Today we join the Department of Teeny-weeny Wonders in astonishment at the golden mesh marvel that is the cocoon of the Urodidae moth. Also known as “false burnet moths,” these small to medium sized moths spend their pupal stage in unusual and incredibly beautiful open-mesh cocoons, which are sometimes suspended on a very long thread below a leaf.
"This type of cocoon is known as a "open-network cocoon" and is unlike other cocoons in that it doesn’t completely enclose the pupa in silk. Instead, it only partially surrounds it, likely enabling better airflow to control for humidity and may help prevent fungi from growing on, and eventually killing, the pupa. This cocoon very likely belongs to a moth in the family Urodidae, which is known for making this type of lattice-structured cocoon surrounding its pupa."
Our solar system officially has eight planets and one star: the Sun. The discovery of an object larger than Pluto in 2005 rekindled the debate over whether such objects, belonging to the Kuiper Belt – a collection of icy bodies located beyond Neptune – should be called planets. Pluto and other large members of the Kuiper Belt are now considered “dwarf planets.”
The Sylphina Angel is a species of butterfly of the Riodinidae family. It is found in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. It has transparent wings.Adults fly in full sunshine, but occasionally settle beneath the leaves of bushes.photo credits: Adrian Hoskins, Ssola
Sloshing is a problem with which anyone who has carried an overly full cup is familiar. Because of their freedom to flow and conform to any shape, fluids can shift their shape and center of mass drastically when transported. The issue can be especially pronounced in a partially-filled tank. The sloshing of water in a tank on a pick-up truck, for example, can be enough to rock the entire vehicle. One way to deal with sloshing is actively-controlled vibration damping - in other words, making small movements in response to the sloshing to keep the amplitude small. This is exactly the kind of compensation we do when carrying a mug of coffee without spilling. (Image credit: Bosch Rexroth; source)
For dog lovers, comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi have an unsettling conclusion. Many researchers think that as humans domesticated wolves, they selected for a cooperative nature, resulting in animals keen to pitch in on tasks with humans. But when the two scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones. The dogs, in contrast, formed strict, linear dominance hierarchies that demand obedience from subordinates, Range explained last week at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University. As wolves became dogs, she thinks, they were bred for the ability to follow orders and to be dependent on human masters.
Range and Virányi developed their new portrayal of dogs and wolves by giving a series of tests to socialized packs of mixed-breed dogs and wolves, four packs of each species, containing anywhere from two to six animals each. The scientists raised all the animals from about 10 days old at the Wolf Science Center in Game Park Ernstbrunn, Austria, living with them 24 hours a day until they were introduced to pack life, so that they were accustomed to humans.
Range and her colleagues tested the dogs’ and wolves’ tolerance for their fellow pack members with a mealtime challenge. The researchers paired a high-ranking dog with a low-ranking pack buddy and set out a bowl of food, then gave the same challenge to a pair of wolves. In every matchup, “the higher ranking dog monopolized the food,” Range told the meeting. “But in the wolf tests, both high- and low-ranking animals had access” and were able to chow down at the same time. At times, the more dominant wolves were “mildly aggressive toward their subordinates, but a lower ranking dog won’t even try” when paired with a top dog, Range said. “They don’t dare to challenge.”
Range and Virányi suspect that the relationship between dogs and humans is hierarchical, with humans as top dogs, rather than cooperative, as in wolf packs. The notion of “dog-human cooperation” needs to be reconsidered, Range said, as well as “the hypotheses that domestication enhanced dogs’ cooperative abilities.” Instead, our ancestors bred dogs for obedience and dependency. “It’s not about having a common goal,” Range said. “It’s about being with us, but without conflict. We tell them something, and they obey.”
“It’s wonderful work,” says James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s not what the dog training community wants to hear; you can’t say the word ‘dominance’ around them. Does dominance exist as a phenomenon in dogs? The answer is clearly ‘yes,’ ” Serpell says, although he notes that there are breed differences. Other researchers, for example, have shown that when in packs, poodles and Labrador retrievers are more aggressive than are malamutes and German shepherds.
Monique Udell, an animal behaviorist at Oregon State University, Corvallis, says her own study of dog and wolf behavior, also presented at the meeting, supports Range’s contention that dogs are waiting for orders. To find out if dogs are “independent problem solvers,” she presented 20 adult dogs (10 pets and 10 from shelters) with sealed containers of summer sausage. Each animal was allotted 2 minutes to open it. Ten captive wolves were given the same test. Not one of the adult dogs succeeded; most did not even try. Meanwhile, eight of the 10 wolves opened the container in less than 2 minutes. So did dog puppies, indicating that dogs are no less capable of the task than wolves, but “as the dog grows and becomes more dependent on its human owner that [independent] behavior is inhibited,” Udell said.
Underscoring the point, she found that adult pooches could open the container after all—when their human owner told them to do so. Because dogs “suppress their independence, it’s difficult to know what their normal problem-solving abilities are,” she told the meeting.
It may be that we have to give Fido a command to find out.
When exploring the known universe, some might wonder what new planets we may discover, occupied or uninhabited. Two artists however, Wouter van Buuren and Zainab Hussain have created landscape photographs that turn our own cities into planets, with a Little Prince-esque aesthetic.
The planet-like compositions of van Buuren look like Super Mario Galaxy levels come to life, combining all visible forms into a perfect spherical shape. What was once the downtown core of one city (such as Weert or Shanghai) now becomes its own planet. This composition connotes ideas of our homes being the centre of the universe, where, like the Little Prince, these constructed worlds become our little asteroid or planet on which we live and experience.
Zainab Hussain however, creates more specific planets, such as “West Chapters Planet” (2012), which, according to the artist’s statement, explores “the strip mall environment in suburban areas and our relationship with it”. The artist also plays with the idea of these little worlds, being “first worlds”, existing only to provide convenience. Moving from van Buuren’s urban planets, into Hussain’s suburban planets, the mapping of cities and outlying areas plays on the ideas of comfort and convenience, engulfing us. Apart from planets, the artist has also created holes, inverse images of her planets, acting like voids which suck in all that surrounds them, such as “South Cineplex Hole” (2012). Now, what used to be 360 degrees of familiar comfort becomes 360 degrees of overwhelming commodity.
n ancient star in the halo surrounding the Milky Way galaxy appears to contain traces of material released by the death of one of the universe’s first stars, a new study reports.
The chemical signature of the ancient star suggests that it incorporated material blasted into space by a supernova explosion that marked the death of a huge star in the early universe — one that may have been 200 times more massive than the sun.
Shot an episode about fossilized meteorites today; rare specimens excavated from a quarry in Sweden, embedded in the limestone floor of a 500 million year old ocean. In all of human history 50 thousand meteorites have been discovered on the surface of our planet and only 101 are fossilized in this way. Dr. Philipp Heck gave us matching hats afterwards. Felt like I earned this one.