Category Archives: Plants & Animals

0213001849

A Diet of Fruit (Not Leaves) Made Primates Big Brainiacs

Ask any biologist what makes primates special, and they’ll tell you the same thing: big brains. Those impressive noggins make it possible for primates from spider monkeys to humans to use tools, find food, and navigate the complex relationships of group living. But scientists disagree on what drove primates to evolve big brains in the first place. Now, a new study comes to an unexpected conclusion: fruit. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Pollinating Bees And Flowers Fit Like Key In A Lock

“The closer the bee fits to the flower, allowing it to touch both the male and female sexual organs, the more efficiently the insect can transfer pollen between plants.” Bees that are too small, relative to the size of the flower, transfer fewer pollen grains to other flowers and act ‘pollen thieves’, extracting the pollen they need without pollinating the flower. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Leaf-Cutter Ants Teach Their Nestmates Which Leaves To Avoid

Learning to avoid plants that are unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus does not necessarily need a direct assessment of the effects of that plant on fungus growth. Foragers that had experienced the negative effects of an unsuitable plant neither in the garden nor in the dump might be influenced in their choices by interactions with experienced nestmates. In this regard, we showed that non-confined foragers slightly but significantly decreased their acceptance for the specific plant that only their nestmates initially experienced during the confinement in the waste chamber. (CLick on title for full story.)

0213001849

Dinosaurs As Seed Dispersers: Fossilized Dino Gut Reveals All

Researchers identified these seeds as belonging to an ancient type of cycad, as well as from other plants. This is interesting, as it shows that some dinosaurs, much like modern mammals, might have been important in helping to disperse the seeds of plants along landscapes through plants’ ingenuity of exploiting the fact that dinosaurs like to poop from time to time. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

How Trees Determined The Outrageous Color Difference Between Male And Female Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus parrots are making important contributions to our understanding of the complex and subtle relationships between resource allocation, ecology and evolution. Additionally, plumage color is a powerful way to gain a clearer insight into the natural history of bird species. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Moth Uses Plant Toxin To Protect Mate And Off-Spring

Once he has ingested the toxin from the plant, the male is no longer tasty to his common predators, particularly spiders and bats. After gathering the poison, the moth goes in search of a female. When he finds his insect bride, they mate for nine hours. But, just before mating, the moth releases the toxin like a cloud of miniature confetti that sticks to the female. The toxin protects her while she is mating and while she lays her eggs. The female moth then passes the toxin to her eggs. The toxin deters egg-eating insects like ants and ladybugs from devouring her young. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

When Herbivores Attack, Plants Emit Odors Specific To The Attackers’ Predators

When they are chewed by insects or other small animals, many plants react by releasing odours to attract the insects’ enemies. A new study published in the scientific journal New Phytologist reveals that the odour bouquet changes depending on the type of herbivore that eats the plant. This helps the plant to specifically attract natural enemies that feed on the herbivores eating them. To the surprise of the researchers involved, native plants can even recognise when they are eaten by exotic herbivores. In this case, they emit a specific odour bouquet. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

How Forest Trees Eat Tiny Animals

But are the pine trees in this experiment “predatory plants”? In my judgment, distinctly un-sexy Eastern white pine — a common tree in the vast northern forests of this planet — might just belong on that sexy list of deadly plants too, at least with an asterisk. (Clcik on title for full story.)

0213001849

Flower Color Attracts Bees By Creating Warmer Microenvironment

A professor and research scientist , using thermocouples, and a hypodermic tissue probe, learned that these dark petals are up to 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the surrounding atmosphere when they stand in a pool of Spring sunlight. Bees, especially fuzzy females of Carlin’s bee (Andrena carlinii), prefer to forage upside down on these flowers so their hind legs and bee butts are warmed by the dark petals as they drink nectar and collect pollen (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

A Successful Strategy To Control Asian Longhorned Beetle Infestation

The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is one of the 10 most dangerous quarantine pests in the world. More than 30 ALB infestations have been reported in eight European countries to date; six of these infestations have now been eradicated. In most cases, it took more than 10 years to wipe out the beetle population in large outdoor infestations. The pest has killed millions of poplar trees in China. Winterthur (Switzerland) has recently shown that it is possible, however, to eradicate even large outdoor infestations within the statutory minimum period of four years. This requires decisive action right at the start of an outbreak, because only the best and most experienced people on the ground can isolate the infested area in the first year. (Click on title for full story.)