When migrating, sockeye salmon typically swim up to 4,000 miles into the ocean and then, years later, navigate back to the upstream reaches of the rivers in which they were born to spawn their young. Scientists, the fishing community and lay people have long wondered how salmon find their way to their home rivers over such epic distances.
How do they do that?
A new study, published in this week’s issue of Current Biologyand partly funded by the National Science Foundation, suggests that salmon find their home rivers by sensing the rivers’ unique magnetic signature.
Medical illustrators and neurological imaging experts at Johns Hopkins have figured out how night-hunting owls can almost fully rotate their heads — by as much as 270 degrees in either direction — without damaging the delicate blood vessels in their necks and heads, and without cutting off blood supply to their brains.
This scanning electron microscope image of the tarsal claw of the horsefly Tabanus sulcifrons juxtaposes the complexity and simplicity of “nature’s Velcro.” The menacing sturdiness of the tarsal claws contrasts with the delicate nature of the tarsal pad, with fine, hooked hairs that allow the fly to hold on to animal fur.
Jan. 24, 2013 — An insect with a tiny brain and minimal computing power has become the first animal proven to use the Milky Way for orientation. Scientists from South Africa and Sweden have published findings showing the link between dung beetles and the spray of stars which comprises our galaxy.
Although their eyes are too weak to distinguish individual constellations, dung beetles use the gradient of light to dark provided by the Milky Way to ensure they keep rolling their balls in a straight line and don’t circle back to competitors at the dung pile.
“The dung beetles don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile,” said Professor Marcus Byrne from Wits University.
In 1879 a paleontologist named Othniel C. Marsh uncovered a large sauropod skeleton, he dubbed it Brontosaurus which means “thunder lizard” referring to the beasts great size. This name stuck and the brontosaurus became almost as famous as its great size. But there was a problem with this skeleton it was not a real dinosaur! The skeleton that Marsh found was headless, so he simply looked for the nearest head he could find which was miles away in a different quarry. It turns out this head belonged to a different animal a Camarasaurus! This terrible mix-up lasted until 1975 when two scientists, Dr. Jack McIntosh and Dr. David Berman, proved to the scientific community that the brontosaurus was simply an Apatosaurus with a Camarasaurus head, and that day the brontosaurus died (not really it died like 65 million years ago) and the Apatosaurus took its place. But Brontosaurus was engraved into peoples heads and the term Brontosaurus is still alive and well, as people still pass on the bad information that they have been taught.
Pictured above are Gecko feet — each with a different toe pad structure. It is well known that the only force causing two hydrophobic surfaces to adhere in air is van der Waals force. In chemistry, van der Waals force refers to the relatively weak attraction between neutral atoms and molecules arising from polarization induced in each particle by the presence of other particles. Thus, the strong adhesion of ultrahydrophobic gecko setae to highly hydrophobic GaAs demonstrates that van der Waals forces are sufficient for gecko adhesion, and that other forces, such as those of capillary bridges, are not required. Since van der Waals forces occur between any two surfaces that are sufficiently close, this discovery paved the way for the design and fabrication of synthetic dry adhesives, inspired by geckos.
The velvet worm - among the phylum, Onychophora - hunts by shooting fast drying adhesive at its prey and yes, I know what you’re thinking. The segmented worm-like organism can range from 0.5 to 20cm long and slime glands are located in the center region of the body making up about 11% of the total body weight in slime which is made mostly of water and some proteins.
In order to detect prey it senses slight changes in air currents with bumps on its skin and chemical sensors on its antennae to let them essentially taste something to determine if its food. When a prey item is eventually encountered, the slime is forcefully squirted through oral papillae near the head and launched up to 30cm in a sort of spray-and-pray manner. Once the slime contacts the victim, it quickly dries ensnaring it, where now the worm then seeks to eat the organism by injecting its salivaand digestive enzymes turning the innards into a slurpee. Mmm delicious.
The velvet worm are primarily nocturnal ambush predators and their senses and locomotion allow them to hunt. They move silently and fluidly with pneumatically inflated sets of valves to inflate/deflate their legs, meaning they don’t really rely on muscles for movement and is why it looks so cool as they glide along the ground. Another awesome thing about them is they have a tubular heart that extends almost the entire length of the body creating an open circulatory system.
The image above shows a California sea hare (Aplysia californica), a type of sea slug, inking. Looking a little like a rabbit, sea hares are a common treasure in Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point tidepools. They can get up to 16 pounds but are usually more like three to four pounds in the lower pools. Although these slugs appear to be just a big blob, they have a hidden trick — beautiful purple ink that can be released from a gland in their mantle cavity if you reach inside the skin flaps on the top and tickle them. In nature, this acts as a smoke screen (similar to an octopus’ ink). California sea hares are herbivorous, with a diet consisting primarily of red and brown seaweed, which gives the animal its typically dark coloration.
A molting Emperor Penguin. Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins, standing up to 42 inches (115 centimeters) tall and weighing 84 pounds (38 kilograms). They are majestic birds, walking with stately purpose at speeds of around 5 mph (7.5 kmh). Emperors can dive as deep as 1,800 feet (550 meters) on a single breath of air, lasting up to 20 minutes. Emperor penguins are rarely found north of the Antarctic Circle.
Also, it looks like he’s wearing a fur vest. This pleases me.