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  • News

    It’s official: Termites are just cockroaches with a fancy social life

    Termites are the new cockroach.

    Literally. The Entomological Society of America is updating its master list of insect names to reflect decades of genetic and other evidence that termites belong in the cockroach order, called Blattodea.

    As of February 15, “it’s official ... that termites no longer have their own order,” says Mike Merchant of Texas A&M University in College...

    03/01/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    Skyrmions open a door to next-level data storage

    Like sailors and spelunkers, physicists know the power of a sturdy knot.

    Some physicists have tied their hopes for a new generation of data storage to minuscule knotlike structures called skyrmions, which can form in magnetic materials. Incredibly tiny and tough to undo, magnetic skyrmions could help feed humankind’s hunger for ever-smaller electronics.

    On traditional hard drives,...

    02/07/2018 - 15:03 Materials, Physics
  • News

    Rising CO2 in lakes could keep water fleas from raising their spiky defenses

    Rising carbon dioxide levels could leave some tiny lake dwellers defenseless. Like the oceans, some lakes are experiencing increasing levels of the greenhouse gas, a new study shows. And too much CO2 in the water may leave water fleas, an important part of many lake food webs, too sleepy to fend off predators.

    Detailed observations of lake chemistry over long periods of time are rare....

    01/11/2018 - 16:29 Climate, Ecology
  • News

    Blowflies use drool to keep their cool

    SAN FRANCISCO — Blowflies don’t sweat, but they have raised cooling by drooling to a high art.

    In hot times, sturdy, big-eyed Chrysomya megacephala flies repeatedly release — and then retract — a droplet of saliva, Denis Andrade reported January 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. This process isn’t sweating. Blowfly droplets put the cooling...

    01/05/2018 - 18:04 Animals, Physiology
  • News

    Most blue whales are ‘righties,’ except for this one move

    View the video

    Blue whales, it turns out, are a tad ambidextrous.

    When hunting in deep water, the whales tend to be “right-handed,” lunging at krill while twisting 180 degrees or less onto their right side. But when gobbling up the tiny crustaceans near the surface, the whales tend to be lefties, launching themselves upward while performing a 360-degree barrel roll to the left,...

    11/28/2017 - 14:00 Animals, Oceans, Ecology
  • News

    The dietary habits of the emerald ash borer beetle are complicated

    DENVER — An invasive beetle has unexpected — and potentially troublesome — tastes in trees. Now two new studies are clarifying the insects’ dining habits, researchers reported at the annual Entomological Society of America meeting.

    Metallic-green Asian beetles called emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) have devastated wide swaths of forest in North America. For years, researchers...

    11/21/2017 - 11:00 Plants, Animals
  • Introducing

    The Lord Howe stick insect is officially back from the dead

    It’s a rare triumph when a species comes back from the dead. A new genetic analysis has officially established what many entomologists and conservation biologists hoped was true: The Lord Howe stick insect (Dryococelus australis) lives.

    Nicknamed “tree lobsters,” the dark-brown crawlers are nocturnal, flightless creatures that can grow up to 15 centimeters long. They feed on tea trees,...

    11/13/2017 - 12:30 Animals, Conservation, Evolution
  • Say What?

    This sea slug makes its prey do half the food catching

    Kleptopredation\klep-toe-preh-day-shun \ n.

    A food-gathering strategy of eating an organism and the meal it just ate.

    A wily sea slug has a way to get two meals in one: It gobbles up smaller predators that have recently gulped in their own prey.

    “Kleptopredation” is the term Trevor Willis of the University of Portsmouth in England and his colleagues propose for this kind of food...

    10/31/2017 - 20:05 Animals, Physiology
  • Feature

    Scary as they are, few vampires have a backbone

    Halloween horror aside, vampires are really pretty spineless.

    Most have no backbone at all. By one count, some 14,000 kinds of arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, are blood feeders. Yet very few vertebrates are clear-cut, all-blood specialists: just some fishes and three bats. Why hasn’t evolution produced more vertebrate vampires?

    The question intrigues herpetologist Harry...

    10/30/2017 - 16:00 Animals, Physiology, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Climate change may threaten these bamboo-eating lemurs

    The only lemurs so dependent on bamboo that they gnaw on hardened, nutrient-poor stems during the dry season might dwindle away as those seasons grow longer.

    Reconstructing the history of the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) in Madagascar suggests that drier areas over thousands of years already have lost their populations. As the region dries further due to climate change and the...

    10/26/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Climate