Archives for posts with tag: nature

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

Chinese soft-shelled turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) dip their heads in ponds or puddles to urinate through their mouths, using gill-like projections. This may be their way to avoid having to drink salty water.

Chinese soft-shelled turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis)

Source: kkic via Wikipedia

Read the original paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

African spiny mice (very cute, sometimes kept as pets) can shed their skin, or at least patches of it, to get away from predators, and then grow it back pretty much as good as new. This could help researchers understand wound healing and regeneration.

See the paper in Nature.

Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and cavers from the Western Cave Conservancy have found a new spider in caves in southwest Oregon, called Trogloraptor, or cave robber. This spider is so different that it is not only a new genus and species, it is a new family (Trogloraptoridae). The spider is four centimetres across with legs stretched out, has large and sharp claws, and hangs underneath webs on cave ceilings. If they have only just found this one – what else is lurking in there?

Trogloraptor and trogloraptor claw

Source: California Academy of Sciences

Read more in the paper in ZooKeys.

Dogs can shake 70% of the water out of their coat in four seconds – this is because their backbone can move around 30 degrees in either direction, and their skin is so loose that it can move three times faster than their backbone. Other mammals also do this, and the smaller they are the faster it is – mice shake at 30 times per second. This allows them to dry faster and keep warm.

Shaking dog

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

There is a fantastic video in the article in The Atlantic, and lots more information on the laboratory website at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Researchers in the US have created an artificial jellyfish from silicon and living cardiac muscle cells, and it can swim freely. The rat heart muscle tissue is stimulated electrically and this ‘beats’ to create the jellyfish’s propulsive force. This is called ‘Medusoid’ and could be a step towards synthetic life.
Medusoid an artificial jellyfish

Credit: Harvard University and Caltech

For more, read the paper in .

Researchers found the Lord Howe phasmid, a giant stick insect, on Ball’s Pyramid, off the coast of Australia, in 2001.This was thought to have gone extinct in the late 20th century but the team has created new breeding colonies.

Lord Howe's phasmid

Source: Patrick Honan, Zoos Victoria

They hope to reintroduce the insects to their native habitat on nearby Lord Howe Island once they have eradicated the non-native predators.

The Map of Life is an interactive website that maps fish and land-based vertebrates around the world to create a searchable map. Later in the year there will be more species added, including plants and invertebrates.

See the report in Nature.

Some fish, including cichlids in Lake Malawi, have in their throats, which crush food as it is eaten. These were the earliest teeth and evolved more than 500 million years ago.

From 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Teeth from Discover Magazine

Because of fossils and anatomy studies it looked like turtles evolved from lizards and snakes, but new genetic research shows that they have evolved from the same ancestor as birds and crocodiles.

Read the abstract in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

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