbiosis in nature: the ants feed on the acacia's sugary nectar, and in turn aggressively sting and bite other animals that would eat and damage the plant. But it turns out that this arrangement might not be as friendly as previously thought. New research reveals that the acacia plant actually produces a chemical that drives the ants into a defensive frenzy--alternately persuading them to fight to protect it and banishing them from its flowers when convenient.

    The BBC spoke with Dr. Nigel Raine about his findings on the subject, and he explained how the ants greatly assist the acacias.

    "They guard the plants they live on," said Dr Raine. "If other animals try to come and feed on the rich, sugary nectar, they will attack them." In Africa, one type of ant-guard, known as Crematogaster, will even attack large herbivores that attempt to eat the plant.

    And yes, that includes mammals vastly larger than them: "If a giraffe starts to eat the leaves of an acacia that is inhabited by ants, the ants will come out and swarm on to its face, biting and stinging," he said. "Eventually, the giraffe will get fed up and move off."

    Living the Good Life of an Acacia Guard Ant
    In return, the ants get more than just access to the rich, sugary nectar of the plant. They also get protection, and in some cases, a home customized specifically for them--the acacia provides a hollowed-out, reinforced structures for the ants to nest in. The acacia also provides the ants with a sort of easy-access VIP pass to the nectar, preventing them from making the longer trip to the flower to feed.

    When the temptation potentially becomes too much--like when the acacia needs to produce extra pollen to draw in pollinators--things get ugly. The acacia, as the BBC notes, resorts to 'chemical warfare'. It produces a chemical that's physically repellent to the ants, keeping them out of the flower and driving them into a frenzy.

    Dr Raine and his colleagues found that the plants with the closest relationships with ants - those that provided homes for their miniature guard army - produced the chemicals that were most effective at keeping the ants at bay.

    The chemical is thought to be in the pollen itself--and when it's carried off by the bees and hummingbirds, the ants return, no longer repelled.

    The acacia and its guard ants no doubt have a fascinating symbiotic relationship--but the surprising use of chemicals to govern that relationship could perhaps have even more fascinating ramifications for the study of other natural pairings. What else out there is being duped and tamed by chemicals?

  3.  (6769.5)
    Here's a good video of botfly removal from a dude's back:

  4.  (6769.6)
    This is an unsettling new discovery... aad i´ve read The exterminators!

    Big Apple Bugs: New Cockroach Species Discovered in NYC
  5.  (6769.7)
    I spent this weekend learning about the real arse eels, and thought I'd give you all the chance to have nightmares about them too.

    To escape predators, the hagfish exudes copious quantities of a viscous slime. That's the nice bit. To feed, it enters its victim through the mouth, gills or anus, and devours it from the inside out.

    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2010
    More interesting than fucked-up: some bats have an internal magnetic sense.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2010 edited
    So you're working on a survey ship and you pull up your robot sub for maintenance.

    This comes with it:

    Attn PETA: There's your fucking sea-kitten
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2010



    "Isopod doesn't take any of your shit"
  6.  (6769.11)
    First multicellular animal found that doesn't need oxygen

    Of course, the really interesting this is that it's related a family of invertetrates known as penis worms.

    Hee Hee
  7.  (6769.12)
    I was hoping that link was going to make it here.

    I find the fascinating thing about the anaerobic critters is that they aren't a new development or evolutionary path. They've likely been here longer than we have. And yet, generalized theories of biology posited that oxygen was required for complex life to exist. This is now obviously wrong, and opens up vistas both in the solar system -- we no longer have to limit ourselves to looking for blue spheres to find life -- but also begs the question as to what else about our assumptions about life's fundamentals might be mistaken?
  8.  (6769.13)
    First let me get this out of the way;

    Arse eels?! YAAAAG!

    Second: That is a big-assed cockroach.

    Third: I have no doubt that other planets, even ones in our solar system, have all sort of interesting life that we may not recognize as life. Problem is, people want aliens you can have pony-tail sex with, so we'll never be able to find out because no one will put the time and money into it.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2010
    an 8 legged frog. that is all....

    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2010
    Hmmm, i wonder what they're putting in the water there. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some odd looking children thereabouts.
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2010
    Holy fuckballs, that isopod is amazing. If I had a rotting whale carcass lying around, I'd totally have like a bunch of these to feed on it.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2010

    'Lovecraftian tangles of tentacle and shell' eh? Good thing they're less than a millimetre long then.

    On reading the link i notice they have hydrogenosomes instead of mitochondria and produce molecular hydrogen as a byproduct of ATP generation (please forgive the grammar, i've been at the cider again).
    Nosing around Wikipedia i notice these hydrogenosomes occur in a few other organisms including some fungi.
    I wonder, with a deft bit of genetic cutting and splicing might we end up with bacteria that could ferment organic waste (sewage, food scraps and the like) to produce the hydrogen that powers our nice clean fuel-cell cars?
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2010
    Roadscum, the question for me is whether Hydrogenosomes are the precursors to mitochondria and all early multicellular organism had them to if the Loricifera's ancestors had mitochondria but piked up hydrogensomes via some version of horizontal gene transfer.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2010
    Kosmopolit, that is not an easy question for a lorry driver who has just consumed a whole bottle of Burrow Hill bottle fermented single variety dry cider (8%ABV and very nice, i was in Taunton recently) to answer, though i note that the Wikipedia article says hydrogenosomes are thought to have evolved from anaerobic bacteria or archaea (sort of a bit like bacteria but different if i understand correctly).

    Today, most Loricifera have mitochondria, three known species have hydrogenosomes. Wikipedia says Loricifera are not known to be present in the fossil record so i imagine it's a bit difficult to say how long they've been around. Which came first? Difficult for me to say, not really my field of expertise.

    Now, if you want to know the best way to get from Barking to Norwich...
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
    Three years ago, after a young Peruvian girl bathed in a river, she began to experience an odd sensation in the her nose--like something was moving back there... And it turns out there was. After visiting with a local physician about the problem, researchers realized that the girl had inadvertently 'discovered' a rather nasty species of leech, previously unknown to biologists. According to them, the leech is a bit different from other species in that it packs a wallop of a bite with the eight "enormous teeth" that line its single jaw