Hawk moths have a sweet solution to muscle damage.
Manduca sexta moths dine solely on nectar, but the sugary liquid does more than fuel their bodies. The insects convert some of the sugars into antioxidants that protect the moths’ hardworking muscles, researchers report in the Feb. 17 Science.
When animals expend a lot of energy, like hawk moths do as they rapidly beat their wings...
A new species of worm-snail is rather snotty. Thylacodes vandyensis shoots out strands of mucus that tangle together, building a spiderweb-like trap for plankton and other floating snacks, researchers report April 5 in PeerJ.
Other worm-snails use this hunting technique, but T. vandyensis stands out because of the “copious amounts of mucus” it ejects, says coauthor Rüdiger Bieler. This...
Penguins have been pooping on Ardley Island off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula for a long, long time. The population there is one of the biggest and oldest Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) colonies. But evidence from ancient excrement suggests that these animals didn’t always flourish.
The Gentoo colony on Ardley Island continues to grow in comparison to other Antarctic penguin...
Could fluorescence matter to a frog? Carlos Taboada wondered. They don’t have bedroom black lights, but their glow may still be about the night moves.
Taboada’s question is new to herpetology. No one had shown fluorescence in amphibians, or in any land vertebrate except parrots, until he and colleagues recently tested South American polka dot tree frogs. Under white light, male and...
Aside from being adorable, sea otters and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins share an ecological feat: Both species use tools. Otters crack open snails with rocks, and dolphins carry cone-shaped sponges to protect their snouts while scavenging for rock dwelling fish.
Researchers have linked tool use in dolphins to a set of differences in mitochondrial DNA — which passes from mother to...
It’s not the size of a snake’s muscles that matter, but how it uses them. King snakes can defeat larger snakes in a wrestling match to the death because of how they coil around their prey, researchers report March 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
King snakes wrap around their food and squeeze with about twice as much pressure as rat snakes do, says David Penning, a functional...
Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.
“Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.
The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...
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Eijiro Miyako gets emotional about the decline of honeybees.
“We need pollination,” he says. “If that system is collapsed, it’s terrible.”
Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors (SN: 1/23/16, p. 16).
Welcome to the somewhat civilized jungle. Plant cultivation by native groups has shaped the landscape of at least part of South America’s Amazon forests for more than 8,000 years, researchers say.
Of dozens of tree species partly or fully domesticated by ancient peoples, 20 kinds of fruit and nut trees still cover large chunks of Amazonian forests, say ecologist Carolina Levis of the...
A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?
For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...