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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2010
    Possibly the most bizarrely convoluted reproductive cycle on the planet:

    Things start to get complicated when you consider their life cycle. Let's start with a feeding animal living on a lobster's mouthparts: this individual – it's hard to assign a sex – can then produce one of three kinds of offspring: a "Pandora" larva, a "Prometheus" larva or a female.

    The Pandora larva develops into another feeding adult – a straightforward case of asexual reproduction. By contrast, the female remains inside the adult and awaits a male – but, attentive readers will be crying, what male?

    The answer lies in the Prometheus larva. This attaches itself to another feeding adult, then produces two or three males from within itself. These dwarf males, which are even more internally complex than the other stages, seek out the females and fertilise them – though the details are unknown.

    Once the female has been fertilised, she leaves the adult's body and hunkers down in a sheltered region of the lobster's mouthparts. Her body, no longer needed, turns into a hard cyst. Inside this, a fertilised egg develops into yet another stage: the chordoid larva.

    In due course this larva hatches and swims off to colonise another lobster. Once it has attached itself to one, it develops into another adult and the cycle begins again.

    • CommentAuthorchenryhen
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2010
    ...Linnaeus's two-toed sloths Choloepus didactylus at the Estación Biológica Quebrada Blanco in north-eastern Peru have developed the delightful habit of climbing into an outdoor latrine building, seeking out the latrine contents AND EATING THEM ...

  1.  (6769.3)
    Chimps use tools - to get laid.
    • CommentAuthorErisah
    • CommentTimeMay 5th 2010
    Crows in Japan have learnt how to use traffic as nutcrackers.

    Apparently crows are quite a problem over there, because they use telegraph wires to build their nests. For a while there was a policy of destroying these nests. The crows then started to build decoy nests.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2010
    Parasitic wasp produces larvae that are in essence biological weapons

    At just 1 millimetre long, the wasp Copidosoma floridanum hardly looks like it's the source of a devastating clone army that devours its victims from the inside out. The army can only manage this because it employs self-sacrificing child soldiers – having no prospect of growing to adulthood, they sacrifice themselves to protect their siblings.

    This epic battle takes place inside a caterpillar called the cabbage looper, an agricultural pest that lays its eggs one at a time on the surfaces of leaves. Once laid the egg is vulnerable – if found by a female Copidosoma she will lay one or two eggs in it.

    One egg might not sound so bad, but this is no ordinary egg. It is polyembryonic, meaning that the single embryo cell at its heart can repeatedly clone itself. As a result, just one egg can produce up to 2000 offspring.
    Once the host embryo develops into a caterpillar, the Copidosoma clones form an army. Yet the clones are not identical. Instead they are divided into castes, just like bees in a hive.

    The most common caste of larvae is essentially maggots. They feed by drinking the host caterpillar's blood and, all being well, eventually emerge and become adult wasps. They are called reproductive larvae and there could be 1000 in a single caterpillar.

    The second caste is the precocious larvae. These develop earlier than the reproductive larvae – hence their name – and they look quite different, with a thinner body and larger mandibles. They have no sex cells and will never become adults or reproduce. These are the child soldiers.

    Copidosoma larvae may well find themselves sharing the caterpillar's body with competing parasites laid by another species of wasp. The precocious larvae are there to kill these competitors, and are produced in greater numbers if competitors are detected.

    This turns out to be a pretty effective way of dealing with competing species, but the precocious larvae face other threats too. If more than one Copidosoma egg is laid in the same host, the two armies go to war.
  2.  (6769.6)
    New GM goats lactate silk.

    [I shit you not.]

    That is all.
  3.  (6769.7)
    just relaised this hasn´t been posted....

    City of gonads" jellyfish discovered
    Shaped like flying saucers, both males and females of the new jellyfish have gonads on the outsides of their bodies, unlike any of the approximately 3,000 other jellyfish species known to science .
    Gonads are the reproductive glands that produce sperm in males and eggs in females.
    Arranged in a "crater" at the center of the jellyfish's top side, the gonads, upon close inspection, resemble "skyscrapers in a downtown business district," said Lisa-Ann Gershwin, curator of zoology at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, Australia.

  4.  (6769.8)
    Long extinct, but by far the most terrifying moment in Walking with Dinosaurs:

  5.  (6769.9)
    When all is said and done, as cool as dinosaurs are, I'm glad them bastards are little more than KFC now.
  6.  (6769.10)
    ok this is seriously fucked up. A David Attenborough segment about how Cordyceps infects the brains of ants and other insects and influences their behavior.

    i actually stopped eating my dinner....

  7.  (6769.11)
    @icelandbob — Oh, that's nothing. Some varieties of cordyceps that infect flies kill them and then emit chemical cues that cause other flies to come and mate with their fungus-covered corpses.

    ... It's kind of amazing how blasé I am about all this stuff now. "Parasitic eels living in a shark's heart? Pssh. That's nothing."
  8.  (6769.12)

    Yeah, I was wondering for a long time what was the deal with those flies who look kind of intact, but a bit bloated, and are dead on windows with a little smudge around them. Figuring out that the smudge was fungus that was filling the corpse, which in turn was attracting other flies for a bit of fungal necromancy was a revelation of sorts :)
  9.  (6769.13)
    Vornaskotti — I think you mean fungal necrophilia. ;-)
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2010
    Either way - terror.
  10.  (6769.15)
    that is why i´m investing in my own specially hermetically sealed bubble....
  11.  (6769.16)
    Then you're just locking yourself up with your own bacterial inhabitants — which outnumber your body's cells ten-to-one.
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2010
    while doing research for my current project, I came upon new deep sea creature photos from NatGeo. My favourite being the spectacular sea cucumber, for both beauty and awesome name:

    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2010 edited
    Other awesome articles to check out there:

    fire tornadoes


    crab swarms

    And a last one before I finish for the day:

    because fish are my favourite bed time story.
  12.  (6769.19)
    Ooh! @glukkake, those are good. Also, they lead to me reading about the RARE DICKHEADED GHOSTSHARK.

    September 22, 2009—California has a new star, the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark.

    But the newly identified species prefers to stay out of the sun—and the spotlight. And with a club-like sex organ on its forehead, the male ghostshark isn't likely to get any leading man roles.
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2010
    I can't say dickheaded without breaking down snickering like the small child I secretly am.