Archives for category: Fish and reptiles

It can also reach the size of a human – BBC News Magazine

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In an excavation in Portugal, scientists have found fossil bones of salamanders from 220 million years ago that would have been around two metres long, and about the size of a car – BBC News

Three chemicals stop Alaskan wood frogs from freezing to death.

The Panamanian snake Sibon noalamina eats snails, as well as slugs, earthworms and amphibian eggs.

Researchers have sequenced the coelacanth genome. This deep-sea fish has changed little physically in the last 300 million years, and the genome analysis shows few changes in its protein-coding genes.

The research could tell us more about how animals evolved from fish. Read more in the paper in Nature.

Some fish can climb waterfalls, and they seem to have evolved to use the same muscles as they use for eating. The Nopili rock-climbing goby can climb waterfalls as high as 100 metres, and it uses two suckers, one of which it also uses for feeding on algae.

French catfish have learned to kill birds – the fish, which are up to 1.5 metres long, beach themselves, lay in wait for pigeons, pounce, and then wriggle back into the river. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water

Many animals can match and beat humans in track and field events. For example, the 5 cm hat thrower fungus can throw a spore capsule 2 m away.

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

Researchers have found magnetic particles in the olfactory epithelium (the cells involved in smell) of trout. These contain magnetite, and this is the first time that these have been found in animals with backbones (vertebrates). It’s not clear yet whether the fish use these to detect magnetic fields. Read the paper in PNAS.

Pigeons have nerve cells in their brains that can detect magnetic fields.

The bellies of pygmy sharks glow in the dark (bioluminescence) – this makes it harder for predators to spot them from below, because they blend into the brighter light from the ocean surface.  This is controlled by two hormones, melatonin and prolactin.

Read the research in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

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