learning with koryos

6

KNOW YOUR BATS: Emballonuridae family

Emballonuridae is a family of bats commonly known as sheath-tailed or sac-winged bats. I’m surprised these bats aren’t better known, because they have very uniquely appealing little faces. I think it’s the perpetually upturned nose.

They also have a stunning variety of colors, from the pure-white northern ghost bat to the dark chocolate of the Hill’s sheath-tailed bat.

Among them are some excellent camoflaugers, such as the proboscis bat, which looks like a bit of lichen or damaged bark on a tree.

In fact, many species in Emballonuridae roost on the trunks and branches of trees, in broad daylight, depending on their camouflage to keep them safe. They like to do it in neat little lines.

Sometimes they also stack.

You may have noticed their short little tailed. They’re sometimes called sheath-tailed bats because these tails protrude out of the membrane between their back legs, which can be pulled up to “sheath” the tail. Here’s a video if you don’t quite understand what I mean.

As I mentioned earlier, they’re also called sac-winged bats. This is because they have special pouches near their wrists designed to release pheromones into the air when they flap their wings. Below is a close up of the pouch, closed and then opened.

For the most part these are very small bats, with weights as low as three to four grams- one of the smallest, the proboscis bat, can get caught in spiderwebs and eaten.

Aside from roosting in trees, these bats roost in caves, crevices, and occasionally, human-made structures like wells or stone tombs. Because of this, several species are known as tomb bats. They’re pretty adorable little harbingers of death if you ask me.

Photo credits:

Main set (species in photo caption): Bat Conservation Intl / Jasmine Vink / University of KwaZulu-Natal / Merlin Tuttle / Michael Penney

Emedded in text: Bateleur Nature Reserve / ARKive / Riley Pearce / PSUNHM / Christian Ziegler

anonymous asked:

Why are there no flightless bats?

I discussed this in a lot more detail in my article on the pekapeka (a bat from New Zealand that spends about half its time on the ground), but in general, here are the reasons:

1. Compared to other flighted animal groups like birds and insects, bats are relatively new on the scene evolutionarily. They evolved flight about 52 million years ago. Compare that to birds, which have had about 150 million years to get comfortable with flying- only a few have ever lost it in that time.

2. Flying is a powerful antipredator defense and allows bats to get at resources they wouldn’t normally get, like flying insects and high-hanging flowers and fruit. This means there is currently strong evolutionary pressure for bats to retain flight in most parts of the world. One example where there was not was New Zealand (until recently). Even then, the pekapeka and its relatives retained the ability to fly.

3. Compared to birds, bats may simply be too specialized for flight to go back to being completely terrestrial. All living bats have modified hindlimbs and pelvises for flight, because their legs actually make up part of their wings.

It may be difficult to tell from that picture, but a bat’s hind legs are rotated at 90-180 degrees (depending on the species) around from where an ordinary mammal’s would be. In other words, their knees point backwards.

(This is different from a pterosaur, by the way- pterosaurs had wing membranes that attached to their hind limbs as well, but retained forward-pointing knees.)

This makes walking on the ground very difficult for them, and is related to why they roost upside-down. (In fact, some species of bats CAN’T walk on the ground at all!) Even when bats have regained the ability to be good walkers, like the vampire bat has, the style of locomotion is very different from all other living animals, like so:

Originally posted by bundyspooks

It’s not a BAD way to get around, but energetically, it’s not as efficient as regular quadrupedal walking.

So, for a bat to “de-specialize” from flight completely might require extreme evolutionary pressures that don’t exist on earth right now. Not that I don’t think they could do it- but a flightless bat would end up looking really, really weird, compared to the mammals we’re used to.

anonymous asked:

My dad says Zoo's are becoming politically incorrect. I've seen both arguments but I wanna hear your opinion on it: do you think Zoo's are a good idea?

Well, let’s see if I can keep this response short.

First, I’m guessing that by ‘politically correct’ you mean ‘ethically sound.’ So, is keeping animals in zoos an ethical thing to do? As with many things, there is no easy or even single answer to that question.

Without a doubt, there are bad zoos- private or roadside zoos, zoos that keep their animals in abhorrent conditions, zoos that allow visitors to engage in unsafe things like cub-petting schemes. It is obvious that these types of zoos are unethical and exploitative.

(Hint: something like this is never a good sign.)

On the other hand, what constitutes a ‘good’ zoo? In the best captive conditions currently available, is it okay to keep an animal locked up? Some say no, no matter what; some say what we have now isn’t good enough. Others say yes- the best zoos are able to provide their captives with good lives.

This of course brings us to just what a ‘good’ life is. Those who say that animals should never ever be placed in captivity usually value a sense of freedom above all else. Even in perfect captive conditions, an animal will not be free, wild, or ‘natural.’

However, we must acknowledge that ‘freedom’ is a concept created and defined by humans. A human locked in a prison knows the difference between captivity and freedom, and is able to conceptualize that certain ‘rights’ that they have are being violated. But for animals, this may be too complex to perceive. How far back do you have to move a fence before a kudu decides that he is wild again? The idea that animals sense when they are ‘free’ versus ‘not free’ is, to me, not realistic.

Animals do, however, benefit from the ability to be free to make choices, such as what they eat, where they will go, who they will interact with, and so on. Undeniably, captivity presents animals with fewer choices of these kinds than they would have in the wild. The best zoos are now implementing programs to accommodate these choices, particularly with highly intelligent animals such as elephants and apes.

One such example: the “O Line” at the Smithsonian National Zoo allows orangutans to choose one of two buildings to stay in during the day. Other animals, such as the otters, can choose whether or not to be on exhibit via spaces in their enclosure that are sheltered from the public. Scatter feeding and foraging enrichment is yet another way that zoos allow animals to choose what food they want to eat.

Still, despite these improvements, there will always be limitations of choice in captive environments compared to wild ones by the very definition of ‘captivity.’ Furthermore, while many strides have been taken to update enclosures with choices in mind, the fact remains that the implementation of behavioral science in zoos lags behind the research due to the costs, and often due to the stress of the animals themselves when trying to adjust to new schedules and norms (even if they are theoretically better ones).

A forty-year old captive elephant will have lived through decades of zoo reform, and we can’t erase those negative experiences from her mind.

One danger of comparing captive animals to their wild counterparts is assuming that captive environments should mirror the wild ones as closely as possible. But what the wild even is is not well-defined. ‘Wild’ deer roam my suburban neighborhood: should that habitat be replicated in their zoo enclosure? Wild environments include predators, diseases, and natural disasters: is it better that those be implemented in zoos as well?

In actuality, an animal born in captivity likely has no sense of what its natural environment should look like. Certainly it has natural instincts and inclinations- a tiger likes to urine-mark vertical objects and a gibbon likes to climb- but neither of them specifically needs a tree to do this with- a post or rope swing would also work. The ‘naturalistic’ look of many zoo enclosures is actually for the benefit of the visitors, not the animals. In fact, a lush, well-planted habitat could still be an abysmal one for an animal if all of its needs aren’t being met.

This brings us to one of the most important aspects of zoos: the visitors. Theoretically, one of the major purposes of good zoos is to educate and inspire the public about animals, particularly in regards to their conservation. But do zoos actually do this?

The answer is yes… to a small extent. People given surveys upon entering and leaving a zoo exhibit generally do know slightly more about the animals than they used to, but this depends a lot on how educated they were to begin with. While many visitors express an increased desire to engage in conservation efforts after leaving a zoo, not many of them have actually followed up on it when surveyed again a few weeks later. Still, most zoo visitors seem to leave the zoo with several positive if perhaps short-term effects: interest in conservation, appreciation for animals, and the desire to learn more. If a visitor experiences a “connection” with an animal during their visit, these effects are greatly increased.

However, certain types of animal “connections” and interactions can also produce a negative effect on zoo visitors. This reflects what I said earlier about the naturalistic design of habitats being more for the visitors than the animals. Individuals who view animals performing non-natural behaviors (such as a chimpanzee wearing clothes and acting ‘human,’ or a tiger coming up to be petted) are less likely to express an increased interest in their conservation, and even less likely to donate money towards it. Generally, our own perception of freedom and wildness matters much more than the individual animal’s.

The fact of the matter is that, worldwide, zoos spend about $350 million dollars on wildlife conservation each year. That is a tremendous amount of money, and it comes from visitors and donations. What amount of discomfort on the part of captive animals is worth that money being devoted to their wild counterparts? It’s hard to say.

This is a very, VERY general overview of some of the ethical issues surrounding zoos; to go over it all, I’d need to write a book. But hopefully, it got you thinking a little bit about what your own opinion on all this is. (I didn’t explicitly state mine on purpose, though it’s probably fairly clear.)

Refs and further reading below the cut!

Keep reading

whatshouldisayimshy  asked:

Im always nervous about bat ring membrane. Its so stretchy. Does it not rip?

No need to be nervous! Bat wing membrane is much stronger than human-made materials like rubber or plastic; the closest equivalent would probably be silicone. (AKA, the stuff used to make the wings for Bat Bot!) But unlike silicone, bats also have the ability to make their wing membranes stiffer or more flexible using rows of unanchored muscles beneath the skin. So if they happen to run into an obstacle, they can adjust it instantly.

Furthermore, bats have an incredible healing ability when it comes to their wings. They can heal almost any hole or tear, given enough time. Small puncture wounds are actually quite common, but the bats can still fly just fine as long as they’re not TOO big. Broken or fractured bones are much more likely to ground a bat than holes in the wing membrane, as a matter of fact.

Below you can see a western yellow bat with a large number of healed scars on its wing- this is more than you’d usually find, but it shows just how resilient they are!

opalescent-potato  asked:

You seem like the right person to ask this question: do spiders have to practice spinning webs to get good at it? Do young spiders fuck up their webs sometimes?

This is a really interesting question, and it took a bit of digging to find the right answer, which is… sort of yes and sort of no?

The ‘no’ part comes from the fact that spiders are born knowing how to spin webs- there’s no stepwise process of learning. They actually have, encoded within their genes, very specific algorithms to use when constructing webs.

Below are two figures from a paper that successfully imitated the process of building a spider web using a computer program by splitting the process into a few very simple rules:

So despite how complex the process seems to our eyes (and it would take a human some practice to get it right) evolution has split the process up into easily-encoded chunks for the spider brain to have ready from the get-go.

(This all applies to ORB webs, though. I didn’t find much information on how the construction of funnel webs, tangle webs, etc. are encoded- one would assume it’s similar, though.)

However, I DID say that the answer to your question is both yes and no. Despite the fact that the process of making a web is essentially hardwired into a spider from birth, there is still a surprising degree of plasticity (i.e., flexibility) to the behavior.

There is a lot of value to this for web-spinners because many species will build new webs every day. Studies have found that the spider’s personal experiences will modulate how they construct certain details within their webs.

For example, one study found that spiders which had recently eaten used less capture silk (that’s the sticky stuff) when they made their next web, probably because they didn’t feel like expending the extra energy when they were already full. (You and me both, spiders.)

In another study, researchers compared the number of webs a spider had spun over its lifetime with their top-bottom asymmetry. Let me explain that real quick before we go further: spiders tend to have better prey capture success when their webs have larger bottom halves than top halves. This is because orb webs are oriented vertically, meaning that a spider sitting in the very center of the web is going to reach the bottom faster than the top because of- well- gravity. Faster prey grabbing means prey are less likely to escape while the spider is scrambling over to it.

Here’s an asymmetrical web with a larger bottom half (left) compared to a more symmetrical one (right).

The researchers found two things: first, the more experienced a spider was overall, the bigger the bottom half of her web was compared to the top. However, when researchers placed more prey into the top half of the web than the bottom half, the spiders responded by making more symmetrical webs, i.e., putting resources back into the top half that they would have used in the bottom half.

Taken together, these two observations suggest that experience and learning do play a role in how a spider constructs her web, even if the main gist of it is encoded from the beginning. And that’s pretty neat!

Refs-

Heiling, A. M., & Herberstein, M. E. (1999). The role of experience in web-building spiders (Araneidae). Animal Cognition, 2(3), 171-177.

Herberstein, M. E., & Heiling, A. M. (1999). Asymmetry in spider orb webs: a result of physical constraints?. Animal behaviour, 58(6), 1241-1246.

Krink, T., & Vollrath, F. (1997). Analysing spider web-building behaviour with rule-based simulations and genetic algorithms. Journal of theoretical Biology, 185(3), 321-331.

Venner, S., Pasquet, A., & Leborgne, R. (2000). Web-building behaviour in the orb-weaving spider Zygiella x-notata: influence of experience. Animal Behaviour, 59(3), 603-611.

batslime  asked:

Do you happen to know much about Honduran fruit bats? I'm having a hard time finding info on them since they're so tough to come across, and when I do it seems to always be a different bat mistaken for one because of white fur. I'm especially perplexed by their faces, they're built like they're meant to echolocate, even though they EXCLUSIVELY eat fruit, yet STILL only hunt for food at night?. They're very weird little guys

Honduran white bats are members of the bat family Phyllostomatidae, the New World leaf-nosed bats- which you can tell by the leaf-shape on their nose. And you’re right, they do echolocate.

In fact, many fruit-eating bats still need to echolocate, because even though they may not need to use it to hunt (though some fruit-eaters may still nab a bug when they spot one) they still need to navigate through the darkness.

Why would a fruit-eater only come out at night? Well, for many reasons. There’s less competition at night, for starters- most primates and birds have gone to sleep. This means there are also fewer flying predators like hawks. It’s also cooler at night, which can prevent a flying mammal that’s working its metabolism to the limit from overheating.

Many plant species accommodate nocturnal customers by adding things like leaves or flowers that reflect sound in a certain way when fruit, nectar, or pollen is available. They also put out stronger smells that lure in the bats. (One species of pitcher plant uses sound reflection to invite insectivorous bats to come poop in it.) So being diurnal is in now way a prerequisite if you want to eat fruit- I myself enjoy a good late night banana.

I would bet that the white-furred bats people keep mistaking for Honduran white bats are Northern ghost bats, which belong to a totally different family. Easiest way to tell them apart is that ghost bats have no leaf on their nose and instead look like grumpy little goblins.

Maybe people also mistake yellow-winged bats for them (again, from a completely different family) or desert long-eared bats or even ghost false vampire bats, but I think the differences there are more obvious unless you’re really unfamiliar with bats in general.

Also, if you see a bat that looks like this… it’s not a real bat, it’s a pin made by CreturFetur on Etsy. Absolutely adorable, but baffling that it keeps being used as though it’s a photo of the real thing.

anonymous asked:

Dear Koryos: Can you imagine a universe wherein bats have become the ancestors of some kind of Highly Intelligent Life Form (not necessarily humanlike intelligence, but something as different from today-bats as humans are different from Ancient Primate Ancestor)? I originally just was thinking about what kind of Cultural Norms such beings would have, but then I realized I couldn't really imagine anything except bat-shaped things that more or less thought like humans.

I’ve sat on this question a while because it’s such an interesting one to me. The biggest issue here is that you’d have to specify which bats you’re making your theoretical ancient ancestor, because there’s such a vast diversity of behavior within the group. A vampire bat would be different from a sac-winged bat would be different from a hoary bat would be different from a flying fox ancestor, is what I’m saying. Any social or behavioral organization paradigm that you can think of, there’s a bat that has it.

So to think about what a sapient bat would look like, we first need to assess the intelligence and behavior of possible ancestral bats. And here I’m gonna stick a readmore, because this gets looooong.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Thank you for writing such a fascinating piece on sapient bats, and bats in general. The part about a single large pup in each bat litter raises a question in regards to the red bat, where sources mention that each litter consists of 2-4 pups! I have seen close-up pictures of a mom with three pups, and have read an account of an exhausted, grounded mother with five! Presumably she is still capable of flight (up to certain age) but can she really fly with 4 pups, never mind 5?

Yes indeedy- red bats and other members of the genus Lasiurus actually normally have two pups instead of one, and have four nipples instead of two. Ironically, they’re also a largely solitary group of bats as well, which means no other females can help raise the pups… it’s a lot!

I can tell you that yes, I’ve seen a red bat mother flying with a pup under each wing, and there are definitely cases of them having 3-4 (or even 5) pups, but 2 is the most common number. These bats are extraordinarily strong fliers- they’re one of the few species that can take off from the ground with a really aggressive pushup- but it’s still incredible that they can hunt successfully while carrying two or more squirmy gremlins!

Unfortunately when the number of pups gets higher than three, it’s unlikely that all of them will make it; that’s a whole lot for Mom to manage. The fact that they do get grounded with all their pups clinging to them just shows you how determined they are to try, though.

She is… doing her best…

(Also here’s a video of a hoary bat, another Lasiurus species, giving birth to twins.)

quillicous  asked:

Hey Koryos, so birds spend a shitton of time messing with and caring for their wings, right? Do bats do anything similar? Or does the lack of feathers let them treat their wings basically just like arms? (I know they can tear the membrane but I'm thinking more abt every day maintenance.)

Good question! For flighted birds, feathers require special maintenance via preening, where they use their beak to put oil from a gland in their backs (uropygial gland) over each feather. This keeps the feathers flexible and waterproof, as well as keeping them clean.

By contrast, for bats the flight surface is composed of (usually) bare skin. Skin is a lot better at maintenancing itself than filaments like feathers or hair, if you consider our own low-maintenance bare skin. However, the bats I worked with did spend hours each day cleaning the surface of their wings, probably to keep the skin soft and flexible. Also probably, in the case of the males especially, to stink themselves up from their scent glands.

anonymous asked:

What do you mean by intersex animals??

The definition of ‘intersex’ is “a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female.” (Wikipedia)

Examples of intersex animals can be found in almost any species, including:

(Both a mane and a vulva are visible on this lion.)

This list, of course, only includes examples of animals where intersex characteristics are (presumably) not selected for, and therefore unusual in the general population. There are many more animals where intersex characteristics are selected for, such as animals that are sequential hermaphrodites*, feminized ‘sneaker males’ (isopods are a particularly interesting case), or simultaneous hermaphrodites* amongst molluscs and other invertebrates.

(Note that the term ‘hermaphrodite’ is never applicable to humans. While molluscs may be able to form two complete sets of genitalia, humans cannot, and the term is highly offensive to intersex people.)

Arguably, intersexuality shouldn’t seem that strange to us at all- we all had isogamous ancestors that couldn’t be sorted into male or female categories.

anonymous asked:

What is the point of animals like crane flies, where once they reach their adult phase their purpose is to lay eggs then die? They don't even have mouths (apparently) so. Their life cycle just seems so irrelevant like why would evolution do that? (Please no crane fly pics if u get to answering this question, I hate them very much D:) (sorry if this is phrased strangely)

Kind of an interesting question here, though you must be careful with words like ‘purpose’ when describing the way animals have evolved- there’s no purpose about it, it’s literally what randomly came together and worked.

The life cycle of the crane fly only seems confusing if you look at it from a human standpoint. Certainly it seems to us that the most proper life cycle includes a short nonreproductive juvenile period and a much longer reproductive-capable adult period. This, after all, is how most the lives of most vertebrates are structured. For example, a dog lives perhaps an average of twelve years, and only spends about six months of that time growing to sexual maturity.

And it does confer advantages from an evolutionary standpoint: having most of your life available to find mates seems like a pretty good way to maximize the number of offspring you produce. Here’s a really lazy timeline of that strategy, which in scientific terms is called an iteoparous lifestyle:

But there’s a danger in assuming that the juvenile period is wasted time, which it isn’t- otherwise it wouldn’t exist. Evolution rewards species that can successfully propagate themselves, and the timing of the nonreproductive period hinges on this. You see, there’s a slight problem with being ~READY TO BONE~ 24/7. Sexual organs, sexual secretions, and sexual behavior are all extraordinarily expensive. I’m not just talking about being sweaty and tired after a netflix and chill marathon. I’m talking about the biological costs incurred by producing eggs, sperm, secondary sex characteristics like giant antlers on deer and gaudy tails on peacocks, building nests for eggs, competing for opposite-sex attention and fighting off other suitors, and heck, even finding the dang object of your attraction. Think about how successful dating sites are, for goodness’ sake. In the US alone, about $80 million each year gets spent by horny people on dates.

Knowing how expensive all this can get, perhaps now it’s less surprising that some species want to make sure their offspring are as prepared as possible before they’re thrust into the Lust Pit. This may mean that they have proportionally longer juvenile periods than reproductive periods- however, when Fuck Time comes, they have a much better chance of finding a partner than you do on OkCupid because the entire species has synchronized their genitalia to develop at the same time. They may not even eat or sleep- they spend their last few weeks, days, or hours in a furious haze of lovemaking. Sometimes until they literally fall apart, in the case of the antechinus, a little marsupial that has such furious sex that he’ll lose all his hair and bleed internally (and then die). Which you wouldn’t expect when you see one:

This type of get-fucked-or-die-trying lifestyle is called semelparity, in contrast to our own iteroparity. Here’s another lazy timeline of that:

Semelparous animals sync up their breeding cycles to maximize their chances of finding a mate. This means it’d be pointlessly expensive to be reproductively primed during the off-season. Instead, they focus on preparation: growing as large and strong as they can so that when the time comes, they have the best chance possible. One of the best examples of this is the cicada, which is likely the longest-living insect- some species live up to 17 years. However, of those 17 years, only 2-4 weeks are spent as sexually mature adults. Emerging en masse after such a long absence not only makes it much easier to find a mate, it also overwhelms potential predators. Yes, cicadas are delicious, but you can only eat so many in two weeks compared to how many you could eat if they spent all seventeen years not buried deep underground.

Periodical cicadas are an extreme example, but many other animals have similar strategies. Calling something short-lived a “mayfly” refers to the fact that the sexually mature form is extraordinarily short-lived- in one species, it lives for less than five minutes. However, it’s often forgotten that this only refers to the adult form; the larvae will live possibly two years in rivers or streams.

It’s not just invertebrates that practice extreme semelparity. I already mentioned the little antechinus- the males of that species, by the way, live less than a year, while the females live for two years and generally die after weaning their first litter. Pacific salmon are another familiar semelparous species, which spend up to five years in the ocean before returning to freshwater to spawn and die within the span of a few days.

Perhaps the most extreme example of a semelparous vertebrate that I know of is Labord’s chameleon. The eggs of this species take roughly 9 months to incubate before hatching. After hatching, the juveniles reach sexual maturity at about two months old- and die another two months later. That’s right: this species of chameleon spends more time in an egg than it does in the outside world. Not only that, but because the mating takes place seasonally, there are long periods of time in which no adult individuals of the species exist. All of them are encased in eggs- silently growing, and preparing for the pinnacle of their lives: the Great Fuckening.

Godspeed, little one.

Further reading:

Dobson, F. S. (2013). Live fast, die young, and win the sperm competition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(44), 17610-17611.

Karsten, K. B., Andriamandimbiarisoa, L. N., Fox, S. F., & Raxworthy, C. J. (2008). A unique life history among tetrapods: an annual chameleon living mostly as an egg. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(26), 8980-8984.

Koenig, W. D., & Liebhold, A. M. (2013). Avian predation pressure as a potential driver of periodical cicada cycle length. The American Naturalist, 181(1), 145-149.

Williams, K. S., Smith, K. G., & Stephen, F. M. (1993). Emergence of 13-Yr periodical cicadas (Cicadidae: Magicicada): phenology, mortality, and predators satiation. Ecology, 1143-1152.

Young, T. P. (2010). Semelparity and iteroparity. Nat Educ Knowl, 3(2).

anonymous asked:

I heard there's a bat that does the scoopy doopy with fish? Wouldn't fish be big to eat?

Less of a scoopy doopy and more of a grabby stabby, but yes, there is at least one species of bats that specializes in catching fish: the greater bulldog bat. While the fish it eats are relatively small, it is a relatively big bat with a three-foot wingspan.

They use their echolocation to pinpoint when fish are close to the surface, then fly low to grab ‘em with their enlarged rear claws. They also sometimes engage in behavior called raking, which is what the bat in the above image is doing. Basically just skimming along the surface, grabbing whatever they can- they also catch shrimp and crabs this way.

They also have beautiful faces.

Here’s a video of a greater bulldog bat fishing.

There are bats that can take on all kinds of small (and less small) prey items, like scorpions, frogs, birds, and mice. I think the frog-eating bats in particular are kind of cute.

anonymous asked:

Hi Koryos! How do you feed your yid-lotls? (heh) I used to have axolotls before and feeding them was SUCH a pain, they were so clumsy it was near impossible to get food in their faceholes. I couldn't just leave food on the bottom of the tank on a plate (not that it would've stayed on a plate anyway, floating around), because they'd never manage to get it in their mouths. Only time I successfully got them to eat was feeding them earthworms with tweezers, but the water was so cold, and they (1/2)

(2/2) took forever to eat, that I couldn’t hold my arm under the water for very long. Then I’d have to take 15 minutes to recover feeling in my arm before trying again. It took HOURS to feed them! It was such a pain. This was the reasons I moved my axolotls to a smaller tank, but it was worse for the axolotls. I would love to have them as pets again, but I just don’t see how I would manage any better. How do you get food in their mouths??

Hello friend! Yes, feeding axolotls can sometimes be quite a challenge, especially when you’re stuck holding food in front of an unresponsive axolotl’s face for five minutes in freezing water. Having owned my oldest lotls for six years now, I’ve tried innumerable feeding methods, which I’ll list in a moment. But before that I want to talk a bit about why it can be so frustrating to feed them.

Axolotls rely on four senses, primarily, to find food: sight, scent, hearing, and touch. The way that all of these senses function is not exactly analogous to our own. For example, axolotls have very poor vision, and because of the positioning of their eyes, actually cannot see anything directly in front of and beneath their snout. This is why they so often do that frustrating thing where they stand directly in front of a piece of food and don’t seem to notice it.

I drew a rough approximation of Moony’s field of vision here- it’s probably a little too narrow, but you get the idea:

Basically, there’s a huge blind spot directly in front of them, so if you want to feed them, it’s actually better to hold the food near the side of their head.

Another thing to keep in mind in terms of axolotl vision is that they have high sensitivity but low acuity. This means that they are very good at seeing movement but not so good at resolving objects that are standing still. (Just like the T. rex in the original Jurassic Park, though tyrannosaurs didn’t actually have vision like that.) So even if a piece of food is within an axolotl’s field of vision, if it isn’t moving, they probably actually can’t distinguish it from the background.

Now, axolotls at one point lived in the wild in water with low visibility, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t rely on vision as a primary hunting sense. To locate prey, they actually use scent and hearing- or rather, the aquatic equivalent, the lateral line system, which detects changes in water movement from a distance. Both of these senses work excellently in large underwater environments… but not so great in a small aquarium. There’s a lot of background noise to filter out, for example: water is constantly being cycled through the aquarium, which affects hearing as well as sense of smell, since the same smells are being re-circulated each time the water cycles. Also, if you’re dropping in a lot of food at once, that’s a lot of different signals for them to process all at the same time. If your hand goes in with the food, the axolotl may be picking up a good food smell but also a big movement sound: is it prey, or a big predator coming towards them?

All of this together can help us understand why axolotls may hesitate to eat when kept in aquaria. Of course, I’ve also noticed big differences between individual axolotls when it comes to sensitivity to these things around feeding time: some snap at absolutely everything, others clam up. I believe poor water quality and stress makes an axolotl much more likely to act reluctant around feeding time.

Now, on to the actual methods I use:

- Drop and wait method: This is what I do currently in my 55-gal tank. I feed a mix of live earthworms and pelleted food, alternating on different days. Generally I drop it in, wait half an hour, then pick up the remains with a gravel vacuum. The axolotls are capable of finding food using their sense of smell (they even lower their noses to sniff like dogs), but it can take them a few minutes to hone in on it. With earthworms I usually keep an eye on them in case they wriggle somewhere the axolotls can’t reach them, but generally my guys get pretty excited about the worms and pick them up right away.

- Above the nose method: I’ve found that the best way to trigger a snap reflex is to drop food directly above or slightly adjacent to an axolotl’s nose. The slow falling motion isn’t as intimidating as a hand reaching down, and they often have quite good aim when picking up the food. Of course, sometimes they miss

This method works best if you take the axolotls out when feeding them and put them in a smaller container- which also helps maintain the water quality of the tank because the food isn’t getting in there; also, if you’re like me, you can get a little tank cleaning done while the babs eat. However, it can be stressful for the lotls to be moved around, depending on how you move them and for how long. Some sensitive ones may not eat after being moved.

- Jar method: You mentioned the issue with food just sliding off a plate in an aquatic environment (also being shoved by a clueless axolotl). Axolotls also have trouble with food placed in bowls because when their nose bumps into the side of one they have a hard time grasping that they should go up and over the edge to reach the food inside. Usually, they try to wedge themselves underneath the bowl in the direction the food smell’s coming from. Look, there aren’t any bowls in nature, ok? Anyway, my solution to this, if you want to keep your food contained, is to put it inside a glass jar filled with water, then lay the jar on its side at the bottom of the aquarium. The axolotls can usually figure out how to get into the jar if the lip is flush with the aquarium bottom, and the food will stay relatively contained. This method can be difficult in tanks with multiple axolotls, though, as all of them will try to get in the jar at once and somebody usually ends up getting nipped.

- Extra-long tongs method: I’ve never tried this myself, but I know of people who simply use really long reptile feeding tongs (or even regular cooking tongs) to hold earthworms for their axolotls to avoid the whole freezing-arm thing.

Anyway! This was an extremely long answer to a question you probably wanted a single sentence for, but I hope it helps!

2

The Real Echo Flowers

I recently played the game Undertale (perhaps you’ve heard of it) and noticed that it included fictional Echo Flowers, which repeat back the last phrase they here. This caught my attention because there are real flowers up here above ground that have evolved to echo sound- specifically, the echolocation of their pollinators, which are bats.

Marcgravia evenia, or the Cuban echo vine, was once thought to be pollinated primarily by hummingbirds. The unusually-shaped flowers are red, while plants that target nocturnal animals are generally white. However, researchers noticed that when hummingbirds took nectar from the flowers, they were too small to rub against the pollen-loaded stamens dangling above.

Another curious aspect of the plant were the scoop-shaped leaves that grew just above the flowers. The leaves work like satellite dishes, reflecting sound directly back towards the source. To an echolocating bat, these leaves are lit up like beacons in the forest.

The echo vine isn’t the only plant that attracts bats using sound. The sea bean Mucuna holtonii also has curved structures for reflecting sound, though they’re much smaller, and formed from the flower’s petals.

When bats reach these flowers and drink the nectar, the disk is flattened by their movements. This stops them from ‘lighting up’ in echolocation, effectively telling the bats which flowers still have nectar left in them!

A third plant that ‘calls’ to bats is the pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana. Like the others, this plant has formed an echo disk at the top of its pitcher (which is a modified leaf).

This attracts a particular species- Hardwicke’s woolly bat, a tiny bat weighing less than ten grams. These bats crawl into the pitchers, which, by the way, are deadly traps designed to kill insects and other small creatures. But the bats aren’t prey for the plants- they stay well above the digestive fluid at the base of the pitcher, safe from predators. In exchange, they provide the pitcher with a steady supply of nutritious poop.

The adaptations that plants have evolved to attract bat pollinators are very poorly studied compared to those for bats and insects, and these examples are certainly not the only ones. And reflecting sound isn’t the only way plants attract bats- the hairy beard cactus, for example, attracts them by absorbing their echoes like a blank space rather than a beacon. It’s highly likely that many odd plant structures out there are shaped specifically for bats, and we just don’t realize it. After all, compared to birds and insects, many bats fly farther, poop more, and traverse much more open areas, distributing pollen and seeds like tiny envoys of nature.

So if you happen to drink tequila this New Year’s Eve, remember- the blue agave that make it are pollinated only by bats! Happy 2016!

References

Jones, G. (2015). Sensory Biology: Acoustic Reflectors Attract Bats to Roost in Pitcher Plants. Current Biology, 25(14), R609-R610.

Simon, R., Holderied, M. W., Koch, C. U., & von Helversen, O. (2011). Floral acoustics: conspicuous echoes of a dish-shaped leaf attract bat pollinators. Science, 333(6042), 631-633.

von Helversen, D., & von Helversen, O. (1999). Acoustic guide in bat-pollinated flower. Nature, 398(6730), 759-760.

anonymous asked:

I was wondering if you would be inclined to either make more posts on the GMO topic or even just post some resources. I feel like I don't know enough about the topic and would like to be better informed. Thanks.

I suggest that you start with this really lovely article from Slate on the GMO ‘controversy’:

The Misleading War on GMOs: The Food is Safe. The Rhetoric is Dangerous.

The blunt truth is that GM plants are capable of doing so much good. They can reduce the use of pesticides, they can have higher nutrition, they can cost less to farm, and they can even be safer for the environment around them. They’re not by any means a miracle cure for any problem, but they can certainly help.

Naturally, however, there are some valid concerns with this new technology, as with any technology. The main concern lies not with pesticide resistance, as is commonly misreported, but with herbicide resistance. GM crops can reduce pesticide use by producing small amounts of insecticide within the plant itself, a much more effective tactic than spraying pesticide indiscriminately. However, since herbicides kill plants, creating crops with higher herbicide resistances means that farmers are free to spray herbicides much more liberally, which in turn creates evolutionary pressure to evolve more herbicide resistance in weeds.

There is also the possibility that herbicide-resistant GM crops may cross-pollinate with related native weeds, creating ‘superweeds.’ In countries like the US where our most common crops have few close wild relatives, the danger is low, but it is much higher in many developing countries. 

But herbicide resistance isn’t exactly limited to GM crops- it’s a problem with ANY crop that has herbicide sprayed on it. And the solution for both GM and non-GM crops is simple: rotate what herbicides you use, instead of relying on just one, so weeds can’t keep up.

The same goes with nearly any legitimate issue you could think of for GM crops: unmodified crops have the same problems. People tend to think of genetic modification like magic, like slapping wings on a pig and inviting the wrath of some environmental god. But the things we’re trying to do with GMOs are literally the same things we’ve been trying to do with traditional breeding and crop-growing methods for millennia. Pesticides, herbicides, higher nutrition, higher yields, cross-pollination with native plants- none of these issues are new. Breed a herbicide-resistant tomato, or insert the gene manually. Spray crops with insecticide, or manufacture it directly in the plant. We’re reaching for the same end goals- the question is which method is cheaper, faster, and safer for humans and the environment alike. In many cases- though not all- the research points to GMOs.

As for the concerns about gene patenting and particularly the efforts of Monsanto, the case is again murkier and more complicated than documentaries like Food, Inc. will lead you to believe. For example, the farmer in the most famous case- Monsanto Canada Inc v Schmeiser- was not, as is commonly reported, merely trying to reuse seeds that had gotten accidentally cross-pollinated by Monsanto-patented crops from other fields. Over 90 percent of his ‘replanted’ crop was found to contain the patented gene, a figure much too high for there to have been simple cross-pollination. So Monsanto was likely correct when they accused him of trying to grow their crop without paying for the patent. Indeed, there aren’t any cases that Monsanto has filed against farmers based solely on cross-contamination.

As with the health and environmental issues, the ethical and corporate issues of GM crops are somewhat mirrored in their traditionally grown counterparts. If a farmer breeds a herbicide-resistant strain of weeds, does he own the patent to that organism? (According to US law, yes.) What if a scientist working for a company manufactures one with genetic technology?

In the case of Monsanto v Schmeiser, the Canadian government decided that while an entire plant can’t be patented, the technology that inserts the gene into the plant’s cells can be, and therefore manufacturing the genes by regrowing the crops is patent infringement. Conversely, United States laws now state that naturally-occurring gene sequences cannot be patented, so if it’s a gene already found in a plant or animal and used by a biotechnology company, no patent. This covers the vast majority of all genes used in GM organisms.

So in the US, people can own both traditionally-grown and GM plant strains, and can file lawsuits if someone regrows the strain without their permission. But Monsanto can’t own the genes themselves that it places in their products. Again, the issue of whether or not you can patent a living organism is not unique to GM crops.

Tl;dr: Commonly cited ‘problems’ with GM crops are often heavily misrepresented, and even when they aren’t, they’re usually not unique to crops where genes were mechanically inserted rather than bred.

Further reading:

There’s nothing dangerous or bad about the principle of GM foods and crops. (Contains links to a host of different scientific studies on the matter.)

Top Five Myths of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted (NPR)

How To Genetically Modify a Seed, Step by Step (Popular Science)

The Truth About Genetically Modified Food (Scientific American)

A Hard Look at 3 Myths about Genetically Modified Crops (Scientific American)

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer? A flawed study fails to convince (Forbes)

Genetically modified foods, cancer, and diet: myths and reality (Current Oncology)

anonymous asked:

Um, I have a question if you're willing to answer. Why, in the pictures with the bats. Are their noses like that? All long and going up really pointy? I tried to look it up but I was having a hard time finding anything. If you don't know that's fine and all.

Good question! There’s some incredible diversity in bat nose shapes (and bat ear shapes, as well). Among the most extreme have to be the sword-nosed bats (Lonchorhina sp.).

The sword-nosed bat is part of a family called Phyllostomidae, the leaf-nosed bats. Two other groups of bats have separately evolved similar-looking weird noses: the horsehoe bats (Rhinolophidae) and the slit-faced bats (Nycteridae), though for the most part their noses aren’t nearly as dramatic as some members of the leaf-nosed bats.

Ok, so what the heck is up with all these wacky noses? Simple! Aside from weird noses, all three of these bat families have another weird thing in common: they don’t echolocate through their mouths. They echolocate through their noses.

Yes, that’s right. These bats fly around at night tootling their snootlings. Obviously, the snoot-calls are too high for the human ear, but when pitched down they can sound something like this.

So, the weird-shaped flaps actually help project the sound they emit, like nose-megaphone. The diversity in shape only reflects the diversity in types of calls bats emit when echolocating, depending on habitat, prey type, and more! In many cases, bats have evolved concurrently with insect prey which have learned to detect the sounds of their echolocation, which puts impetus on them to be continually changing the way their calls sound as well. (There are even some bats with ‘whisper calls,’ which are exactly what you would expect.)

Side note, the hammerhead bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus) is a nose-honker unrelated to any of these groups. However, rather than echolocate, males of this species use their giant schnozzes to seduce females in a lek breeding system. You can hear their honks in this NPR story.

Finally, one more weird-nosed bat group- the tube-nosed bats (Nyctimene)! Like the hammerhead bat, these bats don’t echolocate. In fact, it doesn’t make any nose noises at all (that we know of). Then why the tubes, though? That… I don’t know. It could have something to do with body temperature regulation or simply being able to breathe while your face is shoved into mushy fruit. We just don’t know.

In conclusion: bats are weird and I love them.

anonymous asked:

Hi, Koryos! I was wondering if you have any insight on why animals enjoy petting so much? As a person, I personally don't like the feeling of being petted. Is it just that I'm soothing little itches for them, or something else?

Good question! The answer is quite complex, actually, starting with the fact that animals don’t always like to be petted, either. Of course, everyone probably knows this, and has experienced times when their pets have acted uncomfortable with physical contact. 

Petting, as a matter of fact, is a very specific type of touch. It’s different from poking, patting, or pinching. And I do mean literally different: gentle stroking on the skin actually activates different neurons than other forms of contact do. So petting isn’t just an arbitrary category- it’s a form of contact most mammals are primed to perceive differently.

Activating the “petting neurons” (called MRGPRB4+ fibers in the scientific literature, but let’s stick with “petting neurons”) feels good. In one study, researchers let mice choose between two chambers- one they preferred, and one they didn’t- and then activated the petting neurons in the non-preferred chamber. The mice went to that chamber as soon as they learned it would activate those neurons, and showed fewer stress responses to boot, entering a state of soothing mouse bliss.

Petting neurons occur on hair-covered areas of the skin, so the general consensus is that these neurons evolved to help give positive feedback to grooming behaviors. In other words, the act of cleaning our fur or hair feels good, which motivates us to keep cleaner and healthier fur or hair.

However, there’s another, additional reason animals enjoy being petted: social grooming, or allogrooming. Allogrooming occurs when one animal grooms another. Not only does this activate “petting neurons,” it also generates the release of the hormone oxytocin in both the groomer and the groomee. Oxytocin, among other things, can foster a feeling of connectedness and closeness between two individuals and is critically important for animals that form close pair-bonds. Social grooming also results in the release of pleasure-inducing endorphins, and inhibits the release of corticosteriods  (i.e., stress hormones). 

In fact, social grooming is so important for young mammals that those that are deprived of tactile contact when very young end up with abnormal concentrations of serotonin and TSH, both of which help manage the release of corticosteroids (those stress hormones again!). These animals- and humans- go on to be unusually anxious and asocial adults.

So, to sum up: petting activates specific neurons associated with pleasure, relaxation, and bonding, which is why so many animals appear to enjoy it. However, as I mentioned before, even if you’re doing the right kind of petting (not patting or tickling), animals don’t always enjoy the experience. Context matters very much, and if an animal isn’t in the mood to be petted, or doesn’t like to be touched in a particular area, it won’t matter how well you light up those neurons: they’re still going to hate it. Pay attention to what their body language is telling you.

Sources:

Crockford C., Wittig R.M., Langergraber K., Ziegler T.E., Zuberbuhler K. & Deschner T. (2013). Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1755) 20122765-20122765. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2765

Liu, Q., Vrontou, S., Rice, F. L., Zylka, M. J., Dong, X., & Anderson, D. J. (2007). Molecular genetic visualization of a rare subset of unmyelinated sensory neurons that may detect gentle touch. Nature neuroscience, 10(8), 946-948.

Liu, D., Diorio, J., Tannenbaum, B., Caldji, C., Francis, D., Freedman, A., … & Meaney, M. J. (1997). Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Science, 277(5332), 1659-1662.

Spruijt, B.M.; Van Hooff, J.A.; Gispen, W.H. (1992). Ethology and neurobiology of grooming behavior. Physiological Reviews 72 (3): 825–852, PMID 1320764

Vrontou S., Wong A.M., Rau K.K., Koerber H.R. & Anderson D.J. (2013). Genetic identification of C fibres that detect massage-like stroking of hairy skin in vivo, Nature, 493 (7434) 669-673. DOI:10.1038/nature11810

carryonmywaywardstirrup  asked:

I just watched an episode of QI and they said if you inject axolotl with iodine, they turn into salamanders! Is that true?

An iodine injection, applied along with other things, might cause an axolotl to metamorphose. It is much more likely to kill the axolotl.

If you weren’t aware, axolotls are neotonized salamanders, aka they never leave the larval stage. (Just like frogs, salamanders undergo metamorphosis.)

Here’s a normal (neotonized) adult leucistic axolotl.

And here’s an artificially metamorphosed adult axolotl.

Axolotls became permanently neotonized when an ancestor was born with a defect in its hormonal system. Metamorphosis in salamanders is triggered by a hormonal pathway involving the thyroid- axolotls lost the ability to produce one of the first hormones in this sequence, thyroid stimulating hormone, which triggers the thyroid to release thyroxine (T4) to start metamorphosis.

In the 20s it was found that injections of iodine as well as “thyroid extract” could trigger metamorphosis in the axolotl. Iodine is used by the thyroid to manufacture thyroxine, so this was likely why. Later scientists directly used thyroxine to get the axolotl to metamorphose. The process is delicate even under laboratory conditions, with many individuals not fully metamorphosing and/or dying.

There are reports of pet axolotls spontaneously undergoing metamorphosis without the injection, but these are likely individuals that have hybridized with the closely related tiger salamanders (or are tiger salamander larvae that have been sold as axolotls). I’ve also read that there may be some differences in the way that wild-caught versus captive bred axolotls respond to different metamorphosing techniques, but wild axolotls haven’t been brought into the captive breeding pool for decades, and are now so rare in their natural habitat that it’s highly unlikely any ever will again.

Ok, so if you are an axolotl owner, this may sound cool and exciting. But recall that axolotls have evolved to stay in the larval stage. Even if they survive, the forced metamorphosis is very bad for them and most only live a year or so past it (versus their normal 10-15 year lifespan). So please, please do not attempt to metamorphose your axolotl with some method you found on the internet- it likely won’t work anyway and will severely stress out or possibly kill your pet.

Source:

Rosenkilde & Ussing, 1996. What mechanisms control neotony and regulate induced metamorphosis in urodeles? Int J Dev Bio 40(4):665-73.

anonymous asked:

Are there any spiders in Ohio or Illinois that can hurt me? My arachnophobia is more a 'what if it bites me and my arm rots off' phobia; I'm cool around spiders I know can't hurt me, esp ones behind glass, but I don't know what can hurt me so I'm afraid of all free roaming spiders

There are really only four known groups of spiders with medically significant venom- the rest can’t do much worse than a bee sting. (Of course, some individuals can have allergic reactions to spider venom, just like bee stings.)

These four groups are: the widows (Latrodectus sp.), the brown spiders (Loxosceles sp.), the Australian funnel web spiders (Atraxus sp.), and the Brazilian wandering spiders (Phoneutria sp.).

Black widows are found across the U.S. and in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Despite their reputation, most black widow bites are harmless. Many are dry, with no venom injected, and about 75% of those that do contain venom only produce localized pain with no other symptoms.

Occasionally, more severe symptoms do develop in the form of latrodectism. This can cause symptoms such as generalized pain, headache, nausea, sweating, and racing heart. Most of these symptoms resolve within a week and for more severe cases, an antivenom is available. There has only been one death recorded from a black widow bite in US in the last 50 years, and it was an elderly man. Several thousand people in the US get bitten by black widows every year without suffering any major ill effects.

The brown spiders include the brown recluse spider, famed for its necrotizing bite. However, as with the black widow, the deadliness of this spider has been greatly exaggerated. Like the black widow, brown spiders are found worldwide. Also like the black widow, their bites are often venom-free, and even envenomated bites produce nothing more than mild irritation.

Here’s a map of where brown spiders are found in the US:

The brown recluse is very rare in Ohio specifically, so you don’t have much to worry about.

Bites with high concentrations of brown recluse venom can produce a necrotic skin lesion that is slow to heal. About 66% of these lesions heal on their own without complications. Those that do not may require skin grafts or corrective surgery. A systemic response, which is the response that may become fatal, occurs in about 1% of bite victims. In the last decade there have been two recorded fatalities from brown recluse bites, and both were young children. And as a matter of fact, there are no confirmed reports of a necrotizing bite leading to amputation.

Interestingly enough, there are lots of reports of brown recluse “bites” from states where there are no brown recluse spiders. Spiders often get blamed for symptoms that come from everything from lyme disease to lymphoma. My state is not within the brown recluse range and I’ve still heard stories from a number of people who insist they were bitten by the spider.

Australian funnel web spiders are found, obviously, in Australia- specifically along the eastern coast.  While it is suggested that these spiders are more likely to give “wet” bites than the others on this list, there have been no recorded fatalities from their bites in Australia since 1981!

Brazilian wandering spiders are found in parts of Central and South America and are the most venomous spider on this list. This venom, among other things, may give you a lasting erection, which is why some pharmaceutical companies are researching it for use in erectile dysfunction drugs. These spiders are the famed “banana spiders” because they have been found on shipments of bananas outside of South/Central America; however, there are only seven actual recorded cases of this happening. Only about 2.3% of wandering spider bites are medically significant, and again, there have been very few deaths attributed to them.

Spiders, by and large, do not pose a threat to you anywhere in the world.

Further reading: The Spider Myths Site.

Sources:

Keep reading

laurenlizardman  asked:

so moths and other bugs have hair right? is this hair like human hair and is it fuzzy? moths look really cute and cuddly and i would love to know if hugging a giant one would be like the softest thing in the world. thx!

Moths definitely do look cute and fuzzy, and their fuzz is quite soft to the touch- but it isn’t hair or fur, at least not as we think of it.

Remember, moths are arthropods, a separate lineage from vertebrates. So their body coverings evolved separately from ours- this includes scales, hair, and other filaments.

So what is the technical term for moth fuzz? Well, most people already know that butterfly and moth wings are covered in tiny, colorful scales, like so:

As I said before, these scales aren’t related to fish or reptile scales because they evolved separately, even though they look similar. They are actually derived from an arthropod body covering called setae (singular seta) which look very similar to our mammalian hairs.

Invertebrates use setae in all sorts of ways: like a cat’s whiskers, or for a bristly defense, or even as extra ‘legs’ for movement. Moths and butterflies (and others) evolved to cover their wings and sometimes bodies with modified setae scales for flight and insulation. So the fuzz on a moth? Actually elongated, blade-shaped scales! Here’s a close-up:

Moths use their fluffy-looking scales the same way we mammals use our fur: to provide insulation and keep warm. This is especially important for tiny, nocturnal animals. They also use them to escape from spiderwebs- the scales fall off easily when stuck to webbing, so the moth can escape.

As for the second part of your question- about what hugging a giant moth would feel like- well, if you blew one up to our size, those hairs would probably go from fuzzy and soft to stiff, like the shafts of bird feathers, simply because of the scale. Also, as previously mentioned, the scales fall off very easily, so if you tried to hug one, you would end up with an armful of scales and no moth.

So while moth fuzz looks very soft and tempting to touch and hug, best to admire it from afar.

Photo sources- x / x / x / x

More about Insect Body Coverings