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Category Archives: Wild Life
It’s just a regular dive off the coast of Mozambique — a dolphin pod here, a few kingfish there — until a swarm (and we mean DOZENS!) of hammerhead sharks show up (01:24). Here’s what it’s like to find yourself surrounded by hammerheads! The distinctive-looking sharks are highly threatened by the fin trade, so it’s special to see them converge in such large numbers.
The common guillemot is a bird with decidedly uncommon eggs. They’re shaped in such a way that when they roll, they do so not in a long, wide arc but a tight, uniform circle. But why would an egg do such a thing? Guillemots are seabirds, and they tend to congregate on the ledges of cliffs overlooking the ocean. The view is spectacular, but it’s a pretty precarious place for a newly laid clutch of baby birds. Guillemots don’t even … Continue reading
Waves of carnivorous starfish are eating their way through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – and sugar cane farming is being blamed. Researchers at Australia’s Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), just outside Townsville, Queensland, in north-east Australia, have mapped the pattern of destruction. “Coral cover is half of what it was 27 years ago, coral cover is going down at an alarming rate.” Dr Katharina Fabricius, coral reef ecologist and AIMS principal research scientist, told the BBC World Service programme Discovery. She said … Continue reading
Many woodland plants rely on ants to disperse their seeds; such seed dispersal increases the plant population’s chance of survival. Robert Warren, assistant professor of biology, has recently demonstrated that ant-dispersed plants (myrmecochores) compete for ant dispersers by staggering seed release. “Competition as a mechanism structuring mutualisms” by Warren and coauthors Itamar Giladi and Mark A. Bradford was published online on January 13 in the Journal of Ecology. The researchers hypothesized that the staggered timing of seed release by ant-dependent … Continue reading
Antifreeze proteins from fish living in icy seas have inspired a new way to freeze blood which could one day increase the precious stocks available for medical procedures. University of Warwick researchers have found a new application for a common polymer which allows blood cells to better survive being stored at freezing temperatures. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. Polyvinyl alcohol – which mimics antifreeze properties found in cold-acclimatised fish like arctic cod – works by inhibiting the … Continue reading
Last spring, when Mary Harris started looking for particular pesticides in the pollen carried by honey bees in northwest Iowa, she didn’t find any. But that changed the week tractors hit the fields to plant crops. That week, every pollen sample she took tested positive for the presence of neonicotinoids, pesticides often used to coat seeds before they’re planted. Harris, an Iowa State University adjunct assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management, was part of a research team formed by … Continue reading
Comedian George Carlin once joked that perhaps the Earth wanted plastic, yet didn’t know how to produce it. So, the planet spawned humans only so that we could create the polymer. Two species of leafcutter bee seem to have taken Carlin seriously and now incorporate plastic into their nests. In Toronto, bees were observed using shreds of plastic bags or dollops of polyurethane sealant to construct some of their nests. Leafcutter bees don’t form hives like honey bees. Instead, solitary … Continue reading
Bombardier Beetle when threatened, sprays the attacker with a boiling hot mixture of caustic chemicals reaching 212° F (100° C). Even more impressive, the bombardier beetle can aim the poisonous eruption in the direction of the harasser. The beetle itself is not harmed by the fiery chemical reaction. Using two special chambers inside the abdomen, the bombardier beetle mixes potent chemicals and uses an enzymatic trigger to heat and release them. The foul concoction does burn and stain the skin. … Continue reading
In work that has major implications for improving the performance of building insulation, scientists at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco have calculated that hairs that reflect infrared light may contribute significant insulating power to the exceptionally warm winter coats of polar bears and other animals. The research was published today in The Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal, Optics Express. Biophotonics expert Priscilla Simonis, a researcher at the University of Namur and … Continue reading
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest living organism – has been entrancing divers with its vivid colours and curious lifeforms for centuries. But for one man, the glimpses he caught under water were not enough – he wanted to see more of the life hidden from most people. Using time-lapse photography, Dr Pim Bongaerts of University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute has spent the past five years documenting the movement, communication and even violent interactions that living corals engage … Continue reading
Venoms stored for up to 80 years remain biologically active, new research shows. A University of Queensland professor says the venoms are a time-capsule of disappearing biodiversity and hold potential for the discovery of new medicines. Associate Professor Bryan Fry led the study, which examined 52 venom samples – including rare and historically important venoms. “The research shows that properly stored venoms remain scientifically useful for decades and that vintage venom collections may be of continuing value in toxin research,” he said. “Venoms … Continue reading
The Blue Whale’s heart typically weighs 600 kg (1,320 lb) and can reach 900 kg (1,980 lbs) in exceptional cases. Humans could easily crawl through it’s arteries.
Spy Turtle can film above and below the water to capture a unique perspective on the dolphins’ lives.
The mystery of one of the strangest landscape features on the planet – Mima mounds – has been solved, scientists say. These geological anomalies are circular hillocks that cover great swathes of land. But scientists have been puzzled about what causes them. Now new research suggests that tiny burrowing animals are their architects. The findings will be presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Mima mounds, which measure up to 2m (7ft) in height and 50m (160ft) in diameter, … Continue reading
Death’s-head Hawkmoth Moths’ obsession with artificial light has no proven theory. Historically, entomologists have said that moths use the moon as a point of navigation and, unfortunately, artificial lights mess up their internal compass. However, campfires, candles and torches have been around for a few hundred thousand years and many now argue that natural selection would have rooted this out long ago by burning the ones that flew into flames. So, even though the internet holds dearly to this theory, … Continue reading
Why do the faces of some primates contain so many different colors — black, blue, red, orange and white — that are mixed in all kinds of combinations and often striking patterns while other primate faces are quite plain? UCLA biologists reported last year on the evolution of 129 primate faces in species from Central and South America. This research team now reports on the faces of 139 Old World African and Asian primate species that have been diversifying over … Continue reading
Meet Blinky. This tiny freshwater crab has three eyes, just like its mutant fish namesake from The Simpsons. But unlike the fictional Blinky, whose deformity is blamed on nuclear waste, this crab may actually be a pair of conjoined twins, one of which is nothing but part of the head. Gerhard Scholtz of the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany found the Amarinus lacustris crab in the Hoteo river on New Zealand’s North Island in 2007. Instead of the usual … Continue reading
Norwegian nature photographer Kjell Bloch Sandved has devoted his photographic career to capturing the beauty of the world we live in and along the way, amassed a collection of butterfly and moth images with interesting patterns on their wings. Sanved’s keen eye took notice of the spectacular shapes the natural designs came in, recognizing their resemblance to letters of the alphabet. As a result, he formed the Butterfly Alphabet. Featuring all twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, as well as … Continue reading
A pink Amazon river dolphin on the warm side of the “Meeting of the Waters.” This is where the sandy Amazon River meets the dark waters of the Rio Negro in Manaus, Brazil. A strong density gradient contributes to their visible separation, as well as a significant temperature difference – the Amazon flows at around 22°C, while the Rio Negro is around 28°C. Via Facebook.