Elizabeth Preston

451 posts · 565,190 views

Inkfish
451 posts

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  • June 13, 2014
  • 12:54 PM
  • 715 views

Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

A word of advice to female fruit flies looking for a mate: it’s not hard to catch the eye of a male Drosophila. He’ll chase after almost anything that moves. Really—including a metal cube dabbed with pheromones. That may be embarrassing for the male, but it also shows scientists how a tiny-brained animal weighs information when […]The post Fembot Flies Reveal What Males Find Attractive appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 10, 2014
  • 12:19 PM
  • 775 views

10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

1. Literally. Like pill bugs, Madagascar’s giant pill-millipedes protect themselves by rolling into a ball. The larger species may end up in a package the size of a tennis ball. But millipedes in the genus Sphaeromimus are a more manageable size, only up to an inch or two long. 2. It sings. Sphaeromimus millipedes have ridged […]The post 10 Ways This Giant Millipede Is Ballin’ appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 6, 2014
  • 11:34 AM
  • 1,220 views

Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Whoever named the macaroni penguin was not thinking of dinner, but the name is unfortunately apt. A shocking number of these birds get gobbled up by other large seabirds while they’re young, a new study found. Researchers are trying to fit this puzzle piece in with high predator numbers, rising ocean temperatures, and vanishing populations […]The post Most Baby Macaroni Penguins Get Eaten appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • June 3, 2014
  • 10:15 AM
  • 986 views

Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

In what might be considered a mixed message outside of the ichthyology world, scientists have named a new species of cavefish after the Indiana University Hoosiers. It’s blind, has its anus behind its head, and distinguishes itself from its nearest relative by being a little fatter. But its discovery might help keep the world’s other […]The post Scientist Names Newly Discovered Blind Fish with Neck Anus after His Alma Mater appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 30, 2014
  • 11:00 AM
  • 888 views

Wasps Choose the Sex of Their Young—but Climate Can Foil Them

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s a good thing human sex isn’t determined the same way a parasitoid wasp’s is, because “sugar and spice and everything nice” is much easier to rhyme than “sperm and moderate temperatures.” But that’s what little wasp girls are made of. A mother wasp can choose the sex of each egg she lays by deciding […]The post Wasps Choose the Sex of Their Young—but Climate Can Foil Them appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 27, 2014
  • 12:20 PM
  • 839 views

“No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you’ve ever described your daily routine as leaving a comfortable place and going somewhere nearly incompatible with life, you were probably exaggerating how bad your job is. A Humboldt squid wouldn’t be exaggerating. It spends its days in areas of the ocean with what should be fatally low oxygen levels. To survive, it cranks […]The post “No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 22, 2014
  • 12:43 PM
  • 1,167 views

Evolution Made Ridiculous Flightless Birds Over and Over

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Watching an ostrich sprint across the plain like a mean two-legged dust mop, you might think a mistake has been made. Surely this isn’t one of evolution’s prouder moments? But new genetic evidence says that the group of birds including ostriches, emus, and other ungainly birds all came from flying ancestors. They lost the ability […]The post Evolution Made Ridiculous Flightless Birds Over and Over appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 19, 2014
  • 10:53 AM
  • 1,087 views

Drunk Fish Convince Sober Ones to Follow Them Around

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s a good thing fish can’t operate a vehicle. Not only do drunk zebrafish swim extra fast, but they somehow get all the sober fish to follow them. Essentially, a drunk fish becomes the designated driver for the whole group. Although a fish is only marginally like a human, fish can be convenient subjects for […]The post Drunk Fish Convince Sober Ones to Follow Them Around appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Ladu F, Butail S, Macrí S, & Porfiri M. (2014) Sociality Modulates the Effects of Ethanol in Zebra Fish. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. PMID: 24819037  

  • May 14, 2014
  • 12:50 PM
  • 1,022 views

Genetic Test Shows Who’s Who in Cheese Bacteria (and Fungus)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Before you enjoy your next slice of gouda or wedge of brie, you might take a moment to think of all the organisms that have nibbled it before you. Cheeses get the flavors you love from the bacteria and fungi that live on and inside them. And thanks to genetic testing, those microscopic workers are […]The post Genetic Test Shows Who’s Who in Cheese Bacteria (and Fungus) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Schornsteiner E, Mann E, Bereuter O, Wagner M, & Schmitz-Esser S. (2014) Cultivation-independent analysis of microbial communities on Austrian raw milk hard cheese rinds. International journal of food microbiology, 88-97. PMID: 24794620  

  • May 9, 2014
  • 11:00 AM
  • 844 views

Bumblebees in Danger Use the Buddy System

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Like teenagers walking into a cafeteria, bumblebees can make quick social calculations about the safest place to alight for a meal. If they don’t sense danger, they’ll land wherever’s convenient. But if the setting is treacherous, a bumblebee will check out all its options and look for a seat near a friend. No matter how […]The post Bumblebees in Danger Use the Buddy System appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2014
  • 12:20 PM
  • 842 views

Lonely Bacteria Mutate Faster

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Bacteria that have no friends don’t get sad; they get weird. When E. coli cells sense fewer other bacteria around them, their DNA starts to mutate at a faster rate. That’s bad news for humans and our antibiotics. But if we can make bacteria feel less alone, we might be able to slow down their destructive rampages. […]The post Lonely Bacteria Mutate Faster appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Krašovec R, Belavkin RV, Aston JA, Channon A, Aston E, Rash BM, Kadirvel M, Forbes S, & Knight CG. (2014) Mutation rate plasticity in rifampicin resistance depends on Escherichia coli cell-cell interactions. Nature communications, 3742. PMID: 24776982  

  • May 2, 2014
  • 11:09 AM
  • 1,292 views

Inventory of Crap on the Ocean Floor

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Going the bottom of the ocean isn’t such a big deal. Sure, James Cameron generated a lot of fuss last year with his record-breaking descent into the Mariana Trench—but Uncle Ben has been to the deep sea without even using a sub. Yes, that picture shows a packet of Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice a kilometer deep […]The post Inventory of Crap on the Ocean Floor appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Pham, C., Ramirez-Llodra, E., Alt, C., Amaro, T., Bergmann, M., Canals, M., Company, J., Davies, J., Duineveld, G., Galgani, F.... (2014) Marine Litter Distribution and Density in European Seas, from the Shelves to Deep Basins. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095839  

  • April 25, 2014
  • 10:34 AM
  • 1,093 views

Meet the Cuckoo Mafia

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Are you intimidated by this bird? Would you be if it destroyed all your unborn children? Some species of cuckoo and other birds are “brood parasites.” This means that instead of raising their own young, they sneak their eggs into other birds’ nests and let the adoptive parents do all the work. If you watch […]The post Meet the Cuckoo Mafia appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • April 22, 2014
  • 11:22 AM
  • 1,040 views

Frogs Survive Subzero Temperatures by Living as Ice Cubes

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

No matter how rough a winter you think you had, it was nothing compared to what a wood frog survives every year. Some of these little amphibians are still waiting for spring, when they’ll thaw out and turn from frog-shaped blocks of ice back into animals. Recently, scientists took a close look at wood frogs […]The post Frogs Survive Subzero Temperatures by Living as Ice Cubes appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Larson DJ, Middle L, Vu H, Zhang W, Serianni AS, Duman J, & Barnes BM. (2014) Wood frog adaptations to overwintering in Alaska: New limits to freezing tolerance. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 24737762  

  • April 8, 2014
  • 12:45 PM
  • 1,347 views

Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

In the fight for attention from researchers, there are winners and there are civets. That’s what researchers found when they analyzed almost 16,500 published papers about animals from walruses to weasels. They saw clear trends in which animals are the most popular to study. And it matters because the most popular animals aren’t necessarily the […]The post Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • April 1, 2014
  • 12:33 PM
  • 980 views

Eyeless Fish Navigates with Mouth Suction

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

As bats squeak and swoop through pitch-black Mexican caves, the pale fish that inhabit the pools below them perform a soundless imitation. These fish are blind but sense the world through subtle pressure changes on their skin. To navigate the cave floors, they also use a tool that’s never been observed in another animal: the […]The post Eyeless Fish Navigates with Mouth Suction appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Holzman R, Perkol-Finkel S, & Zilman G. (2014) Mexican blind cavefish use mouth suction to detect obstacles. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 24675558  

  • March 28, 2014
  • 10:58 AM
  • 736 views

Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

No matter how much of a critical thinker you consider yourself, your brain is pretty gullible. With a few minutes and a couple of props, your brain can be convinced that one of your limbs is made of rubber or invisible, or that your whole body is the size of a Barbie doll’s. All these illusions […]The post Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Senna, I., Maravita, A., Bolognini, N., & Parise, C. (2014) The Marble-Hand Illusion. PLoS ONE, 9(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091688  

  • March 21, 2014
  • 10:39 AM
  • 1,039 views

Humans Made Conchs Shrink (And One Kid Saw It Coming)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The classic, swirling shell of a conch helps protect it from hungry birds and sea creatures, but when a human decides to pluck one from shallow water and boil it for supper, there’s not much the animal can do. Its only defense is to evolve, as a species, to be smaller and less appealing to […]The post Humans Made Conchs Shrink (And One Kid Saw It Coming) appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

O'Dea, A., Shaffer, M., Doughty, D., Wake, T., & Rodriguez, F. (2014) Evidence of size-selective evolution in the fighting conch from prehistoric subsistence harvesting. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1782), 20140159-20140159. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0159  

  • March 14, 2014
  • 07:52 AM
  • 1,134 views

Birds That Are Right- or Left-Handed Help Their Flocks Fly Better

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

As they scrub the smeared ink from their wrists yet again, left-handed people must sometimes wonder what the point of all this is. Why do we have a dominant hand, anyway? However arbitrary it seems, we’re not alone in favoring one side over the other—there are all kinds of animals with a preferred paw, claw, […]The post Birds That Are Right- or Left-Handed Help Their Flocks Fly Better appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Bhagavatula, P., Claudianos, C., Ibbotson, M., & Srinivasan, M. (2014) Behavioral Lateralization and Optimal Route Choice in Flying Budgerigars. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003473  

  • March 11, 2014
  • 11:25 AM
  • 774 views

Suicidal Algae Help Their Relatives and Harm Their Rivals

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

You might say the benefit of staying alive is an actual no-brainer: even brainless lifeforms do their best not to die. For the most part, anyway. When they’re under stress, single-celled organisms may opt to cut up their DNA and neatly implode. A new study hints that by committing suicide in this way, an organism […]The post Suicidal Algae Help Their Relatives and Harm Their Rivals appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

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