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Yellow Peach Moth (Conogethes cf. punctiferalis, Crambidae)

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by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu'er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese moths on my Flickr site HERE…..
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Crab uses sea urchin as spiny shield

This might look like an underwater hostage situation but it’s actually a perfect example of symbiosis. The carrier crab uses the sea urchin as a spiny shield, protecting it from any predators looking for a crabby treat. In return, the sea urchin gets a free ride to new feeding grounds.

By: Earth Touch.

Geese are surprisingly complicated for birds that seem to only swim and chase after any children with bread crusts. Even one of the most familiar North American birds may not be exactly what it seems. While this looks like a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), there is a fair chance that current ornithologists would label it as a Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii). Slightly smaller and with more petite features than the Canada Goose, the Cackling Goose has had a long wait to be recognized as a separate species. At first, it was just assumed that some Canada Geese were smaller than others. After a while, researchers noticed that there seemed to be distinct size differences in the populations, determining that the smaller geese must be a subspecies of the Canada Goose. Finally, in 2004, the Cackling Goose was represented as its own species by the American Ornithologists’ Union, and as other experts began to agree, populations of these closely related geese have been marked as either the old or new species. The birds can still often be seen together, which makes for some great size comparisons, but they can also be distinguished by the proportions of their beaks. Which do you think this specimen is?

A cerambycidae beetle (Strangalia sp.) on an bachelor’s button I photographed in 2012. My camera at the time had utter fits over the color yellow, so I’m surprised the flowers turned out as well as they did. From the info on bugguide, what I know about this beetle is that it’s a summer time beetle and occurs on flowers >.>. I think it’s a cute beetle all the same though. 

Giant leaf-tailed gecko at the temporary traveling Geckos Live! exhibit @nhmu #science #gecko #geckos #lizards #lizard #reptile #reptiles #herpetology #biology #zoology #animal #animals #utah #saltlakecity #museum #naturalhistorymuseumofutah #nhmu #giantleaftailgecko (at Natural History Museum of Utah)

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The tardigrade genome has been sequenced, and it has the most foreign DNA of any animal

Scientists have sequenced the entire genome of the tardigrade, AKA the water bear, for the first time. And it turns out that this weird little creature has the most foreign genes of any animal studied so far – or to put it another way, roughly one-sixth of the tardigrade’s genome was stolen from other species. We have to admit, we’re kinda not surprised.

A little background here for those who aren’t familiar with the strangeness that is the tardigrade – the microscopic water creature grows to just over 1 mm on average, and is the only animal that can survive in the harsh environment of space. It can also withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, can cope with ridiculous amounts of pressure and radiation, and can live for more than 10 years without food or water. Basically, it’s nearly impossible to kill, and now scientists have shown that its DNA is just as bizarre as it is.

So what’s foreign DNA and why does it matter that tardigrades have so much of it? The term refers to genes that have come from another organism via a process known as horizontal gene transfer, as opposed to being passed down through traditional reproduction.

Horizontal gene transfer occurs in humans and other animals occasionally, usually as a result of gene swapping with viruses, but to put it into perspective, most animals have less than 1 percent of their genome made up of foreign DNA. Before this, the rotifer – another microscopic water creature – was believed to have the most foreign genes of any animal, with 8 or 9 percent.

But the new research has shown that approximately 6,000 of the tardigrade’s genes come from foreign species, which equates to around 17.5 percent.

“We had no idea that an animal genome could be composed of so much foreign DNA,” said study co-author Bob Goldstein, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We knew many animals acquire foreign genes, but we had no idea that it happens to this degree.”

Continue Reading.

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Hunter or Hunted? Animal Eyes Reveal All.

Pupil shape strongly predicts both an animal’s basic position on the food chain, and what time of day it is most active, a new study has found.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances, discovered that species with vertical slit pupils are more likely to be ambush predators that are active during the day and night.

So which of these animals are hunters and hunted? Click to find out.

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while people think of the birds and the bees pollinating the flowers and the trees, there are also hundreds of species of nectar feeding bats which pollinate thousands of species of plants. known as chiropterophilous plants, many grow flowers that open at night so that the bats, attracted to the sugary nectar, get a dusting of pollen that is carried along with them to the next flower. 

these plants and nectivorous bats have shaped each other through coevolution, with the flowers, usually white in colour and pungent in scent so as to be conspicuous at night, often taking a vase like shape to accommodate the face of the bat. the bats, for their part, have particularly good eyesight and a fine sense of smell, but their sonar is often reduced. 

chiropterophilous plants even manufacture substances that are useless to themselves but helpful to the bat; because bats often eat the pollen in addition to the nectar, the pollen of these plants contain an amino acid, proline, which is needed to build strong wing and tail membranes. 

also worth noting: compared to say birds and bees, bats have heavy wings for their body size. consider that bats beat their wings up to 17 times per second while the bumblebee can approach 200 wing beats per second. and while those comparatively cumbersome bat wings seem like a detriment to maneuverability, new research shows this extra wing mass makes possible their ability to land upside down, like when roosting.  (videography)