Bees latch on to similarly-sized nectarless flowers to unpick pollen - like keys fitting into locks, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Stirling.
The research shows the right size of bee is needed to properly pollinate a flower. The bee fits tightly with the flower's anthers, to vibrate and release the pollen sealed within.
"We found that a pollinator's size, ... Read more »
Solís-Montero, L., & Vallejo-Marín, M. (2017) Does the morphological fit between flowers and pollinators affect pollen deposition? An experimental test in a buzz-pollinated species with anther dimorphism. Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2897
Meet the Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi), a truly unique spider that when provoked or threatened escapes by doubling its normal walking speed using forward or backward flips similar to acrobatic flic-flac movements used by gymnasts.
C. rechenbergi is a species of huntsman spider indigenous to Morocco and can be found in the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert . The spider ... Read more »
Ralf Simon King. (2013) BiLBIQ: A Biologically Inspired Robot with Walking and Rolling Locomotion. Biosystems . info:/10.1007/978-3-642-34682-8
In a recent study, researchers provide a new theory for the reason we walk the Earth
A new provocative study suggests it was the power of the eyes and not the limbs that first led our ancient aquatic ancestors to make the momentous leap from water to land. According to it, crocodile-like animals first saw easy meals on land and consequently evolved limbs that enabled them to get there, ... Read more »
MacIver MA, Schmitz L, Mugan U, Murphey TD, & Mobley CD. (2017) Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 28270619
The group feautred in this videp was formed by three adult or sub-adult whales. Social behavior of the True's Beaked Whale is still unknown but the group seemed to dive in a coordinated manner, as has been observed in other species of beaked whales. Credit: Roland Edler
True's beaked whales (Mesoplodon mirus) are such an elusive species that it's only now that we finally have the ... Read more »
Aguilar de Soto, N., Martín, V., Silva, M., Edler, R., Reyes, C., Carrillo, M., Schiavi, A., Morales, T., García-Ovide, B., Sanchez-Mora, A.... (2017) True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) in Macaronesia. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3059
New study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) shows how bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) can be trained to score goals with a mini-ball, revealing unprecedented learning abilities:
Researchers train bumblebees to move a ball in order to access a sugar solution as a reward.
The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that species whose lifestyle demands advanced ... Read more »
Loukola, O., Perry, C., Coscos, L., & Chittka, L. (2017) Bumblebees show cognitive flexibility by improving on an observed complex behavior. Science, 355(6327), 833-836. DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2360
Kristin Walovich holds the newly described species of ghost shark
Photo Credit: Kristin Walovich
Researchers recently announced the discovery of a new species of ghost shark, Hydrolagus erithacus. Ghost sharks - which aren’t actually sharks but instead their closest living relatives - are an extraordinarily rare sighting. Actually, it was just a few months ago, when a ghost shark was filmed... Read more »
Walovich KA, Ebert DA, & Kemper JM. (2017) Hydrolagus erithacus sp. nov. (Chimaeriformes: Chimaeridae), a new species of chimaerid from the southeastern Atlantic and southwestern Indian oceans. Zootaxa, 4226(4). PMID: 28187604
Deep sea creatures come with all kinds of strange features that help them to survive their cold, dark habitat.. Some have eyes the size of a basketball, others come with appendages that blink and glow, deep-sea dwellers have developed some strange features and the "cockeyed" squid Histioteuthis heteropsis has one normal eye and one giant, bulging, yellow eye.
One ... Read more »
Thomas KN, Robison BH, & Johnsen S. (2017) Two eyes for two purposes: in situ evidence for asymmetric vision in the cockeyed squids Histioteuthis heteropsis and Stigmatoteuthis dofleini. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 372(1717). PMID: 28193814
Flabegraviera fujiae (left), the new species described in the
in the new study, and Flabegraviera mundata (right).
(Scale bar: 1cm)
A few days ago, a team of Japanese scientists from the Hokkaido University announced the discovery a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm.
The discovery took place 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica and provides... Read more »
Jimi N, Tsujimoto M, Watanabe K, Kakui K, & Kajihara H. (2017) A new species and the shallowest record of Flabegraviera Salazar-Vallejo, 2012 (Annelida: Flabelligeridae) from Antarctica. Zootaxa, 4221(4). PMID: 28187651
Species: Amphioctopus marginatus
Conservation Status: Not yet assessed
Common Name: Coconut octopus, Veined octopus
Meet Amphioctopus marginatus a medium-sized octopus found in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean The species is best known as the "coconut octopus" ... Read more »
Finn JK, Tregenza T, Norman MD. (2009) Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus. . Curr. Biol, 19(23). info:/10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.052
Researchers recently announced the discovery of a frog whose groin flashes orange to scare away predators! The species was discovered in Australia.
When biologist Simon Clulow spotted a frog with an unusual marble pattern on its belly, he knew it could be a new species. If that turned to be true, it would be very surprising as the sighting took place on land close to an airport and not some ... Read more »
CLULOW, S., ANSTIS, M., KEOGH, J., & CATULLO, R. (2016) A new species of Australian frog (Myobatrachidae: Uperoleia) from the New South Wales mid-north coast sandplains. Zootaxa, 4184(2), 285. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4184.2.3
Biologist Nick Wegner holds an opah caught
during a research survey off the California Coast.
Credit: NOAA Fisheries
New research by NOAA Fisheries* has revealed the opah (Lampris Guttatus) to be the first fully warm-blooded fish. Also known as moonfish, it circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds do, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths.
... Read more »
Wegner, N., Snodgrass, O., Dewar, H., & Hyde, J. (2015) Whole-body endothermy in a mesopelagic fish, the opah, Lampris guttatus. Science, 348(6236), 786-789. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa8902
Credit: Gabriel Lío
Researchers announced yesterday the discovery of a new dinosaur that although closely related to the carnivorous T-Rex it preferred to feed on plant material. The new lineage of dinosaur was discovered in Chile and has proven to be an evolutionary jigsaw puzzle.
Paleontologists are referring to the newly described species (... Read more »
Novas, F., Salgado, L., Suárez, M., Agnolín, F., Ezcurra, M., Chimento, N., de la Cruz, R., Isasi, M., Vargas, A., & Rubilar-Rogers, D. (2015) An enigmatic plant-eating theropod from the Late Jurassic period of Chile. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature14307
A buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris
Buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) that have been infected by parasites seek out flowers with nicotine in their nectar, according to a new study by researchers at the Royal Holloway University of London and Queen Mary University of London, UK.
Apparently, the nicotine in the flowers slows the progression of disease in infected bees but has ... Read more »
Baracchi, D., Brown, M., & Chittka, L. (2015) Weak and contradictory effects of self-medication with nectar nicotine by parasitized bumblebees. F1000Research. DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.6262.1
To us humans, it seems extremely unnatural that other animals can reproduce without having sex. Yet with the passing of time, evolution has endowed females of several species of amphibians, insects, reptiles and fish the ability to asexually produce offsprings without "help" from males.
Now, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) say that in ... Read more »
Miyakawa MO, & Mikheyev AS. (2015) Males are here to stay: fertilization enhances viable egg production by clonal queens of the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). Die Naturwissenschaften, 102(3-4), 15. PMID: 25801787
Species: Edwardsiella andrillae
Meet Edwardsiella andrillae, a recently discovered species of sea anemone that lives anchored to the underside of sea ice offshore of Antarctica.
The species was discovered in December 2010 during a test run of an ... Read more »
Daly, M., Rack, F., & Zook, R. (2013) Edwardsiella andrillae, a New Species of Sea Anemone from Antarctic Ice. PLoS ONE, 8(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083476
From pink blind fish to mushroom shaped animals to flic-flac jumping spiders, here is a pick of the weirdest animals described in 2014.
1. Hoosier cavefish (Amblyopsis hoosieri)
A live specimen of A. hoosieri, measuring 6.07 cm (2.39 in) long.
The Hoosier cavefish (Amblyopsis hoosieri) is a subterranean blind fish from southern Indiana, U.S.
First discovered during a 2013 study on ... Read more »
Chakrabarty P, Prejean JA, & Niemiller ML. (2014) The Hoosier cavefish, a new and endangered species (Amblyopsidae, Amblyopsis) from the caves of southern Indiana. ZooKeys, 41-57. PMID: 24899861
Just J, Kristensen RM, & Olesen J. (2014) Dendrogramma, new genus, with two new non-bilaterian species from the marine bathyal of southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa incertae sedis)--with similarities to some medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara. PloS one, 9(9). PMID: 25184248
Hrbek T, da Silva VM, Dutra N, Gravena W, Martin AR, & Farias IP. (2014) A new species of river dolphin from Brazil or: how little do we know our biodiversity. PloS one, 9(1). PMID: 24465386
There are about 200 species of caecilians (pronounced ‘seh-SILL-yuns’) but it's highly unlikely you have or will ever encounter one. Why? Because they live underground, burrowing through loose soil and ground litter with their long, snake-like bodies.
Read on to learn 9 weird and interesting facts about these unusual creatures.
Bombay caecilian (Ichthyophis bombayensis)
Credit - Wikicommons... Read more »
Mohun, S., Davies, W., Bowmaker, J., Pisani, D., Himstedt, W., Gower, D., Hunt, D., & Wilkinson, M. (2010) Identification and characterization of visual pigments in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), an order of limbless vertebrates with rudimentary eyes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(20), 3586-3592. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.045914
Kupfer, A., Müller, H., Antoniazzi, M., Jared, C., Greven, H., Nussbaum, R., & Wilkinson, M. (2006) Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian. Nature, 440(7086), 926-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature04403
Penis, the primary sexual organ that male and hermaphrodite animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates (usually females and hermaphrodites respectively) during sex. Almost all species use some variation of the organ to transfer sperm into females' eggs in order to create more offsprings.
However, thanks to evolution, some species have come up with some really remarkable and weird ... Read more »
McCracken, K. (2000) The 20-cm Spiny Penis of the Argentine Lake Duck (Oxyura vittata). The Auk, 117(3), 820. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0820:TCSPOT]2.0.CO;2
Sueur, J., Mackie, D., & Windmill, J. (2011) So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae). PLoS ONE, 6(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021089
Yoshizawa, K., Ferreira, R., Kamimura, Y., & Lienhard, C. (2014) Female Penis, Male Vagina, and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect. Current Biology, 24(9), 1006-1010. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.022
Engh, A., Van Horn, R., Szykman, M., Holekamp, K., & Boydston, E. (2007) Courtship and mating in free-living spotted hyenas. Behaviour, 144(7), 815-846. DOI: 10.1163/156853907781476418
Credit: Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge
This cute alien-like thing is actually a bat embryo of the species Molossus rufus, the black mastiff bat. Adorable, ain't it?
The photo was taken by Dorit Hockman from the University of Cambridge during a study on the species' embryonic development. It was one of the finalists in the Nikon Small World 2012 photomicrography ... Read more »
Nolte, M., Hockman, D., Cretekos, C., Behringer, R., & Rasweiler, J. (2009) Embryonic Staging System for the Black Mastiff Bat,(Molossidae), Correlated With Structure-Function Relationships in the Adult. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 292(2), 155-168. DOI: 10.1002/ar.20835
Credit: Dr. Devi Stuart Fox
A new study by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggests that Draco Cornutus, a species of gliding lizard from Borneo, mimicks the red and green colors of the falling leaves to avoid falling prey to birds whilst gliding.
According to the study, D. cornutus have evolved extendable gliding membranes, like wings, which closely match the ... Read more »
Klomp, D., Stuart-Fox, D., Das, I., & Ord, T. (2014) Marked colour divergence in the gliding membranes of a tropical lizard mirrors population differences in the colour of falling leaves. Biology Letters, 10(12), 20140776-20140776. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0776
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