When you think of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom, large, muscular mammals will probably be the first that come to mind. But steady among them is the inconspicuous adolescent issus, who can hit an acceleration of 400 gs in 2 milliseconds flat (humans lose consciousness over 5 gs)—all thanks to what scientists have now identified as the first biological set of gears ever discovered. - Full story
These small animals float upside down at the surface of the sea, keeping afloat by swallowing air which is stored in their stomachs.
Although known to be cannibalistic their diet is mainly made up of hydrozoans including the Portuguese Man o’ War - they even eat the stings. As well as getting nourishment from the stings, they use them for their own defence.
Dr Levick, an avid biologist, was the medical officer on Captain Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1910. He was a pioneer in the study of penguins and was the first person to stay for an entire breeding season with a colony on Cape Adare.
He recorded many details of the lives of adelie penguins, but some of their activities were just too much for the Edwardian sensibilities of the good doctor.
He was shocked by what he described as the “depraved” sexual acts of “hooligan” males who were mating with dead females. So distressed was he that he recorded the “perverted” activities in Greek in his notebook.
On his return to Britain, Dr Levick attempted to publish a paper entitled “the natural history of the adelie penguin”, but according to Douglas Russell, curator of eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum, it was too much for the times.
"It’s just full of accounts of sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex, and finishes with an account of what he considers homosexual behaviour, and it was fascinating." said Mr Russell.
Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result — eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly — in you.
But the Melissotarsus ants of continental Africa and Madagascar are special. If biologists’ best guess proves correct, these ants raise their insect herds for meat, not milk – the first example of meat farmers other than humans. And that’s not all. The insects they cultivate may be the best example of true domestication outside of our crop plants…
"By all accounts, jellyfish are creatures that kill people, eat microbes, grow to tens of meters, filter phytoplankton, take over ecosystems, and live forever. Because of the immense diversity of gelatinous plankton, jelly-like creatures can individually have each of these properties. However this way of looking at them both overstates and underestimates their true diversity. Taxonomically, they are far more varied than a handful of exemplars that are used to represent jellyfish or especially the so-called "true" jellyfish. Ecologically, they are even more adaptable than one would expect by looking only at the conspicuous bloom forming families and species that draw most of the attention. In reality, the most abundant and diverse gelatinous groups in the ocean are not the ones that anyone ever sees." - Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
"Termites do not live in termite mounds, as though they are skyscrapers. Instead, the termites hang out at ground level and underground, while the mound works as an air con system, circulating and replacing hot air with cool. David Attenborough explains how this works—along with the help some of some handy computer graphics—in the video above." - BoingBoing
An ant mill or ‘ant death spiral’ is a phenomenon where a small group of army ants separated from the main foraging party lose the pheromone track and begin to follow one another, forming a continuously rotating circle. The ants will continue in this fashion until they eventually die of exhaustion. This has been reproduced in laboratories and the behaviour has also been produced in robots programmed to act like ants.
This phenomenon is a side effect of the self-organizing structure of ant colonies. An ant mill was first described by William Beebe who observed a mill 1,200 feet (365 m) in circumference. It took each ant 2.5 hours to make one revolution. Similar phenomena have been noted in processionary caterpillars and fish. - Wikipedia
A religion that helps demonstrate evolution in action
The Zoque people of southern Mexico greet the rainy season with a religious ritual that involves poisoning a stream that runs into the nearby Cueva del Azufre, and gathering up the bounty of cave fish that float, anesthetized, to the surface. Those fish—considered gifts from the gods of the underworld—help keep the Zoque fed until crops grown in the rainy season can be harvested.
But centuries of annual die-offs, caused by a single, locally sourced poison, have functioned as a driver of natural selection. Today, researchers found, fish that live in Cueva del Azufre—downstream from the point where the Zoque poison the water—are becoming resistant to that poison.
Fish exposed to the annual ritual indeed proved more resistant to the toxin than fish that lived elsewhere, able to swim in poisoned waters for roughly 50 percent longer. As such, the poison from the ceremony apparently has over time helped select fish that can tolerate it — fish that cannot get captured and killed by the Zoque. - LiveScience
Close up of a Pacu’s teeth in Brazil. Pacu fish, cousins to the piranha and known as “frugivores,” have human-like teeth that can crack nuts and fruits. In the Amazon regions, the biggest threat to the Pacu is commercial fishing.